Do not do.


We are almost there. Five weeks left of graduate school. This week the dumpster fire flared. Thursday I came home and sat on the porch and did nothing.

For at least 90 seconds, I sat quietly without the expectation I should be doing something else. It’s been two years since I was able to come home and not have some impending obligation. Even time taken “off,” isn’t anything but shoving assignments to the side of the desk for the night. There has been no “off.” Those 90 seconds were exhilarating until the running to-do list sensed the open space and “off” ended. It was just as well. In the next hour, the clutch would go out on the car while my son was out picking up his birthday pizza and arrangements for transport of dead car, live son, and paid-for-pizza would need to be made.

In this interview, John McGinley talks about people who share their dumpster fires, he says they are being like the Peanuts character, Pigpen. When we talk about our dumpster fires, we think we are excusing poor behavior or communicating how busy and important we are. Nah, we just sound ridiculous. Some people walk into a room spreading what he termed “Elvis Dust”. Elvis Dust is that aura of preparation and appropriateness some people wear like a perfectly tailored coat. There is something defensive in wandering the world like Pigpen. No one expects anything of Pigpen, he isn’t threatening, no one cares, no one notices.

The bulk of my work for the semester is done. There are two large projects left to finish up or push to a intermediate rest point. The trouble is letting go of this oppressive sense of busy-ness whose time has passed. The dumpster fire doesn’t exist anymore. There is no good reason life doesn’t resemble life in the gym, no good reason to not have those moments of “off”. The trouble is with me and my aversion to letting go. It’s time to suck it up, finish this off and move on. This is a termination issue and terminations aren’t my strong suit. By maintaining the dumpster fire talk and running to-do list, I maintain the illusion graduate school lasts forever.

In five weeks, it’s over. Licensure. Employment. Nap. Evenings. Play.

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