Thursday, September 26, 2013

Time Management Tricks for People Too Busy to Read about Time Management Tricks

AVC's Most Published Author Shares a Secret

This blog site has been fallow for a few weeks, despite the fact that in and around campus we have had career days and a winner in the Constitution Day essay contest and the first football game of the season and a golf tournament and try-outs in the drama department and emergency drills and power outages at the Palmdale Campus. If you've seen any of the features on the tv news or the Los Angeles Times, you know that Southern California has been blessed with an invasion of blue-footed boobies, a pelican-sized seabird usually found in Baja or the Galapagos.

These have yet to turn up at Lake Palmdale or Piute Ponds on Edwards Base, but there have been local birdwatchers out looking for them, myself included. As we go to press, there are seven blue-footed boobies present on the Marina del Rey breakwater, and they've been seen inland as close as Pasadena. Much drama, much to feature here, and yet the AVC Blog has been silent.

Why? Because the primary author (Hood) has terrible time management skills. And yet I have to say, that's because I have excellent time management skills. Just ask my dog.

Lucy is a rescue dog, and she seems to be part corgi, part Australian shepherd, part mutt, and part goozle hound --- that's my wife's term for a pet that knows how to be so persistent, so cute, so inventive, that despite your best intentions, you give her a treat, or, at the very least, stop what you're doing and get down to roll on the floor with her. Santi Tafarella calls dogs like that "Hooper," his term for a friendly old pooch who thinks the day is never too busy for a scratch behind the ears.

Does Lucy care if I am late for the Distance Ed Committee meeting? She does not. All she knows is that there is a cupboard full of beef jerky and that with my enormous bipedal height and world-famous generosity, it would be no small matter for me to open that magic box up, take out some jerky, and then pet her while she eats it. Paradise is so easily achieved, Lucy telepathically communicates to me.

Our cat --- or to be specific, my wife's cat --- is named Kinsey, after the detective in the Sue Grafton novels. Usually Kinsey is carrying away thumb drives like dead mice or trying to shred the $500 curtains, but once in a while she gets in the zone, especially when she sees me frantically stuffing folders in my briefcase, and she does her Rasta impression. "Hey mon," she says. "Don't worry. Be happy."

Most days my wife works during the day, while I am on the evening shift at the college. Sometimes, just as I am finally ready for work, my wife gets off early. She comes home before I've left, and we overlap a bit. Was I planning to scoot out the door? Sure, but that can wait. She's home and time now to do a bit of catching up.

There has been a lot of speculation among my students what I am like at home, especially given my reputation as being the hard grader who gives such challenging (some might say impossible) paper topics. This curiosity extends at times to my co-workers inside Language Arts, who wonder how I have time to keep up a full teaching load and yet do as much publishing as I do. Do I have full-time, live-in domestic servants? Perhaps I keep two or three hungry grad students chained up the basement, writing all my poems for me. (Charles Bukowski recommends this in one of his poems, and he says, don't treat them very nicely either.)

To satisfy that curiosity, for one time only, I will share a candid photo of me at home in my kitchen. Here is the professor and his wife, sharing a private moment. (I am the one on the left.)

Sometimes my intentions for this blog and the dog Lucy's thesis that she is the center of the universe do overlap. For some months now I have been conducting a survey of water in the Antelope Valley, with the intent of featuring that topic here. I have been taking pictures of sprinklers, lakes, ditches, pools, and storm drain basins. I have over 100 photos now in that file, waiting to be sorted and written up. To quote one of my own essays, for a desert, there sure is a lot of water here.

Here is a preview of that post. Does anybody know about the open-air flume called "Palmdale Ditch"? There were times this summer when it was rushing just as fast as any river in Yosemite. And of course there is the marsh at Edwards, the one I mentioned might have stray boobies, called Piute Ponds. Here is a shot from this amazing oasis. (Note: Air Force permission required for access.) Hard to believe this is so close to campus, isn't it?

Lucy loves to go hiking, and if hiking involves muddy or scummy water, that makes it so much the better. Last week she reminded me it was time to photograph the aqueduct again for the blog. (For a dog, she has a very good vocabulary, and very distinctly can bark the syllables, "a-que-duct.") Okay, then, the goozler convinced me: I'll get the keys, you wait in the truck, and yes, we can go to the aqueduct.

Was I supposed to be somewhere else just then? Probably. After all, the email churns on, day and night. During the morning, robo-dial calls come sometimes ten-a-day. (I no longer answer the phone at all when I am home, especially if I am working on a poem or grading papers. Let the machine pick it up: I need to stay in the groove.) There is always a website to check, an email to answer, a text to consider and then delete. Luckily I don't have Face Book or I wouldn't even have time to take a shower. So I confess: I have terrible time management skills. I have not done this blog, at least three of the sprinkler heads in the yard need to be replaced, and my lovely Aunt Pat (hi Aunt Pat!) wrote me a very nice note and I have yet to answer it.

So there are things to do, and yet, despite that, I give myself a few moments, here and there, just to be human. I stopped wearing a wristwatch, so that has helped. No blood pressure medicine for me, just the lucky fact that I need reading glasses to read the face on my mobile phone, and so when they're off, since I don't have a watch on, I usually don't know what time it is. That's a good thing some days. It helps keep the energy up on the long term, and makes it so that week after week, I feel good about myself, about Antelope Valley College, and about the great and glorious journey we are all on together. Somehow, even without a watch (or a Face Book account), I've managed to get nine books published, and I have three more manuscripts in circulation. All my grading is up and done, and I've not been late to anything all week. Taking a few moments to be human, to be alive, to do something that YOU want to do --- or if not you, then that your dog wants to do --- may be the best time management skill of all.

Here is a final aqueduct shot. It may be hard to see on your screen, but that dark object on the bridge is a man taking an evening ride on his horse. He may not be going very fast, but somehow I think he is going to get there just fine --- just fine indeed.


This blog does not represent the views of the District, the Board, or Lucy the dog. It is curated (and usually written by) Charles Hood, Language Arts. He may be reached at