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How you know you’ve blown a gasket

I’m getting ready to head into the final push of getting this medieval history manuscript finished up–due date December 19–which means that I needed to polish off a bunch of random tasks this week so that I can concentrate.

Let’s see…I’ve gotten the galleys for The Well-Trained Mind, third edition, out the door; taught a class on sonnet-writing; caught most of the way up with my grading; done four day’s worth of “Mom’s school subjects” with the kids (which is to say, my part of the home schooling load–we normally do five days of school a week, but one of the days was a complete educational meltdown–it happens); ferried teenage boys to two different social events; mucked out the pasture twice; researched the events in Mesoamerica and South America between 900 and 1200 AD; and…wait, there was something else.

Thank goodness my mother LIKES cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Anyway, my focus has been narrowing over the past week, which means my usual multitasking abilities, already diminished by AGE, are declining EXPONENTIALLY.

So I’ve been collecting signs that my brain is shedding side-tasks which it deems unnecessary. You know you’re about to pop a mental valve when…

1. You walk back and forth to the garden several times, collecting vegetables for dinner, without realizing that the large brown creature snacking in the Swiss chard is NOT a dog, but rather an escaped pony.

2. While making bolognese sauce, you toss the ground beef into the trashcan and the styrofoam supermarket tray into the frying pan.

3. You carefully set the coffeemaker to go off at 5:30 AM so that you can get in some writing time before the kids get up, but you forget to put in either water or coffee.

4 You carefully put your Blackberry in the refrigerator and drop the cheddar cheese into the outside pocket of your computer bag.

5. You let all the library books get five weeks overdue and write the grateful librarian a check for $145.20.

6. After writing the check, you make three circuits back through the library looking for a missing child before you realize that they’re all in the van, so you must be searching for the imaginary child you never had.

7. You try to balance the checkbook the next day and notice that you haven’t recorded the last five checks you wrote, including the amount to the library you’ve now forgotten, so that paying the bills becomes an exciting roulette-type activity.

8. You say to your seventeen-year-old son, “Mommy’s getting ready to have a nap, so let’s all be very quiet,” and he looks at you as though you’ve suddenly dropped twenty IQ points.

9. Around 10 AM, you think to yourself, “Time for a hot bath and a glass of wine.” (No, I didn’t. I just THOUGHT it.)

10. You don’t just call all the kids by the wrong names–you end up throwing the dog and horse into the mix too. (“Hey, Ben–I mean Dan–no, I mean Fluffles–“)

My number-one hope for the next month is that I can get through to December 19 without accidentally setting the house on fire.