So my intent with this blog is to document my journey after leaving the service. I hope to post entries that provide some nugget of knowledge or kernel of awareness that can assist other veterans along their own journey. To do that though, I generally need some quiet time to formulate a cohesive thought and write it down.
That’s just not happening right now.
My wife is away on a multi-week business trip, the kids have phantom earaches that only bother them between midnight and 5 am, and the dog ate something that’s giving her the ‘rhea. Quiet time? Umm, nope.
Faced with a time-management challenge, I figured the best thing to do would be to plan a day around stealing a few hours to write. Easy enough. If there’s one thing the military taught me it was how to manage my time effectively. On Friday I worked out, went grocery shopping, and folded the laundry while the kids were at school. After the kids ate their lunch, I bought two hours of quiet time by putting Cars2 on the TV. With a fresh cup of coffee I descended into the basement. A simple plan well executed–this was going to be easy.
Thirty minutes later, a small, wet hand landed gently on my shoulder. My 3 year-old can be silent on the stairs when she wants to be.
“Umm, I think it fell in.” She spoke with the bemused innocence of a bystander who’d just observed an act of god. It was nobody’s fault–it just happened.
“What fell in?”
“Well, the car.” Duh, Dad. What else?
“The one I was driving around the toilet.” She was getting exasperated as only a 3 year-old going on 13 can be.
I heard my productivity window slam shut–but I wasn’t ready to give up yet. Stifling a few choice words, I tried to get more information. Maybe it wasn’t bad enough to need my immediate attention.
“You were playing matchbox cars in the bathroom and one fell in the toilet?”
“Is there anything else in the toilet?”
Silence. She suddenly found a spot on the ceiling fascinating. Her little eyes focused on it and I could almost hear the wheels turning in her head. Then she seemed to remember something. Seriously–she even put her index finger to her lips and thought about it for a second before answering.
“Well, I pooped.”
“Did you reach in and pick the car up?” The little wet handprint on my shoulder started to itch. Maybe she’d tried to recover the car before making her deposit…
“No, Daddy. I couldn’t see it.”
“How’d your hand get we–never mind. Get upstairs.”
After thoroughly scrubbing her hands, I sent her back to watch the movie. I took a deep breath and went into the bathroom.
I couldn’t see the car either–just poorly chewed kale, raisins and oatmeal. I got the toilet brush (bad choice) and started digging around. The car was definitely in there still, I could feel its solid shape amidst the–you get the point. Figuring I could hold it in place, I flushed the toilet. Maybe then I could at least see the damn thing.
Some of the obscurants went down the pipes and the car remained under the brush. Success! I could wrap this up and still get some writing done. But I couldn’t move the car with the soft brush and now I had another problem–at least half of that nastiness was trapped in the brush’s bristles.
I should have just grabbed the cleaning gloves and man’d up, but I just couldn’t go there. I’ll clean the house, scrub toilets and floors, cook and all other sorts of ‘domestic’ tasks, but I can’t bring myself to wear cleaning gloves. Or an apron. But I digress…
The lightbulb above my head flickered and, leaving the soiled brush in the bowl, I ran outside. Kitty, our 70lb pitbull-mix, had left a stick on the front porch. Armed with the stick, I went back in. Using the stick to hold pressure against the car, I was able to move it up the bowl high enough to slip a sacrificial tupperware underneath and drop it in. Then I tossed the whole stinking mess in the outside garbage can.
It took me significantly longer to clean all the poo pieces out of the toilet brush. My writing window was definitely closed for the day.
Instead, I watched Cars2 for the umpteenth time and fielded questions about talking cars, afterburners, and why pistachio ice cream makes you fart. Feeling my kids nestled under my arms made me forget my annoyance at having my plan derailed. It just didn’t matter.
So, as much as I’d like every post to be profound, sometimes they will simply record the more mundane aspects of my life. There might be value in them, too:
Don’t use a toilet brush to remove a matchbox car from a recently used toilet. Use a stick instead. And sometimes losing a productivity window can be a good thing–if you expend the time wisely.
This whole episode was a good reminder for me to slow down, enjoy the moment, and don’t sweat the small stuff. And after combat, it’s pretty much all small stuff.