The other day, one of my elderly passengers was suffering from a terrible cold.
Turns out that the world’s worst cold had descended upon her living quarters, bringing her and nearly all of the other women who live in her complex to their knees.
As she coughed to show me how sick she was, I promised to make her homemade chicken and kale soup, which is the only thing I ate when I came down with a really bad cold about three years ago. This isn’t to be confused with my “wonton soup” cold last year, when the only thing I could stomach was Chinese dumplings swimming in broth.
“Oh, that sounds terrific,” she said, as we made our way to her doctor’s office. “I can’t wait. When will you be bringing it over?” Gulp.
I hadn’t planned on making it immediately. In fact, I told her that I’d have to go to the store to buy all of the ingredients, including a rotisserie chicken that’s the cornerstone of the recipe. But I suddenly realized that the pressure was on because I’d offered to make it, and now she was expecting it. She was sick as a dog, and needed it now.
I went to the store and got the ingredients later that day. The next morning, I prepared the soup and delivered it to the sick ward, relieved that I was free of my obligation and hoping it would help.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I need a deadline to get things done. During my years as a reporter, I’d often leave things until the last minute, scrambling to get things done under the wire.
One of my former co-workers at a chain of weeklies used to call me “Deadline Girl.” And as I’ve gotten older, I realize that I haven’t gotten any better with my time management skills. Things often sound like a good idea when I propose them, but following through is another story.
I bought yards of beautiful fabric for dining room curtains about 10 years ago, and it’s still sitting in my linen closet. I’ve been meaning to hang five pictures that were removed during my kitchen remodel for seven years. And a stock photo of two strangers has remained in an old photo cube for nearly 25 years, occupying space along with my niece and a young Curmudgeon with our first yellow lab.
I have no idea why I haven’t inserted my own photo after all this time, but I haven’t. It’s been there so long I almost feel as though I know the people. Have you ever heard a lamer excuse in your life?
One of my father’s favorite expressions – and believe me, he had tons of them – was “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Dating back to the days of Ancient Greece and Plato, it means when the need for something becomes imperative, you’re forced to find ways of getting or achieving it.
It makes me feel slightly better that procrastination (or should I say inertia?) has been plaguing man since ancient times. Still, I sometimes wonder if I’m getting worse about accomplishing simple tasks.
I began to make a Thanksgiving invitation with Punchbowl, but didn’t complete it because I didn’t have all of my contacts and my iPhone ran out of juice. Even Punchbowl is baffled, sending me the following emails: “Only two more steps to complete your invitations” and today: “Where did you go?” (Good question)
The other day, a friend and I stopped into a farm market to buy apples to make pies. My friend made her crust the next day and assembled her pie, proudly handing me a slice to sample. She asked about my pie, but I had no words. How do you tell someone you haven’t gotten around to peeling and cutting six apples yet?
It’s been five days and my apples are still sitting in the refrigerator along with two frozen gluten-free pie shells that have now defrosted. If I don’t make the pie soon, I’ll need new apples and shells. But this is how I operate. Without a deadline or an elderly woman asking when I’m going to produce the goods, I’m lost.
I have friends who are organized and use every moment to their advantage, and I’m in awe of their accomplishments and time management skills. One woman, my sister’s neighbor Nancy, uses rainy days to make batches of banana bread made from ripe bananas she stores in her freezer. Her Thanksgiving table is always set the day before the holiday, just about the time I’m beginning to wonder where my tablecloths are.
I’d love to be that organized, but it’s not going to happen. Which brings to mind another of my Dad’s favorite expressions: “Know thyself.”