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So, I like to quote things. Just in case you hadn’t noticed.

But seriously. I have a brain that soaks up lines and lyrics like a particularly-absorbent sponge, and virtually everything that happens during the course of the day reminds me of some line from something.

For most of high school and all of college, I kept a book of quotations–and no little notepad either.

Some of my long-time readers may remember these. I dragged one or the other everywhere I went for nearly ten years–until I realized that I was reading books and watching movies to find quotations to write down, and not really enjoying it as much as I could have. As Graham Greene wrote in Travels With My Aunt (and I recorded at some point in college during my Greene/Maugham/Waugh phase), “People who like quotations love meaningless generalizations.”

Maggie Smith fully realizes the irony of this.

Anyway. For a long time I thought that there was something a little insane about me because I could pull a verbatim quotation out of who knows where for any situation. So I tried to suppress it. I tried not to let those quotations out.

Until I realized recently that when those quotations and references appear, it’s sometimes good to pay attention to them and what they’re trying to tell me. Like when Marmee’s line from Little Women popped up the other day, telling me that all play and no work gets to be tiresome after a while.

This post was brought on specifically by the Slow-Down Plan.

The other day I was flipping out. My English student, who is also my voice student, handed me her English grammar books on Monday after her voice lesson and asked me if I could teach her grammar, and when I asked if she had anything in particular she wanted to work on, she said, “No, you pick!”

Yikes. The world was my grammatical oyster and I had no idea where to start. I was overwhelmed. I cried. (Though not as much as I cried at the end of Once on WTTW last night…now that was an ugly cry.) I discussed it with my mother. I agonized over it all day at work on Tuesday.

The morning of the tutoring session, I got up, went to the gym where I read Vanity Fair (the novel, not the magazine, surely you know me better than that by now, blogosphere…although I do love the magazine too…) on the recumbent bike, walked home in the most beautiful sunny weather we’d had in ages, and figured out my plan.

“You’ve got a plan? Don’t make me wait, you’re on a roll!” (you might be saying right about now.)

My plan was to Slow Down. I didn’t do any work to prepare for that tutoring session because I realized that it would be more productive to chill out, calm down, relax, have a good productive coaching and some lasagna, and take care of myself first. And whaddaya know, when I got to the tutoring session that afternoon, it turned out that there was really no reason to fret, because she was not expecting me to teach her grammar from the book, just to integrate grammar into our conversation work. Voilà. I slowed it down, and the solution presented itself naturally.

Obviously the Slow Down Plan didn’t work quite as well for Michael Douglas and Annette Bening, but that’s Hollywood.