Autonomy Is Hard Work

Everything has its pros and cons. For example, I’m not teaching any more, which means I woke up at 10:00 this morning, and I still don’t have a face on. I didn’t intend to sleep until 10. Apparently my body just needed it, and for that reason, I’m glad I had the opportunity to give it what it needed. On the other hand, I feel like I don’t get much done a lot of days, mostly because I have no idea what it is that I’m supposed to be doing with all this time of mine.

When I was working (and working a lot), I planned out my days with to-do lists, and even though I almost never got through all the items on my daily list, it at least gave me a rough guide for the day. In typing that just now, I envisioned one day having a burly, bearded, mountain man for a personal assistant to usher me to and from all my very important appointments – a rough guide for the day.

Anyhoe, I’ve gotten out of the habit of making to-do lists, which means that my days are mostly spent chatting online, refreshing twitter every five seconds and watching “What Not to Wear.” This is no good.

So friends, I’m bringing back the to-do list, and I’m making today’s public. I think you’ll notice that it’s important to incorporate both business and pleasure into your daily routine. Feel free to use this list as a template for your own day:

  • sleep in
  • chat online
  • begin process to end indentured servitude once and for all
  • refresh twitter
  • confirm subbing tonight
  • blog
  • refresh twitter
  • blog again
  • eat lunch
  • put on face
  • refresh twitter
  • write an article
  • chat online
  • refresh twitter
  • eat dinner
  • teach foreigners how to play Big Booty (If you do not know how to play Big Booty, let me know, and I’ll teach you too.)
  • refresh twitter
  • attempt to go to sleep at a reasonable hour so that I can wake up at 7:45 tomorrow ready for an exciting day of registration

I’ve crossed off the items that have already been completed (or will be within two seconds of publishing), and as you can see, I’m making great progress so far. I hope you are too.


First of all, speaking of not being dead, today is the anniversary of my friend SkoHoe’s birth. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HOE!!! Ok, I think I’ve now wished her a happy birthday on gchat, facebook, blog and two twitter accounts. She’s covered.

Now, wha’ ha’ happened was that I was either completely busy or completely brain dead for several (very good) days. Honestly, I’m still recovering, but I didn’t want to neglect you fine folks any longer. I also wanted to share with you a tidbit of wisdom I’ve been picking up over the last couple of weeks. And this can be applied to anyone, even if it’s not writing that you love.

If you and I have ever had a conversation about what you do for a living and whether or not you really love it, you will be well aware that I encourage everyone to follow their dreams and passions, no matter how crazy they are or how seemingly impossible it would be to make a living out of them. I just truly believe that we are not meant to spend such huge chunks of our lives doing things that make us feel like cubicle zombies or pawns in some sick corporate game. And I’ll say this now for anyone who wants a kick in the pants: If your job makes you feel dead inside, please quit today.

You also may already know that there are two (lucrative) things I really love doing: teaching and writing. And bless my soul, I am lucky enough to get to do both. (I also love sleeping and chatting online, of course, but I hardly think those are worth pursuing as career paths.) I’m in the last few weeks of working for Wake Tech’s ESL department, though, before I run off to Italy to write for three months, and I’m in transition all around.

I’m not teaching any more (I’m just doing registration), but I’m writing a LOT. And I’m getting paid for it, which is great, but writing as a hobby and writing as a job are two very different things. I don’t love it any less now that I’m getting paid for it. It’s just that it’s not as leisurely.

When you do what you love as a hobby, you can do it whenever you feel like it and have the time. Sometimes you carve out time for it because you just love it so much that you don’t feel normal unless you’re doing it, and sometimes you feel very strongly that you must do it or you’ll explode. And it is for that reason that I always have a pen and paper with me.

But when you aren’t inspired, when you just have nothing to say, or when you’re busy and/or brain dead for four days, you don’t have to work on a hobby. Nobody really cares.

When someone’s paying you to write, though, you have to write. You have to write for hours and hours, and sometimes you have to just sit and stare at the blank screen, willing the words to type themselves because you have no idea what to say. You have to force yourself to do it just like you have to force yourself to get out of bed when the alarm goes off in the morning because it is your job. And as nice as hobbies are, they don’t make your loan payments for you.

Like I said, I don’t love it any less. I’m just working on building up the stamina it requires to write this much every day and the speed required to do the amount of work I have. And I’m getting there. I’m working on a bunch of articles for this website, and in the beginning, one article took me two or three days to do from start to finish. I can do one now in three to five hours, depending on the topic. I just have to get used to doing them every day.

So here’s my wisdom/advice: Keep following your dreams even if, when you catch up to them, they punch you in the neck and run off again. They’re just trying to toughen you up so you’ll be able to keep up as they get even bigger and better.

Jealousy Exchange

I’ve been to cookie exchanges, which are these marvelous events where you bake like three dozen cookies and take them to a party, and then you come home with three dozen different kinds of cookies. It’s delicious. And I’ve been to clothing swaps, which are equally marvelous events where you take all the clothes you don’t wear any more and dump them in somebody’s living room, and everybody else does the same thing, and then you dig through everybody else’s stuff, and you get to go home with “new” stuff. Bam. Free shopping.

But ever since…well, probably ever, but definitely since my friends started getting married and I moved to New York, I feel like I’ve been a part of a jealousy exchange, which has not been a marvelous event so far. It’s where I’m jealous of my friends being married, and they’re jealous of me being single and free to roam the earth (alone, like the Hulk). Or they’re jealous that I pretty much never work more than 27 hours a week, and I’m jealous that they get paid regularly and have vision insurance. Or they’re jealous that I have this awesome Fossil bag, and then they’re jealous that my mom bought it for me. Or I’m jealous because they get more visits to their blogs than I do. It never ends.

But what if instead of exchanging jealousies with each other, we all exchanged jealousy in general for something else–like support? A lot of times, that’s what happens, don’t get me wrong. But I feel like we could be more proactive about it. Like if I’m jealous that you are married, I could get rid of that and instead help you plan a surprise party for your husband. Or if you’re jealous that I’m all single and carefree, you could start looking for a single, carefree guy who’d be perfect for me. If I’m jealous that you have a full-time job, I could instead help you do things you don’t have time to do because you’re at work. And if you’re jealous that I only work part-time, you could collect money to help me get new glasses when I need them.

It’s sort of a radical idea, I know, but what do you think? Am I totally a socialist? Do you want in?

I have seen the future, and it’s delicious.

Friends, I have seen the future. They have it posted on a bulletin board at the IHOP on Capital Blvd. I mean, prepare yourselves because this kind of information should not be taken lightly. I don’t believe we are meant to know the future in such great detail. I think it changes the way we approach life and is just not natural. But I found this photo to be quite comforting. Just knowing that on February 1, 2035 OR January 2 if we’ve switched over to the way the rest of the world does it (which I guess would be called 2 January at that time), the IHOP dishwashers will still be at it, the uniforms will not have changed, and no one’s jobs will have been replaced by robots – well, that gives me a sense of great peace. Have a look for yourselves, and tell me how it makes you feel.

IHOP of the Future

Better Early Than Never

“Better early than never” is not usually my motto. “Better late,” maybe, or perhaps even, “meh…oh well,” but no one has ever accused me of being punctual, much less early.  I had an algebra class in college once that I didn’t care that much about, and I often showed up 20-30 minutes late to the surprise and amusement of my two friends who were in the class with me. I always went. I just went late saying, “Better late than never, eh?” They would just shake their heads in awe. I got a B in the class, and I know, I know, I could have gotten an A, but like I said, I didn’t care that much about it, so meh…oh well.

But today I feel very differently about time and the timeliness with which I do things in life. And I don’t mean today in a general sense as in “these days.” I literally just mean today, August 13, 2009. I will probably still be late to church on Sunday and just barely make it to work on time on Tuesday, and even now, when I should be packing up the car to drive back to Raleigh, I’m pushing it on time, but I feel like a shift is taking place.

I sat down to write this just now without a clue in the world as to what I wanted to say. I just knew I wanted to blog today, and that if I didn’t do it now, I might not do it until very late tonight if at all. But when I typed the title with that mindset, it dawned on me that it is a very good motto to have in life.

Although it hadn’t occurred to me in those words when I made the decision to go to Italy (see my neato countdown clock??), that was my decision. There is never an ideal time to pack up your life and do something outrageous, terrifying and/or amazing, but if you don’t do it now, you might not get the chance. I’m not sure I’m technically “early” in life any more, but it still feels that way, so I’m going to go with it.

I’ve even been considering over the past few days the discipline of waking up early to read or pray or write or stretch or just sit and feel that I am alive. I think it may have something to do with the fact that I’m reading the portion of Eat, Pray, Love where she’s waking up at 3:00 a.m. every day at an ashram in India, and I know that there are many of you who know me well enough to be busting a gut right now at the very notion of me waking up before 7:45. Believe me, I can’t believe I’m thinking about it either. But there are too many days that go by when I don’t read or pray or write or stretch or feel that I am alive, and like I said, better early than never.

We’ll see how it goes. I don’t currently have an action plan or anything to put into motion, and I don’t really want one. I know that conflicts with the very core of discipline, but I think for me, the discipline at first is going to be in doing these things first thing no matter what the clock says when I wake up. And maybe I’ll work on the actual hour I wake up as well.