Let’s think of something to do while we’re waiting


I believe I mentioned to you just recently that I am in a kind of limbo place because, for at least the first couple of months of the year, I was going to be waiting for stuff.

So now that the holidays are over, and the lights and decorations are gone, and the lovely meals became leftovers and even those are gone, and we are left with nothing but cold and snow and fond memories of hangovers gone by, I am waiting.

I really suck at it.

That is, I really suck at waiting for things that I want rather badly. If I’m waiting for something I am not looking forward to (like a colonoscopy) or something I don’t really care about (like the Presidents Day sales at the mall), then I don’t even notice. I’m not thinking about it. Or maybe I’m avoiding thinking about it. In that case, you might even say that I’m not really waiting at all.

But when I’m waiting for something that I am looking forward to (like Spring) or something I really want (like acceptance into graduate school) or something I really need (like my income tax refund), then I have this tendency to make myself crazy by sliding into an orgy of anticipation.

Since graduate school is something I really, really want, waiting to hear is really, really hard. I’m supposed to hear from them by March, although earlier this year my rejections arrived in my inbox in February. But assuming for the moment that I will need to give them until March (maybe hearing early is a bad sign?), that’s still just under three months away — which, right now, feels like forever.

So, what do I do while I’m waiting? I make decisions about what I’m going to do when I get in. After all, before I even get around to things like figuring out which courses I’ll be taking and when should I register for them, there will be other things to do.

Getting accepted into graduate school will entail moving to where the graduate school is (since it isn’t here). So, while I wait, I plan the trip. I research the cost of renting a moving truck and spending a night on the road. I decide on the route I’ll take (I-81 or I-95?) to get there. I calculate my budget for gas based on miles per gallon for the two vehicles involved and the average price of gas in the U.S. Then, I ponder where we’ll live once we get there. I review rental listings. I research service providers for my kids.

I can keep myself going for awhile with all this stuff but, ultimately, I run out of things to research. Or I remember that I’m at work and I’m supposed to be … um … working. Although I’m still sitting around waiting for a bunch of people to do a bunch of things before I can do what I need to do, so it’s not like I have all that much to keep me busy. Something else I’m waiting for: either way you slice it, I’m not staying in this job any longer than I have to. But I would like to leave something positive and effective for the community before I go. What I will be leaving behind me — a workforce development program — is not what I would choose but I was not consulted or given a choice in the matter.

But before I can use the grant money I won or was otherwise awarded ($300,000 in all so far), paperwork must occur, pencils must be pushed, and administrative waltzing between appropriate partners must be completed. And, since I have no partner for this waltz, I just have to sit around doing the wallflower thing and … you guessed it … wait.

Meanwhile, having received my W-2 form from my employer insanely early, I have been able to engage with my friends at TurboTax and, to the extent that I am able, complete my income tax returns with their help. The result is a sizable refund … which, of course, I’m going to have to wait for. The IRS is not even accepting returns yet. My state doesn’t even seem to have finalized this year’s forms yet. And here I am, fully aware that I’ve got money coming and approximately when it should arrive.

So, while I’m waiting for that, I could play the “how many ways can I spend this money I don’t even have yet” game. This is a no-win game because it lets you spend your money six different times and accomplish all sorts of mathematically impossible things with a finite amount of cash. Such that, when you finally do get the money you’re expecting, you end up sorely disappointed when you discover that “mathematically impossible” is just that.

Of course, being blessed with a practical mind, I am less inclined to mentally spend the money six different times and pay six times as many people/things as I am actually able to. I do like to plan, though. That can occupy me quite a bit, especially since a significant portion of this money is earmarked for moving my family to Grad School Land.

Which takes me right back to where I started from.

I suppose all this stuff is relatively harmless as long as I don’t dive so far into it that I am avoiding real life in the moment. That’s always a temptation when you just don’t like the moment that you’re in. Frankly, there is nothing I’m doing right now that I’ll miss badly enough to keep me happy in freezing winter in upstate NY in job to which I am philosophically and intellectually opposed. But, the job pays the rent and there’s not much I can do about leaving here until I have someplace to go.

I’m hoping Plan A gets it done for me this time. Guess I’ll have to wait and see.