The most peculiar thing about dealing with the type of hardship I’ve experienced is what I call, manic multitasking. Manic multitasking is watching a recorded review session for an upcoming Economics exam while on hold with CareFirst waiting to hear if a chemo drug will be covered by insurance. Manic multitasking is calling my mom’s oncologist, between rounds of flip cup at a business school party, to ask if there’s a treatment for oral thrush, an uncomfortable throat ailment and side effect of chemo. Manic multitasking is standing in line at Georgetown Cupcake on the morning of my 28th birthday while downloading a quote from the cemetery director on my iPhone. Manic multitasking is peculiar, to say the least.
A root cause analysis is not necessary; manic multitasking just organically happens with hardship. You wake up one morning and before you know it, you’re eating cereal with the morning crossword in front of you (or on your iPad) while directing a gastroenterologist to send x-rays to an oncologist as you solve for 45-Across.
Sometimes I think about the manic multitasking that my mom must’ve juggled in the early 1980s when my dad was sick. Her manic multitasking lacked smart phones, email, laptops, iPods and DVR, to name a few. I assume my mom’s tech-free manic multitasking mostly focused on diapering Infant Me and caring for her sick husband. When she sat with my dad during his chemo treatments, she was probably forced to think a lot about cancer or my latest diaper rash, while I, on the other hand, had the benefit of Sex and The City reruns on a portable DVD player. (For those SATC fans in the know: Samantha’s line, “Cancer is hilarious,” is 10 times more hilarious when viewed in an actual chemotherapy room.)
No matter how you cut it, and no matter how tech-savvy the universe is when you experience it, manic multitasking comes hand-in-hand with hardship. It blends the mundane with the malignant.
And so I’ll leave you with three important tips: When you have to manic multitask for the first time it may feel odd, but it comes naturally fairly quickly thereafter. Second, remember where you put the car keys. No matter how accustomed I became to manic multitasking, I always misplaced them. And finally, third: Put down the phone before you get in the pool. You heard it here first.