Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In the moment

I woke up this morning thinking: three deadlines. Today without fail I had to accomplish three tasks.

  1. An NIH grant on which one of our faculty members is a co-investigator had to be approved (which entailed reading through an extensive amount of paperwork online), so it could move on to the next signatory and eventually be submitted by the deadline.
  2. I needed to turn in my review of Matter (short version: ahhhhh, so wonderful) to Tasha so it can run online next week, near the book's release date.
  3. Proposals were due today for presentations at the NCHC annual meeting in San Antonio, and I had promised to pull together two panels involving folks in my department as well as friends at Western Kentucky University.
I entered my office ready for action, and just a teensy bit afraid that the day was oversubscribed. But lo and behold, all three were done by my noon class, with thirty minutes left over for class prep (and notice, please, how I left that off the "must be done" list; this is the sad picture of the professor too confident by half in her ability to wing it).

On another day I would have taken my productivity under fire as an excuse to get very little done in the afternoon, using the excuse that I hadn't planned to get anything else done anyway. But observe the motivational power of obligating yourself publicly to other people. I promised my freshmen and my teaching assistant that I would mark three papers per night in order to get all of them returned within a week of the due date. I never seriously considered not marking today's three papers, despite the full schedule of deadlines, so the open afternoon was an opportunity to finish that task -- which I had previously assumed I would have to work on tonight at home.

Now, if I told you that I were using my unexpectedly free evening to make further progress on our taxes, you would have reason to be impressed. Put down the bouquets and hush up with the cries of "Brava!" I am giving myself a night to live in the moment after today's calvacade of accomplishments. I will work on my beautiful sweater while critiquing the top 12 females on American Idol.

And I will smile secretly in the knowledge that last year's Tony-winning revival of Company will be TiVoing on PBS. Raul Esparza, whom it is my latest ambition to see perform in person before either one of my dies, will be waiting in the playlist for some special night in the future. You may have seen him singing "Being Alive" on the Tonies last year; or maybe you remember him from his appearances on Pushing Daisies as a pie-diner patron besotted with Kristin Chenoweth; or maybe you'll click on this amateur video of a Kennedy Center presentation of one of my favorite Sondheim obscurities, "Franklin Shepard Inc.," also to be found in the dictionary under "Performance."

The taxes will still be there, undone, tomorrow. But a few hours living in the moment, without advancing any important projects, surely can be spared.

1 comment:

Doc Thelma said...

NIH grants rock. For future reference, that must always be your top priority.