In my last post I was bemoaning being pulled in too many directions. There simply aren’t enough hours in a day to fulfill all the needy hands reaching for us and making demands on our time. While pondering this and contemplating my naval, I suddenly remembered a very effective tactic I previously employed to deal with this problem. How could I have forgotten this for 18 years? I call it The TaTa Technique, which stands for TIME AGENDA/TIME ALLOWANCE, and it was created at a time when I was simultaneously refinancing a house, adopting a baby, and filing year-end taxes. I was working 10-hour days on Wall Street and spending 3 hours a day commuting. There was a lot on my plate and very little extra time. I would arrive home at night, beat and exhausted, and look at the three projects neatly lined up in my dining room and feel completely overwhelmed. Since all three were urgently important, I would sit down with the refi paperwork for one hour, then on to the adoption file for one hour, and finally finish the final hour with the taxes. Every night I went to bed feeling like I’d made great progress in every area.
This is how the TaTa Technique works. Make a list every morning of your top priorities for the day, in order of importance. Then, allocate a set amount of time. I’ve found that 30-minute or one-hour increments are most effective. Then, spend your set time allotment on the #1 thing on your list; when that 30 minutes or one hour is up, stop. Resist the temptation to continue on your project just because you have a good momentum going. Then, onto item #2, and so on. At the end of the day, you may not have every single item crossed off or totally completed, but you will have at least made good progress on all of your items. It never failed to give me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. If I just spent the day on one or two tasks, I would often feel like a failure. Try it and let me know how it works for you. I, for one, plan to embrace my very own TaTas immediately!
Now, on to today’s installment of “Texas Toast”. As that stormy, frightening April night drew to an end, Jack arrived back home from Dallas, the storm blew itself out, and power was restored to our building. I was vastly relieved and wouldn’t dwell on the events of that evening, or remember the sense of foreboding I’d experienced until September, five months later, when the words of warning the walls had been trying to communicate would become all too clearly understood.
I truly was my mother’s daughter, because, after just ten short days, when Jack asked me to move in with him and sublet my Village apartment, I agreed. Just so you know I’m not completely nuts, I did give the situation approximately 11 seconds of deep contemplation before saying yes and packing up my clothes. I’m sure ours was not unlike other whirlwind romances, but to my 24-year-old eyes, life was a magical dance for the next few weeks. Farrah Fawcett’s red swimsuit poster was all the rage and Saturday Night Fever was burning up the box office. Charlie’s Angels ruled the airwaves, and a madman named Son of Sam was terrifying hormonally amped up couples in the outer boroughs of NYC. Days were filled with flower deliveries and loving cards, long, romantic lunches and dinners, and utter joy at our good fortune in finding one another. A housekeeper, penthouse, and charge cards to all the best department stores didn’t have a dampening effect on my joy either!
Before I’d met Jack, I had already booked a flight to Texas for two weeks in June to visit my parents on their beautiful hill country farm they’d just inherited from my grandfather. Since the thought of being separated for two weeks was unbearable for both of us, it was decided that Jack would fly from a client meeting in Dallas to Austin and we’d be on a cowboy holiday together. His flight into Austin arrived before mine by several hours, and I suppose my parents’ curiosity to meet him caused them to greet Jack’s flight. When I finally arrived, I found the three of them happily ensconced in the airport bar, surrounded by bottles of Lone Star beer, and the sight of my Dad’s cherished straw cowboy hat perched on Jack’s head. This was a really good sign indeed!
After spending lazy days with family and friends, fishing, country line dancing, and hay baling, we decided a change of scene was in order, and hopped in the car for a short trip to Padre Island; the beach was calling. During dinner that first night, under a full moon sparkling over the ocean, Jack asked me to marry him. About 10,000 conflicting thoughts flew through my head. We had only known each other six weeks, but my parents married 10 days after meeting, and look how well that had turned out. I hadn’t met any of Jack’s family yet; what if they were as crazy-assed as Boy’s mother had been? She had once hurled a pair of scissors at me because I wasn’t opening birthdays presents fast enough for her liking! There was also the 12-year age difference,which, while pretty hot at 36 and 24, might not be as appealing when he was 70 and I was 58. I spent the whole of the next day going back and forth, to and fro, shoulda, coulda, woulda.
When we awoke the following morning, Jack announced that he felt today was the day. Let’s just get married right here on vacation. No elaborate wedding plans, no designer gown or tux, just simple and free and immediate. Since I was still unsure, I did as I so often do; I threw the decision into the hands of fate. I told Jack that if we were meant to be married, it would happen today or never. I felt sure that there was no possible way that formalities could be arranged that quickly, but I hadn’t counted on Jack’s powers of persuasion. By the time the first shops opened in Mexico, we were purchasing a beautiful hand-crocheted white dress that would be my wedding outfit, and had already been to the courthouse to sort out legalities. The last step before finding an available magistrate was to have blood tests taken. We were directed to a doctor’s office and sat in a hot waiting room for what felt like hours. Suddenly, the office door burst open and a loud commotion ensued. Several Mexican men, who looked like construction workers, were escorting an injured man into the waiting area. His right arm and hand were wrapped in towels. In an effort to communicate the urgency of the man’s situation to the receptionist, the towels were unwrapped to reveal a hand nearly severed at the wrist. I gasped in shock, and hearing the sound, the injured man turned in my direction, sending great spurts of blood all over the front of my newly purchased dress.
So it was that Jack and I found ourselves several hours later, standing in front of a Justice of the Peace, saying our vows and wearing a half red and half white wedding dress. I remember nothing of the ceremony itself, but after it was official, we decided to head back into Mexico for an authentic and very late lunch. I suppose it must have been nerves on both our parts, but for the life of us, we couldn’t figure out how to get back to Matamoros from Padre Island. We were bent over double in fits of laughter at our joint brain fart and finally found ourselves behind a Greyhound tour bus. In our adrenalin and ganja-fueled minds, it was decided that we would find our way into Mexico if we just followed this bus, because surely Matamoros must be its destination. After following this thing for miles of twists and turns down tiny lanes and alleys it finally arrived at the end of its road…the Greyhound bus station in Port Isabel, Texas!
Somehow, the newly married Mr. and Mrs. Brain Fart attained the restaurant and were the only patrons in that lonely hour when lunch has long since passed and it’s still way tooo early for dinner. Suffice it to say that the wedding night was not consummated due to the raging attack of Montezuma’s revenge we both suffered. How could this marriage not work out, having received the twin blessings of both blood and diarrhea?