Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Things that can be crossed off the list

Has anyone ever read Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad Are Friends? In it, there's a lovely story about Frog (Toad?) making a list of everything he needed to do, losing it, and being paralyzed all day by the silent tyranny of the list. At the end, Toad (Frog?) writes "Go to bed" on the ground, they cross it out, and conquer the list's imperatives.

This story has left me with a psychological desire to make lists only after I have accomplished things. Otherwise, I cede too much power to a piece of paper. So here is a list of things that I have done.

1) Finished (except for minor revisions that will only take an afternoon) two chapters of my six chapter dissertation. Am a little peeved that I have created a situation in which I am going to defend my dissertation when I can't drink. Still, there will probably be a party, so everyone block December 15th out.

2) Rationalized the intensely irrational sock system that was prevailing at our house. And when I say "intensely irrational sock system" I mean that the socks had somehow conspired to avoid pairing at all costs. Some of them, I am certain, had moved to Australia to avoid having out feet put in them. We dealt with the problem in different ways. It doesn't make Leo uncomfortable all day to wear mismatched socks, so he did that some. I kind of panic when my socks don't match (A good day for me is when my socks, my shirt and my underwear are matched). So I just wore flip-flops and was frightened of my sock drawer. I realize that this is the second time I have mentioned this feat, but it's a big thing for me.

3) Have done my Latin for the reading group today. This is good for the blood pressure, because now I won't have to sight translate in front of people who don't give me time to think, but start chipping in with useful advice just as I've sorted the sentence out in my head. Their yapping drives my carefully balanced translation out of my brain, and I just end up getting snappy with them.

4) Have mentally rearranged the furniture. (This is psychologically important, and since I'm not doing any of the actual moving of the furniture, it means that my work is done!)

5) Just now, I managed not to murder a student who walked into class 20 minutes late for an assignment that involved cumulative writing (each student moving along and writing a paragraph stemming from a previous student's paragraph). He doesn't understand why I have to come up with a different assignment for him. So not murdering him counts as a real accomplishment.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Where's My Sherpa?

I have decided that I will defend my dissertation on December 15. I make this decision because it seems relatively certain to me that I will have no credibility if I waddle into my interviews visibly about to burst a baby out into the middle of the room and say "Oh, yeah. I'll finish my dissertation this spring. No problem." So it has to be done. I've returned to the death march work schedule (with time taken out for naps, of course), but this afternoon, I decided to do something different.

I have conquered the laundry. Leo has socks (matched!) and underwear and t-shirts all neatly arranged in his clothing area. I have sorted all my clothes into "fits" and "maybe sometime this will fit again" piles, and am about to move my clothing bins downstairs, as part of the great "let's not carry the baby up the steep, narrow, treacherous stairs" gradual migration down to the first floor bedroom.

Now we just need to find someone who can help Leo move a really heavy couch out of that room, switch the beds, and . . . oh, I'm not going to think about it right now. I want to focus on the important things: the laundry mountain has been scaled. Take that, Sir Edmund Hilary!