An Introduction to the Little Women Project

My name is M. I am a lazy person.

“Oh no, M,” I can hear you saying. “No, surely you are just efficient. We work too hard in America. Relaxing is so European!”

(or maybe you’re not saying these things at all, and it’s just the echo of my brain trying to justify my existence)

The truth is that relaxing is not actually very relaxing at all, for me. I don’t just relax. I put things off because they’re scary, or boring, or because I’d rather be playing Candy Crush or marathoning season 6 of Psych. And when I say “I put things off,” I don’t mean I just wait a couple of days. I mean I put them off until it’s an emergency and all of a sudden it’s an even bigger hassle to straighten it out. Overnight shipping, writing three seminar papers in one day, not going to the dentist until one of my teeth abscesses. I make my life more stressful than it should be and I should probably stop that. I’m thirty[number I’m not telling you because it is too old to be doing this] years old, and it is time to start being a person who does stuff.

Enter Louisa May Alcott. Sometimes, when I need to get motivated, I read books with characters who are really energetic and disciplined and do lots of things. Little Women (or any other book in the series) works best for me. It’s not my favorite book in the world. I like LMA well enough on her own, mostly because she was kind of awesome and an abolitionist and serious advocate of women’s rights, especially regarding education and voting. Some of that comes through in her books, although it’s buried under a lot of preachy, sentimental crap, or “moral pap for the young” (her words, not mine). She was part of the same group as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller and Henry David Thoreau, so there’s a common Transcendentalist theme of self-reliance and independence going on in her writing. Little Women is based on Alcott’s life, but is super idealized. Bronson Alcott, her father, cared more about making sure his family was achieving moral perfection than about feeding them, so it was left to the women of the family to get shit done. I like that quality in a person and it always makes me feel inferior, which is the second-best way to get me to do anything (the first-best is to tell me not to do it).

One night, while I was supposed to be sleeping and was instead rereading Jo’s Boys, I had a thought (I am pretty good with thoughts. You don’t have to get out of bed to think):

Maybe…

Mayyyyybe…

MAYBE I COULD TRY TO DO THINGS. I could use Little Women as a guidebook, since there’s certainly enough moralizing in it to motivate someone a hundred times lazier than I am. My motto would be “What Would the March Sisters Do?” and I would have to follow it as closely as possible because otherwise I will justify myself right back into being a lazy bum.

Bibbety bobbety boo. Like a fairy godmother, I transform this M into a person who is not lazy and totally does stuff and gets things done more than three seconds before it’s due and does not hide under the blankets and panic when she has to call people.

Basic Rules

1. This will last 1 year beginning August 12, 2013.

2. At least one update per week.

3. When in doubt, ask WWMSD?

In one year, I expect to be a much better person, with lots of things done, and to impress several rich people who will die and leave me a house and/or marry me. Viva March!

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