Tuesday, October 26, 2010

R.I.P. BlackBerry

On Sunday my BlackBerry died.

It's not like I had time to think about it right then. I had just walked in my mother's house with her and my stepfather, having gotten them from the emergency room where they'd been transported after a car accident. So right then I had time to think only about this: my injured eighty-year-old mother teetering down the hallway, making her way to her bedroom to undress and somehow climb into bed with lacerations and bruises all over her body. So, even though I'm a slave to the blinking red light of my phone, hypnotized by its allure, unable to resist its blinking call, I ignored it and took care of my mother.

You know how you always hear these phone horror stories, like about people losing all their lists of contacts and phone numbers and why didn't they just back it up before that happened, before disaster hit? Well, of course, that's what happened to me. I didn't back anything up, mostly because I didn't understand the back up technology. Like, copy it to what? Online or a memory chip in the phone? Ack. Here was my backup plan: one day I was planning to sit down with my phone and handwrite all those contacts into an actual paper phonebook. With all the time I've spent procrastinating over the last few months, you'd think at least I could have done that one thing, which would have been useful.

Instead? Dead BlackBerry flatlining in my palm. Injured mother on the couch. Tow yards, body shops and insurance companies calling nonstop, doctor appointments to be made, all of these places wanting to fax something, email something, text something. Phone needed.

Providentially this happens to be four days before our plotted defection from Verizon to AT&T and, perhaps, an iPhone 4. So what to do for a phone in the interim? My husband gives me this thing he has laying around the house. A  flip phone. To text I have to go through the entire alphabet for each letter. No emails, no internet. I'm completely unwired in the daytime, like it's 1990 or something. It's like he handed me a chisel and a tablet and told me to scratch out messages.

But somewhere in my brain it's dawning on me that this thing I'm using is actually just what it's supposed to be: a phone. I now also know an incredible reason to have children, beyond the cute baby stage, beyond the make-me-proud stage. It's so when you're eighty and can't handle the small details of your life anymore and can't quite talk to strangers about how they're talking too fast and you don't understand them, it's a good thing to have your adult children standing like a fortress around you.

Do you back up your phone? Do you remember when you were really excited just to have a phone and now have to have a high tech gadget? Any preference between BlackBerrys or iPhones?  Have you had to become the "parent" in any circumstances to your parent?

Monday, October 18, 2010

The On Again Off Again Romance

The first hint that Husband and I might actually be able to get away together - for one whole day and a half - was when I got a memo from Daughter's school about her upcoming fifth grade trip. Daughter, who won't sleep out ever, no matter what, will also not miss a class trip, no matter how much she can't stand letting me out of her sight.

So, being a shameless opportunist, I thought, Maybe we can go out of town while she's gone! But then I thought, But what will we do with Bar Mitzvahzilla?

The next four weeks were a wild, rocky roller coaster, not knowing from one day to the next if our trip was on or off.

We couldn't go. After all, Bar Mitzvahzilla had to go to school each day. And football practice. And Hebrew High.

We could go. Bar Mitzvahzilla, it turned out, was on Fall Break the very same week as Daughter's trip. No school and we'd wiggle out of football practice and one session of Hebrew High.

We couldn't go. Who would keep him overnight?

We could go. My sister.

We couldn't go. My sister was moving and, just our luck, had moved forty miles from our house the day before we were leaving.

We could go. She'd meet us half way to get Bar Mitzvahzilla.

We couldn't go. Daughter started worrying about the trip. Her stomach started acting up.

We could go. Psychosomatic illness.

We couldn't go. Daughter, now crazed with separation anxiety, kept herself up half the night before her trip worrying about missing me. (Somehow she never worries about missing Husband.)

We could go. Planted her on a bunch of pillows on the floor next to my bed and let her watch me all night.

And we did go. We both saw her off at school, carefully, like delicate china, since by then we had non-refundable reservations at a hotel. Then Husband drove Bar Mitzvahzilla to the drop off point, dropped him off, and we took off like a flash.

The next day, rejuvenated, newly back in love, back in our halcyon days of honeymoon and romance, we drove back into town and met Daughter after her return from her trip. Within seconds our romance fled out the windows of the car. We became The Parents once again. Then we picked up Bar Mitzvahzilla so the two of them could bicker at each other. And then we were complete: one bickering couple in the front seat and another bickering in the back.

But there's still that memory. I can live on that for awhile.

Do you ever get away without kids? Do you have to plot and sneak to do it? Does getting away rejuvenate your relationship? What do you do about fighting kids? Any nervious children?  

Monday, October 11, 2010

Time Management

I sit down to write.

This takes a while. I wander throughout the house. I clean, I fuss, I do laundry, I make phone calls. I wander and wander, give myself imaginary tasks and then, when I absolutely can't avoid it any longer, I get in my office. Since I'm pretty good at avoidance, some days I don't make it in there at all.

Then I land in front of my computer. The blank screen. Well, I can't be expected to just jump into writing, can I? I need to relax into it. Mosey into it. Maybe flow into it, right?

So I check the news of the day on MSN, my homepage. Watch some video news, fume at the commercial spots as I watch the seconds count down. Ready to write now for sure. Oh, but I really need to check Facebook. And look, someone's posted some new photos. Then I look at a video they posted. Then I remember I'm supposed to be writing. Then I notice that there's a window I left up from another day of procrastination with some editor jobs in Phoenix. I look at those. Then I mull over whether I should I get a real job, like with pay? One is quite prestigious. What are the requirements? Wow, I'd barely have to lie to get it. Maybe this is what I'm meant to do with my life, not this interminable writing. Maybe I should put in for it. But I need my resume updated with my editor experience. So I pull up my last resume and I start sprucing it up to reflect the editor job I've been working for nearly two years.

I almost finish before doubt assails me. Do I want this job? What if I actually got this job? Could I handle a full-time job with my husband working 60 hours a week at our store? How would I go to exercise and my meetings? Who would pick up my kids? And take them to their myriad appointments? How would both kids participate in sports? And why did I quit my job six years ago where I made $35,000 for 18 hours of work only to sit here applying for a job that pays $40,000 for 40 hours of work? I'd better think about this. So I think about this for awhile. And then I think, look what time it is! I'd better hurry up and write. I have to pick up Daughter in ten minutes.

Pick up Daughter.

Get home with Daughter. Feed Daughter. Read mail. Clean kitchen. Help with homework. Get back in office. Whoa, I am really behind on blogging. Should I write a blog? Maybe I should read all my friend's blogs. Maybe I need to comment on my commenters? Wait a minute. I'm supposed to be writing. I pull up my book. I am now going to write for sure. The phone rings. Bar Mitzvahzilla's football practice is done. Done writing.

Pick up Bar Mitzvahzilla. Feed him. Feed Daughter again. Drive Bar Mitzvahzilla somewhere. I walk back in the house. I look right - my bed looms with comfy pillows on it and the remote controls for the TV set nearby. I look left, towards the long stark hallway to my office and the book I've forgotten how to write.

I turn right.

And the clock just keeps ticking.

Have any problems with procrastination? Is the Internet a big distraction? Does anyone else have this problem with not knowing what to do first? How hard is it to stick to a schedule when you're in charge of it?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Commercial Break

I'm not proud of the amount of time I've spent watching TV lately. Well, not just lately. I can pinpoint exactly when it started: it was late June, when we went on our first summer vacation to Flagstaff. Our hotel room didn't have HGTV, my favorite TV narcotic at the time, and so I started watching Daughter's favorite, Food Network. And that was it. Cupcake Wars. Iron Chef. Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Chopped.

I'm not going to discuss why I suddenly became fascinated with wasting my time and wasting my life away at that exact moment in time. Let's just say that it was right then that I had gotten very depressed about my writing. Coincidence? Probably not. I'll leave that issue to professionals, or to psychogenic drugs, or to the straitjacket that I'm destined for once the masking tape I've stuck myself together with comes undone.

But here's the idea that's dawned on me in this 3-4 month time period that I've been watching television with my kids: they watch commercials and I don't. And I don't mean just that. I mean, they really watch commercials, like they are rapt with attention for the commercials, paying more attention to them than to the actual show we're watching. And I, the polar opposite, do the exact opposite. I really don't watch commercials. I'm hostile to commercials. Commercials are my break time from television. I read, I run out of the room, I change loads of laundry. 

Is it because I was raised in the 60s and 70s, when commercials consisted of Mr. Clean staring at himself in a see-through floor? Or station identification breaks? Or is it a combination of that and the fact that my kids have been raised in a world of Superbowl Sunday commercials, commercials as art forms, commercials with ongoing plots?

I thought I'd beat them at their own game so one day during the commercials I muted the sound, sure that the kids would join me in talking, mulling things over, or even in getting three minutes of chores done. Instead here's what I had: two zombies staring at the soundless TV and trying to read the lips of the actors. Turns out it wasn't really a problem anyway. They'd memorized the scripts long ago.

Been avoiding anything by vegging out lately? Do you watch commercials? Do your kids? Any Food Network aficionados?