B Is for Behind: #atozchallenge

A story from my friend the high school business teacher:

A student in her bookkeeping class asked what arrears means.

Said the teacher, “It means you’re behind.”

And twenty-five shocked teenage faces stared in profound silence.

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I’m behind. Nothing new. I don’t live a hurry-up-and-wait existence; mine is wait-and-hurry-up.

The condition won’t be cured by planners, lists, date books, Google calendars, anti-procrastination classes, or prayer and fasting. I’ve tried them all.

I’m a compulsive organizer. Back in the day, I owned a series of Franklin planners: big, little, zippered, non-zippered, black, colored (red and teal). If anything could have organized me, that teal planner would have done it.

In a sad development, the teal planner disappeared from my car in late August of 1998, the night before the first day of faculty in-service. I went out in the morning and found the driver’s side window open; the seat where I’d left two tote bags was empty.

I called 911. The local constable came out and said he knew who did it–they lived next door to the post office a few blocks away, and they were the ones who did everything around there–but the authorities wouldn’t be able to prove it. A deputy sheriff came out and dusted for fingerprints but found only the ones I’d left when I closed the door.

I was late to work, which wasn’t a problem because I missed only the meeting at which nothing happens except coffee and donuts. I learned more from the breaking-and-entering experience than I would have at the meeting.

To wit:

  1. Fingerprint powder is black and sticky. Very sticky.
  2. If you drive a dusted car without first draping seats, doors, and steering wheel, you’ll be sorry.
  3. Fingerprint dusters don’t clean up after themselves.
  4. People who steal from parked cars will take anything and everything. They got my favorite tote bag, the one displaying the Edward Gorey tuxedo cat lying across a stack of books, and the caption, “books. cats. life is sweet.” That bag meant a lot to me. So did the teal Franklin planner with zipper and page after page of contact information that I’d recently compiled and entered in my neatest handwriting. [As in, I organized it.] The can of asparagus wasn’t all that important to me, or probably to them, but they took it. What galls me–even today–is that I know the entire haul ended up in the river.
  5. If you leave a car in front of your house, as I did, instead of pulling it into the driveway, someone will break into it. If you pull the car into the driveway, the same people will break into it. Evidence: An electrician who spent that night with his mom, just around the corner, parked his van in her driveway. The next morning–a broken window and no equipment.
  6. If you’re going to park a car where it’s an easy target, make sure it’s a rental car. My car was in the shop overnight and I was driving a little Geo Metro the color of Pepto-Bismol. At the end of the day, I returned it to the agency, picked up my well-oiled car, and headed home. Somebody else dealt with the sticky black stuff.
  7. If you’ve lived all your life in a small town where people never bothered to lock their doors when they went on vacation, and you think you’re still living in that same small town, you’re wrong.

But I digress. And that’s one reason I’m behind.

Before turning in, I must post this for A to Z Blogging and then complete two more writing assignments, one for a critique group, another for an informal class in memoir. Tomorrow I have to put out my Sisters in Crime chapter’s newsletter–and put up my C post for A to Z Blogging–and then the next tomorrow there’s the D post–

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;

and when I get there, there’ll be one more thing to write.

Such pressure!

And the crazy part–my teenaged English-student-self would never have believed it–it’s all self-imposed. Nobody makes me do this. I blog for myself; I do blog challenges for myself; I take writing classes for myself; I write stories for myself; I go to critique group for myself.

Because I want to.

Crazy.

Now, before I fall further behind, I shall stop, post, and move on.

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Find a list of all A to Z Blogging participants here.

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Image of fingerprint by stux, via pixabay

 

Cow Swapping

Jersey cow in western United States. Whitney m...
Image via Wikipedia

Ever have one of those days when you have a zillion things to do, but you can’t get them done?

Because you start one thing, but then you think you should be doing another thing, so you start that, but you remember you need to do something else?

So you stop starting anything at all?

And the next day, you face the same tangle, except worse, because another zillion things have piled up on top of yesterday’s zillion, and now you’re even more overwhelmed and hopeless?

And then one day, the Mt. Everest of multi-zillions topples over and flattens you?

And you lie under there all squashed and miserable, wallowing in the knowledge that all you have to show for the past year is the unframed honorable mention certificate they sent you from the national Bejeweled contest, senior citizen division?

Neither have I.

Because I am not merely efficient. I am effective.

That’s Franklin-Covey language. I picked it up in the Franklin-Covey seminar where I learned how to use my Franklin planner. (Covey hadn’t joined up when I went to seminar.)

I learned to use not only that Franklin planner, but each succeeding Franklin planner: the black one with the zipper, the teal one with the zipper, the little red one with the clasp. There might have been others.

Two were later stolen. I left them in a tote bag on the front seat of my car, and while I slept, certain parties (“I know exactly who it was,” said the constable, “but we’ll never prove it.”) smashed a window and made off with the bag. They also got a can of asparagus and a couple of tins of sardines.

That was in August, the first day of in-service. I called the insurance company. I called the school and said I would be along as soon as the deputy had dusted for prints.

My prints, as it turned out. No others. But that made no difference. When juvenile offenders, both alleged and convicted, have completed their respective judicial processes, their fingerprint records are destroyed.

The deputy shared that information. Up to that point, I’d been calm and resigned, but on learning the fingerprint fact, I expressed righteous indignation. At length.

In my father’s day, the boys around town celebrated Halloween by turning over outhouses. People expected their outhouses to be turned over. The next day, they stood them up again.

My uncle once swapped Mr. Langley’s and Mr. Mercer’s milk cows. On November 1, Mr. Langley and Mercer went out with their milk buckets, found alien Jerseys, laughed, and walked them back to their rightful barns. No cows were harmed. They might not even have noticed they were waking up in the wrong bedrooms. Bovines aren’t famous for their powers of observation.

But that’s kid stuff. Breaking into a car and trying to hotwire it is not the same as swapping cows. (Franklin planners were just the consolation prize.) Nor is burglarizing a house several blocks north (one new television set) or stealing a cell phone and tools from an electrician’s van around the corner from me.

A childish prank shouldn’t cloud anyone’s future. But it is my considered opinion that the second time a juvenile ends up in court, his fingerprints should be kept on file. Just in case.

Oh, never mind.

After the dusting, I scraped glass out of the driver’s seat, draped it with towels (deputies do not clean up after themselves), and proceeded to commute. I met the superintendent coming out of the general convocation. He expressed amazement at my calm demeanor. I said if he wanted to see fireworks, I’d be glad to explain about fingerprints.

Well. This started as a lament over mental paralysis, and it’s ended up as a nostalgic tour through the good old days of cow swapping, plus a diatribe on the juvenile justice system.

Back to the present. There are books to be written, blogs to be read, comments to be replied to, software to be learned, and a sink to be blessed. Franklin-Covey would tell me to make a list, prioritize, and get busy. They would tell me to use a Franklin planner for listing and prioritizing, of course, but somewhere along the line I discovered a sticky note would suffice.

So, Dear Readers, I’m off to find a sticky-note and scale–effectively–Mt. Everest.


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Image by Tlarson at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons