Sunday, March 13, 2011


There was a lingering moment last week when the idea of quitting email cold turkey was calling its siren song. During that week of travel, messages really piled up. Through several hours of concentrated effort, I got the inbox down to a more manageable size, and then, on a long conference call during which my active portion was brief, made even more progress. Feeling pretty good about the situation, I then went to my end-of the week afternoon of meetings (Thursday) and day of teaching (Friday). We had guests for dinner both nights, so the usual evening triage and cleanup didn’t happen. Faster than you can believe, the thing was overflowing again. That brought with it the moment of fantasizing about getting it to zero and then just quitting email. Forever. Actually, it was more than a fantasy and less than an actual desire, more like a a desperate belief that there has to be a better way. Does anyone out there have it? I know, I know, this is another one of the good problems to have: I maintain a lot of friendships that I truly value and I collaborate with a lot of people and I teach a lot of students. That equals a lot of mail. Plus, I generate a lot of mail, and then people answer it. Sigh.

The week of travel provided an interesting point from which to assess where things stand. The good news first: it was a lot of exertion and, with some balancing and compromises, it was all possible. The things that needed to get done got done. Now the less-good news: after airports and travel, the high ceilings of hotel ballrooms for meetings and big crowds were really costly. The full-day meeting of 200 people drove me back to my room to lie down--twice. The noise and visual overload were intense. Navigating stairs by the end of the week was a serious challenge. Worse, my short-term memory glitches increased, though within manageable limits. I felt defective and compromised a good deal of the time, but as it doesn’t show that much, it’s mostly about how I feel. The week after that was difficult, because it took most of the week to catch up on rest/energy. Having always had energy to do whatever I set my mind to, this is a difficult and complicated reality to integrate with my sense of self. There's very little to like about it, except that it's way better than all the alternatives. Today is really the first day I’m feeling rested, so I'm working on appreciating that instead of chafing against the limits.

After all, the overall situation is good. I don’t travel again until the end of the month, so that gives me time to get back into the exercise groove and resume the good habits that were mostly leading (finally!) to weight loss. Thanks to West Coast for urging me to go back to rowing--and suggesting that I watch meters instead of time (way, way better) and consider doing intervals. Intervals are wonderful and extend remarkably the quantity of exercise. How did I get so old without knowing about that??

I’m taking the rest of the weekend off and then getting back on the horse and striving anew for that elusive balance. It’s out there and I’ll catch it. Sometime. The snowdrops are (finally) blooming here, so maybe, just maybe, we’ll really get Spring. Winter has outstayed its welcome here by some weeks. We’re ready for Spring. Hope you are in a good state of mind and great weather, wherever you are.

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