best laid plans

Smelling the roses… unwillingly

This morning, the universe had a message for me that had to do with ‘practice what you preach’, ‘get a taste of your own medicine’, or some such cliché. You see, I had scheduled myself into an early start because my courses required my undivided attention: between the marking, and the setting up of essay topics, and the *all new* class prep, I was in for a busy day. And that’s before even doing the actual teaching. However, either I was getting ahead of myself, or the universe had it in for me: either way, it was not meant to happen.

I managed to get the kids out the door in time, and you should know that I count that as a victory every morning. Whoever said anything about herding cats clearly had no kids, because getting them dressed and out the door in any decent amount of time, and without pulling all of one’s hair should have made it into the popular saying instead. Never mind the snow pants, and the scarf, and the mitts, and the hats, and the backpacks, and the boots… oh, wait, did you not put the socks on yet? Then take the boots off. Where did you leave the socks? Upstairs? Fine, I’ll get them, but you stay here. No, you cannot play with the trucks in the kitchen. Why? Because we’ll be late for school. Why? Because that’s how time works. Why did you have to take your jacket off now? I know you’re hot, that’s why I’m trying to get you out the door faster… Well, dear reader, if you don’t already experience–or have in the past, you lucky creature, you!–then that was a 2-second snippet of what takes place in my house every single morning for about 15 minutes. Can you see now why I count getting the kids out the door in time as an accomplishment?

That episode behind me, the glow of victory over tiny bodies with outsized wills propelled me up the stairs to get ready for work. I even put my audiobook on in celebration of the luxury that is alone-time [It’s Ali Smith’s There but for the if you’re curious, and it’s keeping me on edge]. I managed to get myself dressed with the efficiency that is characteristic of adulthood, all the while patting myself on the back for reaching that stage. Then I went to the kitchen to–you guessed it!–even pack myself a lunch for the day. If that isn’t the apex of responsibility, I don’t know what is. I rummaged in my freezer for some frozen falafel I knew had been lurking there since last month, found even a bonus frozen pita, and called it triumphantly lunch. Then a quick and efficient glance at my watch told me it was time to go catch my train.

I scramble to collect all the paraphernalia I’m likely to need today, and out the door I bolt, with the tiny habitual prick of worry that the red light might just make me miss my train. I pat my pockets to ensure I have my fare card, my house keys, and I hasten to position my earbuds, and resume my audiobook. I start sprinting just to make sure I get to the train station with a least two minutes to spare. And then I look up. And I stop running. The sun shinning makes even the bare January trees glow, but should they really have such an aura at the edges? I look around, not in admiration of the beautiful day, but in apprehension that I am surely missing my train. Inertia makes me take another step in the direction of the station, but then I stop. There is no way I can teach without my contacts on.

I exhale the long breath I had held in since the realization gripped me, and retrace my steps home. My morning victory refuses to turn sour, because, what the hell! the sun is shining, and I’m not even late for teaching. I would in be half an hour later, and I can totally live with that. Universe or not, something sometimes has to force me to slow down, or else, I’ll just forget my contacts, and have to start over.