I have a tendency, at the start of every semester, to say that this semester--yes, this one--will be the semester that I get my act together.
It always starts off well, with a plan and a schedule and a clearly outlined Google calendar: I'll do my lesson planning on the weekends so that I can concentrate on writing during the week; no, I'll write each morning so I can concentrate on my grading during the afternoon; no, I'll spend all day Friday revising so that I don't have stacks of unfinished stories piling up on my desktop; no, Tuesdays--no, Thursdays--no, Sundays!--will be the day I sit down and send out work for publication.
But what inevitably happens is that I am overwhelmed within the first week: the pedagogy class I have to take in order to teach at UNH ends up looking and feeling like a class in Composition Theory, or the Memoir class has ten pages of new work due every two weeks, or the Children's Lit. class has me workshopping seven pieces every week. Every semester, without fail, my plan to stay on top of my work goes out the window within the first few days. Once those syllabi hit the table in front of me and I see what I have in store, everything that I imagined for the semester is laid quickly to rest. My life becomes a shit show.
But, as every ounce of productivity I imagined goes out the window, I can feel myself subconsciously resisting the insanity. I procrastinate. I put off writing. I watch hours of reality television instead of doing work. It's as if my brain rebels against the chaos and constant work. It's as if it's saying, "You don't want to give me a break? Fine, I'll take one myself."
Here's the thing: I thrive on routine. When I am waking up at the same time, writing every day, and going to the gym on the regular, I am my happiest. So my intention to get myself into a good routine every semester is a productive one for me. But when things get complicated--as things always do--I find the schedule and routine impossible to maintain. Because there's also the other side of me: the side that tends toward complete and utter chaos. It's the side of me that doesn't shower for days, that could (and has) watched an entire season of D.C. Cupcakes in an afternoon, that "forgets" to bring a bag to pick up my dog's poop, that doesn't want to write or read or do anything aside from staying in my pajamas all day, eating bowls of buttered spaghetti.
So, given that it's a new year, I'd like to resolve something different. Instead of resolving to be perfectly scheduled--to get my lesson planning done sooner than an hour before class, let's say, or to write a story more than three days before it's due--I'd like to resolve to give myself more time with no schedule. An entire day, in fact.
This year I resolve to implement Do Nothing Sundays. No plans. No work. No reading. No writing. Not unless I decide, on that day, that I want to.
So here's to a less scheduled year, one that doesn't strive to be perfect, but instead allows us to embrace our other halves: the half of us that is gross and lazy and, after not showering for two days in a row, let's face it, a little stinky.