Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Use Time Unwisely

I'm a multi-tasker at heart.  Why do one thing when you can do two or three at the same time?  I talk on the phone and do laundry or the dishes.  (I'm still listening, I promise!).  I straighten up, or pseudopervise some kid activity while waiting for the pasta water to boil.  And if we're out doing errands, honey, why don't you do the drugstore while I tackle good ol' Trader Joe's?

I'm a woman - hardwired to multi-task.  

Second, I'm a dancer.  You can't dance without awareness of several things at once and anticipating what's to come.  Plus, you need a friendly, yet helpful, running monologue (dialogue?) in your head.  Things like: 

Alignment:  Come on, lift that pelvic floor!  Get it so high you can practically taste it!

Spacing:  Ever heard of personal space?  The last person who got this close - well, when he's home they call him "Dad."

Form: Oh, thank you, THANK YOU, Mrs. Mirror, for making me FULLY aware of my geriatric arabesque.

Music:  Was that on count 5 or shocka-docka doo?

And as a dance teacher I teach people to have this conversation in their heads.

Even at home my brain is still all over hell and creation, but it rarely leads to the harmonious whole I get when dancing.  Most of the time my crazy brain leads to debacles like these:

Get involved responding to something urgent on The Internet, like how much I'd love to see my foot up Gwyneth's Pilaticized ass.  Ignore daughter calling from somewhere in the house.  Say to self, "Hot damn! That kid has more cries for help than a juvenile detention center."  Finally go back to the bathroom to find poop on the tub, shower curtain, toilet seat potty insert, and daughter's pants. Curse self for the de-crapping now added to an already full nighttime dance card.  

Wake up and decide to take children to museum. Be that super thrifty and healthy mom, who packs lunch instead of shelling out for overpriced greasy kid food! Place juice boxes and sandwiches in an insulated lunch bag and place these in the fridge.  Put water bottles, applesauce, and homemade cookies in diaper bag. Get kids dressed and teeth brushed.  Negotiate a tantrum.  Put on TV so daughter will sit still to have hair done. Leave TV on to brush own teeth and slap on mascara and lipstick.  You are nearly an hour off schedule!  Begin yelling and rushing everyone out the door, as if the place is burning.  Realize, once you sit down for lunch that the sandwiches remain chillin' in the fridge.  

Begin preparing a new recipe with approximately 37 steps.  Read the recipe over several times, but still feel apprehensive.  Get halfway through.  The phone rings. To get it or not to get it?  Rush to check who it is.  It is your college roommate whom you haven't spoken with in over a year!  Wonder if you should take it. Do. Continue working and running your mouth simultaneously.  With all ingredients in the pot, set it to simmer.  Finish talking.  Taste soup.  Spit it out.  Feel gaggy. What the $#%&?  Apparently there is a big difference between 1/4 teaspoon and 1/4 cup of tomato paste.  Gah!  Dump it out.  Order take out.  Argue with husband about overspending.  Resort to drinking a screwdriver like it's 1977 because you have no wine and no mixers.

Get the brilliant idea to make dinner BEFORE you pick up kids from school - a recipe you could make while in a coma.  Put tofu on grill pan just to get those nifty looking marks.  Go work out a few dance steps that you flubbed up in class earlier.  Have a total "A-ha" moment and wonder why you did it flawlessly now but looked like you'd just drunk six Manhattans when it mattered.  Return to pan to find that instead of neat little grill marks you've charred the shit out of the tofu.  You continue making your tofu veggie rice "specialty," thinking the kids won't notice.  They totally do, frowning at their plates as though you'd served them raw sewage.  Add more soy sauce and tell 'em they can just go to bed hungry.

Obviously, multi-tasking is a crucial part of modern life.  Forget stopping to smell the roses -- most of us feel that if we did one thing at a time we'd fall hopelessly behind; we'd be do-nothing losers, drowning in life's obligations and eventually swallowed whole.

But would we?

Who could know? It's too risky to try.  

Instead, we legitimize distraction. For safety, we cling to that primary school rubric, the one that validates us as prudent and industrious:

Uses time wisely.

Are our efforts to use time wisely resulting in anything and everything but?

How's all the multi-tasking working out for you?  


  1. I'm am the most proficient failure at multi-tasking to ever walk the Earth. I loved this one. I also have to give you huge props for even attempting Tofu.

    1. Thanks, B! I wish I be real multi-tasking failure - i.e., not even going there -- like most men.

      And btw, I love tofu! If you need a recipe let me know...

  2. It is NOT working at all! You are inside my head with this post. Will now be referring exclusively to the evening madness as "full nighttime dance card"--this will make me feel a little more classy about all the craziness at least ;)

    1. I am relieved that I am not the only one who knows she should NOT be multi-tasking but is powerless to stop! Let's keep with the full nighttime dance card thing, and wear floaty dresses and heels everywhere...

  3. No matter how good I think I am at mutli-tasking...I really suck at it and the proof is in all the things I miss. Great post and I agree with BPM...kudos to you for the tofu. Tofu and I are not friends.

    1. Do you think we could go on strike against multi-tasking? Now there's an experiment. The thing is, I don't think I know how - it would mean a total re-education.

  4. Too funny: "Hot damn! That kid has more cries for help than a juvenile detention center."

    I hate this crazy multi-tasking world. I cannot keep up! There was a good article in the NY times this Sunday about how we are really more productive when we stop to rest. Did you see it?

    1. I did see the article, but I was multi-tasking on the Internet of course, and something stole my attention away from it. How's that for irony...


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