I have a theory. Some tasks will take as much or as little time as you put aside to do them. I apply this theory to two things: packing for a move and Holiday shopping.
Packing for a Move
The Early Packer:
If a person is planning a move, he or she can start packing six months before. When the move date arrives, packing will be almost complete, boxes will be labeled and stacked and moving will commence. You’ll get out on the date you are supposed to, you’ll move in on the date you’re allowed to.
The Last Minute Move:
Dealing with the same move out date, a person can start three weeks, 2 weeks or days before and the move will be the same. You’ll get out, you’ll get in. It might not be as pretty, might add serious stress, but if you have to get out by a certain date, you have to get out by a certain date. Stuff will get thrown on a truck, in your car, in the trash, on the curb, but you’ll be out. And when you arrive at the new digs you get to open boxes and bags and see what you actually brought with you.
In either scenario, there are always things that you simply cannot pack too early — the everyday items you need to function. Consequently, some last-minute packing is inevitable. Yes, plan and organize. Throw stuff out so you have less to pack and move, but don’t force a six month packing plan, unless you actually enjoy packing and want to pack for six months. If not, it’ll get done, because it has to. You won’t have the luxury of making agonizing decisions about what to keep, what to move. You won’t live with boxes before you move and after you move. You won’t have time to purchase endless containers and organizing materials. You’ll probably have a lot less to organize and you may take less crap with you. Of course, you may also discover that you threw a bunch of trash into a box and moved it, but you will have still moved.
The Early Shopper:
We all know someone who gets all their shopping done by Thanksgiving and they seem so smug and relaxed. Often, we see or hear of that same person shopping in December, catching a sale, exchanging one gift for another for a better deal or because the recipient bought it for him/herself before Christmas. My point is that starting early doesn’t necessarily mean you are done.
Starting early does mean you’ll likely shop longer. If you start in August, you will shop from August to December 24th. Even if you think you’re finished, there will be a sale, or you’ll find something perfect for someone or you’ll remember someone you should buy a gift for, or you’ll shop for yourself, etc. So you’ll still be shopping one way or another until December 24th. It that’s your thing, go for it. But the retail establishments know that the sooner you start, the more you buy, this is why Black Friday sales now start before Thanksgiving and stores open at midnight. Cha-Ching!!
The “Last Minute” Shopper:
If you start the second week of December, it’ll still be done by December 24th. It has to, so why stretch it out? Sales and mark downs? Guess what, except for the ridiculous black Friday sale items you may have trouble finding and may not need, the “Holiday” sales go on right up to and often after Christmas day. If you are indeed looking for that perfect gift that you think may be gone if you wait too long? Well go buy it, but don’t spend six months shopping for it, unless that’s your thing.
Christmas will come, whether you are ready or not.
So why spend months spending?
Why not just get what you got?
Am I preaching procrastination?
Maybe. I’ll get back to you later, heh heh heh. I’m not a procrastinator by nature on other things. I was never the type of student to pull an all-nighter, I believe in daily preparedness. However, I don’t want to pack for six months the next time I move or travel. I don’t want to shop for six months.
It’s not so much as waiting until the last minute; rather, it’s choosing the best time to start and establishing a limited time frame in which to accomplish the tasks at hand. (That sounds better, no?)
This is where I think all those Hoarders and Clean House type shows have it together. They give people three days to get it all done. What do you think would happen if you gave those people six months to clean their houses? The clean up crew would come back every day for six months waiting for the home owner to decide whether the plastic flowers she received as a gift in 1981 have a place in her home. No, sometimes things just have to get done. Make a decision. Done.
Starting early isn’t always the answer.
I probably won’t begin Christmas shopping until December 1st. In the meantime I can do some preliminary planning, make lists, budget, and I’ll figure out the last day I can order something online for it to arrive on time without paying extra shipping.
Then I will shop. No, I will buy. I won’t have the luxury to shop. I’m traveling for Christmas so I’ll have to be finished by December 21st anyway. It’s like a move out date.
It’ll get done. It has to.
I’m okay with that.
Just Me With . . . a strategy deeply rooted in procrastination and efficiency.
Caveat: Do not apply this theory to academics or work or personal life. It could result in — bad things.
Phew! I actually started this in 2011 but I got busy with the holidays and never finished. Ha!
Other holiday related posts:
Blowing Off the Holidays — Just say no.
Keeping It Simple At Christmas — People don’t always need the bells and whistles.
The Annual Christmas Party — At Least I Wasn’t Insulted This Year — Unfortunate comment.
All I Want for Christmas is My Kids — Splitting the babies after divorce.
A Good Neighbor, An Accidental Friend, and a Christmas Surprise — You never know the impact people have on each other.
Craigslist Angels — One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure — Giving Away Christmas Decorations Can Be A Very Good Thing.
My First Grown Up Thanksgiving — Kind Of — Thanksgiving at my house, without my kids.
Yesterday I saw a woman I’ve known for years, and decided to sit with her for a bit at the counter at Dunkin’ Donuts. I see her around our small town, she lives near me. She’s a recently retired school bus driver and has more time on her hands these days. She’s a talker and sometimes I don’t have time to chat but yesterday I did. I’ll call her Miss Debbie.
When I saw Miss Debbie at the counter I remembered someone’s blog post where they listed simple things we can do for others, and one of those was to listen to an elderly person talk, because sometimes they just need to.
Miss Debbie is probably in her seventies, but she’s mobile, healthy and spunky so “elderly” doesn’t seem quite right, but I guess on paper, she is.
She is also the Ex- wife of the man my Ex-mother-in-law had a long-term affair with.
Let me explain. I may have to distribute a chart later. Years ago and for a period of many years, my ex-mother-in-law was sleeping with this woman’s husband. Everybody knew. We live in a small town outside of a large city. It is a bed of gossip. The affair between my Ex-Mother-In-Law– let’s call her Shirley and Miss Debbie’s husband, who I’ll call Larry, was common knowledge.
I took the stool next to Miss Debbie and we chit-chatted for a bit. She told me about problems she was having getting work done on her house and her latest cataract surgery. I suggested a couple of contractors I know.
As always, she eventually asked if I’d seen my Ex mother-in-law, and I said, no explaining again that I don’t have any contact with her, or have any reason to have contact with her. I added that I hadn’t heard anything either way so I guess she’s okay.
Then Miss Debbie said, “It was all in my face, that was the most hurtful thing.”
Yes, I nodded. Truly that must have been horrible.
The woman who would later become my mother-in-law, Shirley, used to pull up to a nearby lot outside Miss Debbie and Larry’s house and beep her horn for him until he came out. I repeat: Shirley beeped her horn for all to hear — until Larry left the home he made with his wife and two children and went off with her. That would be a hurtin’ thing. A country song inspiring hurtin’ thing. A spit on your own porch and clean your gun hurtin’ thing. I can’t imagine.
Granted, Larry was no prize, obviously. Still, he was somebody’s husband — and this somebody was sitting next to me having coffee.
Let the record reflect: Some men do leave their wives for their mistresses. It happens. Case in point: Larry eventually left Miss Debbie, moved in with Shirley and her children, one of them being my future- and ex-husband. (ha! That sounds funny . . . but I digress . . . ) Still later, Larry married Shirley. An alcoholic, he almost missed his own wedding because he’d been out drinking the night before. Not surprisingly, perhaps, Larry and Shirley’s happy union was short-lived. Shirley eventually kicked him out but not before an “accidental” shooting . . . by Shirley . . . but I digress . . . again. This was over twenty years ago.
Debbie still lives in the same home, Shirley still lives in hers. Larry, however, died last year, I think it was liver damage, cancer, karma, whatever. His last days were spent living alone in a little apartment, his grown daughter providing assistance. His home going service (funeral) was planned by ex-wife Miss Debbie and his children. I’m not sure if Shirley and Larry ever officially got divorced, but my Ex-mother-in-law Shirley was the last wife of record. Someone called Shirley to see if she wanted to come or contribute. She did neither.
Sitting there with Miss Debbie, who knows my husband (Shirley’s son) left me, and hearing the pain in her voice when she reflected on her husband’s affair, “. . . that was the most hurtful thing,” I felt for her. Just like labor pain for some, there is some pain that you can’t forget, even if it was long ago.
I offered just a little comment, saying,
“Well, I gotta tell you. I’ve never had any interest in somebody else’s husband.” This make her break out in a good loud chuckle.
“Me neither,” she said.
Just Me With . . . a coffee break.
P.S. If anyone knows of that blog post that inspired my coffee with Miss Debbie along with this post, please let me know. I want to give props.
A funny thing happened last night. I was on my way home, driving late at night. Admittedly, I was tired and was forcing myself to stay awake. I was thinking of my gig but was also wondering whether it would be too late to get one more tweet in about my latest blog post. “What Have I Done Since My Divorce.” It’s just some tongue-in-cheek musings about how my life has changed since my divorce became final.
All in all, the divorce date doesn’t really matter. Still, I’ve had to pull out the final decree throughout the year for taxes, banking, other financial matters — you know, when I’ve filled out forms that request documentation of change in marital status. Having just gathered my tax materials I’ve had to gaze upon the piece of paper which legally ended my already dead marriage. And I remember dates, always have — important dates, unimportant dates, dates of good memories — and bad. I remember. It’s a gift . . . and a curse.
It used to really bother my Ex-Husband that I remembered so many anniversaries of events. (I guess that would be the gift part — ha ha). The curse part is that I also recall the cluster of wintertime “Ex Dates” like — our first kiss, when we became a couple, when he told me he was leaving me, when he moved out, and our wedding anniversary, to name a few. So true to my tendency to hoard useless facts today I remembered that this was the anniversary of the day the judge signed off on the divorce. . . and it was on my mind.
For whatever reason, my being tired, the broken side view mirror, a blind spot — I drifted to the right lane too slowly and didn’t see the quickly approaching car behind me. Suddenly, a little black car sped up next to me, too close, forcing me to quickly swerve back over into my lane.
“Okay, now I’m awake.” I said to myself, startled, heart pounding. The little black car was next to me for a few moments. I was expecting him or her hit the horn, cuss me out through a closed window — at least throw an angry look my way. Drivers in my part of the world are not known to be gracious. But the car simply weaved up ahead and I never got a look at the driver. It was dark, the windows were tinted. He or she never even flipped me the bird. I did see the back of the car, though.
Its license plate read: DIVORCE
This time I sped up to catch the little black car to see if I read that correctly. Yes, it said “DIVORCE.”
I exited the highway before the “Divorce-Mobile” did. Though I’ve been known to follow random cars (ask my kids), I was not going to follow that particular vehicle. I’m done with all that divorce stuff, as of one year ago.
Bottom line as to the divorce or the divorce mobile: I didn’t see it coming. It could have killed me. It didn’t. Perhaps it saved me. Regardless, it went on to freak out other people while I took the next exit.
Just Me With . . . life on the highway on the anniversary of my divorce.
Seriously, does anyone else find this an odd coincidence especially given my post before last, “I Went For Coffee and Took A Turn Into . . . The Twilight Zone.” ????
That particular vanity license plate should be illegal. I must call my congressperson.
A related post on my gift/curse of remembering dates: Happy Birthday to My Ex-Husband’s Ex-Girlfriend
Narrator: There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.
— The Twilight Zone, 1959, Season One
My narrator: Meet Roxanne, a divorced mother of five who sometimes forgets to eat, or chooses to save a simple breakfast bar for her children rather than “waste” it on herself. It’s an ordinary day for Roxanne, who had left home for her only true indulgence — getting her morning coffee. She didn’t know that when she returned into her neighborhood, she would cross into . . . The Twilight Zone.
Over the weekend we had some icy snow in my part of the world. I was out running errands (in other words: getting coffee). On the way home I was wondering whether I could get my children to shovel the sidewalks for me, doubted that they would before going to visit their father and worried about whether doing it myself would throw my back out again. My Aching Back A neighbor offered to pay my daughter to do hers. I wished that daughter or any of the children would do ours also, without back talk, threats or rewards — and before they had to go. It probably wouldn’t happen. I got my coffee, and while there I picked up my daughter’s favorite breakfast sandwich as a treat, plus I wanted her to get something warm in her belly before going out to shovel the neighbor’s walkway. As is often the case, I didn’t get a sandwich for myself, saving a couple of bucks, not wanting to spend the money on — me. As I turned into my neighborhood, I had my daily thoughts of “I really hate this neighborhood, I don’t like living here.” Followed by, “I wonder if I can figure out a way to move again but keep the kids in the same schools.” And rounding out the trilogy, “Don’t be ridiculous, there’s no reason to move except that you don’t like it here and that’s just not a good enough reason.”
Given all these thoughts rushing through my head it was rather amazing that I happened to spot a woman on the side of the road. She had plastic grocery store bags spread in front of her in the snow, was shaking and clenching her hands and seemed to be trying to figure out a way to pick them up again. Clearly she was struggling to carry her groceries home in the snow.
I stopped, backed up, asked if she wanted a ride. She only gave pause for a moment and eyed me to make sure I didn’t look like a crazy. (Sometimes I can appear quite normal . . . but I digress). It was bitter cold outside. She accepted the ride, put her bags in the back seat and sat up front next to me, thanking me. She explained that she rushed out so quickly to get some things from the store that she had forgotten her gloves. It wasn’t that the bags were heavy, she said, it was that her hands were frozen and she couldn’t hold them anymore. “My hands hurt so bad,” she said.
It didn’t really matter to me why she was in her predicament, I just wanted to get her home. It was too damn cold and icy to walk, especially with groceries, no cart and no gloves. She went on to explain that her brother couldn’t shovel the car out because of his eye. His eye. Huh. I pondered this. Why would his eye keep him from shoveling . . . maybe he’d had surgery? I drifted off to my own little world, thoughts racing for first place in my head.
Then my passenger said, “I’m Roxanne.”
Skid marks on the brain. Thoughts stopped on a dime.
“Get OUT!!!” I responded, perhaps a little too energetically, reminiscent of Elaine from Seinfeld.
“What?” she responded, looking concerned. It was an unfortunate choice of words for my exclamation — I mean, saying “Get Out!” to a passenger in my car! Smooth, Roxanne.
“MY name is Roxanne,” I quickly explained.
“Yes. Really. Wow, that’s wild.” It’s a fairly uncommon name. It was surreal.
Roxanne said that I could drop her at a nearby intersection but I told her, no, I would take her all the way home. During the ride I discovered that we had gone to the same high school, and though I had assumed she was older than me, it turned out but she was too young for me even to have known her from school. She appeared worn beyond her years. I didn’t recall ever having seen her in the neighborhood or around town. It was odd.
So what of my surprise passenger, Roxanne? A woman who shared my name, who was walking alone in the snow-covered street, who failed to think of her own needs while rushing to meet the needs of others. The consequences of her neglect of self was finding herself standing in the snow with frozen fingers, groceries at her feet and blocks from home. For whatever reason– her family was not there to help her and she had to accept a ride from a stranger.
It gave me pause.
I’m that Roxanne, too, coming home with a sandwich for a child so that she could shovel another family’s walk but bringing no food for myself.
I almost said to the other Roxanne, “How could you leave home without gloves? You’ve got to take care of yourself. You’re no good to anybody if you get sick or frostbite.” But what stopped me, other than that being creepy coming from a stranger, is that other people have been saying that to me lately. My therapeutic goals are largely based upon meeting my basic self-care needs without guilt.
“Roxanne, have you been eating and sleeping? You can’t take care of your family if you don’t take care yourself.” I’ve heard often. Too often.
Did the universe send me that other Roxanne to remind me that I need to help myself? I mean, I know that when I get sick, the whole system fails. I know this, yet I still need reminders that protecting myself from the elements, eating, sleeping and yes even doing something just for my sheer enjoyment of it is as important as, well — anything. Somehow, that reminder got in my car that day, and her name was Roxanne.
I dropped Roxanne off feeling good about having helped her, since it was so very cold outside, but I knew that both of us need to take care of ourselves. I need to take care of me.
Maybe picking up a reflection of myself — what I could become, what I have been . . . was meant to be that day.
My Narrator: Roxanne, a functioning, yet melancholy divorced mother who often puts her basic needs well behind those in her care, stops in the snow to assist an eerily familiar woman in distress, a woman who perhaps shares more than just her name in . . . The Twilight Zone.
Just Me With . . . an over-active imagination?
P.S. I told my therapist about it. She queried whether the woman was real.
I’m not even going there.
See the Sequel: The Twilight Zone — Again? Seriously?