Monday, October 25, 2010

To Don't List

Barbara: The other day, Deb and I were working on a script and we were looking for some touchstone differences between a husband and wife for one (funny) scene. We asked Deb’s husband for some input: what bugs him about his (mostly perfect) wife? It didn’t take him long: when they are snuggling in to watch a movie at night (an activity that Deb has probably just rallied for), it is always a matter of seconds before a telltale ping of an email sounds and Deb’s eyes glance sidelong to her computer (this is really funny when reenacted by our Deb, btw), and only a matter of a few more seconds before Deb must––MUST, I tell you––sidle over to the computer to just––JUST, she swears––peak at what the email might be. Movie on hold. Probably not for the last time that night.

We laughed and laughed.

Beyond the laughing, I didn’t say much. But oh I could recognize Deb’s actions deep in my bones. Lately, it seems that I’m on my computer 90% of the time. If not to write with Deb, well then there’s my other screenplay, a novel re-write, 3 TV show concepts, and 3 other co-written projects. If that’s not enough, I’m blogging (case in point) and emailing and facebooking. The computer has become my other arm. And, you know what? I’ve been waiting for this kinda busy. I remember years ago watching in wonder as a busy colleague opened her datebook and it was FILLED with appointments, jobs, and meetings. I was still a fulltime actor (which means you only work a few handfuls of days a year) and new mom to 2 kids, and I would have given anything to squeeze in a few more commitments. I wanted my day-timer to be FULL. I wanted to be busy busy BUSY.

Be careful what you wish for. Today I found myself with a rare day “off” (after hosting a houseful of teens for my daughter’s 17th birthday––love you, sweetie!). I kicked up my heels and picked up a magazine. Haven’t done this for AGES. And it was lovely and relaxing. And then I got to the inevitable article that was going to burst my happy little bubble. It was an article about how overworked and overwhelmed we all are now. Especially women. With our appointments and jobs and commitments. And that we––here’s the stinger––wear our busy-ness like some kind of badge of honour.

According to the article, it’s one part true need, one part over-extending ourselves, and one part indulgent self-absorption (what, me?). We are making our own worlds. Like busy bees on a mission to build that perfect hive. Then it gets worse: apparently if we never turn our busy-ness off, we might in fact be giving short shrift to the bigger picture of our lives … because there’s no quiet time to really meditate on our choices.

The article does go on to say that it could also just be a phase. You know, you’re crazy busy this month (or week or day), but not so much the next one. It all levels out. So which is it? Coveted (even secretly) busy-ness, menial self-absorption, or a simple and inexorable life-phase?

Deb: Honest to Pete, I was roughing out my post for Wednesday and this was the subject. I love it! But I was a little thin in the fleshing-out department, so this, as it turns out, is perfect. I can respond with the smattering of thoughts that I had.

What I was going to say was that I am constantly amazed by the fact that the thing that can catapult me into the best mood, the happiest headspace, the most solid stress-free zone, is simply––TASKS COMPLETED! I find myself buoyed by the organization of the rec room. I am struck with giddyness when I reconfigure the dog drawer. I dance for joy and dream the dream of innocents when the ironing is done. And I don’t even need to pick up a magazine afterward. But if I do, I turn the pages distracted with giddy self-satisfied thoughts of clean drawers and raked leaves.

This, I was thinking is the adult version of “hitting the clubs”! But instead of false eyelashes and slinky dress, I am all unwashed face and overalls. And deodorant? “I don’t need no fucking deodorant!” That can wait till day’s end and my well-deserved shower! And it’s a long, long shower because I am standing under the hot water reveling in the tidiness of it all. I don’t even notice the shampoo in my eye, so focused am I on the memories of the day’s clean, neat, orderly hours. 

Ahh memories ... like the corners of my mind. Hmmmm, still have to get to those. Another day perhaps. 

And PS: Voting for the Canadian Blogger Awards for Best Personal Blog 2010 closes tomorrow at noon. Thank you all for supporting us! 


  1. Awesome post, Barbara. Three years back, I was a stay at home mom, and had no appointments on my diary (heck, I didn't even have a diary). Now, I have two growing up kids, a blog, a full time job, facebook, and heavens knows what else. I revel in my business, but I would like to be able to relax for a bit.
    How could you read our minds and put things in perspective for us?

  2. Much needed Monday morning giggles! Thank you, ladies!

    And, timely. Oh, so timely! Because *insert suspenseful music of impending doom*...

    My modem at home is dead. Toast. Literally, something burned up inside it. The new one won't come in until at least the middle of next week. (And, that was SO not in the budget for this month. *grumble*) I am offline at home. Excruciating! Luckily, I can sneak some online time quickly between students throughout the workday, but weekends mean a quick trip up to the public library to sign up for 30 minutes of computer time. 30 minutes. Out of a whole day. *twitch, twitch* This is worse than caffeine withdrawl headaches!

    Or, is it? After the first 2 or 3 days of feeling like I was being dragged across shattered glass, I began to cope. Who'd've thought I can survive with only checking email once a day? Luckily, (yeah for cosmically orchestrated coincidences -- bonus points to God on this one), a HUGE (almost 20 books!) stack of interlibrary loan requests came in for me. No internet to piddle around on after my son's tucked in for the night but I'm too tired to crochet or embroidery and keep stitch count and pattern instructions straight with my sleepy brain and eyes? That's OK. There's a big pile of library books in the chair: punk rock history interviews anthology, 2 radical alternative DIY books, the autobiography of a Puerto Rican independence crusader's years in the underground, a book about women reporters in WWII, the latest entry in Charlaine Harris's Harper Connely mysteries, an autobiographical manga about a woman's summer working in Alaska, and more! I've always been a bookworm who voraciously consumes readables, but being offline at home has strapped a rocket to the back of my reading.

    And, not only has my reading taken off, but my writing has, too. Right now, sitting down at the computer doesn't mean opening an internet browser. It means opening the word processing program ONLY and writing with no other windows open to lure me one click away. Without the distractions of incoming emails, news sites (I usually read at least foxnews, cnn, 2 regional news sites, 2 or 3 Brit papers, CBC, and Drudge Report daily), boingboing, twitter, YouTube, and anything of the funny and cute things in the ICanHasCheezburger empire, I am glued to writing and am churning out pages at an almost frightening rate. (It's writing itself! What do I do?!?). When I'm not distracted by other people's voices on the computer, I'm hearing my own so much better.

    Since we don't have TV channels and I can't get my steady news fix online, I've rediscovered the joys of listening to NPR or talk radio while crafting, doing chores, etc. And, the crafting? Since the modem died, my earrings and necklaces output has been prodigious.

    But, oh, I miss you, my dear friend Google. What did we ever do before online search engines? In these domestic Dark Ages of no internet access, multiple times a day I feel the sharp slap across the face of not being able to instantly sate curiosity about a question. I can't stand not being able to immediately look up something I want to know. More than anything, I am missing my instant access to information.

    I don't drink. I don't smoke. I'm not a slut. My 2 addictions in life are the internet and sodas. Apparently, lack of internet (or at least extremely rationed internet) won't kill me after all. But, I've got a big cup of icy cold cup of Pepsi sitting beside me as I type this. ;)

    Oh, and Deb, do what I did a little over a year ago. Turn off that ding! You are conditioned to that ding like Pavlov's dogs to a bell's ring. My incoming email noise was a small whooshing sound, but my email whooshes no more. No incoming email sound effect to lure you to the computer when you should be doing something else. It's very liberating. I have never once regretted silencing the email whoosh.

  3. I loved today's musings. I, too, find my days spent on the internet. I even got a computer tray for my bed (yes, you heard right). I like Deb love to organize so I am happy cleaning as well. Over the last year I have told my story at a wonderful venue that introduced me to a wonderful woman I know volunteer for as marketing director of her website. This has introduced me to a group of wonderful women writers who have captivated my days. Never know where writing will take you. Thanks for the great post today. I totally relate.

  4. Such a funny post,it really made me laugh. Anyways, I am on my computar most of the day. I am always on facebook,or twitter,or checking my e-mails(which I have many of) or blogging or doing something of that sort online. I think it keeps me from going out of my mind when I'm not in school or at work. If I'm not on my laptop at my home I am on my phone on the internet. So I have a lot of ways that I get keep my mind busy,which is a good think for me. Great post.

  5. I had a feeling we'd all be on the same page on this one!! Amazing how insidious both the internet and our own desire to do more more MORE is.

    But Rigel -- words of wisdom: "When I'm not distracted by other people's voices on the computer, I'm hearing my own so much better." Uh-huh.

  6. I keep thinking about what Rayna said about being a stay at home mom. Rayna, just because you didn't have to keep a day planner doesn't mean you weren't busy! You were just a type of busy that isn't honored by the normative western world.

    When I was a stay at home, homeschooling mom to my son back when I was married, it never failed to both offend and amaze me when people said, "Oh, so you don't do anything," or, "You just stay at home," or, "So, you don't work." Bloody hell! Since when is raising a little boy not work? Not to mention a special neesd little boy! And, throw in being responsible for his schooling, too!

    And, of course, people felt that I was on call for them to do anything at anytime because I couldn't possibly be busy because I was "just a mom." Now, I am happy to help out my friends. I gladly did all I could when I could. I also volunteered heavily at church. But, it was inconceivable to some people that sometimes I needed to say, "No," as though anything else I may have to do that was home and child oriented couldn't possibly be more important than an engagement in the outside world. I had a husband who was working insane hours on rotating shifts and drifting away from participating in homelife, a house to maintain (which, I admit, I suck at), and, most importantly, a child to raise and educate. I wasn't sitting around eating chocolate bonbons and watching TV all day which is, apparently, the lifestyle most people seem to imagine when someone is "just a mom." I actually had someone argue with me once about, "Of course, you watch soap operas! Don't try to tell me you don't! Don't lie." *gag* *rolls eyes*

    Anyone who says stay at home moms don't work and aren't busy is offensive. Average American society only seems to honor a woman's being busy if it involves a paycheck.

    Rayna was chauffer, maid, cook, psychologist, nurse, occupational therapist, and guru on the moutaintop among other things during that time. Screw the heels, hose, and PDA. Moms are busy.

  7. OMG Barbara and Deb, I love this blog, as I do all of them, but this is fabulous fabulous. I'm going to share this on my page. Love you both. Kisses and more kisses to you. Thanks for all you share. Cheryl

    PS - I don't know if I signed out correctly

  8. Oh the smug satisfaction of crossing things off the to-do list...It's what i live for. Sometimes I'll do a task, and realize it wasn't on my list, so I'll go back and write it in, then cross it off. I'm out of control.

  9. Oh Rigel, don't I know it. The mother load was by far the busiest. But I still wanted to be more work-busy, know what I mean???

    And Cheryl!! Thank you sooooo much. I don't know if you signed out correctly either, but everything looks good. And your name is nicely linked to your gorgeous and inspiring website! People, look at it. It's awesome.

    Hollye! That is HYSTERICAL! Yeah, I can relate...

  10. dumb article. can't they (whoever they are?) just leave us alone? Even our busyness has to be dissected, examined, and worst, questioned for it's veracity, sincerity, and proper intentions?

    Blow yourself a new bubble, Barbara, and don't let them burst it. They're probably just jealous because they have far less friends on their facebook page waiting for updates in their statii. And new blog posts. You get my drift. ;)

  11. Ha, Gae! Great points all. Back in my bubble go I. (to create more statii)

  12. lol.

    I am nothing if not an enabler.

    Also, I spelled some words wrong and added wrong apostrophes up there. You'll forgive me? I'm very self-absorbed busy. ;)

  13. I can so relate to this one ladies :-)
    I had been a full-time student for 5 years, most of which I did via distance/e-learning which wasn't easy with the distraction of the internet constantly tempting me. Now I have a part time job and am also doing part time distance study so I'm never far from my laptop and the internet - even if I'm out I can (and often do) check my emails and facebook from my phone... I'm addicted, I admit it, but at least it's a much healthier addiction than others I could have - like Rigel I don't drink, smoke, gamble or anything - the internet is my one vice :-)
    Unfortunately my modem's intermittently on the blink too :-( it's very frustrating
    I love to-do lists too Deb :-) unfortunately mine grows as fast as it takes me to complete tasks :-( such is the life of a student I guess!
    As for the busyness - I love being busy! When I finished my last course at the end of last year, I spent three months job hunting before I got my current job and started a new course - I was sooooooo bored! :-(

    Rigel - Please could you post the details (Title, Author, Publisher, Date of Publication, etc) of the Punk Rock Anthology book you were talking about? I'd love to check it out :-)


  14. Elle,

    The book is:

    We Owe You Nothing, Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews
    by Daniel Sinker

    I have really, really enjoyed 90+% of this book and agree with a lot of it. However, I also strongly disagree with some of the chapters (e.g. I'm pro-life, and this book is very pro-abortion.). But, it is a very worthwhile read for insight and perspective and a broadening of one's horizons. The Noam Chomsky interview alone is priceless.

    I've also been reading:
    On the Lower Frequencies: A Secret History of the City
    by Erick Lyle
    I don't regret reading it, but I don't rank it nearly as high as the Sinker book. It has some really great moments, but it gets tedious for pages at a time.

  15. Thanks Rigel
    I'll have to check it out :-) and yes I can relate to your views, I'm very much a pro-lifer too :-)


  16. As Barb and I always want to strive for accuracy, we would like to stress that it is "Pro Life" and "Pro Choice", not pro abortion.


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