I have left undone those things which I ought to have done. The Christmas tree and all the creches are still up. My paperwork is not sorted. Meat sales are not delivered. On Monday I put in a brief call to a friend to let her know I would telephone this weekend. (Everything now is consigned to weekends.) There is no time.

I am back on my teaching schedule, which means I map out each weekday by half-hour segments, assigning my tasks slot by slot to get everything done. Write worksheet for 8th grade, write worksheet for 7th grade, make bed, unload dishwasher, figure out dinner, walk dog, do barn chores, shower, photocopy. I plan each of my four 45-minute classes by five-minute segments. Review homework, introduce new vocabulary, main lesson: point 1, 2, 3, distribute new homework.

All of this tight scripting means that I feel naked without a watch (am I on track? can I pull this off?) and I have few spare minutes in a day. I have constant low-level anxiety, and almost zero flexibility.

Unfortunately, life often fails to follow my script. On the farm, the truck won’t start. The cow refuses to go into the stanchion. The hay man again does not show up. The water hydrant is frozen. At school, someone decides to change the schedule by fifteen minutes. The librarian announces he is commandeering one of my periods. Six of my kids miss class for a game.

I have a dream of myself as a person of serenity and calm. Sadly, so far that remains the impossible dream.

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