Thursday, May 5, 2011

All jobs at once.


A blogger I know is a passionate fan of "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger. She loves this book so much that she got a tattoo, on the inside of her forearm no less, of a quote from the novel: "All times at once." That sprung to mind today as I wrapped up my phone interview with a writer for Publishers Weekly-- a very important 30 minutes, because this is the interview that will appear in the BEA Show Daily trade publication at BookExpo America later this month. I was delighted to have the opportunity to do this, and arranged my day around making sure nothing would interfere with it and everything would run smoothly.

My other jobs, of course, had other ideas.

The day began with me staggering into the kitchen and squinting at the unexpected push notification on the screen of my iPhone, still hooked up to the charger: my daughter had a Very Important Event for which she needed to be at school in exactly 30 minutes. I woke her up immediately and lit a fire under her rear, then owed a special cheerful wakeup call to my youngest son, whose birthday it is today. He wanted a hot dog for breakfast, or a cookie. This required some diplomatic negotiation so the birthday would not begin with tears. Next, my oldest son came lurching out of his bedroom. We had taken him to urgent care the previous day for some sort of mystery knee problem, which the doctor there had written off as a bruise. I didn't believe that doctor then, and now Firstborn was shoving cereal into his mouth with wet eyes and a mournful expression, clearly in more pain than ever. I'm no rookie. It was going to be an Emergency Room sort of day.

My husband, naturally, was at the firehouse on a 24-hour shift. After getting Daughter off to school and mollifying Birthday Boy with an updated Smurfs' Village app for the iPad, I called my husband and gratefully accepted his offer to come home. Off he went with Firstborn to the ER, not to be seen again for four hours. In the meantime, I took the littlest one to Panera for a special breakfast, then settled him in with Smurfs' Village in time for the Publishers Weekly writer to call, right on schedule.

About midway through the interview, the little one decided he would rather play Angry Birds and for some reason felt the need to ask permission to do this. When he began banging on my bedroom door, I first retreated to the bathroom, then came out long enough to whisper a yes. At some point, I suppose, he tripped; dramatic crying ensued. By the time I wrapped up the interview and emerged from the bedroom, he was staging a robot battle in the living room, and all was well.

I attempted to write for a few minutes, then gave up on that and returned to fielding emails from church people about Sunday School plans for summer and Vacation Bible School. Then my husband returned with Firstborn, who entered on crutches, wearing a hospital bracelet and a second, yellow bracelet printed with "FALL RISK," which one of them had edited with a pen to read "FAIL RISK." They handed me his X-rays, a diagnosis that was basically a giant question mark, and a referral to an orthopedist. I left to get the other kids from school, then came home and opened the mail, which included a surprise $900 bill from a company to whom I do not owe $900.

The little one reminded me he would like the rest of his presents now.

But it was a good day, for sure. I had an interview with Publishers Weekly. My husband came home to field the medical emergency, Birthday Boy had a great birthday, Daughter got to her Very Important Event, and the lady in Billing agreed with me that I did not in fact owe them $900. Nobody was threatening to cry anymore, except perhaps my emotionally needy beagle, who flopped across my lap the second I closed the laptop.

There are quite a few scenes in "The Time Traveler's Wife" in which the time-traveling guy sits in rooms with himself at other ages, having conversations with his duplicate.

I would have liked that today.

I would have made her do the dishes.

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