Saturday, January 19, 2013

The theme of this upcoming week is, "Get back on track."

The title is something that I just wrote on the back of my shopping list, which contains simple essentials such as, "potatoes," "lots of greens," "more onions."

Beginning in October, when I came home from a visit to New Jersey, then begun again with renewed vigor upon my return from Hawaii, and finally, with the New Year and the end of the holidays, with and even stronger beginning, I have been following what I fondly refer to my Anal Retentive Weekly Schedule that I designed for myself at the cusp of 2009 when I was trying to get organized to both enjoy my dull life in a town where I knew no one and be prepared, at short notice, to pack up and move to start a new life somewhere else.

The schedule has been in my Google Calendar ever since, even though I ignore it more often than I follow it. In October, I decided to try it again, and have found that it really works for me. By only focusing on one category of chores or projects a day, and allowing myself to ignore other categories because I know I have a whole other day dedicated to them, my productivity and peace of mind increases exponentially.

The schedule is as follows:

Sunday: Kitchen Day
Monday: Closet Day
Tuesday: Desk/Papers Day
Wednesday: Clean the Bathroom Day*
Thursday: Crafts Day
Friday: Catch-up/Fun Day
Saturday: Reading Day

* Recently, when pondering this schedule, I thought, "There was a Hygiene Day. Where's Hygiene Day!?" Then I realized that Wednesday, an entire day dedicated to just the bathroom, was very likely my own 2009-era secret code for, "Hygiene Day," the day designated for tasks such as mustache, underarm, and leg waxing; eyebrow tweezing; and any other related category; hidden under this code name of "Clean the Bathroom"--because of course I would clean the counters after messing them up with an at-home waxing kit!--in case I dropped dead or disappeared or fell ill and someone had to clean out my apartment and somehow this involved accessing my Google Calendar and my ghost would be embarrassed that they found all that hair removal on a to-do list. Except now I've just told the whole Internet, so sorry, 2009-era Sarah.

I could dedicate pages and pages to this schedule, to what I do each day, but I really have to finish that shopping list and what my ideas are for a week devoted to "getting back on track." I also have to get to the market before it closes at 1:00, or that shopping list will have been for naught.

I do want to share with you that last week, I began to publicly sing the praises of my Anal Retentive Weekly Schedule. It was no longer the hidden secret of an overly organized soul trapped in a body in a home that housed a chaotic office and nonsensical desk. The weeks of adhering to this schedule, even with lapses such as my week of the flu and my second week of a different flu-like bug, had yielded a house that, once cleaned in preparation for a Saturday night gathering, miraculously stayed clean. Aside from hiding the Take-to-Goodwill pile in a bedroom, the house was cleaned without the employment of such tactics as, "Hide all that crap in a closet!" and "That closet's full, so you can use my office closet for that junk!" My office, the room in which I had given up hope completely, was not only clean and open to the public, but my office closet was also clean; its door open throughout the duration of the get-together.

Last week, I also noticed a difference in how my clothes fit.

I have a theory about women's clothing sizes. When I reach my midwinter chunky stage or a phenomenon that I will address in a later paragraph, I am often cautioned not to "up-size." "Don't up-size!" people will tell you, wagging a finger sometimes even literally. I disagree. I find that I and possibly other women have a small range of sizes into which we fit.

Three sizes, to be precise. Rather than proclaim my pants size in the same post in which we discussed my hair removal schedule, I will refer to these sizes in letters. Size B is the size in which I fit most of the time. Size B is a good, comfortable place to be. Occasionally I find myself in Size A! Size A is one size down from B, and boy do I feel hot! I used to hope I would stay at A, that A would become the New B, and I'd never have to worry about Size C again!

Size C is the biggest size in my wardrobe. It is one size above B. When I am "up-sizing," I put on my Size C clothes. When I'm a Size B, I still can wear my Size C clothes, but they're loose and comfortable. When I'm a Size A, the Size C clothes start to slide off or bunch in ways that makes the zippers come undone. I used to panic when I found myself a Size C. I do not anymore. I have come to accept that my weight fluctuates between these three sizes. Size C is not the end of the world, but a thing that happens typically when I am under stress.

On Christmas Eve, I noticed that my Size C clothes were no longer loose, btu fit perfectly. If they started to get tight, then I might panic. I stated that this was not of fear of getting fat, just that a new Size D wardrobe wasn't in the budget, time- or money-wise. I joked about not even trying on any Size B clothes for awhile. Only a few weeks later, with both holiday stress gone and a commuting schedule that involved approximately two miles of walking per day, I found myself ready to try Size B again.

What a difference a week can make. Last week, the Size B Triumphant Week, I began to work intensely on my law school applications. I set myself the made-up goal of having at least Cornell and Georgetown finished by the end of last week. This was accomplished aside from my personal statement, the most difficult piece. The personal statement consumed this week, and I believe the personal statement is responsible for my Anal Retentive Weekly Schedule and all of its benefits having gone to hell.

For example, two of the five evenings this week, I ate cookies for dinner. Plus some brie.

Another day, I ate a bowl of cereal and a piece of candy. And some cheddar.

This visual representation will further make my point. Below is a picture of my closet at the beginning of last week.

Note the color-coded hanging sweater shelves. Note how the sweaters are filed, rather than stacked, like something I saw on Pinterest. They are arranged based on sleeve length, with the long-sleeved and three-quarter-sleeved, the ones I am most likely to wear in winter, on top and most accessible. Next to the hanging sweater shelves are at least five outfits for the week. Each hanger contains the top and bottom, as well as socks or tights and other accessories, including earrings and necklaces attached to the hanger or stuck through the tag of one of the garments.

And this is a picture of my desk on Monday evening:

This is just one corner. The whole desk was equally covered with crap.

And finally, by the end of the week, the week which began with a Closet Day, a Closet Day in which I laid out seven outfits consisting of Size B clothing, it returned. The dreaded phenomenon I previously stated I would describe in a later paragraph. The later paragraph is here, and so is the phenomenon....the dreaded Stress Bloat. When I am under stress, it does not matter how skinny I am, what I am eating, or how much I walk or run. I can't run from the Stress Bloat. I know it is Stress Bloat and not Cookies for Dinner Bloat when I wake up in the morning a Size A and by evening, I am exploding out of a pair of Size C jeans, a veritable eruption of muffin top.

And so, this week will be devoted to Getting Back on Track. The Anal Retentive Weekly Schedule will be ignored no longer. A second draft of my essay will be complete and possibly turned in to Cornell and Georgetown. Rather than attempt to try complicated recipes on Kitchen Day, I will trust the instincts and intuitions gained from weeks of trying new recipes and with basic potatoes, onions, greens, grains, and beans, make some simple, healthy meals. I am liberating myself from Recipe Stress so that I can focus more on my essay...Essay Stress. EssStress, even.

I will make these simple meals in advance, pack them and bring them all to work on Tuesday, and prepare my outfit-hangers so that each weekday, the only thing I will have to worry about is pulling a ready-made outfit off of a hanger, walking to the streetcar and walking from the streetcar home, reheating lentil-potato-cabbage-etc-soup for dinner, and writing my essay.

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