Ash Wednesday

I’ve decided to write a personal post.  About Ash Wednesday. I’m sitting at my dining room table, looking longly across the room at the cosy couch that I’ve given up for Lent and that’s all I can think about.

The couch.

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By the way, this picture is entirely staged.  I had to clear the table off before I took this snapshot.  Our table is the “drop zone” for everything that enters our house, it seems.

But the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, I tried to figure out what I would give up this year.   And after my third straight hour of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (my guiltiest, guilty pleasure) it dawned on me.  The TV and even more, my couch.

So I decided on Wednesday morning, on my way to school, that this is what I would give up.  And in its place I would add more prayer, and use my time more wisely so that I’m not President of the Procrastination Nation.

So all day I fasted, like I should.  And after getting up at 5 am that morning to do Zumba in my living room, and working like a madwoman all day, I thought I would pass out during mass, as I shut my eyes during prayer.  But I survived and received the blessing and reminder of our mortality in the ashes.

But after Mass, Hubbs and I went to dinner and we started talking about what we would give up for Lent.  And I joked that since my stomach really hurt after fasting all day, that I would give up fasting.  He looked surprised.  And then started to list all of the food he had eaten that day and said, “It would have been nice to have a little reminder that I should’ve fasted.”  To which I replied, “To each his own.”  And this seemed to make sense.  Not all Catholics fast.

But then I started thinking.  And I realized (after the gears in my head started to grease up with the wrap I was eating for dinner) that it really is my responsibility to remind him of these things.  Being still new to the Catholic church, it’s a lot to keep straight.

And I remembered the analogy our priest made at our wedding to a marriage being like climbing up a steep hill; in life, we will sometimes walk beside, drag behind, or push ahead our significant other.  And in this case, I probably should have reminded Hubbs to fast.

Procrastination Nation

The Avett Brothers are one of my favorite bands.  Most of their music (except the weird stuff they sprinkle in here and there) take me back to my time at UNC Chapel Hill, listening to them at Cat’s Cradle, the Great Hall, and various festivals and shows ‘round the state.

And as I’m writing this, I can’t but help think of one of their lyrics:

I haven’t finished a thing since I started my life,

Don’t feel much like starting now.

I couldn’t find a decent video but I suggest you listen to that dang song.  His voice is so low and mournful at the start.

And by searching for the song in vain, writing this post, dreaming up one hundred other things I’d like to be doing, RIGHT NOW, I’m procrastinating.  I’m not finishing my grading and instead I choose to tell myself I’m really just taking a break from Extreme Grading.  Because I need one.  Because I deserve one.

But what I really need to do is change my thinking about my thinking, as I should, according to this College Humor video about procrastination (which I cannot for the life of me directly embed) that I stumbled upon somewhere on the internets, while I was undoubtedly procrastinating.  (But should I really be following advice from College Humor?)

And after watching,  I realized that it’s a daily, hourly struggle to overcome my present bias.  I need to think of what Future Me will want (to hang out with friends this weekend), instead of what Now Me thinks it wants (to watch 100 straight hours of Real Housewives).

And Geez, that’s hard.

So, I’ve started integrating two things into my regular schedule.  The first is to make my weekly to do list to ensure I get everything done that I need to.  And people, let me tell you in my infinite martyrdom, it’s a lot! I am the Language Arts department chair and co-cordinate the Dual Language program at school, in addition to teaching AP and regular English classes.

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Making this weekly list has really helped.  I check it every day.  I mark my meetings each day, deadlines I may have, assignments I’m teaching, and assignments I’m collecting.  Then I make a list of all the materials I need to print and copy in order to get these things done.

But I also need to daily remind Future Me to kick Now Me’s butt. Because after I get all of the million-an-one other things done, it’s really easy to tell myself, “You’ve worked really hard. Grade tomorrow night instead.” So to squash these Now Me voices, I plan for the fun I want to have in the weekend with Future Me, in an attempt to motivate Now Me throughout the week. (This is starting to sound as if I have a bit of a personality disorder.) So I also make this calendar, emphasizing the weekend and I hang it up in front of my desk all week long:

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This is how I kick Now Me into gear; I illustrate the work I’ll need to do throughout the week, in order to get to the weekend with less grading, on a separate and less daunting calendar.

You see, I teach AP literature and WOAH that is a lot of grading throughout the week.  A lot.

And I’m not complaining because frankly I could just schedule fewer essays, to the detriment of my AP and regular students.  But in truth, I like grading.  I like to see what my students can do with the tools and texts I give them.

They’re brilliant!

And please excuse Now Me, as I need to get back to grading so that Future Me can have some fun this weekend!

Hubbs and I joined a monthly Adventure Club here, in which they email you a location, you meet, they tell you what the adventure is for the day and you do the adventure.  This weekend, our instructions are to dress warmly, wear comfortable athletic shoes and in layers.  Sounds like we’ll be outdoors.  I am so very excite! (As Hubbs/Borat so eloquently says.)  I’ll keep you posted!