Yesterday my son started high school and this morning my mother-in-law is having surgery, so I’ve been a little distracted over the past couple of days. Lots of planning and preparation to get these two events going, you know? And it got me thinking …
My undergraduate degree is in English, with a concentration in Writing and Editing. I had a great professor during my sophomore year who was fond of telling us to “unpack the details,” in terms of adding lush descriptions to our work. Unpacking the details served me well over a dozen years working as a writer and PR whiz in advertising, the arts, and as a journalist. And it still works today as a novelist. But a bad habit I developed as the senior writer and marketing project manager at Nortel Networks, and then perfected as the Marketing Director for our state’s largest non-profit performing arts theatre, is adult-onset ADD. I’m convinced that’s what it is.
I think everybody’s got a touch of it—hell, it makes me a really, really good multi-tasker. I can manage dozens of projects simultaneously, from a blank screen to a fully realized marketing campaign, and all the budgets and vendors in between. But it weighs on your shoulders, this ability to “extreme multi-task.” And it carries over to all aspects of your life.
When I’m on vacation and when we travel, I have to prepare an activity bag. Only, now that I’m 39, I just refer to it as “my bag.” I think it sounds a little more dignified, right? I don’t like down-time, and though I’m rarely ever bored, I do get distracted. My son, coincidentally, can also pack a mean activity bag. He learned from the best. J
So to sit with my husband while his mom has surgery this morning, I’ve prepared my bag. As you can see, I’ve got my iPad, a sketchpad and pencils, Quiddler, my latest library book, my phone, a bottle of water, and a granola bar. What you don’t see is a skein of yarn that I’m using to knit a scarf, stuffed in my purse. This is the perfect grouping for a day at the hospital. If I’m in a waiting room that allows technology or has wireless connectivity, I can keep up with my e-mail (which has sadly been abandoned in the last minute scrambling to get ready for school and surgery) and read the news; if I’m in an area of the hospital that requires no technology I’ve got a book and my sketchpad. Quiddler is good when me and the mister break for lunch … we’re big game players at our house, so Quiddler typically lives on the dining room table for post-meal quickies. Water and granola keep up the blood sugar to help keep up the good spirits. Yes, it’s the perfect bag.
When we vacationed along the Crystal Coast, in Emerald Isle, two weeks ago, my bag was an entirely different story. My basics are always the same: iPad, book/s, sketchpad and pencils, and Quiddler; but it also included my ZAGG iPad keyboard case (so I didn’t have to take my laptop, too), Nintendo DS and games, magazines, two knitting projects, and the newspaper swiped from the driveway on our way out.
Are you a bagger? Do you have an activity bag with you for all occasions, or do you prefer to just sit quietly and patiently?
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Tallulah Murphy is a busy woman. As the newly appointed Director of Education for the Atlanta Art Museum, she has a thousand and one things to do on any given day. Dating is not high on that list; in fact, it’s not even on the radar.