Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'm a Slacker

Don't ask me why. I can't, for the life of me, figure out what I'm doing that's keeping me from doing what I'm supposed to be doing, I just can't seem to do all the things I need to do, so I must be slacking. Right? (We'll both suspend curiosity about what I'm supposed to be doing at this moment, that I'm not doing, in favor of doing this. Kay?) I say this because I walk through my house and think, 'Yeesh, I've got to sweep this living room. I've got to put those books away. I forgot to take those pants to the tailor. That nail is going to catch on something.' and on and on and on. So there's lots to do at home that I haven't done. 'Course, as soon as I walk outside, I come up with a new list of outdoor things. Landscaping is a daily duty if you're doing it right. Then I get in the car and pile on more. The interior needs to be cleaned, I forgot to take that bag into the house, I need new shocks, etc. etc. etc. I've also made it a terrible habit to walk the kids into the school instead of just leaving them at the door. The school is literally vibrating with lists of things that need to get done, all of which I put on my mental list because... well, we've already established the plethora of diagnoses one could attribute to my mental state so let's not spend more time on it here and now. I'll put it on my list for later. When I get to work, I'm carrying this granite-state-sized list in my head, only to find there are additional lists here waiting for me. Things that clients conjure, things that my co-workers and boss invent, and things that are on my 'someday' list all get tacked on to the twice-'round-the-world-long list I have in my head. And then, like my childhood nanny would do when counting coins, I start. Uno. Dos. Tres. Cuatro. I review the list. Then I get distracted and I have to start over. Uno. Dos. Tres. OVERHEAD ANNOUNCEMENT. Dammit. Uno. Dos. I'm still trying to review so I can prioritize and do something important before the day ends. But wait! Have an 11 o'clock. Print the sheet, get there, struggle with keys and business cards and icy steps. Show, smile, chat and back to the car then back to the desk where the list awaits. Uno. Dos. Tr.. BRRRRRINNNNNG. Frickin' phone. Charming banter. Yadda Yadda. Back to the list. Uno. Dos. Tres. "Carmen, got a second? I wanted to ask you..." blah blah blah. Finish that. Refresh coffee. Pottie break. Back to the desk. Starting anew! Ready to GO! Uno - in a firm voice! "Babe, I need you to look at this letter before it goes out..." Good. O.K. One of the advantages of working with your spouse. Two people working the list. (Of course, he's never working anything on my list but that's another blog for another day.) Letter reviewed. Find that on the list. Not there. Add it, then cross it off - HAH! Now back to the original. Uno. Dos. BBBBBRRRRRINNNNNNNG. GDamn phone. "Hi mom..." poor thing. I swear I'm going to hell for as often as I am cruel to that woman. Blah blah blah... family gossip... neighborhood gossip... current medical dilemna... snippy comment to make her get off the phone... done. OK. Running out of time. Have to pick up the babies soon and start marathon pick ups, drop offs, homework, meals, baths, bedtimes, and remainder of evening too exhausted to do anything but watch t.v. until I fall asleep. Must get something done here that makes me feel productive. Forget counting the list. Point to something and do it. Close my eyes. Wave my finger in a circle and point. BAM. No, can't do that. Don't have the pants with me. Again. Stop. Office meeting has started. I'm late. Get to the meeting. Get back to my desk. Going to give the list one more try. But first - pottie break - coffee has run its course. Back. Stack 'o stuff on my desk. Sort, process and add stuff to the list from this stack. Look at the time. Day's over. Afternoon and evening routines in full effect. Rush to the car, rush to get the kids, rush to whatever's next, rush home. Walk in the door with kids, back packs, lunch boxes, and crap collected along the way. Walk into the living room and think, 'Yeesh, I've got to dust that table.' Better add that to the list.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Time Can't Save My Newspaper

I sent the letter below to the editors of Time Magazine, in response to their February 16th cover story. I remember riding the train downtown when I was young, watching all the well-dressed business people reading the Trib, with its complicated folds and small print. Oooh how I wanted to be one of those people some day. I'd observe the care with which gentlemen would tuck the paper under their arms as they got off the train, careful not to bend or crumple, saving it for lunch-time reading and, later, the ride home. The newspaper was a valuable and important part of the day. It was intelligent and necessary to your own sense of intelligence. It was reserved for thinking people, smart people - even the least educated person could feel educated by reading the paper - and we were all elevated to its standard by its standard. I miss those days. I hope you'll join me in working to save, and reclaim, our newspapers. We need them.

I read with great interest Walter Isaacson's essay, "How to Save Your Newspaper". I was disappointed to find that he didn't give me anything to do. Click and pay? He only wants to solve the problem of distributing content online for free? He doesn't care, then, that loyal newspaper readers are increasingly put off by tabloid stories, celebrity-obsessed front pages, garish graphics, and poor - really poor- writing. Nor does he care that the paper-reading population is dwindling because our society is perversely turning people from thinking readers into mindless web-clickers. And our papers are rolling over and playing dead in the face of this attack. I'm looking for my paper to be intelligent, thoughtful, careful, and relevant. I waited to be grown-up enough to legitimately hold a newspaper in my hands and read it on the train to work. Unfortunately, shortly after I got mature enough to do so, the paper became so consumed with gossip geared to over-caffeinated electronics junkies, I felt a bit juvenile reading it. I'm sure there are brilliant enough minds out there in the publishing world to modernize newspapers without dumbing-down the content. And I don't need to be hyper-texted into oblivion, either. I need real news, prepared by real journalists, and I'm willing to pay for it. How do I get that back?