Welcome to Crazytown, Population: Me.

I know I seem all easy going and flexible, but the reality is I am a very rigid person. Each week I write in my day-timer – the old-fashioned PAPER kind, can you imagine? – the tasks that I need to do that week. Some of the tasks are everyday housekeeping ones: what I’m making for dinner each day and what I’m baking that week and on which day, along with chores like cleaning the bathroom, dusting, changing the sheets. I write down which days I’m doing what and I stick with it. If, for some strange reason, I wash the floor on Monday when I had written down Tuesday, I cross off “floors” on Tuesday and re-write it into Monday, even after the fact. Other things I write down are recipes that I’m writing and photographing, blog post ideas, and, of course, regularly scheduled things like the boys’ karate classes or hair appointments.

When I have a week like this one, where my to-do list is very long and filled with things that must – MUST – be done by a certain time, well, I rigidly schedule my days so I can accommodate those things. I have a basic timeline in my mind and I stick to that timeline like it’s the answer to all the world’s problems. When I was in university, I would schedule my study times in a very exact way: microeconomics from 10:15-11:45, research my labour paper from 11:50-12:55, break for 20 minutes, then prepare for my econometrics exam from 1:15-3:00. Once I had written these things down in my day-timer, I would not deviate from them, and sometimes I think it’s a miracle I got married.

I’m sure my husband finds this part of my personality adorable, like when Sally says “I’m too structured, I’m completely closed off.” and Harry responds “But in a good way!” I am sure it’s JUST like in the movies.

The biggest problem with being this anal-retentive person that I am is that when something unexpected pops up in my schedule, I completely fall apart. For example, yesterday my husband and I realized that the boys need social insurance numbers, and what with one thing and another, they need them as soon as possible. My husband asked if I could take care of it this morning and although I had a number of things on my plate, I crossed things off and rewrote them in my day-timer, with as much flexibility and happy-go-luckiness as I could manage. After all, how long could something like that take? The government office is fairly close to our house; surely I could get there and back quickly.


I got into the office at 9:10 and there was a gigantic lineup. I was disheartened at first but then it moved quite quickly when someone thought to mention that the information meeting for EI recipients was in a different room. It took only a few minutes for me to get to the front of the line after that, and the man at the desk told me that there would be a 15-20 minute wait. I hadn’t thought to bring a book with me, because I am apparently stupid and naive, and so I dismissed his advice to “take a seat and wait to be called” and instead stood near a wall, with my coat and scarf on, because what’s 15-20 minutes? Nothing, really.

Time dragged on and soon it was 10:00 and I started to get suspicious when I overheard that same man at the front desk tell someone that it would be a ninety minute wait. I put on my half-smile so as not to frighten said man with my bitchy resting face, and asked in the sweetest voice possible, with my eyes wide and fluttery, if he knew how much longer it would be, since he had said it was going to be only 15-20 minutes. You get more with honey, as we all know, and so I kept the frustration out of my voice. “Oh yes,” he said, “Well, it looks like we’re short staffed. So, it will be a while. I’m not sure how long.” OH.

I took a seat and tried not to think of my to-do list with impending doom. Om shanti. I tried to be rational and think that it would be better to just wait; I’d spent so much time already it would be silly not to wait. After all, in the big picture, what does it matter that I spent my morning in the government office, surrounded by the scent of body odour, dirty hair, and cigarette smoke? I didn’t have a book, true, but I did have a phone with me. There are many worse tragedies than being stuck in a waiting room with my fancy phone; I was not in the office because of employment issues or anything like that, three days from now would it really matter that the lion’s share of my morning would be spent immobile and reading blogs on my iPhone? I mean, really. And the princess couldn’t sleep on the mattress because of a pea. CRY ME A RIVER.

I was finally successful in obtaining the numbers, and left the office at 10:50. That’s when I thought if I was fast, and efficient, I could pull off a quick Costco trip before picking up the boys from lunch. There were a couple of things that I needed that I cannot get elsewhere and if I stuck to my list, I could do it.

I strode through Costco with a sense of purpose and a giant cart and…they were out of what I needed. That was discouraging, but it wasn’t a total bust: I managed to get the other, less essential things on my list, along with a whole pile of delicious plump berries. I managed to get home, unload the groceries, and get to the school on time to pick up the boys. I was feeling pretty faded but buoyed myself up by making myself a berry salad in this happy little fellow:


Cuteness! A friend gave that to me, filled with flowers, when I was having a hard time and I can’t look at it without smiling. There’s nothing more cheering than berries in a giant smiley mug, not to mention the thought that went behind it! That smiley mug reminds me to pay it forward, even when I’m having a weirdly anxious morning, sniffing the perfume in my own scarf to drown out the smell of smoke and BO. Really, life is beautiful.


  1. This, in a nutshell, is why I cannot cope with school cancellations.

  2. I have one of those big school calendars on my fridge, and every appointment, birthday party, meeting, lesson, and meal is written on it. EVERYTHING.

    I also, if I’m having a day where I feel like I’m accomplishing nothing and I’m frustrated & anxious because of it, I write an “all-done” list. Everything I did – even simple things – I write down. It’s always a longer list than I would have imagined and helps me feel better about my accomplishments, especially on days where things go awry thanks to government ineptitude, toddler meltdowns, or school cancellations.

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