Saturday, December 19, 2009

Parking Lots and Ship Wrecks

Wow. The Nocember doldrums were a little more severe than I had anticipated. I set blogging sail when the gales of Nocember came early. I might have cracked up, or I might have hit a deep writer's block. But if I'd put 15 more blogs behind me, I wouldn't be making pointless allusions to "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

Then again, maybe I would. It's kind of fun. There I was, cast upon the shoals of too little sleep and too much to do. The big blog they call Gitche Gumee never gives up inspiration to the tired and cranky.

Or maybe people have just run out of new ways to annoy me. Maybe I've built up a tolerance to stupidity. Maybe I'm mellowing.

Ask the Princess. We met a car going the wrong way up a parking lot aisle the other day and I was uncharacteristically gracious. I didn't stake out the middle of the lane, stop and glare at him while traffic backed up behind me. I thought about it, but I didn't do it. No, I pulled to the right and crept past him, looking down at his puny little 2-door, which I could have squashed like up bug if I had chosen to.

Ditto for the second moron I met while I was driving down -- the correct direction -- the next aisle. She was totally oblivious to the fact that she was this far away from becoming my hood ornament. I usually only cut slack to one person per day.

I mean, Hello, people! That giant arrow painted on the road? It's pointing the opposite direction you are going. All these parked cars? They are parked going the opposite direction you are going. All the cars you are meeting in this extremely narrow lane? They're all going the opposite way you are. Yes, there's a chance they're all wrong and you are right. But you forgot one thing. I'm one of them, and I'm never wrong. Even when I'm not right.

To be fair, I met these idiots while driving through the parking lot of the Coralville HyVee, without a doubt the most screwed up parking lot on the face of the earth. I met moron number two in the mysterious, off-pattern "out" aisle, which ends at -- in a stroke of shear genius -- the "in" aisle for the attached strip mall lot.

You would think the entire strip mall could adopt a uniform, alternating "up, down, up, down" pattern of parking aisle, beginning on one end and "up, down, up, down"-ing all the way to the other end. But NOOOO! Some sick, parking lot painting, psychopath went and threw in one extra, single-sided "down" row -- just to mess with people's minds!

This is the same parking lot pervert that put in a random stop sign at the other end of the lot so that the occasional person exiting the drive-thru dry cleaners can have a clear shot at messing up the main in-out traffic flow. The strategy here, I believe, is to make more work for the dry cleaner. Typically if you stop at this stop sign you run the risk of being rear ended. Not all the skid marks left here are on the road, if you know what I mean.

I think if Gordon Lightfoot had dug a little deeper, he may have found the captain of the Edmund Fitzgerald was following shipping lanes set up by the same person who designed this parking lot.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Dazed

Dear Diary,

4 a.m. It's snowing! Not much yet, but the weather man says more is on the way, followed by blizzard conditions. Ominous outlook, but for now Eastern Iowa has been transformed into a Winter Wonderland! It's so peaceful and calm. Except for the ear-splitting scrape of the snowplow. Hope we still have a road left.

6:05 a.m. Must have snowed more than I thought. No school today. The district's new automated calling system gives a much earlier alert than the radio. The kids don't have to get up, so maybe I can get a little more REM sleep. Prince Charming was just about to kiss me....

7 a.m. Kids are up already! Hmm, they never get themselves out of bed this early when they do have school. Oh well, who needs Prince Charming, when you have a charming husband? The sooner we get up, the sooner we can start our fun-filled snow day! I can hardly wait!

7:30 a.m. It must be magic snow! The kids made their own breakfasts and are downstairs eating, watching cartoons and making plans for a snow fort. Maybe later we can have hot chocolate and make cookies! Good thing I ran errands and picked up groceries yesterday. This is really going to be a such a relaxing, fun-filled snow day!

8:30 a.m. Kids are gearing up to go outside. There is some disagreement about which hat belongs to which kid. I'm pulling dual duty as referee and seeker of lost snow gear. I know I labeled that tote full of snow pants and boots. It's got to be here somewhere! I can't wait to get started on our first-of-the- season, fun-filled snow day!

8:45 a.m. The kids managed to get outside without killing each other. Note to self: forget the cutesy hats and the tough guy hats, buy identical hats from now on. I'm left behind to pick up the trail of discarded single mittens and gloves. Why did I pack away singles? Maybe the mates are in the other -- also missing -- tote. It might be a little tough to make a snowball with two mismatched, left-handed gloves, but kids adapt. You don't have to be able to use your thumb to have a fun-filled snow day!

9 a.m. Found breakfast dishes under a pile of Legos under a pile of discarded snow gear. Hmmm, the little scamps must have forgotten them in their hurry to enjoy their fun-filled snow day. Oh well, as long as they're having fun. Now I can sit down and enjoy a nice cup of coffee. There's more than one way to enjoy a fun-filled snow day!

9:10 a.m. Kids are back in already. Coffee will have to wait while I supervise hanging of wet snow gear.

9:20 a.m. Kids are going back outside. Have to lay down trail of throw rugs to laundry room.

9:30 a.m. Kids are inside. Remind them to stay on throw rug trail.

9:40 a.m. Kids going outside. Aarg! Stay on the trail!

9:50 a.m. Kids inside. Puddles forming on the trail!

10 a.m. Kids outside. I've locked the doors, microwaved my coffee and stuffed my ears with cotton. I swear I'll call them in after I finish this one cup. Please. Just. One. Cup!

10:20 a.m. How did they get back in? Not dirty enough to have come down the chimney.

10:25 a.m. They're hungry. How could I have gone to the store and not picked up snacky things? It's not supposed to snow and blow until later this afternoon, and the forecast is bleak for tomorrow as well. I'll never survive two fun-filled snow days without sweets. Emergency trip to the grocery store!

10:30 a.m. While all the other Moms are grabbing milk, bread and peanut butter, my cart is filled with cookies, ice cream, pop, chips, dip, Totino's Pizza Rolls, and candy. The other Moms are giving me the stink eye. The other kids stare at my kids with envy.

11 a.m. I shoo the kids outside one more time while I try to hide my own personal stash of HoHo's and licorice. Just assuring everyone's safety in case of a snacking emergency. Maybe after lunch we can play some board games and bake cookies. This is going to be such a fun-filled snow day!

1:00 p.m. We've played every board game, card game and dice game in the closet. We've made crafts, colored pictures and sculpted a replica of Michelangelo's "Pieta" out of Velveeta. We've read the Bible. Aloud. Twice. They're bored. They say this is a boring-filled snow day!

1:15 p.m. I've shut them in the TV room with snacks and a stack of DVDs. I'm locking myself in my room with the HoHo's and a bottle of wine.

4:00 p.m. They've converted a cardboard box into Santa's sleigh and built reindeer out of Legos. They're playing together quietly. More or less. They say this has been the best, fun-filled snow day ever!

8:00 p.m. Everyone is showered, jammied and ready for bed. Enjoying a little quiet reading time together before turning in. A peaceful ending to a fun-fill, snow day.

9:30 p.m. School has been canceled for tomorrow. Another fun... filled... I can hardly wait.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Picking the Perfect Christmas Past

Sometimes you just can't think too much about things. You've got to see the big picture. Look at the forest and see Bob Ross' "happy little trees." Recognize history as nostalgia, and not get caught up in specific time frames or accuracy.

So, what are we not thinking about this week? Oh, many, many things (has Britney finally found true love?). But specifically, the historical accuracy of the local community holiday celebration, "A Christmas Past."

The Royal Offspring and I partook of the hoo-ha over the weekend. First of all, let me say we had a great time, as always. In fact, since we didn't loose any body parts to frost bite, we probably had a better time this year than some years.

His Royal Highness the King, a.k.a. "Mr. Literal", stayed in the castle where he could work uninterrupted, enjoying such modern conveniences as computers, heat and a flat-screen TV. He suggested that if we truly wanted to celebrate "A Christmas Past," we should turn off all the power to downtown, carry buckets of water to boil for hot cocoa, and line up for the privy out back of Hoover's Birthplace Cottage. Note to self: I don't think there's a pit under the outhouse, so use the facilities early in the evening.

I would just like to point out that the festival is titled "A Christmas Past," and it does not specify which "Christmas Past" is being observed. Some of the activities may have been similar to what Herbert Hoover experienced living here in the mid 1870's. The idea for the festival was based on newspaper reports of similar celebrations taking place in the 1920s. Other parts are definitely more modern, or are modern twists on old traditions.

For example, Hoover probably did travel in a horse-drawn wagon. However, that wagon probably didn't have nice Goodyear tires, cushioned bench seats out of an old school bus, or steps that raised and lowered for boarding. While it may not be the stuff of Currier and Ives, I appreciate those little touches.

The Prince and Princess did learn a few things about horse-drawn wagons: they move slowly; they don't have heaters; and horse poo, historical or not, smells. A lot. And yes, the Queen Mother will join in (not lead, but join) when other riders start singing carols.

The Princess and I participated in another semi-historical activity: the 5K walk/run. Hoover probably did do a lot of walking to get around town. However, he didn't drive a car three-quarters of a mile to get to the starting line before starting out. My "Olde Tyme Shin Splints" feel pretty authentic, though.

The Boy Scouts' donuts, fried in a pot of oil over an open fire, call to mind the "fry bread" of the Native Americans -- residents prior to 1870. However, I don't think (politically incorrect alert!) the Indians had access to "whomp biscuits." If they had, the Indians could have easily subdued the white settlers by setting up a donut stand. The settlers would have been sitting ducks while they all stood in line patiently waiting for the next batch, like the crowd at ACP.

Of course the real purpose of ACP is not to impart great historical knowledge and insight. It is a chance to impart great knowledge and insight of local businesses. A chance to make cash register bells ring after the ring of the sleigh bells has past. Less cynically, it is a chance to foster community spirit and good will, a chance for businesses to thank their customers.

Whew. Glad I got that out of my system. We will now resume our regularly scheduled snarkiness, already in progress.

Of course, I have thought of a couple of ideas to improve A Christmas Past. Since this could, theoretically, be "any" Christmas past, why not celebrate a 1960s Fall Out Shelter Christmas? They could even replace the horse-drawn rides with a hot rod, ala the Beach Boys' "Little Saint Nick." Or how about a "Disco Christmas?" Just keep those polyester suits away from the bonfires.

On a more serious (perhaps?) note, the downtown businesses could all recreate the lavish Christmas window displays I recall from my youth. I remember going to Cedar Rapids at least one year to see the display at Armstrong's Department Store. Wouldn't it be cool if all those mechanical elves and reindeer and woodland creatures were in storage somewhere just waiting to be reused? At the very least, let's dust off the "Talking Christmas Tree" that was at Sycamore Mall.

What if all celebrations were like "A Christmas Past?" What if we could just pick and choose the best parts and get rid of the parts we don't like or find inconvenient? Like birthdays. Keep the presents, party and cake. Loose the "another year older" part. Ooops, I already do that.

I've always been a big picture kind of person.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Coffee Dreams -- Part 2

When last we heard from our over-caffeinated heroine, Coffee C.O.P. Officer Valdez had remanded her to the demitasse tank to dry out.

"Demitasse Tank? You're putting me behind bars for a little too much caffeine?" I broke out in a cold sweat -- a sweat that smelled an awful lot like coffee. "I swear it will never happen again! I can control my coffee habit, really! I can quit anytime I want... a blinding headache from caffeine withdrawal. I promise, I'll get help."

"Jail? Who said anything about jail?" Officer Valdez looked confused. "You just need to sit over there in the lounge area and have a muffin and juice to counteract all the caffeine in your system. You've got the coffee jitters so bad you can barely hold your car keys. Jail? Huh, maybe there is a link between caffeine and paranoia."

While I was relieved not to be goin' to the Big House, there was no recalling the shot of adrenaline now coursing through my body. Somewhere along the way it re-ignited the caffeine laying fallow in my veins, mimicking the effects of a triple shot of espresso on an empty stomach. My mind raced like a hamster in a wheel rolling downhill. Images flashed through my head like dream sequences in a Disney Channel show.

"I can beat this," I whispered. "I'll get this java monkey off my back. I'll go straight, just you wait and see." My eyes glazed over as I imagined myself in my very own kitchen, standing in front of a Keurig single-cup coffee maker. I was dressed like Snow White, and animated bluebirds flew around me. Assorted woodland creatures surrounded me as I burst into song:
"Just whistle while you work,
Caffeine is bad, it makes me sad
One cup is quick to perk!

The room spun and everything grew dark. As the darkness lifted I saw my husband -- my knight in shining armor -- standing in the kitchen doorway, shaking his head sadly. I was on the floor, slouched against the counter by the coffee maker, partially hidden under a pile of used K-cups.

Another fade to black. As action resumed, I was standing on a street corner holding out a Starbuck's cup, begging for money.

"Hey buddy, can you spare a five-spot for a venti Pumpkin Spice Latte? They're only available for a limited time!" I begged. Passersby avoided eye contact and quickened their steps as they approached. Finally a wino stopped and handed me a flask.

"Here you go, kiddo," he said. "It'll help wean ya' off the hard stuff. That demon coffee, it'll ruin your life."

The images swirled once again. As I shook my head I heard a familiar voice calling my name.

"Hey Jo! Long time no see!" Barbara the Barista was standing by the espresso machine, wiping down the steam wand.

I looked around and realized I was standing in the doorway of the coffee shop. Officer Valdez was no where to be seen, and the plaster was firmly stuck to the wall where it belonged.

"Are you alright? You look like you could use a latte," Barbara said.

"Uh, yeah. I mean no. NO! I mean, I think I'll just have some herbal tea," I replied weakly.

Barbara looked surprised.

Who am I kidding? I thought.

"Naaah, make that a mocha, please. Extra foam. MO-CHA, mocha mocha!"

Friday, December 4, 2009

Coffee Dreams -- Part 1

I threw open the door to my favorite little coffee shop and breathed in the heady aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

"Ahhhh! I love the smell of arabica in the afternoon!" My favorite barista was at her station behind the espresso machine mixing up a little heaven in a cup for the only other customer in the shop.

"MO-cha, mochamochamoca!" I cha-cha'ed across the floor. "Mocha me, Mamma!" I said, slapping my hand on the counter top.

Instead of looking amused, which I had expected, Barbara the Barista looked a little nervous. I was instantly suspicious of the other customer. Was he hassling her? He looked pretty nondescript. Average height, average build, dressed in blue, wearing mirrored sunglasses. There was something vaguely familiar about him. I'd seen his type before, but where?

Barbara finished frothing his drink and slid it slowly towards him. She turned toward me, a look of concern on her face.

"How ya' doin', Jo? Switchin' to decaf for the afternoon?" Barbara spoke slowly, emphasizing the word "decaf" and darting glances at Mr. Mystery out of the corner of her eyes while she nodded her head meaningfully in his direction.

Decaf? I never order decaf. And that strange twitch. She must be speaking in code! I was certain she was trying to warn me of something, but what?

"Oh, no-nee, no-nee, no-nee. I don't drink that wimpy decaf! Heh heh heh. 'De-crap,' I like to call it," I said. Barbara continued to jerk her head toward Mr. Mystery and make "shushing" faces at me. Obviously this guy was trouble and she was trying to warn me. Well, I was just going to have to woman-up, and let him know that if he tried any funny stuff with me around he'd be sorry!

"Yep, I finished off a pot of dark roasted robusta this mornin'," I said, hitching up my pants and flexing my pecs. "Just need a little motorin' mocha pick-me up to keep my ninja-like reflexes sharp." I did a quick little kung-fu move I picked up from watching "Big Trouble in Little China."

Mystery Man didn't flinch, but Barbara looked nervous. "Well, gosh! Look at that! The espresso machine must be on the blink," she was talking rapidly now, almost babbling. "How 'bout a nice herbal tea? Maybe a beer or two (or twelve she added in a whisper) to mellow you out."

"What are you talking about?" I asked, confused. "I just saw you frothing his coffee. I don't need a pick me down, I need a pick me up!" I was getting agitated now, my caffeine level dipping dangerously low. "Don't 'cha have some house blend in a thermos or something? Just toss some grounds in a cup with hot water, I'll strain them out with my teeth." Desperation was setting in.

"Or, or, or..." I stammered, thoughts spinning wildly in my head. "Maybe I can just suck on some beans. Come on, man. I need a lil' sum-sum. Just let me sniff the empty bean bag!"

"What she means, Ma'am," Mystery Man spoke, "is that you seem to be a little over-caffeinated." I tensed as he stood and walked toward me. The light glinted ominously off the small, blue-black metallic object in his outstretched hand.

"I'm going to have to ask you to blow into this breathalyzer," he said. "I'm Officer Valdez, Caffeine Overuse Protection Services."

"Coffee C.O.P.S? Busting people for drinking coffee? Isn't that the coffee pot calling the kettle black?" I snapped.

"Ma'am, I can assure you we've heard all the coffee and donut jokes. And we are not amused." He waved the breathalyzer near my face. "Ma'am, you're registering a 2.0 on vapors alone. You're going to have to take a caffeination field test. Please stand with your back against this wall and hold completely still." I did as I was told, but it was harder than I could have imagined.

"Holy Sanka!" Officer Valdez cried. "You've got such a caffeine buzz you're vibrating the plaster right off the wall! You're going to have to spend a little time in the demitasse tank until you mellow out."

To be continued!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

If the Shoe Fits

Some people just don't like to shop. Maybe it's the pushy crowds, the clueless clerks, or the idiots in the parking lots. Me, I've never noticed those things. I'm all sweetness and light when I shop, naturally. But there is one thing eclipses my sunshine: shoe shopping.

I have no problem admitting my age -- 39. Alright, 39 and a half. I can admit that my "greylights" are courtesy of Mother Nature and not L'Oreal. But for most of my 4... I mean 38 and a half years, I've been reluctant to tell anyone just how big (size-enhanced) my feet are.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I have feet. I like my feet. They work just fine. They allow me to stand upright and provide balance in a strong wind. They add valuable inches of height when I stand tippie-toes. But when I go shoe shopping, they just get in the way.

There's nothing wrong with my feet. It's those arbitrary numbers they assign to shoe sizes that bother me.

It is nearly impossible to find shoes in my size. After years of contemplation, I have come up with three possible reasons: 1. Manufacturers only make five pair of shoes in this size for distribution throughout the entire country. 2. Someone (with a really big closet) is hoarding all the shoes in my size. 3. Drag Queens beat me to them. It doesn't really make me feel better to think that I could be wearing the same shoe as Patrick Swayze did in "To Wong Fu."

Several young girls the Little Princess' age already wear size nine. And they're not done growing yet! I am torn. There's a part of me that feels sorry for them, knowing they are facing a future of meager shoe pickin's. But mostly I'm just worried that they will mean added competition for a limited number of generous-sized shoes. I have seniority! I deserve the cute shoes!

Online shoe shopping is just not the same. All too often I've drooled over a cute pair of shoes on display at a store, only to puke when I look down and see them on my feet. I want them off my feet and out of my life NOW! Not after I've repackaged and hauled them to the post office. I'm all about the instant gratification.

One of my (many) ideas for building my hometown's business and tourism base is to open a shoe store. Not just any shoe store, but a SHOE store, catering to size-enhanced feet. Not just any shoe store, but a shoe STORE! Offering a unique shopping experience for a marginalized demographic who, far too often, wind up impaled on the pointy end of a stiletto heel when it comes to cute shoe choices.

The front room of my store would be modest, but cozy. A wide array of shoes styles would be attractively displayed -- no boxes up front! The shoe store equivalent of a maitre d' would welcome customers, politely answer questions and show them around. He would also be responsible for ascertaining the actual shoe size of the customer.

This is vital, because only shoppers with size 10 -- maybe nine -- or larger feet would be allowed to advance through the velvet curtain, past the security system/Brannock Device, to the back room. The inner sanctum, as it were. All you elfin-footed girls would have to sit out front on semi-comfortable chairs to wait for your full-footed friends.

The back room would be a shoe shoppin' Shangri La! Foot-fortunate females would be treated to champaign fountains, trays of gourmet chocolates and plush couches -- complimentary foot rubs optional. The sales associates would all be hotty-hot-hotties dressed in crisp, white shirts and dark, pin-stripped suits with skinny ties (Why yes, I have been watching "White Collar" on USA). All customers would be addressed as Miss, not Ma'm, and breath mints would be used at all times.

And the shoes! Oh yes, the shoes would be awesome! Not a pixie-sized pair to be found! Top designers would create styles especially for the grander sizes. We'd put an end to those shoes that look cute in itsy-bitsy sizes, but in the upper size range look more like clown shoes. We would turn the current trend of shoe size discrimination on its head by not even manufacturing these adorable shoes in sizes smaller than a 10-- maybe a nine.

Yes, I am a little bitter about not being able to find shoes in my size. And no, I'm not a big enough person to "just let it go." That's why I'm considering adding a closed-circuit tv that would allow the miniature-footed to see what they were missing out on while they sit on semi-comfortable chairs, drinking tap water and munching on generic, candy-coated chocolate drops.

Because in this case, size does matter.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bridging the Political Divine

One possible upside to my being so busy I missed November, is that I didn't have time to kick off my political career. I've long known that I have the answers to all of life's problems. As election day 2009 rolled around I considered blessing everyone with my insight and knowledge. I just couldn't decide who would benefit the most from my brilliance, and this wasn't a Supreme World Dictator election year.

My political aspirations began after a typically crazy day of so-called "stay-at-home" mom chores. I was seriously considering a career change. I mentally listed my strengths (keen sense of fashion, razor-sharp wit, infallibility) and my desires (unlimited power, a huge paycheck, to be worshiped in a manner befitting royalty). Two job possibilities immediately came to mind: politician and mob boss. Since there are fewer politicians in jail than mob bosses, the choice was obvious.

Besides, I've always enjoyed spending money. Particularly other people's money. OK, that was really what tipped the scales in favor of politics.

What could you expect from a Jomama administration? A chicken in every pot, pot for every chicken. Something for everyone at no cost to anyone, all financed by OPM (Other People's Money).

Anyone can make empty campaign promises and vacuous slogans. I offer real plans, solid solutions to the most pressing problems. The first stop on my roadmap to prosperity is right here in eastern Iowa.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors continues to wrestle with the question of what to do with the historic Sutliff Bridge. At last report it would take a mere 2.4 million dollars of OPM (news flash, you are the other people) to replace the span washed away in the flood of 2008.

If only the raging Cedar had been considerate enough to wash away the other end and leave the span next to Sutliff. That span could have become Eastern Iowa's biggest and best back porch! The bridge was always a great place to enjoy burgers and beer from Baxa's Sutliff Store and Tavern. Half a bridge would be even better -- short and sweet and closer to the bar!

But that's not the way Mother Nature rolled. Most people would look at that half a bridge and see a problem. Not me. I'm a bridge half-full kind of gal. Where others see problems, I see possibilities.

Let me take you through my solution-making process. Part one: the Sutliff Bridge was over a river. The river flooded. Big problem. Solution? Move the bridge. Seems obvious, I know, and yet people continue to put bridges over rivers. Go figure.

OK, part two: it's an historic bridge. I think "historic," I think history, I think... West Branch! Heck, the tavern building would fit right in with the downtown architecture. Now we're getting somewhere.

Speaking of getting somewhere, let's face it, Sutliff is not in the middle of somewhere. West Branch, on the other hand, is right off the interstate. Bingo! Bring the history to the masses!

For you purists, West Branch is located on the west branch of the Wapsinonoc Creek, so the bridge could still be a "bridge." The creek has even been known to flood occasionally, so the element of danger would still be there.

In fact, the creek plays a vital role in my plan to move the remaining span to its new and improved home. What the Cedar River hath started, let the Cedar River finisheth, I say. Just attach a couple pontoons and an outboard motor to the remaining span, wait for the next flood and sail her on down to the Wapsinonoc. I'm not sure the two waterways connect, but have you ever heard of a little thing called the Panama Canal? Where there's a will there's a way, baby. This thing has "made for Discovery Channel" written all over it.

Oh yes, I have a dream. A dream that some day West Branch will not only be the birthplace of the 31st President of the United States, but home to the Sutliff Bridge, and campaign headquarters for the Supreme World Dictator.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


So, what have I been doing since Augtober?

Eh, a little of this, a little of that. It's amazing how time flies when you're not really accomplishing anything. You would think, with as many different things as I try to do, something would get done. I mean, what are the odds? Random, dumb luck should take over at some point and finish up at least one project.

It's the old infinite monkey theorem. Give a room full of monkeys typewriters and sooner or later one of them will pound out the works of Shakespeare. Ooops, I guess the secret to my blogging is out now. Of course the primates have a much easier time of it with my prose than with iambic pentameter:
Forsooth, I have forsworn the use of "thou."
The apes protest the ban and cry "alas."
Enough, I say, you pain me in my ...

Yeah, well, monkey kibble doesn't buy the same quality text it once did. It does explain the proliferation of limericks, though.

But I don't have a room full of monkeys. It's just me and my inability to say "No. I can't do that. I'm busy." I know I'm not the only one with that disability. I'm not even in the same league as some people who juggle multiple projects, jobs and volunteer positions. And I don't want to be.

I recently read an article about a man who noticed he was being pulled in too many directions and decided to make a bold move: He decided to spend an entire month single-tasking.

He didn't talk on the phone while putting away dishes. He didn't try to supervise homework while making dinner. He didn't fold laundry while surfing the net.

When he spoke with someone he gave them his full attention. When he worked on a project, he worked only on that project until it was complete. Then, and only then, he moved on to the next task.

Wow. What a concept. I was fascinated. I was ready to convert. I could single task. I could! And I would!

Then the Little Prince knocked on the bathroom door and asked if I could help him.

It took a couple of days, but eventually I finished the article. The author must have had some serious single-tasking time to dedicate to writing, or maybe his own room full of monkeys, or maybe he had just trained his children not to bother him while he was in the bathroom. Whatever his secret was, I wanted it.

The author warned that it took him a couple of days to adapt to single-tasking. He even enlisted the help of his wife keep him focused. I considered asking His Royal Highness, the King, to help me stay on track, but that would be asking him to multi-task and seemed like cheating.

In other words, trying to single-task cold turkey didn't work. In fact, I'm not sure I have ever had a sustained single-tasking experience lasting more than a min- (gotta switch the laundry) -ute. But I have become more aware of my multi-taskingness. I think I have cut back from capitol "M" Multi to lowercase "m" multi. And best of all, I have actually finished a few projects!

That first feeling of accomplishment was so sweet! And it encouraged me to focus on another project and finish it! And other, and another.... It was like a row of dominoes falling, or the leading edge of an avalanche.

In fact, I was so efficient I decided to take on a few more projects. So tomorrow, between doing loads of laundry, I'll be getting the crafts ready for CCD, and while I've got the glue gun out I'll work on a new wreath for Mom, so that will be done when I run to the bank on my way to the post office before picking up the kids for piano lessons to check on the information for PTO and finishing the newsletter after cross-checking the mailing list.

I think I'm getting the hang of this single-tasking.