I won't pretend I am the world's greatest multitasker. I have a friend who can reach orgasm and send text messages at the same time. But she has a really expensive phone.
Among ordinary people, however, I submit to you in all humility, the fact that I manage to write a single coherent sentence during the summer months is worthy of some sort of prize.
Yesterday, between telephone interviews and attempts to settle a vacation itinerary that would have consisted of a departure date and a return date if the 15-year-old's schedule had not blown it into 15 parts, the same 15-year-old attempts to engage me in the following series of conversations:
"I need new shorts. You never let me buy enough clothes when you take me shopping."
"We have to go to Sports Authority today. I am out of tennis balls."
"How much money are you going to give me for vacation?"
"When am I going to get a new phone?"
Also, "Are you ready to go to Sports Authority now?"
And yet I manage to finish an entire interview and two sets of flight reservations. Someday I will write a best-selling advice book. (For now, I leave you with this: The key is setting the bar very, very low.)
Plus, there is always tomorrow. Which, as it happens, is today. I am halfway through negotiating a car rental and Chapter 15 of my unfinished novel, The Unfinished Novel, when the 15-year-old settles himself into my office for what seems like the fifteenth time. Note for future advice book: A home office should not include any furniture conducive to lounging.
He stretches out on the couch with his iPod and taps through some sort of racing ap.
"This is bullshit," he says. "I'm winning the entire race and he just pulls in front of me." He continues to talk to his iPod, but cannot break my concentration because I am a professional. Also, I learned to write in a newsroom.
When he burps, however, I turn and give him a long silent stare of disapproval. My meaning is unmistakable.
"You look like you want to take me somewhere," he says.
"Oh that's good," I say. "I'm going to write that down."
His thoughts turn to self-enrichment as quickly as you can say "15 percent commission."
"If you make any money off that you have to pay me," he says.
More ranting from the work at home archives: A Stapler of One's Own