My hair smells like salad dressing…and other downsides to multi-tasking.


Back to reality blew in with a biting, cold vengeance this week, didn’t it?

On Monday morning, 10-degrees, I’m stuck in traffic, and can’t figure out why the dumb asses won’t “Close the gap! Close the gap! Move up, you numb nuts!” I’m yelling in my car. I hate it when people won’t move along. I hate it when I become a lunatic.

Tuesday morning, at the crack of frigid, I drive to the airport. Nobody “hops” on a plane anymore. I eventually board, take my seat next to the window, then furtively scowl at the skinny guy next to me in the plaid shirt and drink coupons in his pocket who is oozing cold germs, so congested he squeaks when he inhales, then sneezes all over his tray table in the full unlocked and germ-ridden position.  I am typically not that much of a germaphobe but this was over the top and half of it spilled on me.

Same night, I drag my shivering consulting bones back home, then it’s Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, rambunctious emails galore. Making up for lost time I suppose, the workaday world.

Money to be made! Q1 goals to be met! Mind-numbing meetings to prolong!

Thank God it’s Friday.  I come home to Christmas lights draped on brittle branches. I can no longer say I’m waiting for the epiphany. (I’ve already had a few of my own.) They shine for nobody else but me, now. Too damn cold and too many appointments on the calendar to haul the tree to the curb, just yet. Was a brief run anyway, this particular Frazier fir. We didn’t set it up until three days before Christmas! I gotta get my $25 bucks worth. Besides, I find something sweet and comforting in the honeyed glow.

If I close my eyes and squeeze my memory hard, I can see my kids in the living room, Christmas morning, jammied up, grown up. Room smells a little like a bar. Oh well.  We do our best. Only 75% of my offspring made it home for the holidays. I missed my big boy who was in-law bound to L.A. Three out of four ain’t bad, though.The ones in attendance and I sleep-in, stir around a bit, then drink mimosas and eat coffee cake and leftover tamales in front of the fake fire from the gas logs and take turns opening presents.  I am happy. Our complicated selves, with our complicated lives, disperse. They fly. Then I fly.  A beat, and it’s over. A beat, and they’re gone.

The clock I bought on Christmas Eve remains. It’s a gift I gave myself. After 30 years, four corporate relocations and one clumsy mover who dropped it, my old wind-up clock finally gave up the ghost. I missed the ticking. New year, new day, I now have a new Regulator to keep me mindful of the minutes.

But can it regulate me?

But can it regulate me?

Of which, I am overbooked. In this minute I am home for lunch, standing at the kitchen counter eating a salad, talking on the phone, making an appointment to get my hair cut and my hair gets my mouth. Hence the need for a trim. Oh, and a colonoscopy. I’ve been canceling appointments for a screening colonoscopy for years. The receptionist at the surgical center doesn’t laugh when I ask her if I can just drop off my colon and swing back by to pick it up. I hate it when people don’t have a sense of humor. I tell her I’ll reschedule.  I call the dogs, turn down the thermostat, send a couple of emails, grab a cookie to make up for the salad, and I’m back on my way to another meeting. Lipstick at the corner. Text at the red light. Breath mint in the left-turn lane. At the four-way stop at Jackson and Rock Hill, I feel an urgent need to breathe. Like, you know, fresh air. I don’t give a rat’s ass how miserably cold it is. I power down the window. Inhale. Then I hear the birds. I stop.

No matter the winter grey, no matter the brutal cold, the birds offer up a chorus, sweet and strong. Busy. Busy in the right now. Fully, blissfully, doing the right now. I am their fortunate pupil and I am happy. Blessed be the birds.

I walk into my client meeting and my hair smells like vinaigrette  I laugh to myself, “fool, this is what happens when you multi-task.”

My daughter texts me later and says “Momma, go outside and look at the moon.” My little girl, learning about the moments, singular, each one.

I run outside and scan the sky. The moon is enchanting, placid, blue-white in the clear, cold night.

This moment. This moment. This moment. Fill it up with the purity of being fully present.

It’s rich. It’s good. It’s real. This moment.

About Jean Ellen Whatley

Writer. Dreamer. Sometimes schemer. Journalist/memoirist/observer and sometimes constructive irritant. Prisoner of demon muses. Mother to four humans and two dogs. In my spare time, I delete phone numbers of former boyfriends.

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  1. Jean–Too rarely do we live in the moment–the right now. If we are engaging in something leisurely–like a vacation trip–we’re too busy taking pictures to truly savor right is going on right then.

    I hope 2015 is an incredibly wonderful year for you, Jean.