Time management is another thing. I have been fighting with the notion that I may have ADD my entire adult life. I have no trouble planning my daily tasks and chores, but I often have trouble carrying them out. I can also sit on my couch on a Saturday morning and find that it's suddenly bedtime. And the blog didn't get written, the dog didn't get walked, and the laundry didn't get done. WHAT HAPPENED? Is my brain fighting against my instinct to complete things? Or do I just lack discipline, or organization?
There are some excellent and useful points to be had in the book, points which I hope will help me at least answer the question as to whether my time is slipping away or whether I'm throwing it away. For example, one thing that dooms people to never finish everything they wanted to finish, or to be consistently late, is not having a proper sense of how long things take. Definitely a factor for me. I never remember to consider driving time between errands, or the fact that I will HAVE to stop for a caffeinated drink after one or two of them.
Another thing I liked is the way she categorized every type of goal a person might have (work success, relationship success, success in maintaining a nice home, having time for hobbies, having time for personal enrichment, etc.) and then laid out a plan for figuring out how a person can identify specific tasks that contribute to these goals, and then make regular time for them. Because another bad habit I have is saying, "I am just focusing on this one thing for right now, and when I get it under control, then I'll catch up everything else."
This is incredibly useful knowledge for me, and presently I'm trying to fit this framework around my life and see if things work a little bit better.
There are also some more specialized points that were not relevant, at least not for me. Though she doesn't make this explicit, the image Morgenstern gives us of the reader she thinks she has is of a harried, control-freak suburban working mother. She's probably not far off; everybody I know who fits that category has issues with time, and vice versa probably. But I don't have a husband whose help I need to train myself to accept at home. I'm also not a manager or a supervisor who needs to get comfortable with delegating tasks, certainly not to the point of needing to have the way to delegate tasks broken down to each individual step (including the type of emails you write to people about how to cover your work) and explained to me.
The recommended time charts, of which she offers several examples, feel completely unrealistic to me, too. Morgenstern states many times that she knows people don't want to feel too hemmed-in or structured in their daily routines, but then presents these charts where literally every hour of the day is penciled in as being devoted to something. In her defense, she also writes that people can be as specific or as general as they wish to be in their own charts--some may want to schedule "playing with kids" from 4 to 5, "cooking" from 5 to 6, "family dinner" from 6 to 7 and so on, while others may want to just schedule "family time" from 3 to 9. That still feels restrictive to me. I may waste a lot of my unstructured time, but I prefer that to having an anxiety-induced brain hemorrhage. (Also, why were her sample clients all getting up at like 5 in the morning to complete tasks? Who does that all week long, including Saturday? Those are not human people.)
Another negative: the section where she discusses different types of calendars and schedulers has become hopelessly outdated. I daresay she could eliminate that section altogether in future editions, and just direct people to her website, which would be much easier to keep updated. (It did make me nostalgic for the Franklin Covey planners my mom carried while I was in high school.)
All in all, this was a good skim, worth looking at for those couple of ideas that really hit a chord with me....more
Four women, each leading unsatisfying lives in rainy England, decide to throw in together on a guest house in Italy for a month. They mean to just recFour women, each leading unsatisfying lives in rainy England, decide to throw in together on a guest house in Italy for a month. They mean to just recharge their batteries, but they all find themselves blossoming in the fresh air and floridity of Italy. Good bones for a sweet tale of women-growing-into-independence, one of my favorite tropes. But these four women each accomplish this so tediously!
I was surprised how tiresome I found this book. Maybe because I mentally associated it with E.M. Forster--and I love A Room with a View even after repeated readings--maybe just because I was deceived by the word "enchanted" in the title--I couldn't believe how dour this story turned out to be.
The book is not particularly well-written. There are witty parts--well, two witty parts--but the rest of the narrative is repetitive and meandering. Also, the characters don't do anything to improve their own situations. They all sort of sit passively and let Italy's restorative qualities seep into their bodies, and then sit up, "All better!" I wish even one of the women had exhibited through her actions that she felt better about herself. Ventured out into the town to show that she wasn't fearful of new experiences, for example. Found some inspiration in reading or gardening or birdwatching or bathing or eating or something.
Some of the women find love and/or rekindle their passions for love. None of the male-female relationships presented were free from qualities I found discomforting and thus, unromantic. Does it matter if a man is dishonest with his wife, if she has determined that their lives together will be happy from now on? Yes. Yes it does....more
I like Sloane Crosley's books because I appreciate her point of view, and because we are exactly the same age, so her references to her childhood areI like Sloane Crosley's books because I appreciate her point of view, and because we are exactly the same age, so her references to her childhood are sources of nostalgia for me. In her last book, it was Caboodles makeup carriers; in this book it was the Girl Talk board game with the zit stickers. Comparing Crosley to more successful essayists is a fool's errand. She's no David Sedaris. Her work is less insightful, and not as tightly narrated. But it is witty and diverting, and sometimes that's good enough.
The best essays in this book are the ones where Crosley travels: the first essay is about a spur-of-the-moment trip to Portugal, another describes a trip to visit a friend in Paris, and another details a trip to a friend's wedding in Alaska. Crosley's wit is strongest when she's a fish-out-of-water, and Alaska as well as most of Europe seems to flummox her entertainingly. Alaska especially seems like a bewildering wonderland of trees, lakes, wildlife, and big puffy jackets.
Unfortunately, Crosley ends the book on the worst of her essays--or more specifically, a fine essay that highlights Crosley's most objectionable qualities. "Off the Back of a Truck" tells the dual stories of Crosley's adventures furnishing her apartment with stolen merchandise and a disastrous relationship with a dishonest guy. The narrative is very yuppified New York, and makes Sloane the protagonist look callous where she seems to want to present herself as conflicted. The wailing about the man who betrayed her is a bit insufferable. There's insight to be had from a broken relationship but I don't think she finds it. (Also, I don't generally criticize the life choices of memoirists--that's not what literary criticism is, and most authors aren't writing for general approval--but there are some elements in Sloane's relationship with that guy that are fishy. She describes how she gets set up with him because they have literally dozens of friends in common. But then she is shocked after a year of dating him to find that he has a live-in girlfriend. How did not a single one of those common friends tell her this right away?)...more
My attempts to be more worldly with my reading sometimes lead to great discoveries, and sometimes they lead me here. Not that Assia Djebar is not a fiMy attempts to be more worldly with my reading sometimes lead to great discoveries, and sometimes they lead me here. Not that Assia Djebar is not a fine writer; her prose is lovely, if a bit joyless. I did not care for this book, however.
One thing I would have appreciated would have been Djebar establishing a stronger narrative through-line. There are many first-person narrators in this book, from all eras, and I couldn't keep them all clear. Is the one who played with her cousins in the opening chapter the same one who later got married in Paris? Whose brother died in the siege? Was it hers or someone else's, or maybe even someone's grandmother's?
Maybe the point Djebar intended to make her was that the land--Algeria--is the real star here. I definitely got a feel for the constant turmoil of the area, from the French invasion in 1830 up until their war for independence in the 1950s and 60s. Djebar weaves a nice correspondence between this land teeming with contradictory traditions and the Muslim women, full of conflicting emotions about their lives, their bodies, and their relationships with men.
But when the book moves back into the battlefield--oh, so boring. And the battlefield occupies at least 50% of the narrative. So, ultimately, not a win for me....more