The Haven’t-Done List

This month’s theme – What I’m Working On – posed a particular challenge for me. You see, I come from a long line of very superstitious women. My great-grandmother wouldn’t get out of bed until she’d read her horoscope, my grandmother tied red ribbons on babies’ cribs to ward off bad luck, and my mother still refuses to be handed a knife (it has to be put down on the table for her to pick up). Although I’m a couple of hearty American generations distant from the Russian-Jewish immigrants responsible for these rituals, I still have a few of my own – and one is an obsessive reluctance to tell anyone, including my friends and family, anything more than the most superficial details of my current WIP.

As it happens, the other thing I inherited from my neurotic forebears is an overdeveloped and nagging capacity for guilt. So rather than chat about something positive, like what I am accomplishing, let’s focus (as I so often do) on everything I’m not working on.

Yeah, I probably should've made one of these.

Yeah, I probably should’ve made one of these.

* My wedding. I’m getting married on September 28th in my hometown of Manhattan, Kansas. Since I got engaged last August, I’ve constantly replied to people’s questions about wedding planning with shrugs or dismissive waves of the hand or flippant replies about being a laid-back bride. And it’s true – I’m not one of those women who’ve spent a lifetime dreaming about their special day, and as long as the event involves a legal union, bangin’ tunes and lots of alcohol, I’ll be a satisfied customer. However as the time draws ever nearer and we watch our friends booking days off work and buying transatlantic flights in order to celebrate with us, I’m beginning to feel like maybe we really should sit down and write that order of service. And pick the readings. And ask people to do the readings. And decide on our vows. And buy wedding rings. And send the song list to the DJ. And actually book all the places we picked for the honeymoon. And, and, and…

* Relocating. At the end of July I moved from London to Johannesburg and the amount of admin that goes along with such a big shift is staggering. Let’s quickly run through a sample of my to-do list on this front: get the estate agents to take and submit a final meter reading on the London flat; ask my British bank to switch me to e-statements as I’m worried the paper ones will get stolen out of our mailbox; set up and fill the new safe before the insurance agents survey the property; put a copy of the Road Traffic Act in my new car in case I’m stopped at a police checkpoint; redistribute all of our awkwardly placed appliances using the extension cords we bought and subsequently ignored; and how about unpacking the suitcase that’s still lying open in the front hallway? Oh, look, MasterChef South Africa is on…

My lush new gym with views of the Braamfontein Spruit. At the time of writing, I've been once.

My lush new gym with views of the Braamfontein Spruit. At the time of writing, I’ve been once.

* Fitness. I’ve gone from four-times-a-week gym attendance at the end of July to… almost nothing. I have joined a gym out here in Joburg, but the city’s mile-high altitude has destroyed my stamina, and it’s so disheartening to go from weekly personal-best runs to dizzily sucking wind after only a mile and a half that most days I can’t bear the attempt.

Hm, when I read this back it seems slightly depressing – but I actually feel great now! Of course I’m no closer to ticking off anything on this list, but simply itemizing my tasks feels like an accomplishment. Phew! I’m so productive! Pretty sure this has earned me a whole evening of crappy reality TV and several glasses of wine.

Go on, spill – what aren’t you working on?