Wednesday, February 15, 2006

now that I've finished...

I’ve become a complete rattle-head.

I swear that my job as an administrative assistant, in addition to other influences of my most recent life, as I have lived it, has changed me into exactly the opposite of what my mother was attempting to train me out of when I was 12. Growing up, I was continuously forced to organize, minimize and keep everything neat and clean. Nothing but perfection was acceptable. Those learned habits started going out the door when I started college. At this point I think they are irrevocably gone. Six years as an administrative assistant, has the same effect as six years of watching MTV for 8 hours a day. My frames of concentration can shift into and out of 8 tasks per minute. What I concentrate on is dependant upon the will and need of 20 professors and a supervisor. I begin my day with e-mail, sorting personal from work related. Before I get anywhere near to finished responding to all of them there are usually about 5 interruptions. The phone rings: somebody is asking for information. I return to my e-mail. A professor asks for help with a computer issue. I need to finish editing a document, I start on that. Oh, I forgot, I haven’t finished responding to my e-mails. And then there’s the e-mail connected to a personal dilemma. I write down thoughts for a pending response. Somebody greets me good morning. I mumble a distracted response. I return to my personal e-mail then put it aside to let it “cook.” Obviously, it’s on my mind. Footsteps up the stairs. Oh that is Professor H. I forgot to fulfill his request yesterday. I dig out the request and while I’m completing it the printer runs out of paper. I’ve proposed to myself to keep the printer full of paper before its empty and now I’ve forgotten. I guiltily run to the closet to fulfill my promise. The phone rings. The printer malfunctions. I return to my task in pensive silence as a different professor is about to loose his cool with the printer. I tell him I’ve called the IT people about it and they don’t know what’s wrong. I give him their number and listen to him vent. Oh, I forgot to finish my e-mails. Oh, I gotta finish Professor H’s job. Ooops and I have to make sure I finish reading the last of that chapter before I run to class at 10. Someone else says good morning. When and where can I escape to finish that chapter…

For the last 6 years I’ve been handed from one puppet handler to another up to 5 times a minute and then there is faculty meetings and lull times when the professors are just as exhausted as I. Praise the Lord! Up till a year ago, when I went home I couldn’t read my homework for more than 5 minutes before I’d either get distracted by some catastrophe that was happening in my own house or in the neighborhood.

Yet the pattern of chaos if firmly imprinted on the mind. Like a TV stuck on channel surf. Now I go home and after 5 minutes I have to distract myself. Last week was the exception, I wrote for hours on end, till I fell asleep. Woke up early, and began to write again. I’ve noticed for a while (3-4 years) that my creativity and my good ideas are both shot. Unfortunately, I was supposed to be interacting with numerous lectures during that time. Hopefully, God’s grace is sufficient for this as well. My creativity and intelligence have both been coming back slowly (some might disagree), since nobody but a quiet mousy roommate and me lives at my house now. I started this blog—so that I would have some incentive to be creative. I hope it working.

But I tell you, the one goal I have now that I have finished the last awful paper of my seminary career…is to put everything into its rightful place at my house and go to the Y every day to swim and sit in the steam room. I hate the mess in my room. I hate the mess at my office. I hate the mess in my head. And then I’m going to build stuff. And I’m gonna ask my grandma to show me how to crochet. And I’m going to design my own clothes and sew them because I hate those awful things they sell in stores. And I’m going to replace the leaky tub in my bathroom with the tub that is sitting in my parents’ woods and while I’m doing that I’m going to replace the kitchen window, because if I synchronize the two tasks I can bring the tub in through the gaping hole where the kitchen window is supposed to be. And I’m going to work hard till all my muscles hurt. And while I work I’m going to lecture. I’m going to lecture about everything and anything, like my dad. And the harder I lecture the harder I’ll work and the harder I’ll sweat. And then at the end of the day I’ll go to sleep. By then the mess in my head should be gone.


Chris B. said...

wow. This was enlightening and somewhat disturbing, but thanks. Now I know why when I come surprise you at your desk, your response is less than ideal. So, the best part of this post is that you hate the flurry of activity you engage in at work because it is multi-tasking and spontaneous, but your solution is to replace it with a different flurry of activity that is focused and premeditated. My question is, "Do you know how to take it easy?"

Blorge said...

I agree with Chris that this was enlightening and somewhat disturbing.

I understand the desire to work and to express the parts of your inner-self that have been neglected, surpressed, oppressed, etc. over the years.

Part of it, however, sounds like you've felt out of control at work and school, so you're responding by re-asserting control at home.

Is this the best way to go? It seems to me like it is one way of coping, but it doesn't fix your job itsself, which is causing the feelings of being out of control.

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
espíritu paz said...

Ah haaaa!!!! My good buddies! Somehow I get cartoonish image of both of you striding toward me with determined looks, swinging monkey wrenches and “pathology mechanic” spelled across the front pocket of your overalls. *giggle* What’s so disturbing? The parts where I’m trying to be funny and not succeeding or the parts where I’m not like everyone else?

What’s your definition of taking it easy? Growing things, knitting, swimming, walking, cooking, sorting and organizing are life rhythms to me, working with my body is therapeutic too—push out the hard manual labor that is somehow written on my soul—and replace it with forced pensive labor and you’ve got what I’ve become. But anyway, I'm curious, what is relaxation to you?

It is fun to see your happy faces at work though. I especially like the peeping over the cube’s wall—after I get over the fact that it isn’t our dearly departed professor back from the dead. It’s just that you might have to listen to me ask the Energy lady over the phone to correct my account so it no longer says, account past due. I really do like when fun people stop by. You’ll just have to take charge and instigate some diversion when I look a little cross-eyed with the pensive paralysis.