A Day in the Life of Elephants

I spent the morning being very productive. How could it have all gone so wrong?

First, I answered a slew of work emails, most with dumb advising questions that as an undergraduate I never would have dreamed of asking a professor. I spend about two hours each day answering these types of emails, and for awhile today this led me to contemplate the downfall of civilization.

Then I had a brief conference call with two university colleagues. It went surprisingly well, and I said very smart and helpful things, which is rare for me. All the while Oscar ran around the house making elephant noises.

Then I crafted a long and quite stunningly well-written email for the two said colleagues, and they were suitably impressed. With a sense of accomplishment I moved on to scrub my toilet, because nothing else can make one feel as virtuous as cleaning the toilet. I cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed, dusted, washed dishes, made lunch, and tried to teach Oscar how to put together his rocket ship puzzle. He has already mastered his elephant puzzle, his new favorite toy, which I bought at Bookman’s for $1.

I got Oscar hooked on elephants to help him get over his previous obsession with whales. Why he is drawn to enormous mammals is beside me. At night, he sadly waves bye-bye to his elephant puzzle and falls asleep making elephant noises.

After Oscar was down for his afternoon nap I should have just kept going, should have never sat down, really. Even so much as sitting down while Oscar is napping is asking for trouble. But I couldn’t resist. I thought, I’ll just sit and read the latest issue of Good Housekeeping, the one with Heidi Klum on the cover. So I sat and read about how she single-handedly runs a multi-million dollar empire while raising four beautiful children which she could not possibly have carried and birthed from her perfect body. Worse, she’s one of those annoying celebrities who claims not to exercise or diet. She keeps in shape by “chasing her children.” These kinds of statements make me want to both laugh and cry. During the past two years I chased an extra twenty pounds onto my body. I guess I should have eaten more chocolate.

At some point I felt the seductive pull of the afternoon nap. The afternoon nap is a vice that should be listed right up there with being addicted to crack cocaine. It will destroy lives. One minute I’m snuggling up on the couch with a throw pillow and the next minute my day is completely over.

Now I’m drinking coffee to get rid of my post nap hangover, and contemplating my to-do list.

The Alchemy of a Moment

It’s hard for me to work: grade, write, prepare for teaching, etc. when I don’t have a pressing deadline.  I call it living in crisis mode. I put things off and put things off until they literally can’t be put off anymore, and then the pressure forces me to get things done. It’s a terrible way to live, because I always feel anxious and guilty.

After reading a wonderful article on procrastination I decided to have a productive Sunday. I did yoga, graded a bunch of papers…and then stalled. I ended up reading blogs and a memoir, languishing in the late afternoon, feeling what I always feel on Sunday, a sense of dread for the coming week.

Then, I shook myself out of it. I sat at the kitchen table with my computer and papers and decided to plow through the worst of my tasks first, finishing up some grading. Oscar went to his room and came back out with some paper and crayons. He climbed onto the chair next to me and began coloring. With his companionship I was able to finish the grading. Darin put on some music, and Oscar got down to dance around the kitchen. Inspired, I began writing, getting a satisfying number of pages done on my book.

As I was working, I thought to myself, “Right now I don’t want to be anywhere else doing anything else.”

It was a truly perfect moment.

For more perfect moments, visit Lori.