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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Orwig

A Series of Tasks

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

Wash dishes. Vacuum. Wipe counters. Dust (bed, dresser, book shelves). Continue to bathroom, mirrors need done and windows, basically anything glass does. Water pets, feed pets, take out pets for bathroom breaks. Make coffee—scratch that, clean out coffee press, brew water, and then grind beans to pour into press, let sit five-ten minutes. Repeat coffee several more times throughout the day.

Make breakfast. Make-up face. Change clothes because fall arrived and taking dog out had been chilly. Cat threw up, again, must have eaten leaves, again. Take off nail polish, do a new color. Pack backpack full of lunch, books, writing material, thank goodness, I’m not an artist and pens/paper are light compared to easels and paints. Write new cover letter fifteen minutes before bus comes. Find the next job to write next cover later too. Drink water, must drink water, important to remember to do so.

Wait for bus, while waiting listening to Russian Language lesson on playlist. Bus arrives late. Walk quickly to job that’s ending soon.


Eye won’t stop twitching from internet searching, need something physical to handle or person to help. Text friends after work, D.C. is going well. Dallas is hot. L.A. is beautiful. Offered chances to visit. Look up plane tickets. Too expensive, try again later.

Meet up with another friend for second coffee, (third coffee?) a coffee. Talk, laugh, enjoy, sip, write, read, say goodbye, walk to bus station. Avoid eye contact, doesn’t work, old man repeats “pretty eyes, pretty smile, pretty hair” again. Speak Russian with accent, pretend I don’t speak English. Works. Bus comes. Get on bus. Pull chord and wave thanks to bus driver before disembarking. Take out pets. Feed pets. Pet pets. Small snack. Search for jobs. Write another cover letter.


Edit cover letter, send. Search for new job. Talk to friend on phone. Clean up Dinner. Wash dishes. Dance to music, preferably something with a beat that I can lose myself too. Shower. Change. De-make-up face. Write something, anything for fun. Edit it. Meditate. Yoga. No, yoga than meditate. Read book. Dog got sick, again, cancer. Clean up sickness, pet dog lovingly, feel sad. Feel, remember to feel.

The moment spreads long and wide, deepens and fills me up only to empty me equally, to fill up again.

Between the mundane tasks of dawn to dusk, small moments of cleaning up dog barf remind me to feel. I'm alive, breathe, feel the air from nose, to throat, to lungs, to stomach, and back, warmed by body.

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter” E.E. Cummings was a smart man. Life is not a series of tasks, although it may feel like it, we make lists and judge ourselves by how much we get done in 24 hours. Or we check off boxes, school check, college check, work check, retire check, relax check. But it is moments like this, sitting on the floor with my old pup, that are bright spots drawing attention around a canvas, mundane tasks are the background colors and they may not make the picture prefect; but they add texture and depth with their many layers.             

A typical day is full of so much more, if instead of things we must do, it’s things we are grateful to do. Grateful for pets, for dishes to clean, for a house to take care of, for friends who extend greetings and inside jokes. Grateful for the taste of coffee and those blissful moments of morning sunlight streaming in through windows while the house sleeps in silence for a minute longer. For the internet bringing information from space and back to our typing fingers.

Emily Dickson said the future is a series of now’s. And in this now there are infinite possibilities. And infinite ways to look at those possibilities. Am I going to be mad at my dog for throwing up on my bedroom carpet? Or am I going to sit with him and pet him and make him feel loved?

For right now I have him. And that is enough.  

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