Dear Life Decisions

16 Mar

Dear Life Decisions,

I don’t want to brag (but I’m going to). I’m one of the rare writers / poets / what-have-you’s with excellent time management skills. Or I’m efficient, which allows me to waste time. Or I don’t have enough work to do. Hard to say.

The thing is, I’m in graduate school, and I blog, and I sometimes try to make dinner and work out. I’m taking an extra class this semester, but I’m not teaching. I do organize the student-portion of the reading series at my graduate school, and I answer. or delete. every. single. one. of. my. emails.

Yes, you heard that right. And I don’t have a smart phone.

I think my point is, my life looks a lot like what “work from home” or “work for yourself” people’s lives look like. Which means it looks pretty sweet, except I probably work more hours than I give myself credit for, and oh yeah, here’s a way it’s different—  I don’t get paid for any of it.

(Graduate school is a SCAM, PEOPLE, and it’s LOVELY, GET YOURSELVES TO IT.) I go to class for three hours a day, three days a week. And the rest of the time I read and I write and I look at the Internet and run my life and I learn things.

I also know people who are working full-time or raising families (or doing both) while in graduate school, and all I can really say is that I’m impressed. And there are graduate programs that demand much more time of their students (like my sister, who has a group project due every single week— eeeeeeek, and theater programs that schedule six hour studio intensive four days a week, and you know, medical school).

Being a born and dyed-to-the-wool overachiever, I often feel like I don’t do enough. In addition, school has this annoying habit of assigning more work before you’re even done with the other work– as in, your to-do list is never clear, your weekends are never free from homework, you could keep working all the time without ever stopping. It’s really insanely impossible to clear your schedule of a long list of tasks. Which makes people like me a little neurotic.

On the other hand, if you want to skip class and go to the beach on a Monday, you can. Or you can go on a Friday, when you don’t have class at all.

And then, since this is arts school, there’s always the idea that no matter how hard you work, no matter how many hours you put in, no matter how frantically you write and read and do everything right… you still may end up living in abject poverty and eating beans out of a can and sticking your head in an oven while you walk into a river with stones in your pockets and whiskey in your lungs as you topple off a bridge.

Oh, Sylvia, Virginia, and Mr. Berryman, we miss you so.

It’s a bad economy out there. Oddly enough, I think this gives us a chance to think about what we want to do and why we do the things we do: because going to law school or medical school or getting your MBA doesn’t guarantee you a job anymore. And if you do find a job, it might not pay what it would have five years ago. In some ways, this shitty economy has leveled the playing field. When MBAs are as devalued as MFAs, that also means…. the arts are as valued as business! Right? No? Please?

This post doesn’t really have a point. Except– except for this: when the earth is breaking and nuclear reactors are melting, and there’s a new emergency every single day, and so very few of us are going to earn any money anyway, we might as well stop delaying. Stop procrastinating. This is where I am both super realistic and dreamy, where people who know one side of me are surprised that I write poetry and people who know the other side are surprised by how quickly I type and how easily I organize. I try to be efficient with my time and my decisions and also be absurdly blind to life’s realities. It helps if you work hard at whatever you’re doing. And it helps to work hard if you like what you’re doing.

So. Write your novel. Go back to graduate school. Get engaged anyway, even though you don’t have the money to get married. Drink a bottle of wine with friends on a Tuesday. MAKE LIFE NICE.

And if you like your job and it pays you well, but you’re a little bored, dear god, stay where you are and plan an adventure for the weekend.

This post doesn’t have a point, and it’s not very funny. I’m about to take on a new project and I have six post-it notes with different to-do lists sitting next to me (I DO NOT HAVE A SMART PHONE AND I DON’T WANT ONE.) (Seriously, try crossing something out with a Sharpie. Do it. Today.) And it’s almost spring break and I’ve been planning a trip and also trying to schedule this summer and thinking about next year and the year after. And I’m feeling grateful for this life that lets me do all these things. Altogether, these things are making me want to sip coffee and stare out into the distance and not accomplish anything.

Or, you know, do EVERYTHING and CROSS IT ALL OFF but I can’t do that, because it’s life and it keeps going. Which is good.

Plus it’s spring. I’ll talk more about that tomorrow. And the good news is– because I can trust that most days I am efficient and have good time-management skills and that I work really hard– I can let myself blur out for a little while.

I wish you the same.



6 Responses to “Dear Life Decisions”

  1. The Postman 16 March 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    This is such bullshit.

  2. margaret michelle 16 March 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    says the man with an MFA in theater who plays the guitar in the courtyard in the middle of the day.

  3. Kristen 16 March 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    I love this. I am currently going through a life organizing/priority seeking/self-teaching/spring cleaning (ok Rose does this one) phase of my life, and I’m finding it incredibly meaningful.

    I’m really into “minimalism” and being “zen” too.

    But that doesn’t exactly come naturally to me. 🙂

    See you oh so very very soon!

  4. Carrie Moniz 17 March 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    I love you Maggie! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  5. The Postman 18 March 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    That’s right, says the man in the courtyard. Start procrastinating! Right NOW!!!!


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