Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Plague On Both Your Houses (and an Office)

I am drowning in numbers. I see them everywhere.

There's something you need to understand about me. I study rhetoric. I read a lot. I love words, I love letters, and I love language. I hate numbers.

There is a binary (situated, itself, in numbers) between the world of numbers and the world of words, and I have both feet planted so firmly in the latter that I have a very hard time even recognizing the function of those numerically-centered individuals. But, suddenly, I've found myself thrust into their world and I am drowning in numbers.


I am typically very, very good at meeting deadlines. I hate being late, and I am notoriously 15 minutes early for every meeting, wandering around in the hallway, wondering how soon is too soon to approach the door.

Now, of course, there are deadlines in all of the different facets of my life. The mortgage has to be paid on time, my students will be waiting in a classroom at a chosen time and day, my boss expects me to have reports in, and so on and so forth. Most of the time, though, these separate spheres cooperate in not giving me too many numbers to have to think about at any one time.

Now, there are looming dates and times for every sphere, and as I approach one deadline, I just find some more.

Here is a sampling of some of the numbers I have in my head:
  • I teach a class at 3:45 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I teach until 5, but I also take a class that starts at 5 on Tuesdays. I also have to be out of the parking garage by 6, but I don't get out of class until 7:30.
  • I am 26 weeks and 2 days pregnant.
  • I am due on November 30.
  • It is almost September (not techinically a number, I know, but it looms as a giant 9 out of 12 in my head)
The most nerve-wracking of all is my due date. It sounds so fixed and neat: November 30. Doesn't that sound like a good due date? I can leave after Thanksgiving break, give someone a very planned-out list of things that have to be done at work, and take solace in the fact that I won't be missing too much at work over the holidays.

Now, of course, November 30 means nothing. In fact, I went in for a doctor's appointment yesterday where I measured 30 weeks pregnant. I am 26 weeks pregnant. Four weeks is a BIG difference. I'm trying not to let it freak me out too much, because I'm fairly certain that I'm not 30 weeks pregnant and that the ultrasound I have in two weeks will show me at 28 weeks. Regardless, November 30 still means nothing. It could mean November 25 or December 6. That's the difference between finishing up the class I'm teaching and leaving right in the middle of my students' final projects.

I think that I have always been so good at meeting deadlines because I treat numbers like the enemies they are. I study them like small, terrifying combatants and I plan in order to never be taken over by their worst qualities: unweilding rigidity, inflexibility, the inability to be reinterpreted. Their strengths are my weaknesses, so I study their strengths to avoid vulnerability, but these new numbers, they are very tricky things. I need a new plan of attack.

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