a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Predestiny

Monday, January 08, 2007


SUMMARY: The challenges in trying to schedule my hours.

I'm coming to believe that my life is ruled by exceptions, not by regularity. I am arriving at this revelation based on a week's worth of attempting to schedule out exactly 9 hours of billable working time--more than I usually do--per weekday for a week, and being unable to manage it.

To start with, I assume that I'm schedulable from 7:30 in the morning, about my average time for morning rising, until 10:00 at night, when I (nominally) retire to bed. Subtract 9 hours of work, gives me 5 and a half hours per day for other activities.

It takes me about 3 hours a day to do only the basics--rise, eat breakfast while skimming the morning paper (and doing my average-8-minute crossword), shower, dress, prepare and eat lunch, prepare and eat dinner, do the exercises I'm supposed to do to strengthen my knees, go through my mail, clean the dishes...in short, just get by. I'm not even talking about bonus activities like reconciling my checkbook or doing the laundry.

Dogs consume a lot of my time on top of that. Two days a week, we have agility class (once for Boost, once for Tika), which is 1.5 to 1.75 hours of class time plus gathering oneself and one's dogs to go, driving there, and driving back. That consumes 3 hours each time, so for those two days a week, I have only 2.5 hours in which to do my 3 hours of basics.

But wait-- even on those days, there's just a minimal amount of dog attention that needs to be paid, let's say 10 minutes per dog sometime during the day (and that's not really enough to satisfy them, AND that has to include toenail trimming, hair removal, and such), that's another half an hour per day that's a high priority. More realistically, it's 10 minutes per dog twice a day, or I have bored, impatient, unexercised dogs starting to climb the walls. And even that's a minimum. And they don't count the time in which I'm rearranging or setting up agility obstacles for exercises or picking up 24 hours worth of three dogs' waste matter from around my large yard.

So I'm in arrears already from those 2 days unless I eat my reheated pizza over my keyboard while working, skip the exercises, skip the morning paper, skip the dog exercise--oh, wait, can't do that, dogs go nuts. OK, so I'm not going to manage 9 hours a day on those 2 days.

But the other 3 days should be fine, right? 9 hours of work plus 3 hours of basics plus 1 hour of dog exercise and I actually have 90 minutes of free time for those bonus activities like laundry or grocery shopping or watering the potted plants in the yard so they don't die or mowing the lawn before it overwhelms me.

So here's how my life is ruled by exceptions.

Last Tuesday, I was only a little behind schedule until 6 p.m., just needed 3 hours of billable time to make my daily goal. And a friend who's been living in Germany for the last 2 years calls. He's in town for a day or two. We'd like to get together. The only time our schedules look like they'll match is RIGHT NOW. So I bustle around, vacuuming up the dog hair and washing the dishes so at least there's a semblance of order and cleanliness. Then he's here for 2 hours and I actually kick him out so that I can get back to my billable hours. But I can't manage to stay awake and focused until midnight, so I'm out of luck.

The next day, middle of the day, I'm right on target. I have half an hour scheduled to bip to the bank to make a deposit and to the PO to drop off my bills. I'll sneak in a quick walk around the block with the dogs in a different neighborhood, by the PO. So I load the dogs in the car--and the battery won't go. I spend 10 minutes trying to trick it into starting, but no go. Unload the dogs, call AAA. Then deal with AAA when they get here, and it's not merely a drained battery, it's a battery on its last leg. Then deal with getting a new battery for the car. So I don't make my target that day.

The next day, I'm sitting quietly at my desk, enjoying a post-Christmas nougat, when a crown pops right off my tooth. I grab a paper towel to capture it, but Lo, my full stein of cherry soda is sitting on one edge of the paper towel, and now I have cherry soda all through and under my day timer, all over my desk, into and under the binder with my project info, all through the hardcopies of the document with my notes, and dripping onto the carpet. Cherry soda. There goes 15 minutes dealing with that, then call the dentist. That wasn't a lot of time that day because my dentist was out, but it rolled over into a 2-hour trip and procedure today.

This morning, I'm right on time for leaving the house to get to the dentist, except that as I start down the stairs, Jake vomits all over the wood in the hallway. This isn't something that can be left for later. I have to clean that up and hence am late for the dentist.

And as I'm putting things away, I notice the Discover magazine sitting by my door to remind me that my subscription has inexplicably stopped. This is after I already had to send them a letter a couple of months back, with a copy of my check, saying, "stop sending me past due notices because I sent you a check, here it is, please fix your records." So the past due notices stopped, and then my subscription did, too. So now I have to find the last issue that I received, get another copy of my check, find out when my subscription was supposed to be good through, and write another letter...

And then I have to come home and write about it in my blog. There's another 30 minutes down the tube. So I'll have to stay away for the rest of the week.

Oh, and I forgot to mention--my jaw is now throbbing and is approaching the moan-out-loud state of pain, and that's after a big dose of ibuprofen earlier. It's going to be hard to concentrate on anything requiring any thought at all, and if I take a codeine that'll put an end to any brainular function whatsoever. Tra la.

1 comment:

  1. So much for the myth of "Wouldn't it be great to be my own boss?!" My husband is self-employed. He works 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    I work a straight 40 hour/week job and I'm always complaining about how I don't have any free time.
    The only answer is to be either independently wealthy or a bum.