I am The Producer. Who are You?

TIME FLIES.....................*

TIME FLIES…………………* (Photo credit: Neal.)

My earliest memory of being late was in fourth grade. I couldn’t find my other shoe, or my homework and I still had not brushed by hair. My Mom was ready to walk out the door and I wasn’t. She knew this would make her late for work and I knew it too because she gave me an earful as I stumbled around trying to hurry, trying to prevent the unavoidable. Can you believe I still carry this memory around with me years and years later?

I stumbled upon this article while I was on my way to check e-mail. Checking my e-mail was one of the many things on my “to-do” list. Reading the article was not. It caught my eye because  I am always late. . This article was about being late and included seven categories of the type of  late person you are. I felt compelled to read it because maybe I could still change and rid myself of this bad habit that annoys me at times.  According to the article, I am  The Producer:

The Producer needs to get as much done in as little time as possible. She feels better about herself when she’s checking things off a massive to-do list. Producers tend to engage in “magical thinking,” consistently underestimating the amount of time their tasks will take. They hate wasting time, so they schedule themselves to make use of every minute of the day.

Other categories of late people include: The Deadliner, The Absent Minded Professor, The RationalizerThe IndulgerThe Evader, and The Rebel.

I enjoyed this article because it gave me things I could try to do to help myself overcome this bad habit while not feeling so guilty. I was wondering how practical it would be to keep a record of how long real tasks take. I think I can make it happen if I add it to my “to-do” list.

Are you always late? What kind of late person are you?

A Little Help From My Friends

I recently wrote an essay for this blog about a group of outstanding teachers. Every word of it was true and I dedicated it to these self-sacrificing people who inspired my words. Three of them immediately responded with sincere gratitude. Of course that made my day, but I wondered why I had not heard from the fourth person. Surely she too had read it. I worried that perhaps I had offended her.

Alas, that was not true. In fact, she has been so dedicated to her role of assistant principal, that lately she simply has prioritized work above all else. In a state of sheer exhaustion, not to mention her e-mail account screaming that her in-box was full, she forced herself to clean it out, where she stumbled upon the story of herself and her colleagues. She sent me an e-mail, sharing her feelings, and this is some of what she said:

“I just wanted to say that on this day as I am battling  throbbing neck pain that just won’t go away (for the 8th day in a row), and as I avoid the stack of work that is growing by the minute behind me – I finally read your Charlie’s Angels blog and cried. Thanks for reminding me why I am still here in a school building that has gone to sleep, and giving me the umph I need to get back here tomorrow.”

I felt thrilled that she had finally found a chance to read it. And that she liked the post was like icing on the cake. But there were two more important messages that I took home from her e-mail to me.

The first was a personal message to me about why I write this blog. In case you wondered, I do so for many reasons: I enjoy creating something from the words percolating in my brain. It clears my head. It is great practice for other venues that I want to pursue in the future (like content writing, magazine articles, short stories and a novel). It is salvation in times of stress. But if I had to name the number one reason for writing this blog, it is because I feel that it is so important is to reach out to others and connect with them somehow, whether I know them or not.

The second message refers to the title of this piece. It has to do with friends and being supportive of them, helping them through rough times and celebrating the triumphs of their lives.  Sometimes I marvel at the technology around me and contemplate the possibilities that it holds for the different aspects of my life. Then I see how using technology often disconnects us from others. Do we really tell those we care about the most how we feel? Are we there for them when they need us, like in the songs, “Lean On Me”, “I’ll Be There” or “I’ll Be There For You”?

So readers, I implore you. Be the friend that your friend can rely on. If you are not eloquent with words or feel “verklempt” now and then, send your friend this blog. Let me be your Hallmark card. No matter how you choose to do it, just tell them. You never know what a difference your words  (or mine) might make in someone’s life.

Are You Getting the Pie YOU Want?

fish pie

Image via Wikipedia

In the short history of my blog, this has been the longest period that has passed in between posts. You have probably wondered if starting this blog  was a passing phase in my life. No. Or perhaps that I grew tired of artfully arranging words to tell a story. No, wrong again. Kidnapped by monkeys while sleeping like Mowgli from “The Jungle Book”?  Wrong again, although that would make for a great  start to an interesting post. The answer has to do with pie, a metaphorical pie.

In everyone’s life, there are categories of things that take up our time each day: work, sleep, errands, exercise, time with others, chores, leisure, etc. If you are prone to mathematical analysis of information (as I sometimes am), then you can arrange your data in a graph, or a pie chart. There is also another category that sneaks into your day or week that steals time away. I call it the pie thief.

The pie thief is stealth. No one ever seems him, but you know he has been there because your slice of pie, the piece that you know exactly how big it is, is suddenly smaller. You look and look at this imaginary pie, the piece that you were getting ready to eat,  and wonder what happened.

The pie thief is not only stealth, but selective. He will never take from the piece of pie that is the most undesirable. The perfect example is the chores piece of pie, with laundry that seems to multiply as fast as the weeds in your yard that you just pulled out. It does not taste as delicious as the others. Instead he will take from the slice that you are looking forward to the most. In my case, that would be writing, reading, playing the guitar and spending time with my family. Or in pie language: strawberry rhubarb, apple, mixed berry and coconut cream.

In addition to being stealth and selective, the pie thief is also shrewd. He steals some of your most mouth-watering pie and leaves new pie that you have never tasted before. Now, you are probably scratching your head at this, but let me explain, because remember this is a metaphorical pie, (although I am starting to crave pie after writing after writing about it for the last hour). What I mean is that this pie had not been on your plate before, never been part of your daily/weekly allotment, but now there it sits. And, it is not leaving, no matter how much you try to make it go away. You cannot even pull the old switcheroo like you did when you were a kid and a) feed it to the dog, b) throw it in the trash when no one is looking or c) put it on someone else’s plate (again, when no one is looking). You have no choice but to eat it. (Although I have found that this task is slightly more palatable when chased by wine or more coffee.)

So, where did this mystery pie come from? The thief, of course ( and sometimes it can come from a little problem I call advocating for yourself, but I’ll write more on that in a future post). In my case, he left me the you really have more things to do to prepare yourself as a new landlord than you think you do because your very first tenants are moving in at the end of the month pie and I need you to write creative content for my Logan Square Farmer’s Market information board pie. While I was initially excited about each of these pieces of pie, (because who wouldn’t want to be a landlord and I LOVE to write), I had no idea how much time they would take up. Just when I thought I had finished, I saw that I still had more of that pie to eat. (Had I been drinking too much wine with my pie??)  I found myself so full of those pies, that I had no more room left over for the kinds of pie that I was looking forward to eating.

There are a few important lessons that I learned from this experience. The first is that sometimes you have to go with the flow and be flexible, because life will always give you new pie. The second is that, it is good to try new pie. It may become a favorite, like my Logan Square Farmer’s Market Pie. (In fact I welcome more farmers market pie, um, I mean opportunities to write for others). Third, there is only so much pie you can eat each day. When the pie thief introduces new pie to your plate, you may have to choose and reorganize your priorities to accommodate this new slice (or two).

As  the weekend waits at my doorstep, I am looking at my plate of pie to make sure that not only do I have a slice of each of  my favorites, but that I leave some room for when the pie thief comes around because he usually does.

Your Socks Are On Fire

Kings of Leon at FIB (Benicàssim).

Image via Wikipedia

As a parent, I am constantly making split second decisions about my children on a daily basis. Can I have a cookie? No, it is too close to dinner. Do I have to wear my hat today? Yes, it is cold and windy. Can we listen to some kids music? No, it’s my turn to choose the music. For the most part, I am trying to impart healthy habits and teach them common sense. Okay , so the last example sounds a bit selfish. I don’t act that way all the time. I just don’t want my  children  to think that the world  is here to cater to them. I think it is healthy when a parent occasionally puts their priorities and interests first, as long as they are appropriate and will not cause harm. 

So, one day, the radio is on and the kids are in the back seat. A great song comes on and I crank it up, because I’m a car singer. My palm bounces off the steering wheel in syncopation to the drum/bass combination. I get lost in the guitar riff and when the chorus arrives, I panic. It’s split second decision time and I fumble for the volume and the fade knob at the same time. I lower the volume of the song emanating from the speakers and from my mouth.

Why? Well, it’s Kings of Leon singing “Sex on Fire”. We haven’t had the birds and bees discussion yet  and I don’t think the car is the best place for it to happen.  My imagination gets over excited from it’s recent 20 ounce latte and takes over right away with near perfect accuracy about what might happen if we drove down that path…..

Fire engines, ambulances and squad cars engage in dueling horn signals to reach the scene of the five car accident along North Clybourn Avenue first. People stare at me, the shaking thirty-something mother of two children,( one of which is asking questions in rapid machine-gun fire), trying to determine if I am the cause of the accident. Crowds of people gather  as the officer asks how the accident occurred. I fumble over my words , trying to explain my explanation about things that happen behind closed doors between  consenting adults while my  talkative child interrupts me to ask, “You do that?” The look on the officer’s face is a mixture between surprise, choked back laughter and sympathy. Onlookers, gape and gasp. The child continues to connect  the neurons in his brain cells.  I stand frozen, mortified, as a news camera microphone is thrust into my face…..

In a split second, I have avoided embarrassment and potential damage to my car, not to mention my reputation. For now, I will use the avoidance and tiny white lie strategy. Should the children ask what they are saying in the song (which they have been known to do), I’ll lie and tell them, your socks are on fire. But I suppose that if I go down that path, I will have to change the lyrics to many other songs that they might hear. U2 will be singing about socks and boots (“Sexy Boots”), George Michael will be singing about wanting someone elses socks ( “I Want Your Sex”,) Pink Floyd will be singing about a woman who needs to take a bath, (“Dirty Woman”) and Marcy Playground will be singing about the great combination of socks and candy (“Sex and Candy”).

At some point, it will be time to have “the talk” with my kids. And at some point I’ll have to explain what some musicians are really singing about. I would hate for them to grow to adulthood, only to find out that they have been singing the wrong lyrics the entire time. Do you how embarrassing it is to learn that it is NOT “The Sultans of Suede”?

Maybe I should have let them listen to the kids music.