Monday, October 18, 2010

Let Me Pencil You In

When I'm stressed out, I tend to get a little OCD-ish.  Like when I was laid off for the very first time (there have been four lay offs) I started doing things like organizing my closet.  I'm talking by colour and type.  So it looks kind of like a rainbow.  Green always screwed me up though because I never knew if I should put it before the blue (but certainly not after...that's purple...duh) or after the yellow (because yellow blends nicely into the creams, which blend into the off whites, which naturally blend into the whites).  Don't even get me started on my underwear....oh, who am I kidding...folded, then sorted into piles:  black, white, solids and patterns, with the darkest colours on the bottom, lightest on the top.  I could spend a whole content day like this.  My girlfriend worked in a shop that sold bras, so I learned how to fold them so that one side wasn't pushed inside out.  No one wants inverted bras, am I right?  I thought so.

When washing my dishes (by hand)  I would start with the mugs, then the glasses, then the plates (dinner, then dessert) followed closely by bowls, then utensils...knives, then forks, then spoons.  If, by chance I had cooked at any point since the last wash, I would let the water out, refill and wash the pots and pans.  Of course, they were all lined up perfectly in rows on dish towels to dry. 

I would count steps in groups of four.  Unless I was doing it automatically, then I would count each one.  I didn't even know I was doing it at first.  Every so often I would have a number in my head, like 97 or 33 and I had no idea where that number came from...until I realized I was counting steps.  Before sleeping, I would count.  Just count.  I tried sheep, but it made me dizzy following each and every one over the fence with my eyes.  Especially when I was counting to 486.  And inevitably, there would be the one sheep who decided to chew grass instead of jump and then I'd get all frustrated, lose count and have to start over.  So I just started counting. 

Now, it sounds silly.  I know that.  I'm not going to has crossed my mind that maybe the world would be a better place if we all entered rooms with our right foot first, and counted to 25 when scrubbing our hands with soap.  If you knew what to expect at every moment of every day, you'd be prepared for what came next.  Just think, every morning at 4:02 you know you're going to sneeze twice and then blow your nose.  You'd be prepared with tissue and a change of underwear (if you've had children, you will understand this...)

This idea works on three different levels.  First of all, you have the ability to control something tangible when everything else seems to be spiralling out of control.  You can put that mug on the dish towel, just so...and it's not chaos.  It's order, in it's most simplistic form.  Second of all, it's like uber-convenient.  You're looking for that pink underwear with the orange polka dots, know it's in the second drawer, in the third pile from the left, about 2/3 of the way up.  You're not looking through drawers and laundry baskets and under beds, you know exactly where it is.  And lastly, it speeds up each and every process.  Putting away the cutlery is super fast, because all the forks are already grouped together.  No wasting time, no pondering which to put away's all laid out for you.  And counting steps...well, I think we can all agree that you just never know when someone will hand you a treasure map where 'X' marks the spot....only 32 steps south, 14 steps east, and then 4 steps north.  You are set up, my friend, golden.  You've got this one in the bag. 

The last six years have been a combination of chaos and fly by the seat of our pants.  I found that it was easier for me to have no schedule at all, and just figure things out as they came along.  Q didn't really have a bed time because there was nothing important to wake up for first thing in the morning.  As a *non* morning person, having a little sleep in with a toddler was awesome.  It also made me the envy of all my mom friends with toddlers who were up at the crack of dawn.  We'd eat when we were hungry.  We'd spend the day in our jammies.  We'd do laundry when we had no more clean clothes to wear.  Closets were in disarray, underwear went unfolded, and cutlery was in the dishwasher if you needed it, and *fingers crosses* it was clean. 

Work was where my need for a schedule was fulfilled.  Airplanes came in at this time, left at this time, with little micro schedules in the mix.  If you took a five minute delay, you had better give a fabulous reason for it, because time was money and 5 minutes equaled approximately $100,000.00 give or take a thousand here or there.  Now, mail has "commitments" and if you don't meet these commitments, there is hell to pay.  It becomes a "National Event" and managers across the country discuss them on 7:45 am conference calls.  It's all very comforting, if you ask me.

Going into the night shift, with Q in grade one - full days...I knew I had to do something so I didn't go all bats in the belfry.  So, I bought a whole bunch of calendars, a white board and loads of post-it notes.  My day goes like this....

08:45 - get home
08:47 - say hi to brother
08:50 - pee
08:55 - get in pjs
09:00 - read/play a game of solitaire
09:10 - sleep

14:00 - alarm goes off
14:01 - hit snooze
14:05 - alarm goes off
14:06 - throw on sweats
14:10 - in car to pick up Q

17:00 - make dinner
17:45 - eat dinner
18:00 - *clean up  *denotes this may or may not happen
18:15 - make my lunch and Q's lunch
18:30 - lay out clothes for Q
18:30 - Q bath
19:00 - home reading, go through back pack
19:30 - bed

22:00 - alarm goes off
22:01 - hit snooze
22:05 - alarm goes off
22:06 - hit snooze
22:10 - alarm goes off
22:11 - hit snooze
22:15 - Holy Crap!! time to get out of bed!!!!!!!!!
23:00 - out of the house
23:35 - at work

I know, totally boring, huh?  But it works.  Seriously, we don't breath unless it's scheduled.  Sundays are laundry and grocery day.  Saturday?  Well, that's my fun day.  No plans, no schedule....we go where the wind takes us.  And it works, because I'm not crazy and stressed out and I know what to expect and what is expected of me.  Q, while completely resistant to the new schedule, is also doing well whether he knows it or not.  In our lives, there are no surprises.  Well, mostly no surprises.  I'm cool, calm and collected.  And it's good.

The only issue I'm going to have with this, is that anything NOT on my know, dating, coffee with friends, functions, etc...make me feel a little uncomfortable.  They're not on the schedule.  And if they are on the schedule it's in pencil, not pen.  Old single crazy loney lady, I come....


  1. My latest thing when making friends with plans we say, "Is this a pencil or pen thing.." which as YOU would know translates into a for sure or a if X, Y or Z has a hangnail it ain't probably going to happen.

    I can't get THAT scheduled or I may lose my mind, but I'm totally with you on how stress makes me OCD.

  2. I *LOVE* that I'm not alone. I'm also super stoked that my company is so awesome!!

    So, uh...did you turn your stove off? Lock your front door? How can we be sure?

    I think I need to call home...