Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Monkey-throwing Wrench

It seems that there is a never ending list of demands our time. The day job(s), significant others, religious observations, friends, co-workers, kids, housework, yard work, laundry, honey-do lists, and so on. It's a difficult balancing act -- one that even a Chinese acrobatic team would struggle with.

We all know that old saying that "you can't please all of the people all of the time" but somehow that never stops us from trying. We want to make our family happy, have a clean and orderly home, and still have time for our hobbies and pursuits. It doesn't help that being a writer is so time consuming. I know several authors who attribute their success to an understanding spouse who was willing to take the lion's share of the duties. But what do you do if, like me, you don't have a spouse and aren't likely to have one in the foreseeable future because the average member of the opposite sex thinks you're too weird for words? How do you cope when a monkey throws a wrench into your day and screws everything up? Or in my case, it's usually a wrench throwing monkeys into my day (they're far more dangerous because an airborne monkey does a lot more damage than an airborne wrench).

Well, becoming a workaholic has been effective for me, but I can't keep that up indefinitely. I have no desire to work myself into an early grave and all work and no play makes for a very cranky Kim. There's always the option of saying "to hell with it", but that won't put me on the NYT bestseller list or make my living space, well, livable. So, where is the middle ground?

That's an answer that has eluded me for some time. Just when I think I've found just the right balance, I discover (or remember) something else that I somehow have to make room for. Currently, the wrench that is throwing monkeys into my plan (and the reason for this week's topic) is college football. I'm a University of Oregon fan and I love my Ducks. I've told myself that it's only for three or four months that I'd be slacking off on writing and that I can make up the pages in the offseason. But if I use that excuse now, I'll use it for other things and that's a consequence that I can't live with. Being a writer requires vigilance and dedication. So, what's a fan girl to do?


It's not a perfect plan, but it is a plan. So far, most of the games have taken place while I'm at work so I haven't had any other option. On the plus side, I can use the recorded game as a reward for reaching my weekly word goal and still be a respectable fan girl. I don't have a plan worked out for live games. I could use the same motivation but if I don't make my word goal, I'd have to sequester myself in another room and listen to the rest of the family cheer. I may be slightly masochistic, but I'm not into self-torture. I wouldn't be able to resist the lure of the game for very long. In the past, I've allowed myself a night off every once in a while to kick back and relax or to chase the dust bunny that's been haunting me, but to take every Saturday night (and the occasional Thursday) off smacks of habit.

(Sigh) I could go round and round about this all day and in the end, I'd be no closer to a perfect solution. I like having a reliable routine that's monkey proof and I'm starting to doubt that such a thing exists. Either that or the wrenches are spying on me and are very good at developing anti-monkey proof plan technology. (Wow, that sounds incredibly crazy.)

I suppose that doing our best really is the most we can do. It sounds a bit defeatist to acknowledge that you'll never completely rid yourself of monkeys but I guess that's life. Right? 


  1. Kim, you're right and wrong. :^)) Correct in that Mr. Murphy does have an excellent spy service and impeccable timing. To borrow from my IT background "Murphy was far too optimistic when he wrote his Law". You're wrong in thinking you're not Prime Grade A spouse material. You're intelligent, a pretty darn-good wordsmith, think outside of the box, and are more disciplined than you think. Oh, yeah. There's that really attractive thing as a bonus. :^)) And on top of that you're an Oregon fan. Of course that last may be colored by being class of '69 – way, way before you were a gleam in your parents' eyes. If they can't see that, then they've prescreened and (thankfully) kept you from wasting your time. Besides, Lady. Why would you want to settle for an "average" guy? Shoot for an overall grade of 8 or 9 b/c you won't change him.

    BTW we don't want a cranky Kim so budget some time to watch those games – and do some "fun" time. Go Quack Attack. Much more fun now!

    As for the perfection thing, what they didn't emphasize (but mentioned briefly) at Vegas was that the "artist" component of our mind must be (to be all that you can) subdivided into "creative" AND "critical" segments. That 2nd segment develops over time. I used to watch new programmers spend 99% of their budgeted time getting the program 99% perfect (and 100% functional) - and then tried to achieve that extra 1% by spending another 99% of time. And then found move improvements that "needed" to be done. The overall result was distasteful to all parties. Hadn't realized it at the time but I was witnessing a Heinlein Law, "Do you job. And don't rewrite unless you're being paid to do so".