Reinventing the hamster wheel

How can school be starting again already? I JUST graduated! The long list of projects I had planned for my summer “vacation” is far from being checked off.

An exhausting, but not exhaustive to-do list and status report:

  • Rid the house of superfluous stuff, take said stuff to Goodwill, and stop accumulating stuff in the first place — done for now
  • Sort and store outgrown baby clothes to make room for the fall and winter collection I will soon be purchasing from upcoming consignment sales — done, calendar marked.
  • Sort through several years of graduate school refuse in office, rediscover desk and floor, become an organized person — first two parts done! As for the third part, at least my dreams are organized…
  • Clean all the things that were allowed to remain in the house (à la Hyperbole and a Half) — see next item
  • Find a cleaning professional to save sanity and marriage — done
  • Design innovative and engaging course syllabus, remember how to teach and interact with students after a two-year hiatus, catch up on latest Blackboard developments before realizing Blackboard is for the most part unknowable, resign self to scrape by with rudimentary coping skills — almost done, not done, not done, done!
  • Stress about childcare situation, research suitable childcare options for Ulysse so I can teach aforementioned class, and finally settle on one, stop stressing about childcare — overdone, done, done, in progress
  • Do daily educational projects with Ulysse, teach him many things — thank goodness his is naturally inquisitive
  • Renovate and add on to Ulysse’s cardboard castle, start working on backlog of other crafty projects dreamed up while too busy to do them — the castle has taken over my life, will post about it soon!
  • Hunt for Little People at every opportunity — ongoing
  • Stop relying on to-do lists to get through life. Use brain occasionally — lists are so addictive
  • Reflect upon how very lucky I am to have so many first world problems — ongoing…

So, as you can see, I did sort of check a few of these things off of the list. Yay me. Unfortunately for me, and I imagine for you as well, dear reader, my list is not a list of things that can ever truly be checked off, but rather a network of hamster wheels, revolving doors and moving sidewalks. I may temporarily shift from one to another, but I will never completely escape most of them.

When I do focus all my energy into, say, sifting through the wasteland of papers, notes, books and garbage that have been forming the debris-scape of my office for the last seven years, I might have some modest success. At this very moment, after only four days of intensive concentration and exertion, I can see more of the surface of my desk than I have in months. Beneath the wreckage, I found a substantial layer of cat hair and litter that George, my nemesis office cat and official frenemy lap warmer painstakingly collected for me over the last few seasons. Not only is my desk now clean and tidy, the floor has reappeared from underneath the rubble. Now that I have mopped up the cat vomit that had long ago dried in several places, I can once again appreciate how very flat, and hard, and wooden a floor can be. I had forgotten. My books are arranged on the shelves according to a complicated system of my own invention, which I will soon forget in favor of the large precarious pile o’books method of organization. The paper-sorting thingy I optimistically purchased years ago at Container Store is, for the moment, neat and orderly, not force fed and regurgitating.

It is a thing of beauty. I have proudly shown my chef d’oeuvre to everyone who has come to the house in recent days.

This fragile state of being will soon be destabilized by the encroaching chaos of the semester. I only momentarily catch up with the relentless churning of life’s apparatus before I slowly, almost imperceptibly begin losing ground again. Then suddenly, there I am again, buried under a mountain of clothes, stuff, junk and papers I don’t even remember collecting in the first place.

Since I am going back to school (as a real professor!) in just a few days, for the first time since Ulysse arrived, I have resolved to make my newfound cleanliness and organization permanent fixtures in my life. Really. Thirtieth time is a charm!

I should mention Ulysse is going to school, too! Two mornings each week. I think he will like it. He would have happily stayed when we visited… Of all the things that did or did not get done this summer, finding the right arrangement for him was by far the most stressful, but also the most satisfying when it was finally done.

The slate is clean and we as ready as we are going to be.

What are your back to school rituals? Are you ready?

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One thought on “Reinventing the hamster wheel

  1. since I am doing mainly research, I mainly notice the semester has started because I can no longer find a decent parking spot! nice list! those are some major accomplishments!

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