Patience is a virtue, but an inefficent one

Expanding on an earlier comment, patience just is not something I practice easily. I can, with gritted teeth, wait for that worth waiting for. I can tell myself it will be worth it in the end. But sometimes the end seems so far away it’s out of sight.

I am seeing progress in my working out, thank the ass gods. I went for a longer than usual walk around the neighborhood yesterday to do errands, and normally I would have been miserable. But I was only winded at the end, when I was hauling uphill just for kicks. Otherwise I was like a normal person. I confess, I have skipped a couple days. One when my knees were threatening to secede from the union, one where I went shopping instead. Frivolous and I paid for it, as I was wearing my new Converse without socks and I got blisters the size of nickels. Yowza. Hence the walk yesterday- I could wear my Birks and not worry about anything touching my poor heels. I’m hitting the gym again tonight, you might be able to hear the screams if my thick socks and bandaids aren’t enough.

I’m pretty good at enjoying the process as much as the end result, as long as the process is interesting. I think I actually prefer baking to eating the results; it’s so calming to measure out ingredients and mix them, pouring the batter into a pan. I like ironing, weird as that may sound. It’s very relaxing to do while watching TV, and satisfying to see a garment crisp and bright like new. I’ve been sewing since I was eight, and love that process, though I hate, hate, hate, laying out the pattern and cutting out the fabric. But I think part of that is not having one of those lovely big tables like on Project Runway, so instead I’m crawling around on the floor, mouth full of pins, measuring my grainlines, and trying to keep the cats and bunnies from running through everything. Constructing a garment is something altogether different. To see these flat pieces of fabric become a three dimensional garment is magical. Knowing you can do that magic is powerful. I made all of my formals in high school, helped by my mom who hated sewing but loved laying and cutting out. We were a great team. She was also a deft hand at hemming quickly, when a dress was finished the day of the dance. Bless her.

I’m working on a new piece of writing, and I’m not rushing myself. Hell, let me just admit it, I’m too lazy to rush it. But I’m enjoying seeing where it’s going, loving how it’s turning out. I’d like to be finished with the first draft, sure, but that because I want to know how it ends up so I can start revising and making it even better. My college English professor was a big fan of Montaigne and the essay style, so I learned to write pieces that seemed to meander around a subject and back. Figuring out that you could tie back to the beginning when you had just been noodling on a first draft, finding a structure was there for you all along, was exhilarating. I once wrote a paper using the distinct moves of chess pieces as a metaphor for social roles in Victorian society, and was so happy with it I still don’t know what my grade was, nor care.

But just waiting around for something to happen, oh that is torment. I’m not talking about sitting around like a bored kid, wishing for anything to happen. I’m an only child, I’m used to that kind of boredom and to fixing it myself. I can make my own fun, there’s always something to read, something to watch, or the option of napping. For an insomniac, I’m a champion napper. I could nap for England. No, I get impatient waiting for a specific thing. I’m fine wasting time, but I hate having my time wasted. Waiting in line behind someone unclear on the concept of whatever I am waiting to do, be it using the automated machine at the post office or making a return at Target, is just torturous. I should be kinder, have some charity as well as patience, but, good lord, how long does it take to read a screen instructing you to input the destination zip code? I’m miserable at work when my getting a task finished requires waiting for an answer or for someone else to finish another task. I will check email constantly, even when I know it does so automatically.

I was a big fan of book Cheaper by the Dozen as a child, not just because being part of a large family was so exotic to an only child like me, but because the parents’ jobs as efficiency experts fascinated me. To this day I love cutting out unnecessary steps in a process and shaving off valuable time. Even if all I’m going to do with that time is waste it. Knowing I have that time back for my own is sweet. I once shortened the time it took to do a task at one job by so much that we had to find more work to do, as we finished so quickly we looked like we were slacking off. I am driven up the wall when forced to do something in an inefficient way when I know there’s a better way. If you want to see steam come out my ears, have me do redundant tasks and tell me it’s because “that’s the way we do it here.” I will be climbing walls. But let me fix the system, and we’ll all go home a few minutes earlier every day.


February 2, 2010. Tags: , , . Life, the universe, and whatnot.

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