Sunday, October 14, 2012
Kansas And The Two Minute Timer
I try to work on the legs of my flights because I find it makes the time go faster. Usually it's edits to manuscripts in paper form because that way I don't have to wait for the all clear to turn on my electronic devices. Because I've figure out that from the time you get onboard to the all clear for your electronic devices, there's a lot you can accomplish.
I actually learned from brewing my afternoon cup of tea that you can get amazing things done in just two minutes. While my teacup with water is heating up in the microwave, I can completely unload the dishes from the dishwasher. By the time the microwave goes off, ping, I've got the dishes empty, and the "dishes bowl" filled with pre-scrub water for the ones waiting to be loaded. Then I take the teacup out, put the teabag in, cover the teacup and put the microwave timer on for two minutes ('cause I don't like tea that's too strong or bitter and 2 minutes is the perfect brew time). While those second two minutes are ticking, I can reload the dishes, wipe down the counters, and get a load of laundry started.
Part of why I get so much done in 2 minutes is that I started noticing how much I could get done in 2 minutes, and have turned it into a little afternoon game with myself--on your mark, get set, go!
So that's where my awareness of what you can get done in two little minutes came from and why I can't stand waiting, like, thirty or forty minutes for a plane to take off and and for permission to turn on my computer. All those wasted two minutes! I could have, like, cleaned my whole house!
Or, at least, revised a chapter.
So I do the paper and pen(cil) thing when I travel, only I invariably get the question from the person sitting next to me: "Oh, you're a teacher?"
And then the whole conversation thing starts.
And you get zero editing or writing done if you're talking or listening.
Now, sometimes people are fascinating. The woman on my leg from Phoenix to Kansas City was a great example. If I hadn't already written Swear to Howdy I would have been taking notes. What a character. I got very little editing done, but the time flew by, so that was okay.
The way back was a different story. Oh, I got very little editing done, that's the same, but now my neighbor was a woman with baby. A squirmy bruiser-boy baby. The mother, in contrast, was down to skin and bones. (I know that look. No rest for mama.) So I wound up helping her with her squirmy boy. I had the window seat. He loved the lights. He wasn't so sure about me, but he was willing to risk standing on my lap for the view of lights.
Two minutes (not to mention 3 hours) is a very long time when you're on your own on a plane with a 14 month old bruiser of a boy and you're desperate to get him to quit squalling because everyone around you is giving you the Can't-You-Keep-Him-Quiet? glare. So, yeah. I wasn't going to be one of those. And so my work went undone.
But I was talking about Kansas, wasn't I?
I did eventually arrive, and was put in a very nice new hotel on the campus of Kansas University. It's the first hotel I've been in where the windows have thick, solid wood shutters in front of the windows, and a white-noise machine available alongside hermetically sealed packets of earplugs on the nightstand.
The earplugs had notes stapled to them which read:
We hope you enjoy the vibrant nightlife that is ever present so near the KU campus. Unfortunately, this fun is often accompanied by late-night noise. Please make use of the complimentary ear plugs if you feel necessary. Have a good night sleep!
Which is all to say that it's the traveling that saps you. I love the actual work I'm asked to do, and I love meeting the students and teachers. If only I could just click my Converse and appear.
And then, you know, click them again and disappear!
Think of how much more I could get done!
Anyway, glad to be home, thanks for checking in, and next week I'll give a Sammy update...it's been a while and I know some of you are anxious to hear the latest.
Meanwhile, have a good week!