My Head Is Too Full Of Ideas Right Now, Many Of Them Unrelated To Things I Absolutely Must Finish Immediately; It’s Impossible To Bring Coherence To Anything But The Necessary And That Requires Ruthless Dedication, Leaving Little Time For Frivolous Frittering (Although There’s Always Time For Allitering)!

June 17, 2010

For Wednesday, June 15, 2010

Dream small dreams. If you make them too big, you get overwhelmed and you don’t do anything. If you make small goals and accomplish them, it gives you the confidence to go on to higher goals. • John H. Johnson

Is a blog a confessional? Sometimes it seems to be. It’s tempting to talk to the screen and confess your sins to the silent and quickly erasable electronic page. No judgment from the computer. It just sits there, no matter what you write. This is comforting. It’s also frightening because it’s so easy to blurt your woes and weaknesses to an invisible audience.

The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection. • George Orwell

I am, however, wary. I confess cautiously. Today I am in the midst of a mess. The syllabus I’m working on is the equivalent of the closet you’ve been meaning to clean out for ages and when you finally get to it and get everything pulled off of shelves and racks and sorted into piles you aren’t sure what to do with—well, you wish you’d never begun. I’m teaching a course I didn’t plan to teach again until summer 2011, and I’d hoped to organize the syllabus into a syllabook that could be printed to use as the text before I taught it again. I’ve been adding materials to the files for two years.

Try as hard as we may for perfection, the net result of our labors is an amazing variety of imperfectness.  We are surprised at our own versatility in being able to fail in so many different ways. • Samuel McChord Crothers

Alas. It is still a syllabook, but despite a prodigious wrestling match that took all day, it remains a work in progress. A 57,692 word work in progress. I have had to accept defeat. I must quit when I am not ready to. I do not like this at all, but I tell myself that it is good for me. I have other courses that begin on Friday that need work too. And many miles to go before I sleep.

A man [or a woman] would do nothing if s/he waited until s/he could do it so well that no one could find fault. • John Henry Newman

Letting go is good. Letting go is good. Letting go is good. Perhaps if I write this enough, I will believe it.

Always live up to your standards—by lowering them, if necessary.• Mignon McLaughlin (1966), The Second Neurotic’s Notebook

What do you have to let go of because there just isn’t time?

Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.  • Harriet Braiker



  1. I have developed the philosophy that you really aren’t grown up or mature until you realize how much you don’t know. If there is one gift I could give my students, it would be the knowledge that they don’t know it all! My son drives me crazy because he is in the egocentric stage where he is a know-it-all. I could rant on that!

  2. Rant: The Eight Egg Omelet

    I’d like to think I’m a polite person and I appreciate good manners. Any professional occasion, we are given the politeness and courtesy of being informed of what’s upcoming. When you go to a restaurant, you have a menu with a description of the entrée. How often do you take a risk with your wallet and appetite to order something with no warning of what you’re getting? This is my mentality as I’m ordering my omelet at a local restaurant.
    Imagine my surprise when my plate comes family style, turkey platter sized, filled from end to end with a mountain of egg and contents. Who needs eight eggs in their omelet? With no warning? The waiter is waiting for my gasp of delighted, gluttonous anticipation. He is disappointed at my shocked dismay. How am I supposed to eat that? More importantly, who needs to eat eight eggs? How can that be good left over? WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR WHAT I DON’T WANT OR NEED? And why was there no warning on the menu?
    My family doesn’t understand the level of my reaction. I can’t get over the rudeness of no warning of an eight egg omelet. Since that day, I have shown them every menu that politely warns “two egg omelet” or “three egg omelet.” I am not crazy. I would have ordered at least a half order. I was taught to clean my plate as a small child.

  3. There’s never enough time. That’s always been a problem for me – so much to do, so little time.
    I seemed to always have the notion that my yard needed to be meticulously manicured, my closets and cupboards organized, my house spotlessly clean all of the time. Yes, this is important. Cleanliness is good but there is always time to clean. I constantly remind myself of this idea as I have the choice between cleaning or taking time to enjoy a beautiful sunny day with my family. I can’t believe that I have that kind of battle to fight but I do. Sunny days are beginning to win the fight more and more. I’m reminded of the quote, “Don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour count.” Making memories with my family is priceless. The cleaning can wait for a rainy day.

    • Look Through My Glasses
      Have you ever walked to the copy machine only to find out the machine had been jammed and left for someone else to fix? Did you ever need a cup of coffee so bad you thought you were going to burst only to find the coffee pot empty? Did you ever walk into the office at school to do some work and find that someone had spilled paper punched holes from their copies and had left all of the little dots all over the floor? Another thing that just slays me is the fact that when there is dog poop on the playground, I get the privilege of scooping it up with the shovel. I don’t mind this job so much, but the help I get from an assistant is her placing an orange cone on the top of the poop. I have to say, the cone was placed neatly over the top of the poop. This makes my job twice as much fun because I get to clean the cone and the stinky poop as well. I love the play equipment at school. However, I have to say that I was appalled at what I found at the bottom of the twisty slide. It was a bright shiny blue used condom. The thought of it was so nasty I thought I might just vomit. Just call me Mr. Fix it. The best part of being a fix it person is helping the kids. I get to see the delight in their face when they learn how to cross the bars at recess; I enjoy watching their eyes when they have struggled with a problem only to finally understand it. It is as though their shade were pulled down and then opened when they got the concept. So if you ever have a problem be it any type or kind just call 1-800- Mr. Fix It.
      Patti McKenna

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