Michael and I have been having one of our relatively rare serious disputes. The nice thing about it is how much we’ve learned about problem-solving with each other over the years. Neither one of us always knows at first exactly why we react as strongly as we do to certain elements of situations, and we’ve adapted to letting things unfold and sort themselves out as we go. So while I had a strong (it goes without say it was negative, right?) reaction to something he said on Thursday, I wasn’t completely sure of what accounted for the strength of the reaction for a while and it took me until Saturday to put it into words so that we could take the next step in sorting out which of us owns what in the situation.
While we’re not all the way there yet, there hasn’t been any question between us that, however uncomfortable it is for the moment, we’ll get there, and arrive at an outcome that works for both of us. These aren’t very fun interludes in an otherwise quiet and happy private space together, but each one calls on, strengthens and evokes the bond between us. While the girls say we squabble on a daily basis (though neither of us experience it that way), that’s different from these bigger disagreements. If anything, what the girls experience as squabbling is our way of avoiding too much saccharine in our daily lives; if we spent all our time expressing how we feel most of the time together, it would be too revolting either to live or to be around. And imagine how uncomfortable that would make them, though I doubt either one of them knows how much. So, in our own shorthand, knowing what we know, we go through our rituals together, and others can think what they will. It works for us, and really, since that’s the central relationship in our lives, that’s what matters.
All of that brings me to the fact, that before our big current issue surfaced, it had occurred to me last week sometime that what I really need Michael to tell me, with exactitude, is when he’s going to die. I have a lot of planning to do around that, unless of course, I manage to die first. In his typical way, he’s refusing to tell me that. The uncertainty of knowing how long I get to be this happy is not comfortable. Yeah, yeah, I know all that stuff that goes around this topic. I get reality, in a very fundamental way. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Last week, I had two goals for the week, one of which I accomplished and the other which never really even got started. I managed, finally, yesterday, to do the first large chunk of last week’s task, but today, before the papers come in at 4 (and people come to dinner at 6), it would be really good to see if I cannot knock off the next large chunk of it so that last week wasn’t a total waste. It wasn’t, of course, and tons of stuff got done, just none of the priority things on my list. Randy Pausch (he of The Last Lecture fame) has a great talk on time management in which he nicely demonstrates the importance of doing important things, first those due soon and then those not due soon, before any of the unimportant stuff. (Watch from about 28:30 forward for a bit. What a great teacher he was.) So, in the sense of getting the important stuff done, I didn’t do very well last week. This week, better, I hope. So, this week, in addition to making the classes go, I hope to get two important things advanced, including setting up a writing schedule and getting back to the book manuscript. I’ve gotten some great feedback on the mess I have on hand, and I have a way forward for the next bits of it. Now, all I have to do is write more.