Distraction Dilemma: Breaking, Breaking News

 

 

As I drove out of the supermarket parking lot yesterday, I congratulated myself. Proud that I remembered to bring my groceries with me!

Years ago on a nice spring evening, a Thursday, I exited the same supermarket parking lot minus the eight bags of food and drink items I had just purchased.

Back in the days when my daughter was on the crew team at her high school. Moms (always the moms, let’s be honest here) took turns hosting the team on the Friday nights before Saturday morning regattas. We put on big spreads which, if memory serves, mostly featured some kind of pasta casserole, bowls of salad and buckets of garlic bread. I’m sure there must have been a vegetable side dish and dessert too.

On that Thursday before my turn at hosting the team dinner, I drove after work to the supermarket nearest my house with the “Crew Dinner To Buy” list in my purse. It was dinner time – I was hungry, I was tired, so was everyone else. My body may have been at the store – but my mind was still downtown – at the law firm  – too many client matters remained on that “To Do” list.  I walked up and down the aisles, pulling the items for the anticipated bunch of carb-craving teen athletes in a semi-automated fashion.

The check out lady smiled as she scanned my purchases – having a big party? Yes, I probably said. I paid, left the store and steered the overflowing cart outside the store and left it in the “pick up” area against the silver bars en route to the parking lot.  My intent must have been to get into my car and drive around to the pick up lane to retrieve the eight bags from the cart.

But instead I drove home. Two miles away.  I pulled into my driveway. Still thinking about work, I am sure. Knowing I had emails to check and a project to complete. Parked. Then opened the trunk to find it empty. Because I had left all of the bags in the cart in front of the supermarket. A swear word was likely emitted at that point.

That is the last time I recall being as distracted as I have been in recent weeks.

I did drive right back to the store. Luckily, the cart was where I had left it 10 minutes earlier, I put the bags in the trunk, drove home, took the groceries out, unpacked them, made dinner for my family, caught up on work  – and then hosted the crew dinner the next night. You know the busy/working/mom drill.

I no longer work downtown (still a mom though, and now a grandmother too, just for the record so you can tell that maybe through increased age alone, I’ve earned the right to have distracted moments.)

But now I am distracted much of the time. No longer by lawyering. Or by my kids. Or by my husband. Not by events on my calendar. And I do not have a sudden onset of ADD nor any neurological problem (I get checked.) No, my distraction comes from my own inability to focus for more than 10 minutes without having an insistent craving to turn on the news.

So I do. I check my twitter feed. I look up news alerts. I listen to the radio. I have the TV on in the background. All for fear of missing some new crisis that might have happened while I was doing the laundry or taking a shower.

The crises keep erupting, one piling on top of another, breaking news breaking into new breaking news, breathless reporters and chatty commentators. And yes, I could turn it off. Yes, I should turn it off. But I keep checking for updates.

Last night at book club we talked about this. A few of my friends are not as dominated by the need-to-know-now as I am. Lucky them! Others seem to be able to stay in control of their news needs. I’m jealous.

Part of my problem is I am less busy in the summer. I’m not taking a writing class this summer. With the end of the school year, my college-advising volunteer projects have slowed. Fewer meetings, a lighter schedule, more unstructured time.

Anticipating this summer lull, I created my own structure. A big project.  My Work-In-Progress. I am writing a novel. Writing at least four days a week.  The plan is to complete the draft by the end of August before fall semester begins and I am back in the classroom (with homework.)

What’s my “WIP” about, you ask?

A working mom, a lawyer, with two kids (how creative to use my own life as inspiration!?) dealing with friendships that go awry, possibly unscrupulous clients and unexpectedly competitive colleagues.  I even wrote an outline. And I’ve already written 50 pages – 15, 556 words, to be exact. Only 64,444 more words to go!

If only I could be more disciplined. More disciplined and not as susceptible to distractions. Like I once was as a law firm partner. Busy, busy, busy. Far too occupied to fret about possible news of ultra-scary national and world events.

Or maybe that was a less complicated time when breaking news didn’t break every ten minutes. Focus, I keep telling myself. Look away from the media. But it is difficult. Distraction is my biggest dilemma this summer.

I am certain I am not alone in feeling this way.

6 Comments

Filed under Book Club, Communications, daughters, Law firm life, Lawyers, Social Media, Women, Working Moms, Working Moms, Working Women, Writing

6 responses to “Distraction Dilemma: Breaking, Breaking News

  1. No you are not. I am getting news fatigue which I do not think is a good thing because it’s cousin complacency may be close behind!

    Like

  2. I’m the same way. I can spend the entire day on Facebook commenting on news updates and watching for “breaking news” from CNN. I think I’m addicted.

    Like

  3. Cathryn harjung

    Trust me, you are NOT alone. I have been in a funk since the election, and cannot stop watching the dumpster fire. This preoccupation is certainly not adding to my happiness and I need to stop. But I can’t! And apparently I’m in good company.

    Like

  4. I’m with Cathryn. I can’t help myself, but at the same time, we are part of history. I am making calls, writing letters, and trying to get as much info as I can. Doing my best to begin reading or distracting myself an hour before bed, though!

    Like

  5. Bonnie J. Weissman

    I check the news in the morning, and then just here and there on the radio in the car, during the day etc. It’s odd, because I’m a former news junkie. The whole scenario we are in right now is disgusting. I am 64, and cannot remember the country being so divided; as a newer grandma of twin boys, I fear for their future. I don’t think our public officials care much for us at all, and are mostly interested in maintaining their own power. I fear we will become something akin to a banana republic. So sad. I miss the DC metro area sometimes (we lived there for 28 years), but am glad now to be living in a smaller, quieter state (Louisiana).

    Like

  6. Martin Wolf

    Nancy—-Read your blog and as always enjoyed it. As so many of us, I to have become a news addict. The N.Y. Times must be read no matter the hour: PBS whether on the radio or the T.V. must be turned on. The sad part is that it only makes me more depressed and distressed. And there’s no relief in sight!!!     On to happier subjects: did you get my e-mail sent many weeks ago welcoming you and Jim to Vermont? I hope so. Are you planning to visit us and if so, could you give us n idea of when you would be coming? We sincerely hope that we are on your summer travel schedule.  Hinda

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s