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Too much to do, too little time

Karolina Grabowska

Marideth Sisco ponders all of the projects she has left to complete.

I don’t know that I should even be bothering you with this. I should be able to work it out on my own. Now I admit I’ve been chewing it over for some time now - pretty much non stop ever since I returned from that trip back east and looked at all the work I was gonna need to do to catch up.. And I don’t think I’m much closer to a solution than I was when I started looking. Well, that’s not entirely true. There was one thing that did occur to me, but I kinda had to drift over the line into some serious dose of magical thinking to get there. The thing is, I really need to be three people. It’s crazy, I know

First of all, how I would do this - I don’t know. But it, or something very like it, has to happen. Because I’m 80 years old, and I have at least 30 years of work ahead of me if I’m to finish just the parts and pieces of things I’ve started. And I have at most, 10. And that’s if my mind survives with me. No guarantees there, as most of my mother’s people, the women at least, made it at most to their mid-80s before becoming decidedly drifty. There’s a good chance that fate is just around the corner for me as well. In the meantime I’m using up a serious portion of the time I have left worrying about what I’m gonna do with the time I’ve got left! Which major work of literature should I be working on? There are only four. No, five. Ahh! It depends. But I don’t have time to talk about it.

Worse, my friends, who you would think would be so concerned about my unsettled state of mind that they’d offer a little help. But no! They keep coming up with ideas for More things to do.

“Ooo, that would make a great story. Maybe for your radio show!”

"Oh, you oughta write a song about that.”

“Here! You gotta read this.”

“Did you ever think about going to (fill in the blank). There ought to be some great story ideas there.” God. As if I needed ideas. I’m pretty sure they’re what got me into this mess in the first place.

Well, you see how it is. At one point I thought seriously about moving way back in the woods, so nobody could talk to me. Ha! I forgot about email. Then I thought maybe a boat. But anything big enough to live on would be either too rickety or too expensive - and I’m a little rickety myself, y’know what I mean? Not to mention the small matter of I never learned to swim. I’m not absolutely certain what a quandary is, but I’m pretty sure I'm in one. I swear I’m getting so anxious about it all, I might even consider calling Ghostbusters! I would do it if I thought Leslie Jones would answer. There’s somebody who could kick me back into shape. But I don’t have her number and I don’t know anyone who does. Maybe Jon Batiste. I know him a little. I l know he’d go down the street and get me a Diet Dr. Pepper to make me feel better. But it wouldn’t work, because he’d come back with a couple brand new music videos, a live dance number and another Oscar-winning feature animation. And I’d show him that 30 years of work I have to finish and he would just do it for me, right there and then - and it would take him, like, 14.7 minutes. And it would be wonderful. But it wouldn’t be mine. And after all, It’s my work. And my show. There’s no getting around it.

So I’m stuck. Neither Jon nor Leslie is going to rush in and save the day. It’s all down to me. And so after I finish putting all these words in order and checking spelling and punctuation for the text version, I’m gonna have to go down the street and get my own Diet Dr. Pepper to wet my whistle before I turn on my small but mighty recorder and check the sound level before one of the three of me says, “This is Marideth Sisco for these Ozarks Hills.”

Marideth is a Missouri storyteller, veteran journalist, teacher, author, musician and student of folklore focusing on stories relevant to Ozarks culture and history. Each month, she’s the voice behind "These Ozarks Hills.” Sisco spent 20 years as an investigative and environmental writer for the West Plains Quill and was well known for her gardening column, “Crosspatch,” on which her new book is based. Sisco was a music consultant and featured singer in the 2010 award-winning feature film “Winter's Bone.”