Saturday, May 10, 2008

Have My Senses Taken Leave?

It is becoming harder and harder for me to multi-task, which I define rather conservatively as trying to think about more than one thing at the same time. And there has been a lot to think about in the past couple of weeks:
  • My mother has had some very serious – indeed life-threatening – health problems that have caused great stress and strain on my family in Los Angeles. She got a compression fracture in her spine when she fell at home. She went to the hospital, they sent her home. She deteriorated and ended up back in the hospital. She had surgery. She was discharged to a nursing home, they neglected her and she could have died; she had to go back to the hospital. She begged them not to send her back the nursing home, so they sent home and the family tried to care for her there. And there is this on-going inner debate as all this is unfolding: do I drop everything and rush to LA to be there and help the rest of the family take care of her? Do I stay put and continue to plan our vacation there at the end of June? What do I do?
  • Then there is some new stress associated with my work. I very nearly stopped getting any work at all from one of the publishers. I had no idea why, so I sent an e-mail to the production editor supervisor. She, bless her heart, went above and beyond the call of duty and sussed out the problem. And now I know why. An attempt to be funny in an e-mail I sent to a production editor backfired and had the opposite affect. Instead of being seen as the warm, good-natured, funny person that I am (really I am!!), I became an nasty-tempered unpleasant whiner who complains. This spread like a poison amongst the other production editors and no one wanted to work with me. The supervisor is trying to mend the situation. I was urged to read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People to improve my communication skills, which I am doing. I sent an apology to the PEs, which was surprisingly hard to compose without it sounding like I was blaming them for misinterpreting my e-mail. So now I have to wait and see how this is going to turn out.
  • Finally, my main journal has been shifted to another vendor – I have been shifted too, fortunately – but I have to learn a new interface and new procedures to follow. The new issue manager is great, but I miss my "old boss," and I am sorry that I won't be working with her very much anymore.
Which all leads to two recent things I did within a very short period of time that amused me, but also scared me quite a bit. We were in the kitchen putting away the dishes and talking about “stuff,” and I started to put the cast iron skillet in the refrigerator. As soon as I opened the refrigerator door I realized I had made a mistake, and I laughed about it and put it away in the oven where it belongs, but it still upset me very much. We saw the movie Away From Her recently, and the wife, who is showing symptoms of Alzheimer disease, does something very similar. Lord, have mercy. Then a few nights later, I filled my glass with ice and picked up the 2-liter bottle of Vernors ale (which according Wikipedia “shares the title of America's oldest soft drink with Hires Root Beer”) and started pouring it over the bowl of popcorn sitting next to the glass. By doing this, I did not create a new taste sensation. The soggy popcorn ended up in the trash, and I had to start over. But, it did give me something to giggle about for several days.

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