Help, I’m Talking, and I Can’t Shut Up!

I’m feeling stressed these days, like I just want to curl up on the sofa with a big bag of salt and vinegar chips and watch Shirley Temple movies all day.  My problem stems from the fact that I am not an organized person.  Wait!  There’s more.  I am not an organized person, and I have a memory like a sieve.  I rattle my mouth off and get myself deep into things I’ve said I’ll do, and I really do want to do them, but I talk big about things I’m going to do and then can’t figure out how I’m going to fit them all in.

I know there are things I’ve agreed to do that I can’t even remember.  If you nominated me for an award lately (I think three people have, but I can’t remember who they were or what the award was, so any dreams of fulfilling my obligation with the reward or challenge requirements is slim to none.)  My husband, as well as many other d0-gooders, have told me I need to write things down.  I’ve tried that, but then I can’t remember where I wrote them, or I just plain forget to read what I wrote.

I’d like to say I haven’t always been this way, but it would be pretty much a lie.  Don’t get me wrong.  When I was a teacher and then an academic dean, I did my job very well, made every meeting on time (early, in fact), met every deadline, and learned all 150 of my students’ names in the first two days of classes.  I have no earthly idea how I could function so well in my professional life and can’t get a handle on my personal one.

If you think this was brought on by adding my novel writing to my list of to-do’s, you’re probably right.  I feel sort of obligated to give it a go after I shot my mouth off about it.  I already do the newsletter for Hampton Roads Writers, and now I’ve said I would do a newsletter for my YMCA, teach English to a young Vietnamese woman so she can prepare to become a naturalized citizen next year, and either write an article about a friend’s worthy organization or put her in touch with someone who could do a better job of it.

Now, on top of all my other “stuff,” I agreed to play violin once or twice a week with a fellow musician in my neighborhood.  She needs a quiet place to practice because her house can get quite hectic.  Since I’ve been so busy doing other things, I have been neglecting my music.  I haven’t touched my piano in weeks, preferring to pick up my Irish whistle and play a quick tune instead, and my violin has needed new strings for three years.  My fingers don’t even have the calluses on them anymore that I need to firmly press down on the strings.  I’m quite nervous about this violinist coming over next week.  I’m going to feel like such a dolt.  I will be so embarrassed and humiliated at my poor skills while she will shine.  I don’t know why I ever agreed to this.  Oh, well, my mouth gets me in trouble yet again.  Anyway, how great can a five-year-old play the violin anyway?  She hasn’t even picked up her bow yet and is still working on her pizzicato.  I’ll wipe the floor with her.

About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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36 Responses to Help, I’m Talking, and I Can’t Shut Up!

  1. Wow, you play instruments, too? On top of being such a great writer, what other talents do you have? I hope you have fun!
    As for the memory part, you are not alone. I write grocery lists but can never find them! See, I don’t even play piano, and do all those wonderful things you do!

  2. judithhb says:

    Lovely post and what a great punchline. I am exhausted just reading about the things you can do. Play musical instruments, write for two publications …

  3. yen says:

    Oh wow, you play the violin and the piano! You’re really a Superwoman, Susan. A writer, photographer and a musician rolled into one. It seems as if my family knows you now that I keep talking about you and your blog. 🙂 Just told my sister – again – about you and your writing tonight. Hats off to you!

  4. Oh, you’re a musician, too! I like you more and more! Forget memory. Play. It’ll all come back to you. (PS the holdout on the bit about the neighbor being five years old is priceless. Well done, you!)

    • Coming East says:

      That must mean you are a musician, too, SC. How did I miss that? All three of my children are musicians as well, and, unlike their mother, very good ones. I beat them hands down, though, on the number of instruments I stink at.

      • I’m a singer. Classical. I can’t play any instruments – never took lessons. Pursued my voice instead, and I don’t regret that pursuit in the slightest, but I do wish I’d taken piano lessons.

      • Coming East says:

        It’s never too late, SC. Being a singer, you always take your instrument wherever you go—how great is that!

  5. I got myself swamped over the past two weeks and I’m trying to get caught up on reading. Professionally I’m always…well, almost always caught up but personally…I’ve only posted once a week this month and I won’t post unless my heart is in it. So reading this has come at a good time. Thank you. But…Wow…violin and piano and more instruments? Pretty soon, you’ll find your rhythm again…certainly your humor is intact. Have a lovely weekend. Curl up on that sofa and watch ST movies with your chips.

  6. Leah says:

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s tough to “do it all.” And I have one suggestion for you: carry a notebook and pen with you at all times!

  7. Patti Ross says:

    I loved this post, needed a laugh. Have fun with the kid and the violin–couldn’t you the experienced violinist just liste, give her an audience? I have no thoughts on how to get you better organized–as a former teacher and academic dean who also was very organized in that venue but can forget my name some mornings, I commiserate. I know you are not asking for advice, but here are my suggestions anyway: Rather than a to-do list or even a priority mantra to read each morning, I suggest you write this phrase somewhere so you can get it memorized: “I’d love to help with that but am not certain my schedule will let me. I’ll see.” You have not said no, but have not made a commitment either. If they call back, maybe you’ll get to it. If you do get to it, it’s really an item for the tada list–an idea I love! Enjoy whatever you do, do! And then eat chips and watch movies! My only point of contention in your post is Shirley Temple movies. They would not be my choice, but I know what you mean!

    • Coming East says:

      I didn’t know you were an academic dean once, too, Patti. Small world. Actually, if I hear what other people are doing, I really have nothing to complain about. It’s not so much that I’m overloaded as that I know I waste a lot of time. I’m married to a man who is very structured and organized, and I know I drive him crazy sometimes. For instance, we’re driving up to visit our sons in Boston next week, and my husband wants to call them to see what they want to do about dinner when we arrive on Friday. Should we go out or pick up something and eat in? I just stared at him for a minute and said, “Let’s just wait until we get there and see what we feel like doing.” He doesn’t understand that concept. LOL!

  8. Amy says:

    I started feeling dizzy when I was reading your list half way. I’m embarrassed to say, my to-do list is always short. If I begin with a half dozen, I knock off half before I start. I didn’t know one can be an outstanding writer and play three instruments, wow!! Love your post!

  9. I love this post. I haven’t written or read posts for weeks,…simply overwhelmed with my lists of things “to do”. I have a dear friend who frequently says to me..”Don’t should on yourself.” I remember it when I hear that voice in my head saying…You should be playing the piano, you should be blogging, you should be….
    So…my thoughts? Don’t be too hard on yourself but please don’t give up the writing because your writing is a bag of salt and vinegar chips and a Shirley Temple movie for a lot of us.

  10. Yikes, you successfully transmitted your tension. I got wired just reading. For some reason, everyone seems to be having a problem of WAAAY too many things to do these days. Here’s what I decided to do many years ago: Write down what’s most important. (For me it’s Engage fully with my Faith, my Family, my Friends, and Myself.) Read that statement every morning. Write your calendar where you can see it (I have a giant white board by the back door, and a reminder set up in my iphone calendar). Never, ever write a ToDo list again – it’s always too long. Instead, write a TaDa list: write down things as you accomplish them. Wrote 800 words of my novel today, TaDa! Got new strings for my violin, TaDa! Baked a birthday cake, Ta Da!

    Whew! I’m relaxing. TaDa!

    • Coming East says:

      I’m laughing hysterically, Adela, because those are things an ORGANIZED person does! Wait, let me stop laughing…Okay, I love the Ta Da list. Where did you say to write it?

  11. I AM organized, and I can still identify with you. You, my friend, lead a full life!! Enjoy that time with your young violinist friend. So what if you’re not organized? She won’t care and she’ll always remember what you did for her. That more than makes up for it. Now go watch some Shirley Temple movies! If I lived nearby, I’d come on over to join you and bring the biggest bag of salt and vinegar chips I could find! 🙂

  12. Shary Hover says:

    I’m very good at making To Do lists at losing them. Then a friend gave me a mousepad/notepad. Now my list is under my mouse where I can look at it and cross things off every day. Seems simple, but it helps.
    How great that you’re going to be playing your violin with a young musician. It’s wonderful to share your love of music with a brand new student!

  13. Dor says:

    Susan – I love this post! Your shocker ending – the way you feel about the 5 year old showing you up is soo funny and so right on about the way I often feel about EVERYTHING! I am just the opposite though… very organized. Very Very organized. Only now that I am TheVirginiaShopper, writing that blog, and writing Technicolor Day Dreams, plus managing Twitter accounts for 4 entities, and keeping up with other promotional writing. I am becoming disorganized, but still eagerly vocal about volunteering for things I forget to do! My desk is suddenly cluttered, along with my closets, cupboards, and even the tops of things you can actually see! You are not alone and I love it that you voice my own frustration in better words!

    • Coming East says:

      Dor, you made me exhausted just reading about all that you are involved in! I didn’t know about TheVirginiaShopper. I need to check that out. I feel worse for you than me though. There can be nothing worse for a very organized person that to feel things are slipping out of her control. Since I’ve never been in control, nothing much has changed for me! 🙂

  14. So funny! That does sound like a lot of fun! 🙂

  15. Huffygirl says:

    Hmmm, maybe people who can play three instruments are not qualified to posit that they won’t be any good 🙂 Three instruments – good for you – you can do anything.

    • Coming East says:

      HG, I OWN three instruments (actually 4, counting my baritone ukelele. Oh, no 6, counting my alto recorder), but I don’t know if you could say I actually play them. Maybe play AT them.

  16. Old Jules says:

    Brought a pleasing smile into my coffee cup. Thanks, Jules

  17. This is SOOOO funny — especially the punchline! I hope you and your young musician friend have lovely rehearsals together. It sounds like a blast! As for the challengers — I was one of them, but please don’t view this as a reminder! Just an amusing musing! 🙂

    • Coming East says:

      Aha! Perhaps this post will identify the other challengers/award givers as well and I can redeem myself! Thanks for the reminder, Julia. I’ll go back and see what you challenged me to do—if I can remember to do that!

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