I thought I owed a blog post to filling in the blanks. What DO I do when I’m not doing what I should be doing?
So f you thought this is going to be a scatologically themed post, you are on the wrong blog. This post is about what I do do. You can read about doo-doo somewhere else.
And I want to do (do) a little soul searching while I’m at it — an evaluation, if you will. In other words: When I don’t do what I should do, are the things I do do things I really shouldn’t do?
Is it ok to be doing the things that I had not planned on doing, Shoop Dooby Doo?
Let me clarify that, for the most part, the things that I need to do and the things that I want to do are largely part of the same murky pool. It’s really hard to determine what’s what without taking out each item and examining it.
For example: I was at IKEA yesterday, which is a relatively rare event in my life, and I like to enjoy the experience and follow all the arrows through the merchandise from beginning to end. DH, who was with me, has a very low tolerance for arrows and merchandise and so our trip was very goal-oriented: Find furniture for offspring to replace the nonfunctional furniture currently in their possession.
There are things I always stock up on when I go to IKEA. Candles, napkins, tea towels. I also like to browse around and see what’s new, what catches my eye– stop and smell the meatballs, as it were. DH grudgingly (he’s a prince, really!) consented to some unscripted wandering while he went to the warehouse area to collect our flatpacks for purchase. Lo! (and behold!) I came across a beautiful folding dish rack which I’ve been wanting but couldn’t find. My life was suddenly that much improved. I also checked out and dismissed a lamp that I had been eyeing in the catalogue. It wasn’t on our list but the idea of this lamp had been swirling around in my brain for weeks or months and now it no longer took up any space. Was all that a good use of my time?
Today I came home in the late morning after my yoga class. Yoga is not considered a waste of time in my book– or blog, as it were (though I understand that it’s now viewed as a form of cultural appropriation?) because a girl’s gotta move. I had a very specific task to accomplish when I got home: Clear my desk and inbox of all the paperwork and paperless work that’s been piling up. There are bills to pay, insurance forms to fill out, coupons to pretend I’m going to use, camps and camping trips to book, and subscriptions to renew. And more, of course. There’s always more.
Well, I figured I’d better eat something before the meds kicked in. I’d just remembered to take them on the way home, and yesterday they wreaked havoc on my digestion. It’s weird, I get snacky, but not hungry. Like I feel like I want to eat, but don’t actually feel like eating anything. So I don’t eat the right things and then when the meds wear off I pay the price.
I picked up the kettle to make some tea and, finding water in it from before, I went out to my urban jungle to water it. One of the many ways I am helping mother earth. Some of my plants did not require watering, but needed a good spray. I have some jade plant leaves that I am trying to propagate in the base of another plant, and they need just the right amount of water. I picked up the planter to spray it and when I put it down, I must have not done so very well, because the whole thing spilled over. Darn. My plantlings.
Now, when I say that I have an urban jungle, what I really mean is that I have several corners in my house that are dominated by plants. Literally, in this location, the plants are three deep in some places, and also staggered up and down on various pieces of furniture. It’s very lush, but also very inaccessible. This particular corner is also blocked off by two couches at 90-degree angles to each other. If it wasn’t for the jade leaves, only one of which I could see, I would have probably just picked up the main plant, put in some new soil, and left the mess for some other day. However, it takes about 8 weeks for jade leaves to produce roots, and I didn’t want to start all over again when it’s been almost or at least that long.
So I groaned, pulled out one of the couches, and started sweeping. I recovered one of the leaves but couldn’t find the rest. I eventually spotted them in the crook of what was once a bonsai tree (now a full fledged small tree in a bigger pot). On my hands and knees, I could see that there was just so much to sweep up under there, so I started moving the second couch and all the plant furniture (what would you call them?) so that I could get at the floor underneath. My Boston fern, though it’s been growing nicely for about four years, is in a spot where I normally can’t get in close enough to cut out all the dead material, and so I decided it was time for a haircut. I took it out to the kitchen and went at it with a pair of scissors. It looked much more fresh and happy when I was done. Then I had to clean up all the dead leaves left behind by the fern. At some point I re-spilled my original plant. At some point the kettle, still cold, caught my eye. Oh yes, I thought. Lunch.
I fixed myself a hearty cup of ramen noodles (guilty pleasure, don’t judge) and while the kettle was boiling I began to load the dishwasher. I took yesterday’s coffee in it’s French press (French press, Boston fern… my aren’t we international!) to water the plants in the dining room and came across one that I’ve been meaning to replant.
No, I told myself, I will focus on work now. I will. So I grabbed my phone, my noodles (I only use half the spice pack and sometimes i substitute it with Miso powder!) and my spilled plant with the jade leaves and I resisted the urge to bring the dining room plant, and I dropped off the spilled plant in my bathroom, where all the indoor re-potting happens, and I willfully left it there and went and sat at my desk. i can do the plants later, I told myself. Are you proud of me yet?
It was close to 1pm. I started going through my papers, pretty methodically, with only a very few breaks for… brain. You know, brain breaks. They are a thing. I allow myself a few minutes to play a game or read an article. They are considered ok as long as they don’t go longer than 5 minutes or so.
I was doing great and then. The doorbell rang. It was my neighbor. Who I love. Who I am blessed to have. Who does one hundred kind things for me every day. Who consistently interrupts my focus and therefore my work, sometimes several times a day. Who is the reason I created a very fancy Do Not Disturb sign which i have to remember to adhere to my door on a more regular basis.
She asked if I had a few minutes and I said sure. I don’t know why I said sure, because I know that ‘a few minutes’ is usually not. Then she said ‘can we sit down?’ and I said sure again, only this time the little red flag that seems to have been snoozing earlier shot up and started waving frantically. Like waving in my face and poking me up the nose. I ignored it because I’d already said sure, and I didn’t want to be rude. Because I am a nice person. Because I am a sucker.
What followed was a story worthy of daytime television. It involved secret lovers, seeming-lovers who were in fact not lovers at all. There was betrayal, blackmail, plotting, conspiring, and also gardening. And it took a full 45 minutes to get to the closing line.
Thing is, I don’t watch television during the day, and I could feel the minutes ticking past. Like sands through the hourglass, this drama was turning a vital part of my afternoon into an empty receptacle.
Not my best metaphor, but there is a daytime drama/soap opera reference there if you can catch it.
I eventually ushered her out the door, promising to come by later to see her latest curbside acquisitions (that’s not a criticism… it’s a neighborhood hobby.) I tried to return to work, but there was not a large enough chunk of time. Once again, I had to put off filing this insurance quote– which I was sitting on for a month. There are so many flagged items in my inbox that I have to scroll for a full minute to see the new e-mails.
Here is the soul-searching part, as promised. and I would love a comment on this if someone cares to offer one: Did I do the right thing? The neighbor is a friend, and although her story was, say, a little over the top, she came to me out of need. Was having her come in and talk to me the right thing to do, do?
Actually, in this particular case, I think it was not, but I’d love to hear your opinion.
And that is what I did do, I guess, but it’s only part of the larger picture of what I DO do. And so I will re-title this post accordingly and revisit the idea once again.