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My Summer To-Do List

My wife just left for a seven-week research trip in Eastern Europe. (That's not a euphemism or a joke; she's an anthropologist and she is conducting research in Serbia.)

I've been left all alone in this big old house with strict instructions not to spend a penny more than my weekly allowance for groceries and junk food. I was also told not to get wet when I went outside to play with the other kids, to wipe my feet before I came in the house and not to spoil my dinner with ju-ju beans and licorice (just so you know, that is dinner).

She's been gone a week, and I am absolutely bored to goddamned tears. Yes, I have work to do and work to look for, but that shit isn't any fun, is it? I mean, come on, I have the rare opportunity to be a bachelor without having to worry about any of the inane, painful dating bullshit. I get to leave my socks wherever I want*, I can watch Family Guy without a running commentary about how stupid it is, and I get all the pillows to myself.

But after about three days, there just isn't anything to sitting around like a slob, other than a lot of really dirty t-shirts and a bellyache. And I've gotten frustrated because my writing and my work feel stymied and difficult. I feel as if I've hit a wall and it is time for a major revamp to my work habits and my lifestyle while I've got the place to myself.

I've decided to put together a to-do list for the next six weeks to keep me from devolving or wallowing in self-pity. This is my get-up-and-go pep talk to myself to get me back on the right creative track.

Here, then, is my Summer To-Do List:

1. Take it Easy

I don't mean sit around with my feet up in a beach chair with a margarita and a Judy Collins book (sounds great though, doesn't it?). I mean, lighten up on myself; not everything has to be a major crisis or reflection of my character. It doesn't mean that I am a failure or that I will never, ever get anything done just because I didn't make all the phone calls I was supposed to today.

Just take a deep breath and repeat after me: I am doing what I should be doing and I am still a good person even if I don't get my entire to-do list done today. I am not a failure because I watched TV for an hour instead of writing in my journal. Treat myself kindly and be easy in my self-judgment.

2. Dislike.

Stop checking my Facebook page every FIFTEEN. FUCKING. SECONDS. Nothing is happening here, really. It is the same crap that it was the last time I checked.

I have a theory that I am looking at my Facebook page constantly because I am in desperate need of the emotional validation of social contact. That's what I am looking for every time I click through; I want to see that someone has acknowledged and accepted my existence.

How about I make myself a deal? Go outside and make some real friends. Hug someone. Call a friend I haven't seen in a long time and tell them that I love them and see if that validates my existence. I think I still remember how to make a friend, although it's been a long time. Go for a walk and strike up a conversation with the old men that spend all day mowing the park. Do anything to pry myself away from the fucking computer screen and talk to another person for real.

3. This Sucks.

Don't be so damned cynical all the time, Andrew. Not everything sucks; I bet 90% of what I am ragging on is based on jealousy. Someone else has done something that I know I could do better but didn't and rather than acknowledge my own shortcomings, I create a negative out of their work.

The newspaper columnist that I am always ragging on: he writes words everyday and I don't. The media coverage that I am always pissing and moaning about: at least they are doing something.

So for the next six weeks I want to try this little exercise: pick out something that they are doing right. I bet if I start being more positive about other people's work, my work would get better and easier.

4. Butt Munch.

Eat a little better. I am not saying I have to go on a starvation diet of twigs and bran, but just be a little more conscious of what I put in my body and the effect it has on me. I bet I would have more energy to do the stuff I want to do if I didn't eat a pizza and a half a bag of Cheetos before bed. Don't do it because the BMI chart tells me I should; do it because I know I feel better when I eat right.

It will do my spirit a world of good to look in the mirror and like what I see instead of spewing negative, hateful words about myself because I've gained some weight. I bet I will write 100 words of my novel for every single kind word I say about myself; those kind words start with how I treat my body. (It's a fucking temple and all that!)

5. Left to Write.

Alright, it's been six months since I've decided to start writing again. Well, I shouldn't really say again; in earnest for the first time is more accurate. I've gotten off to a pretty good start. I feel good about the progress I've made. But I've reached a decisive moment - I've started to outsmart myself again and it is slowing my writing down.

So hear me now, Andrew: I don't need anything else to write. No more new notebooks, no more rituals, no more mantras, no more fancy pens, no more timetables, no more to-do lists, no more self-help books. I just need to move the pen from the left hand side of the page to the right hand side of the page, ad infinitum. Sit down, strip it bare and stop thinking yourself out of all the things you really want to do.

6. Party Time, Excellent.

Have some goddamned fun; don't be such a stick in the mud. I know my knee hurts and I had a long shift and it's raining and I didn't sleep that well and my belly hurts but goddamnit, have a yuk or two. I am pretty sure I remember how to have fun. If memory serves, it involves other people and turning the fucking computer off and leaving my office.

I think I like board games and playing cards. Fishing is definitely in there too. Walking; walking is good. Now that I think I about it, this shouldn't be that hard.

7. Do I Have To?

I feel so overwhelmed all the time; every time I try to get some work done, my chest gets tight and I start looking for an out. I can sit at my desk for an entire day panicking about all the stuff I have to do.

Therefore, I resolve to do more things that I want to do, instead of things I feel like I have to do. I bet if I looked forward to my work, I would be less likely to freak out about doing it. But therein lies the rub: I love my work and can't imagine doing anything else. Oh, what is an anxiety addict to do?

How about this: remind myself every time I sit down at my desk that this is exactly what I want to be doing. Love it.

8. Knock Knock.

Write a joke every day. It doesn't all have to be tragedy and triumph, shock and awe, or deep and wide, all the time. It can just be a joke, Andrew.

10. I Just Called.

I carry a lot of guilt for half-assed, half-finished business throughout the years. Try picking up the phone and apologizing. I bet things will work out and getting rid of that guilt will go a long way in easing my approach to work.

I've got myself convinced that I burned all the good bridges so why bother, right? I bet I would find new ones if I had the courage to fix the old bridges. (Ah, gotta love tired metaphors.)

9.Stop Breaking Down.

Listen to some new music. I am starting to go insane with repetition; I've only listened to the new Exodus album and the re-mastered Exile on Main St. in the last four weeks. If I don't hear something new in the next 24 hours, my ears will start bleeding. I've been singing "All Down the Line" in my head for a week and it's starting to crowd out any ideas I might have for writing.

Go outside at night when it is clear and listen to Dark Side of The Moon and look at the stars or something. Jesus.

* I am going to pick them up before you get home, Sweetie.


Comments welcome.


Other Lists By Drew Adamek:
* Today's Syllabus
* Shit My Dad Says
* Work Weirdos
* Things I Miss About Chicago
* 20 Albums I Wish I Had Never Bought
* Their Chicago
* Cities I've Slept In
* My Favorite 1980s Chicago Radio Memories
* Why Milwaukee Rules
* Why I'm Glad I Don't Live In D.C. Anymore
* The Beer Goggle Recordings
* A List Of Reader Comments To Drew's Lists
* Life's Little Victories
* The Worst Jobs I've Ever Had
* Jobs For The Zombie Apocalypse
* Lemme Get A Bite Of That
* Lists I'll Never Write
* Things I Miss About My Imprisoned Best Friend
* Things I Miss About Being Single
* Things I Love About Being Married
* Why Chuck D Should Have Been Our First Black President
* Picture This
* My Suggestions For Ways To Further Desecrate Wrigley Field
* Signs I Am Getting Older
* My Most Memorable Half-Assed Ideas
* Why My Mom Rules

* Fan Note: Me & Metallica


Posted on June 16, 2010

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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