Friday, December 17, 2010


I'm short. Though I rather prefer the term concentrated, as in "I'm not short, I'm concentrated." *

I can also concentrate. Growing up in a large, boisterous family meant that early on I developed the ability to tune out the uproar and focus on what I was doing. I could relate to the story about Marie Curie, where her sisters and cousins built a tower of chairs around her while she obliviously read a book. Earlier this fall I sat on a bench, waiting for the train from Center City, not even 10 feet from the tracks. The R5 came and went, disgorging and loading passengers right in front of me and I never noticed. It was as if the rest of the world had temporarily vanished.

Wednesday night after dinner I retreated to my study to finish off the reflection I was writing for Christmas — initially drafted in the absolute silence and solitude of Wernersville's library. The contrast between my study and the library was acute. A steady stream of visitors appeared (to feed the sea monkeys, to grab something from the printer, to check on a book, to see if I would come fill her bowl with crunches, to…well, you get the idea). Determined to finish and get to bed before midnight, I barricaded the door (to keep out the cat) and burrowed deeper into the writing. Pop — the rest of the world disappeared off my radar.

Suddenly the door burst open, I squeaked in surprise and Barnacle Boy let out a sigh of relief. "I called you three time and you didn't answer, I was afraid you had fainted!" (I had given blood earlier in the day, but was fairly well rehydrated by now.) "No…just concentrating!"

It's a mad skill and one I'm glad I haven't entirely lost…

*With apologies to Lois Bujold's creation Miles Vorkosigan.

Photo is my stuff strewn around the floor in the back corner of the library. The circle kept growing until I was nearly as barricaded in as Marie Curie.


  1. What a lovely post Michelle. Thank you.

    I am short too. I do not however, possess the skills required for concentration. Oh, I can muster up what I need in bursts of it, but this lifelong affliction (how did i get this far like this?) has become even more challenged. That's why getting published and going to graduate school are like the sweetest fruits that have come off the tree for me.

  2. LOL, I love "I'm not short, I'm concentrated!" I'm definitely going to use that.

    I don't have the kind of concentration you have; my husband does, and it is a blessing to him in his work life and a curse in his family life. Maybe it's a scientist thing (he's a trained meteorologist-turned-computer programmer). I, OTOH, am a jack of all trades and master of none...and I'm continually multitasking.