Time is relative and the Italian relatives

By Dosi Cotroneo

According to my new time management CD’s, I was shocked to discover that I am apparently one of those people who tend to “fritter their days away”, completely unaware of the passage of time, the management of time, and owning an accurate device that tells the time.

What exactly does all of this mean? Simply put, between all of the multi-tasking, double-booking, procrastinating, and driving Italian senior citizens around town, I can’t seem to tackle that eternal “to do” list. Small wonder I was able to even find time to listen to, let alone go out and buy this boxed set of time management CDs.

Two weeks after embarking on this new journey to make full, if not better use of every waking moment, I feel like a new woman. The program instantly taught me that I needed to see time in more visual, measurable terms. I immediately went out and purchased a watch, an enormous wall clock, a huge month-at-a-glance desk calendar, and a wipe board with an array of beautiful coloured dry-erase markers. Now I can slot in mom, pop, their denturist appointments, their Patronato appointments, their doctor’s appointments, and my therapist/life-coach appointments according to my new colour coded system.

Whoever once said that time is an illusion must have arrived late to every appointment. Until I began to actually “see” time in ticks, tocks, and square boxes, I truly believed that certain tasks could be completed “in two minutes,” or I could be there in “just a second” – how ridiculous! I can’t think of one thing in life that takes only a second or a task that can be completed in only two minutes. My distorted perception of time is now a thing of the past, and I am living life with a “time conscious” attitude. For example, when Ma calls wanting to review all of the things she did that day that led her to having a headache, a sore back, and throbbing feet, I now intercept these long-winded conversations with, “the pasta is overboiling!” Her half-hour phone calls have now been cut back to 3 minutes, hence, fitting in time for my new exercise regime.

By the end of the first week, my CD’s confirmed that I have been living my life in a “crisis/interruption rich” environment and thrive on being a “chaos manager”. How did the tapes know I was the daughter of Italian non-English speaking non-driving immigrants, a wife and a mother?

By the end of the first week, I learned how to break down each area of my household into designated areas very much like a kindergarten classroom. Now that the husband and the young brood have adapted to the large labels stuck to everything that doesn’t move, things are moving along quite nicely over here. Keys can be found by the front door at the newly labeled “key centre”. Purses, wallets, briefcases and schoolbags can be found at the back door at the newly labeled “purses, wallets, briefcases and schoolbags centre”. Youngest son can now locate his missing jock strap in the freshly labeled “hockey equipment centre”, and I can find my spring, summer, fall or winter footwear, in the newly labeled “spring, summer, fall and winter footwear” centre stacked in weather-proof, rodent-proof, husband-proof plastic bins in the garage.

Imagine – an entire life change in only three simple steps – see time, slot time, and learn to say no all Italians that demand your time. These three steps have given me back not only my life, but my appearance as well. After slotting in time for a look in the mirror, I analyzed the hair, skin, and eyebrow situation and am happy to report that for the first time since the children arrived some four wrinkles and two decades ago, I am back on a daily maintenance routine - facials, hair cuts, regular washing, conditioning, moisturizing, and keeping the eye brow and leg hair situation at bay.

If all of this wasn’t enough good news, I am happy to report that I successfully completed Chapter 3 and am now considered a “master delegator”. The silent treatment my parents, sisters, husband and children are giving me has proved more practical, peaceful, and downright priceless, that I only wish I had thought of this years ago. With hours of precious time freed up since their idle chit chat and verbal diarrhea has been silenced, I’ve found time to learn a new language, take up Tai Chi, and volunteer at the nearest animal rescue centre. I’ve also slotted in time on my wipe board for writing that second novel, cataloguing and photographing the shoe and purse collection, and shoot that Oscar-winning documentary short film, “Time and the Italian immigrant parent.”

Einstein can keep his theory that time is relative, and I will keep my wipe board and dry erase markers so I can manage my time with my Italian relatives.