Productivity in Perspective

I make a lot of to-do lists. I’ve got a color-coded weekly homework one I pin up on my cork-board, I’ve got daily ones that break things down into minuscule portions, and I’ve got ones with titles like “TO DO BETWEEN FILM AND ANTHRO.” It’s not very environmentally friendly, but it sort of works for me. I like the reward of checking things off–it makes me feel extra productive. But productivity is a strange term that doesn’t always make sense. This Saturday, I spent all day doing laundry, cleaning my room, and organizing my clothes. I had four washing machines going at once. I got a serious workout going up and down the stairs to the laundry room, the tea pantry, and the trash cans. I ironed my clothes. I washed my sheets, towels, and even a blanket. I watched videos on efficient folding to better organize my room. I caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen enough of this year. I did my dishes, called my boyfriend, cleaned surfaces in my room that really needed cleaning. When I decided to stop after dinner and just relax, I was even able to check off “self-care.” But I didn’t feel accomplished–I felt guilty.

I had meant to do homework while my laundry ran, I didn’t finish putting everything away, I didn’t even remake my bed. I’d been hyper-productive for almost six hours straight, but it didn’t feel like I’d done enough. I hadn’t started my homework for Monday or Tuesday, I hadn’t gone into town to do some shopping, and I hadn’t written my blog post yet. When my friends asked what I’d been up to all day, I said, “oh, nothing, just a lot of laundry and cleaning.” I was shocked when one of my friends said, “oh my god, I’m so jealous, I just did work all day, my room is a mess, I didn’t do everything I was supposed to do.” It made me laugh. It’s just so easy to forget that it’s okay to not be done–we always stress “done is good” here, which can be motivating, but it’s also important to be aware that half-done still means you got a lot done. Sometimes self-care is lying around, eating Chinese food, and watching Moonrise Kingdom, but sometimes self-care is deep-cleaning and reorganizing your room. Sometimes self-care is doing your homework, too–because you know you’ll feel guilty if you don’t, and the feeling of accomplishing something is hugely important.

And when I look at my beautifully reorganized drawers, I feel a sense of accomplishment. My clothes are important to me, so I want them to look nice and be easily accessible. As someone with ADD, organization and domesticity are not exactly my strong suits. But I took a few tips from professional organizers on YouTube, completely changed my folding style, and even improvised on their systems to account for things like crop tank tops with lace-up sides, or an unusual amount of bralettes, or a dinosaur costume. Maybe I haven’t exactly made my bed yet, but my room is a more productive environment now. The empty check boxes on my to-do lists aren’t my enemies, they’re just stairs I need to climb to get to that magical place: the done-is-good relaxation zone.


Love Letter to the Cloisters

Dearest C–

Oh, how I have longed for your sweet embrace! That stony façade, concealing your sweet, pure heart–could anything be more beautiful? It has been such a long summer without you; though it could hardly feel like summer without a dip into your fountain of knowledge. I have also missed your enticing curves, the way you fill this campus with laughter and song, and your remarkable ability to wear anything and still look lovely, no matter the weather. Oh, joyous day when I did see you again! I had been putting it off, wanting the timing to be perfect, nervous that the time apart over the summer might have changed my feelings of the sweet nature of our relationship. But all of my doubts were unfounded! What glorious luck!


Our reunion was pure accident–just serendipity, exactly as we first met–a result of another’s forgetfulness. Who could have guessed that my professor would forget her notes that blessed Wednesday, or that we’d have our petite class meet outside to relish in the sunshine! I opened that heavy wooden door, as I have done so many times before, and there you were, waiting for me! Oh, heavenly sight! Oh, joyous encounter! You remain as magical as I’ve ever seen you!


Do you remember that first meeting, so long ago? A chance encounter, an unexpected detour on my way home from New York. I think I knew from the moment I set foot on campus that I was drawn to this place, and when I saw you, I knew that it was because I had come home. You have welcomed me home so many other times since that fateful day, only a few short years ago. With sun, stars, snow, singing, you never fail to reveal another side of yourself. I may be naught but a tiny inkblot on a page in the grand novel of your life, but you are the lantern to my candle–you help me shine. You encourage me to run faster, sing louder, build a better nude snowman, speak up, dance like I’ve never been embarrassed, love more deeply, and just be the best version of myself that I can be. You allow me to show off the best of each of my many sides. Whenever I need something the rest of the world just can’t provide, I know I can fall, wordlessly, into your soothing embrace.

Yours, always and forever,