It’s painful to watch someone acting out of character.
It’s 1:30 in the morning as I write this and sitting across the table from my is my youngest daughter who is working on aerospace engineering homework and statistics homework.
Actually, I think she’s trying to avoid doing her homework by trying to organize her work. Pitt is not a planner. Her photograph appears in the dictionary under the word disorganized.
She can lose her keys, her phone, her homework as fast as any human being I’ve ever met. And, somehow, she manages in that chaos.
But now, she’s trying to reduce all her obligations to lines in a daily planner.
Part of me appreciates that effort. I am, as regular readers of this column know, a list maker. I derive great joy in marking tasks off my list. And I’m infinitely more productive when I keep a list in front of me and move methodically from one responsibility to the next.
That ain’t how Pitt operates. She’s like the little Tasmanian Devil from the cartoons, spinning wildly from one point to the next on a course that defies logic. And that makes her attempt at listmaking so difficult to watch.
This semester she has a number of online classes and oftentimes the deadlines to turn homework in are at midnight.
She is a true newspaper editor’s daughter, in that she responds well to deadlines. She can take it easy and relax until long after most of us would be off our rocker, then spin wildly out of control until the work is done at 11:58 or 11:59.
The chaos of her life is, in part, genetic. She inherits that from her mother, which is fine. There is no right or wrong way to approach how you do your work. Pitt’s sister, is much more like me – an inveterate listmaker. Anna Kate makes lists of lists. That’s a bit much for me, but it works for her.
As the clock continues to tick early on a Wednesday morning, Pitt has finally completed entering all her work in her planner. She’s agreed to tackle a short, quick task first so she can mark it off her to-do list and feel a sense of accomplishment. Whether she gets through all her tasks tonight remains to be seen, but she will feel better for having gotten something done.
That’s the beauty of a list. But it’s still tough to watch a newbie-listmaker at work. The list grows in fits and starts. It begins with the inclusion of several tasks she’s already completed so that she will be able to mark something off the list without doing any additional work.
Like anything else, list-making is a habit people pick up. Like any habit, list-making requires a certain amount of time before it becomes second nature. Pitt hasn’t reached that point. But she’s getting there. And she has noticed her increased effectiveness, which gives me hope for the future of her list-making habit.
One other quick note: Most folks were taken by complete surprise to learn of the death, last weekend, of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.
As more observant court-watchers than me have noted, he led a conservative rise on the bench. And the political fight over who will replace him and when got started almost immediately. That seems a bit crass to me, but no one ever accused politicans of having any tact.
What is more interesting to me, in times like these, is to simply consider the incredible power of a Supreme Court justice.
They can stop the imposition of the death penalty. They can approve or disapprove laws in ways that impact every American for generations to come. Yet, unlike, the president or members of Congress, they have no need to kowtow to the whim of the court of public opinion. And they can keep their powerful position until they doggone well want to give it up. Or, in the case of Scalia, simply die in office.