Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tin Can Tyranny*

Well. So some of you may not know about the routine. I had a routine and it went like this:

wake up
read the paper while eating breakfast
do the crossword puzzle
write 3 free-form pages (morning pages, for those of you acquainted with the Artist's Way)
read the Book of Mormon for 1/2 hour (and this involves a very intricate method that I could detail for you if you are interested)
listen to 3 songs on iPod
read a poem aloud
clean for 20 minutes (or for an hour, once a week)
do errands/billpaying, etc. for 40 minutes (or two hours, once a week)
study, do whatever one does during a day, etc.
15 minutes of genealogy
27-item throw away

And at night:
Do the dishes
change cats' food and water
scoop litter
brush Isis and maybe Mr. Burkett if she'll let me
play ribbon with Isis and maybe Mr. Burkett if she's in the mood
brush my teeth
wash face
wash feet
learn some Hindi
read and sing a hymn in German
read 15 minutes of for-fun book
read three pages of the Old Testament out loud
go to bed

So this is how it would go on the best of days. The problem was that I would get bored with the routine and rebel against it (generally these rebellions taking the form of watching Dr. Phil). And the other problem was that all of these extra things take up WAY TOO MUCH TIME and a graduate student should not be allowed to live such a fancy leisurely life. I should wake up and study study study and not take time to sing German hymns and regale my poor cats with poetry. And another problem was that I thought I had to do all morning things before I could study. Obviously this is kind of crazy and OCD and would often keep me from studying at all.

But then I remembered my love of the random and came up with the tin can. I typed a list of all of the components of my various routines in 36-point Garamond, printed it out, and cut the list up into strips. Included on the list were such things as International Organizations: 2 hours; India: 1 hour; Incompletes: 2 hours; and PDPM: 1 hour. These are my my school duties.

So I put all these slips of paper into an old crushed tomatoes can and when I'd wake up in the morning I'd pick something out of the can and that's what I'd do. It was rather jolly and fun the first few days...who knew what I'd do next? I'd go from reading about Bilbo Baggins conversing with Smaug to reading about why neoliberal institutionalism really IS a separate theory from realism, from doing old-lady aerobics (chosen from a separate group of papers with different exercise routines written on them) to scanning in my India kids' lovely photos into my computer. And I really was getting more important school stuff done, because I didn't have to get all of my hobby stuff done beforehand.

But now I've become very disturbed by all of this. Why can't I just make decisions and prioritize?! Why must my day come out of a tin can! I may as well be measuring out my life in coffee spoons, right? Can we be in agreement that all of this is a tad absurd?

*This post is sort of inspired by FMH's Day in the Life series. Read my cousin's beautiful installment here.