Kage Baker loved plans. She made plans constantly. She had plans for everything. And when a plan got going really well, she added a list. Then she was completely ready to get to work.
This approach made most of the tasks of daily living run smoothly and easily. Kage had a sequential plan for getting up – a particular order in which she managed accomplishing herself for the day. It could not be altered without coming to pieces, though: if she had to hurry, the whole sequence collapsed. I learned early that the only way to make sure she did get out of the house on time was to lie to her about what time it was – and she could deal with that, even when she finally twigged to the fact that the clocks in her room, the kitchen and the car were all 10 minutes fast. Just so long as I didn’t try to make her trim a few minutes of getting dressed …
And she was a snappy dresser, too. Her shoes were always clean and shining; her stockings matched her panties. She had an entire wardrobe of camisoles. Even when she mostly wore jeans and T-shirts, only certain shirts went with certain jeans. It depended on how faded the jeans were, in what shade of indigo; and how the T-shirt matched it chromatically. Her formal clothes were always impeccable. Kage even dressed nicely to go to radiation and chemo in her last year.
I, however, am a slob. Actually, I aspire to be a slob – I can’t usually get interested enough in my clothes to care. Twelve years in Catholic school uniform left Kage with a burning desire for tailoring, bias cuts and silk. It left me with the conviction that if I’m not breaking the decency laws, I’m good. It’s not illegal, after all, to look like a burst pillow.
I don’t even lay my clothes out the night before, personally. It’s always 52 Pick Up when I get dressed – unless Kage picked out my outfits. The only reason I ever looked decent at work was because she and Kimberly bought and curated my clothes. Mind you, I can get dressed and out of the front door in less than 10 minutes – but like as not I’m carrying my shoes, my socks don’t match (or even exist) and my nightgown is still on under my sweatshirt and tucked into my pants. Which are probably flannel in a loud plaid.
But I really am trying for a more organized personal habit this year. Kage had special clothes for writing, specific shirts and pants and socks and shoes designed to keep her warm and comfortable at the computer for 10 hours. I am earnestly trying to achieve my own version of this, by determinedly getting dressed every day – it’s been far too easy the last several months to spend the day in a nightgown, wrapped in a blanket pinned about me with a costume cloak brooch …
You see, Dear Readers, all my clothes for the last 40 years have been costumes. Costumes for work, for grocery shopping, for performance at Faires, for after hours at Faires – whole different fashion ethic for that, obviously. Now I have costumes for retired slob at home, for retired middle-aged, middle-class lady going shopping, for long-distance car trips. I don’t have a writing costume; although I do have a writing hat, which is unspeakably cool and elegant:
My best attempt at a writing costume, though, is just being in recognizable day wear. So I can run an errand, if I just take off the smoking cap, put on shoes and grab my purse, and not look quite like an advert for the Salvation Army store down the street.
As part of the same effort, I now have a plan for getting up and ready for the day, too. It’s a formalized sequence of events, instead of the react-to-whatever-ambushes-you routine I’ve usually employed – that might see me not making it in to brush my teeth until after I’ve shared yoghurt with the parrot, gotten half my clothes on, answered the first 6 URGENT emails, run out of half & half for my coffee and run out to get it, found socks, made the bed, unmade the bed to find the socks I buried in it and gotten the cat off my keyboard – more or less simultaneously.
So far, 13 days into 2016, it’s working. My desk is covered with notes, but it’s working. It’s kind of peaceful to know in advance what – and whether – I’m planning to have for breakfast. There’s a pleasant tranquility to not be waiting for sudden panicked revelations to explode out of my subconscious during the day.
Anyway, it’s a new year. Trying a new plan keeps one going.