Saturday, March 02, 2013

Multi-tasking is bad for electronics

For the next week or two, Gary and I will be sharing wheels because my blazer decided that just when it was needed the most (during ice and snow season) to go on strike until it is given a new fuel pump.

Remember this: I wanted a horse.

So after I drop Gary off in one town, I drive to the next and kill time until my first class (Spanish). I arrived, found a desk/chair on wheels thingy just outside the classroom door and decided to study. I went through my growing pile of index cards, trying to memorize two or three dozen new words, committing a little over half of them to memory. After that I turned to a program called "Babble' that--in this case--concentrated on Spanish words. It's a handy little app that uses several techniques to aid in helping the user pronounce and remember key words and phrases. After twenty or so minutes of this I noticed the classroom door was open and the room was empty, so I decided to head to my seat and continue working. 

However (and do not ask why) I didn't want to interrupt Babble, so I grabbed my backpack, slung it over my shoulder, while carrying my Nexus in one hand, with headphones still in, coffee cup in the other hand, and entered the classroom.

I was nearly to my seat when a voice from behind me said, "Mary, you dropped this." 

I turned and a girl who I have a couple of classes with was holding my wallet which had fallen out of my unzipped backpack. I thanked her, held out my hand--the one holding the Nexus--and took it under the thumb that was also balancing the Nexus. Somehow, the following happened:

1) I dropped my Nexus.

2) This made me drop my backpack as I attempted to catch it. My cell phone bounced out of my backpack,  hit the floor, and popped a part, the battery skittering across the tile.

3) And I looked like an idiot. 

4) But I didn't spill my coffee. 

I quickly rescued the Nexus (which was THANK GOD unharmed) and put the cell phone back together (it was also fine) and thanked the girl who'd brought my wallet who as asking if I needed help. 

I was grateful when the professor entered and distracted everyone by speaking in Spanish a mile a minute. He handed back the test I was fretting about last week. I got a 97%--which was considerably better than I expected. I'd had an anxiety attack while taking it (something that happens less and less as I go along, but when it does, can simply ruin my day). 

Class went well. The professor asked us about somos gatos y perros. (our dogs and cats). He was much amused when I stated that I had seis gatos y seis perros. He asked for their llaman (names). Do you know how hard it is to remember the names of twelve animals when one is replying in a foreign language in front of a classroom? When I'd finished completely embarrassing myself, I asked him "Se dice 'rescue'?" He lit up and wrote the word on the board. It is "rescate".  

After class I picked up my (now safely zipped) backpack. and turned to pick up my coat. It wasn't there.

I turned and glanced toward the hall and spotted it, still over the back of the chair I'd been sitting in before class. "Oh. There it is," I said out loud to no one in particular.

The classroom was mostly empty. The instructor was sitting at his desk writing something and wasn't paying any attention to me. But the young woman who'd handed me my wallet and seen me drop everything was watching.

Very softly, she said, "Are you okay today?"

And, you know, I really wasn't. I've been laboring under the weight of a fair amount of stress for the last couple of weeks or so. 'Working class stuff--never enough money and even less than usual lately, a husband who works for a company that seems to delight in punishing them mightily for minor infractions once again waiting for the powers that be to issue the newest one, a boy with some emotional issues which highlights our poor access to health care, a husband with some worrisome health concerns (see aforementioned lack of access), a blazer that needs a new fuel pump (see aforementioned "less than usual"), etc, etc.

But none of that has anything to do with why I dropped everything (Not directly, anyway). It was because I was a) not living in the moment b) holding on to too many items and c) was not paying attention to the small but important things. 

I told the young lady that I was fine and started to walk away, but as I did, the significance of WHY I'd dropped everything arrived all at once. I caught myself and said (making eye contact) "Thank you so very much for asking". She smiled, not completely sure why it meant so much to me, nodded, and exited. For the rest of the day I was attentive to what was happening in front of me and made a point of paying attention to small things like zippers.

And the rest of the day was actually pretty good. The scene from FUM (posted here a few days ago) was very well received (shouts of laughter erupted when the aunt dipped the gingerbread in the rum and coke and proceeded to eat him--I'll admit, I didn't expect that). Only one minor piece of advice was given and I will make use of it. My classmates are clearly there because they want to be writers, and are serious about what they do and listening to them read their work was exciting. This means that critiquing work will not be a laborious effort of trying to word my statements so that I don't crush some beginner's hopes. I got to both be brilliant in Critical Lit (this doesn't happen very often) and and see a work I've read numerous times over the years from a completely different point of view.

I drove back to the town my husband works in and sat at McDonald's, drinking coffee until he was done. I watched people milling back and forth, eavesdropped on the Asian man sitting one table over as he talked to someone in Chinese (Is it eavesdropping you don't understand anything they're saying?), finished reading Benjamin Wallace's ebook "Dumb White Husband" (Laugh out-loud fun) was spoken to by a very nice trucker who wanted to talk books and Nexus's, Kindles, etc. We both agreed that our marriages were probably saved by the invention of the e-reader. 

My husband and I rode home hand-in-hand, talking, sipping coffee, and listening to the radio. He'd had a decent day (said that he'd found himself surprisingly at peace about it). For once current supervisor (young guy--they always are at this company) doesn't seem to feel like he needs to prove that he's a hard ass at the expense of those he's in charge of (Read: He's not "write up happy"). This might explain why he hasn't been moved up the ladder yet, come to think of it. He told Gary that the committee has to give him something, but they've all agreed that it will be very minor and will disappear from his record quickly. It will not affect our quarterly bonus and it will not mean losing work hours (two favorite punishments).

When we arrived, the boys were waiting for us, happy to see us (as opposed to the usual off-handed greetings). After their dad went to bed, I thanked them for praying for him that day (Because I knew that work stuff was weighing heavily on him, I'd asked them to do so)  and then I told them the story of dropping everything because I was carrying too much and how I realized what I supposed to get out of it.

My oldest son (THE BOY WHO INSPIRED POST THIS BACK IN 2009  and a day later DID THIS) squinted at me and asked, "About what time was this?" I answered that it had happened around eleven and asked why. "Because I had the same experience this morning--and I dropped my Nexus and went off and left my coat," he replied. He frowned a little. "It reminded me to pray for you too."

It was almost worth all the crap we've been dealing with lately for just those words.


Sammie said...

and THAT my darling daughter, is exactly why your mother pulls back and takes another look at things so often. It was a lesson I learned having precious children who, it seems, insist on growing into amazing people even when we aren't paying attention. So...I pay attention to the minutes (usually) and the hours and days go just a little slower.

Anonymous said...

Your mother is a wise woman ;) x