Month: January 2015

Too many balls in the air – but I can’t drop any of them

Today’s thought is provoked¬† by a conversation I had last week with a friend while walking to school to pick up the little boys. We were talking about people who do too much, or, take on too many things. She was telling me about a friend of hers who took on too many different jobs at once at the same time as expecting a baby. Except for the baby part, she could have been talking about me. She said, and these words stuck with me for a while, ‘if you take on too many different tasks or jobs, you won’t be able to give any of them your full attention and you’ll end up being disappointed’. It was as if she’d read my mind of recent. I’ve had a really busy couple of weeks and I have been worrying that I haven’t been giving enough to any of the jobs I have had to do: work, college, home, everything else.

Two balls are work, one is college, one is children, and the last is everything else.

Two balls are work, one is college, one is children, and the last is everything else.

This is me: I can sit at home with two or three applications or spreadsheets open up on the laptop, plus a sketch pad by my side, and a blog entry half written (this one), and I will spend my day flitting between each task not quite finishing any of them. I will only put everything down at the last minute before I need to go to school or before I need to go to bed. I’ll print out work to take to college (or even better take my laptop and wifi). I’ll take work to school events to read during the boring bits. My sketch pad is with me all the time. My to-do list is by my bed. The phrase ‘no, I have no time for that’ is not one I can ever utter. I have about three books on the go – dipping in and out of each of them during spare moments.

However, if I am to keep my sanity over the next six months (until I finish my college course), I need to drop one of the balls: but which one? I can’t drop work as it pays the bills and buys me coffee. I can’t drop college for obvious reasons. I can’t drop the children, they might not thank me for that. And I can’t drop ‘everything else’ because I want to do ‘everything else’ as well.

Sleep? I suppose I could drop that ball from time to time. Or I just resign myself to the fact that I am an workaholic and always will be and just try my best to put my best into each job, task, child.

Any excuse for a cute cat picture

Any excuse for a cute cat picture

Why my best friend is a sat nav

Most of my friends think that I use (or over-use) the sat nav (which is called Gladys by the way) a lot because I have no sense of direction. They are wrong. I do have no sense of direction but this is not why I use the sat nav so much.

Yesterday evening, I had to drive back from Warwickshire to home (a journey of about one-and-a-half hours) and despite knowing the way quite well, I didn’t think twice about putting Gladys on her little sucker thing in the right-hand corner of the windscreen.

BFF Gladys

BFF Gladys

The reason I put Gladys on her little sucker thing was not to help me navigate the various motorways between Warwickshire and Shrewsbury (of which there are quite a few) but for company. I find Gladys’s warm glow reassuring. I find her company pleasant. She doesn’t talk much. She has a nice, gentle male Australian drawl and she glows at me, providing me with that comforting feeling that there is something (someone) else in the car with me. I don’t like driving in the dark. I especially don’t like driving in the dark alone. So Gladys keeps me company and is there to remind me that I’m nearly home.

Sometimes, especially when I am alone and it is dark, I need more than Gladys for company. Yesterday was one of those days. Feeling sleepy after a late night I felt the need for Radio 4.

I was very pleased to find that Open Book was on at the beginning of my journey. I love Open Book. I find Mariella Fostrup’s voice so relaxing. And what’s more, she talks to me about one of my favourite topics: books.

Radio 4 - my other friend

Radio 4 – my other friend

But in reality, I was alone in the car. Gladys and Radio 4 are just things. So my weird thought later when I got home was: why does a sat nav and a radio make me feel like I am in good company? Why do I personify these things? Why does the sat nav to me have a personality (she’s terribly stubborn and stroppy if I go the wrong way)? Why do I imagine the people on Radio 4 are talking to just me? Why is Gladys called Gladys? Why do I find comfort from being told ‘In 250 yards, take the motorway’? Why do I choose radio over music when I’m alone in the car?

I wonder if I’m not uncommon in my personification of these objects when I’m feeling anxious (driving in the dark), why I need to feel that I’m not doing this slightly scary journey alone. I even find myself talking out loud to Gladys about how much I hate the M6 or asking her to clarify why I need to ‘keep right’ when I don’t think I do. I think at the back of my mind there is always the risk of death on the M6 and I don’t want to die alone so that is why I have to have Gladys and Mariella with me.

My favourite motorway

My favourite motorway

Do other people do this too? I’m not sure I’d go as far as the narrator in Jonathan Coe’s The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim who develops an odd relationship with his sat nav to the point of insanity, at least this hadn’t happened yesterday by the time I reached home. I was quite glad to put Gladys to sleep when I reached home and she was soon forgotten as I enter the world of the real organic: my family and my cat, their needs, hungers, questions and cuddles.

Home to cuddles with my cat

Home to cuddles with my cat