Yesterday, I finally got to do three things I’ve been waiting to do all week: vacuum my apartment, read “Newsweek,” and go to Target.
I know these are all extremely simple things, but they were also things I had been waiting to do since Monday. Why? Because the spring 2012 semester snuck up on me like an trenchcoated villain and demanded all my time before I even had the chance to turn around and see him hiding in the dark shadows.
Okay, so maybe not that dramatic, but something close to it. I got tricked by the long break before the start up of the spring semester, to the point that on my first day of classes, I didn’t even have all my books ordered—which has never happened. This wasn’t aided by the fact that I put in the completely wrong address on my Half.com order. Not just the wrong address, but an address that doesn’t even exist.
So, I just completed my second full week of my second semester of my MFA and something occurred to me—I’ve almost gotten to the point where I don’t let myself enjoy school anymore.
Let me explain—I love school. I love the program I’m in. I mean, I get to read and write for a degree (and obviously also because it’s what I love to do). I feel like reading and writing are two things people take time off work in movies to do, and I’m in an opportunity where I get to do those things everyday.
But something frightening has been happening to my brain—I’ve let the “Must read this for school” component take over the “This is actually enjoyable” one and now I live in a world where I’m stressed all the time.
There are other factors that contribute to this too. But the main point is that I’ve begun to treat my two favorite activities as chores.
Maybe this is because I’ve been in school for nearly 20 years. Maybe it’s because I’m hyper-organized to the degree that sometimes I panic even when I forget something as small as writing “Go to Target “ in my planner. Or maybe it’s simply because I’ve forgotten how to enjoy doing the things I love, letting myself live in a world where I’m “too stressed” or “too busy” to do anything else or enjoy my free time. And those excuses right there are things I hate, hate to hear out of other people’s mouths—so why am I letting myself say them?
So, in the spirit of February Resolutions (forget New Year’s), I’m going to try and do all the things in my everyday week that I always think I’m too busy to do. When, in reality, it’s because I’ve made myself too busy. If I want them to happen, I can. So here goes:
1. Write more and enjoy it. Write without a purpose. Just write.
2. Stop fretting over every, tiny, insignificant detail. I have a tendency to over-worry and OVERREACT (think Nicolas Cage, National Treasure 2).
3. Enjoy my class reading. I get to read novels. That shouldn’t be hard, except sometimes I let my “stupid brain” take over—you know, the brain that functions when you’re so focused on soaking up every single word you read you actually do the complete opposite.
4. In the same strain, talk in class! I usually don’t speak in class because, you know, the stupid brain syndrome (SBS). I get scared, thinking I don’t have anything of quality to say, which is just silly. Even if I did say something off-based, I doubt my classmates would remember for longer than a day. But side note, the exception to that rule: the guy I had class with over a year ago that kept referring to the “Llama” in class about a book we had read. Come to find out, he wasn’t talking about the furry animal at all, but, in fact, the Dalai Lama—because, you know, “everyone calls him Lama.”
5. Live in my current moments, whatever they may be. Stop letting my brain obsess and wonder and thing about all the other things I could be doing. I’m especially bad at doing this when I end up in an unplanned conversation with someone and then I miss the enjoyment of the conversation because I’m thinking of the things I need to do. If I make the choice to have the conversation, then actually have the conversation.
6. Furthermore, listen to people! I’m so bad at this. You know those kids in class that get excited about something they want to say to the class, so they essentially miss everything else because they’re waiting to include their thought. Yep, I was that kid, and still am.
7. Stop making excuses for not exercising.
8. Take time to do the little things that always get pushed to the side. The big things—talking to Rahul, my friends, my parents, watching my current TV obsession (right now How I Met Your Mother), writing this blog, etc.—always happen. But
the other things—reading my magazine subscriptions, buying groceries, keeping in touch with old friends—tend to get pushed to the side and it frustrates me. Thus why, yesterday, I took an hour and read my Newsweek. And now I know stuff about the Mexican drug cartel.
9. Improve my attitude. Not that I have a bad attitude. But sometimes I let it be bad, and I have no one to blame for this but myself—even though it’s easy to blame other things.
10. Enjoy where I am in life right now! I don’t want to look back on my MFA and think “Oh, yeah, I did that. Stuff happened.” I want to look back and think “Yeah, that DID happen, and it was awesome.” That’s how I look back on my two years in Missouri, and I want to be able to do the same for this time. I mean, when else will I: 1) Be surrounded by such an incredibly supportive writing community that gives me the chance to grow my writing everyday, 2) Live near my FAVORITE American city, 3) Hang out with undergrads all the time as a fraternity House Mom? After the next few years, probably never again (except for the writing community thing).
So, as Barney Stinson says, I need to SUIT UP and enjoy this time in my life before it’s gone.