I rarely remember movie scenes, so it feels remarkable that, after some 60 years, I still remember a scene from Stanley Kramer’s “On The Beach.”
With humanity about to succumb to nuclear fallout, the woman of the house is upstairs, distracting herself by making the beds.
Apparently, her approach stuck with me. With the double whammy of a presidential primary and coronavirus on the way, I decided to distract myself with the mother of all bedmaking: preparing my tax return and attacking my late mother’s memorabilia boxes, 11 years after her death. Deadlines rule, so taxes first.
Despite last year’s vow to become a compulsive recordkeeper, tax time required both a desktop and a tailgate table to amass data from here and there and tame it into neat little piles – all to the strains of Bach, which I remember reading somewhere is especially good for doing math.
Of course, this doesn’t even get into the first world-class distraction: retrieving passwords required to access other passwords required to get into checking accounts and credit-card accounts where vendors disguise themselves with acronyms and numeric codes.
“At least,” I assured my friends, “I have upgraded the process by getting a calculator with a tape instead of relying on my phone.”
I expected them to be wowed. Instead, they were stunned that such machines still exist and that I wasn’t entering everything into TurboTax.
At that point, I decided bragging was counterproductive and simply announced after two days of isolation and frozen egg rolls (who has time to cook?) that I was done.
“Done” generally buys me at least three days before the tax preparer starts peppering me with questions about the whereabouts of some 1099 or whether I’ve paid sales tax on all my online orders.
This was just enough time to dive into the next helpful distraction: unleashing several generations of photos, including tintypes, school report cards, letters exchanged during the early 1900s among great aunts and uncles, attempts at family histories, my grandmother’s diaries and souvenir programs from the opening of “Gone with the Wind.”
I vaguely remember assuring my mother that she could get to all this later when I shoved it into four under-the-bed boxes at independent living. And I vaguely remember her assuring me that she would not even begin to meet new friends until she had “attacked the family genealogy.” Unfortunately, she was an extrovert.
Still, before the accountant’s first email, I had devised an organizing scheme for the photos: Eliminate all unlabeled ones and any snapshots where the heads were smaller than a dime.
I had even started to stuff things into envelopes by category for future generations when I got wind of the news that some stores were running low on hand sanitizer, so I ran off in search of some.
While I was at it, I stocked up on toilet paper, chicken broth and Pedialyte. Not that I’ll need them, but my “On The Beach” mind can’t be sure. The banner waving in the final scene (“There Is Still Time, Brother”) was overly optimistic, if I recall.
Maybe another bottle of hand sanitizer.
Balancing Act author Pat Snyder is a northwest Columbus resident and life-balance speaker and coach. Find her at www.PatSnyderOnline.com.