A new day - a new week - and I'm determined to hunker down and get some things DONE.
I'm off to a good start: after weeks of complaining of being bogged down by the volume of email I receive, I vowed that I would not even look at my inbox until I'd crossed a couple of things off my to-do list.
This is counter-intuitive for me, as checking my email first thing in the morning is a habit I've had for over 20 years, and has replaced my old habit of reading the newspaper before I get any work done (a habit that only got worse during my Tonight Show years, when part of my job was to distribute half a dozen newspapers and magazines to the staff of writers... which I would read myself while they were using them to write the jokes I'd eventually have to type).
But morning - after I've had my first cup of coffee - is the time of day when I'm thinking most clearly, so spending two or three hours on email during this period is not the most productive way to use my time. It might be better if I can retrain myself to check email later in the day -- like, when I'm eating my lunch.
Hence my determination to delay firing up my email program this morning...
...which lasted about 30 seconds. The flashing red light on my Blackberry was a silent siren that I could not resist.
So I compromised by checking just ONE email inbox and limiting the time I spent to one hour (and then settled for 90 minutes). However, that's just half the time I've come to spend on that task, so I feel like I'm ahead.
And I think I would have finished a lot earlier if I had not been reading my daughter's Facebook page to see who wished her a happy birthday yesterday.
She's 15 now and the celebration was very low-key... as in, we did next to NOTHING to commemorate it. She would not tell us what she wanted to do this year, so there was no party, no birthday lunch with friends, no spa day, no trip to Disneyland/Magic Mountain/Universal... NOTHING.
She also gave us very little guidance on a gift.
"Just get me an iTunes card," is all she offered when she was asked.
We wanted to do somewhat more than that -- especially after Thursday, when we received the disappointing news that she had been passed over for a scholarship to a foreign exchange program she'd hoped to attend this summer.
We knew it was a longshot going in: the scholarship was awarded to only five high school students (and it was a bit of a relief for us, as it would only have covered half the cost of the $7,000 program in Costa Rica). And we're both so very proud of her for taking the initiative, getting the required recommendations from teachers and counselors at her school, writing the essays and submitting to the personal interview.
And she did receive an honorable mention, which came with a $1000 credit toward the program. Unfortunately, $6,000 is still more than we can spend.
She took the disappointment with maturity (a lot more than I ever display when I get bad news). She knows she can try again next year, and that she will be a stronger candidate now that she's been through the process once. I also think it's been a great introduction to the hoops she'll have to jump through to find college scholarships; now that she's done this process once, I hope she'll try some more.
But more immediately... on her birthday, we wanted to give her a gift that indicated how proud we are and how much we appreciate her. But what?
I know we are more fortunate than some families. We have a nice home and food on the table, and there isn't anything my kid actually needs.
"Perhaps a new phone?" I suggested, noting that the contract on the one she's using now is about to expire.
We toyed with that idea... until Friday, when we met Tim and Tanya for a pre-birthday lunch, and the girls started talking. Theirs is a family where every member has an iPhone, and I remarked that the one good thing that will come out of AT&T's acquisition of T-mobile is that I would finally have that option.
"I don't want an iPhone," my daughter announced. "I really like the phone I have now because it's so simple."
Well, I wasn't talking about getting her an iPhone - but the latter part of that statement was duly noted.
One thing she did want was a replacement for her iPod touch, which disappeared a couple of weeks ago -- the day we had new carpet installed in two of our bedrooms (including hers). She had made the mistake of leaving the device on her bed -- which had to be removed for the carpet... and she had come to the conclusion that it was stolen.
We'd been searching the house, high and low, and while I did not think it was lifted by one of the carpet guys, I had to agree that it seemed to be gone.
I had told her when she first noticed it was missing that her dad and I would not replace it -- even if it had been stolen. But now... in the absence of any other good ideas... I had changed my mind.
So on Saturday, my husband and I went back to the Apple Store (yes, the same one I camped out at for three hours for an iPad they ultimately did not have -- I've gotten over my anger at them now that I know that Apple launched the thing before they had sufficient supplies for their stores... I'm due to get mine on April 18).
The newest iPod Touch model has some cool features that weren't available on the one that was lost. It cost $229. But for $70 more, we could give her a larger one, with a 32 gigabyte hard drive instead of just 8 GB.
"You know, I would love to give her something nicer than her old one, rather than simply replacing it," I said.
Her dad agreed.
While we were at it, we picked up a pretty Kate Spade cover for the new device.
"You realize - the minute we give this to her, the old one will show up," I told my husband.
We stashed the items inside an old shopping bag from L'Occitane... so of course, when we presented it to Megan, she thought she was getting the gift of skincare.
The first thing she pulled out of the bag was the cover.
"Oh, THAT's great," she said, noting that it was kind of useless now that her iPod was gone.
Then she found the new device. The look on her face was priceless.
She had homework to do yesterday, but she did not get started right away. She was having too much fun setting up her new iPod.
And last night, while I was searching for candles to put on her cake, I opened the junk drawer in the kitchen and what did I see?
That's right -- the missing iPod.
I don't remember stashing it there, but I do remember looking for it in the drawer and coming up empty.
Maybe it was just meant to be.
My husband happily took possession of the Touch -- which just goes to show you how full circle we've come. We're now getting hand-me-downs from our kid.
Happy Birthday, Megan.