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December 22, 2000

If there is a “2" at the start of that date above, then it’s time for my annual Christmas crisis. That’s when I realize I’ve done nothing, that the house is totally unprepared, that I have a ton of cooking to do, I haven't planned Christmas dinner yet, I’ve overcommitted myself and that I am buried under typing work that hasn’t been finished either.  It’s a predictable thing. The family has seen me go through it every year for years now. We just kind of factor it into the general planning. Bake cookies, get tree, decorate tree, mom goes nuts, cook turkey, call the family to dinner, etc.

But I have to say one thing at the outset, and that is that the spirit of Christmas is alive and well in Journal Land. I received notes from several journal readers offering help for my grandma-friend as we try to make a happy Christmas for her family. You guys are terrific. Thanks to you, it’s going to happen. I’m taking her shopping this afternoon, Breaking Barriers has put together a big food basket, I’ve bought her a bed frame so she doesn’t have to sleep on the floor and will have some place for the grandkids to sleep now, and it’s all going to come together. Thank you SO much to everybody.

I spoke with her case worker at Breaking Barriers yesterday and we both agree that this is probably “grandma’s” last Christmas. Her cancer is advancing so rapidly. And we are so happy that she can at least relax a bit and perhaps enjoy the holiday. (The latest wrinkle is that I talked with her yesterday and she’d just received news that her brother had been in an auto accident; fortunately no serious injuries. This lady has just had more than her share in 2000!)

Yesterday for me was crazy. Lemme tell you how backed up on work I am. Peggy asks me every day how many tapes I have to transcribe. I don’t even want to count. But I did and discover that I still have 10 tapes that need to be finished, with more coming every day, as the psychiatrist sees his patients. Can't these guys do what I'm doing and have their nervous breakdowns alone at home without running to a therapist for help??? So I’m under the gun with that. I’m trying to do that while trying to get organized for Christmas.

But somehow I just seem to have lost my ability to focus, to concentrate, or to stick with a task to its completion. For example, last week I started dusting the etagere with all the knick knacks on it, determined that it would be clean by the time we got up a tree. Walt and Ned found pine needles in the dust, which tells us that it hasn't been dusted since last Christmas (or some other Christmas past). There are three sections to the etagere and it took me an hour to do one section. I decided I’d do one section a day, but I haven’t been able to get back to it. So there is a good chance it won’t get done at all (but that one section looks terrific!)

I decided I wanted to bake cookies for “grandma” so I’ve been doing that--something I haven’t done for years. The kitchen, which I was so proud I had finally managed to clean up a couple of weeks ago, is a disaster area again. The kitchen table is totally covered in packages, both wrapped and needing wrapping, paper, tape, scissors, mail, and other junk. I finished writing our Christmas letter and finally got it printed, but I haven’t even started addresssing cards yet. I haven’t finished the web site I was hired to design. We still don’t have a tree and hope to buy it tonight. Lord only knows when it will get decorated.

With all that, the very last thing I needed yesterday was a job driving a client for Breaking Barriers. And the client came at the very worst time of the day--her appointment was for 11 a.m., for an hour. That means a big chunk out of the day right in the middle, so no time really do do anything significant on either end of the day. But Sam, who schedules the rides, said she was desperate. This woman had no way to get to her doctor, so I agreed to do it. Reluctantly, most relulctantly.

Well I’m getting so proud of myself. I have my Thomas Guide maps and I managed to find the street on the map. It has to be the smallest street in Sacramento, and the print is so tiny that these aging eyes could barely find it on the map (note to self: put a magnifying glass in the car.). But I actually found it and felt so good as I unerringly made my way there. at this picture: 

[2009 note:  Sorry, but the picture disappeared with the Yahoo crash!]

See the two street signs I circled? Well, on the map, the street I’m looking for comes between them. Do you see a street there? It was the craziest thing. The street simply does not exist. I drove up and down thinking--it’s GOTTA be here somewhere! But no. It was not. I even asked someone coming out of one of the houses if she knew where that street was, and she didn’t know.

Since the client spoke no English, they hadn’t given me her phone number, so I called Breaking Barriers. Four phone calls later, we still couldn’t connect me with the client, so I just turned around to come home. It had taken me an hour and a half to drive there and back...for nothing!. The only good thing was that I did stop at a cheap furniture place and buy a bed frame for “grandma” and felt good about that.

I came home and made two more batches of cookies, cleaned up a little bit, and started typing. The dusting has gone by the boards. Walt came home and asked if I wanted to go get a tree, but I was frantically typing his mother’s Christmas letter at that time, and reminded him he had to take her letter over to her, so we are going to try to find a tree tonight.

I managed to get dinner together and Walt went on his way to his mother's, while I made a couple of banana breads, fitting in more typing while they were cooking. I was going to work late, but kept falling asleep here at the computer. I’d only had 3 hours sleep the previous night so I decided to get up and work early this morning. It’s now 4:30 a.m. and I’ve been up for an hour. I am still feeling frazzled--’cause I’ve started the typing, but you see what I’m doing instead--I’m typing a journal entry.

I just can’t seem to be able to focus and my brain is going off in 16 different directions at once so consequently nothing is getting done and what is getting done is slipshod.

Every year about this time I think wistfully about those people with trees up, houses decorated, nice fires going that they can relax in front of while Christmas music plays in the background. Must be nice. Today will be spent delivering food baskets, driving two clients to doctors’ appointments and taking “grandma” to shop for her kids. Nothing will get done on “Christmas” here at home, but somehow I feel that what I’m going to be doing is far more in keeping with the spirit of the season than getting the damn etagere shelves dusted.

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