Friday, September 28, 2012

In Need of a Clipboard

It would seem of vital importance today that I procure a clipboard.

This talisman of industry is exactly what would make my life complete. It speaks solidly of one who is in charge. Observe me writing things while standing up; perhaps even while walking.  Look at my important papers. They are too manifold for mere paperclips.

Every job I have ever had required a clipboard in some way. Except that one temp job at the bank. Clearly, it was Unimportant. My lack of clipboard would explain why I showed up kind of late in last night's clothes and stared out the window while writing angry poetry and dreadful prose. Clipboard-less, I could never answer the questions on the phones I picked up, only put them on hold for the people who had clipboards and then spill coffee in my keyboard. But all the others, those were clipboard-worthy jobs: there were cakes to decorate, equipment lists to check, diesel engine parts to bar code and package, attendance to take, progress notes to write, therapy group summaries to complete. Oh, there was that other job, too. The one where I worked for the postal service. There were no clipboards for me there. Only late-night hallucinations and buzzing fluorescent migraines. I had to ask the clipboard if I could go to the bathroom. But I digress.

I need a clipboard.

It will collect all of these fluttering bits of me and hold them to something solid. I can take inventory right now while I charge about, clicking the top of my pen. I can store the importance of things in a tidy stack in plain sight and tick off all the right boxes to draw a picture of subtle accomplishment.

When questioned I can look back through the notes, peeling back the layers to what's gone before and peer over the tops of my glasses at the charts and notes and squiggles and dots I've labeled "Meaningful" and find the answers there.

I, with my clipboard, will have the authority to check schedules, discern production and give myself permission. To tell myself when I need to show up and when I can get off.

I will have, at my fingertips, all that is Important. I will have a comprehensive list of all the equipment I need to function in this world. I will never forget my patience again. I will remember to pack that emergency box with safety pins and duct tape and gratitude in case I hit a snag.

It will give me preview of things to come: reminders of times to celebrate and to coat the world in sweetness, icing flowers and curly fancy writing. It will keep me looking forward, seeing the work ahead.

It will have simple directions for packaging the things that are hard, impossible and strange, greasy and for someone else. It will house the codes for sending those things away from me and to where they need to go.

I could record while I walk, the notes of small progressions. I opened my eyes and acknowledged the presence of another human being in the room. I attended Anger Management Group and participated in the discussion. I did not eat cigarette butts and throw up my lunch. I've borrowed these from clients, but they seem to be important progress to make for anyone, really. I could record these and see where I was static, where I grew, where I failed. I could code them all on a Leichert Scale and find a way to turn behavior into math. A simple equation wherein I add up the things that I do and subtract the things that I don't and have a definitive answer for my worth.

I think I need a clipboard. Then I would finally feel in charge of all this. I would show up early and smartly dressed. I would direct the people in my charge where to go with certainty and fortitude. I would feel prepared. I would hold the answers in my hands.


  1. I wonder if there is an app for that. Hold it, what was the that again?

  2. I would feel prepared. I would hold the answers in my hands.
    That was my favorite line - a clipboard would make me feel prepared for life.
    I had the same thought as esbboston above -- where's that app? :)

    But, really, really I liked this a lot. I could use something like that too -- when I go out at lunch time to supervise the kids, I carry a small canvas bag which is packed with plastic spoons, bandaids , scissors (for opening those pesky Pirate Booty bags), paper towels, a pen and some paper , my keys and a whistle -- all the things that will get me through lunchtime w/o having to make multiple trips back to the office -- supplies for lunchtime success. If only supplies for life time happiness could be in a canvas bag or on a clipboard,
    Nice post, TL .

    1. Thanks, Gracie! Your canvas bag sounds like just the ticket.
      How, I ask you, do they get those Pirate Booty bags sealed so tightly?! It's as if there is real gold in them. If you ask my kids, it is real gold, though. ;)
      I think I need a whistle, too.

  3. While I fully understand the desire for preparedness and for holding the answers in your hands (and have, in fact, experienced that desire on a practically hourly basis for 25 years), I have a growing suspicion that preparedness and knowing the answers does not leave a whole lot of room for the little miracles of revelation and discovery that give life its ooomph.

    1. Alas, I agree with you. The fleeting desire for just a quick peek at the answers passes pretty quickly. I really believe that even if I held all the answers in my hands, I would forget they were there or do whatever I was going to do anyway. But clipboards are nice.
      I have to tell you a secret: This post was the result of a challenge to myself to write about something as prosaic as a clipboard, not necessarily an exploration of my mental state. Sometimes it upsets people when I admit things like that.

    2. The only thing upsetting to me about that admission is the envy at what you were able to do with something as prosaic as a clipboard. ;)

  4. Sorry, you are way behind the times. You need an iPad, so that you can walk around listening to Pandora while taking notes.

    1. By George, that's exactly what I need.
      Thanks for stopping by, JoeinVegas!

  5. Nah, no clipboards and my ipad is strictly for easy access to the wonderful blogs I follow ;-) I have officially given up on trying to be organised and am going with throw everything up in the air and trust it will land where it needs to and I will catch the things too fragile to fall. (PS I too am envious of you writing skills, your admissions are like seeing behind the curtains!)


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