We’ve all done it. We walk into a room, pause, and the first question that leaps to mind is “why did I come in here?” Or we’ll open a cabinet door and stare blankly, wondering what we were looking for, only to eventually realize we meant to open the fridge. In most cases, I prefer to believe these are not early signs of senility, but more purely an example that we Real Women have too much on our minds at any one time. We are constantly forcing our brains to multi-task.
Just in the time it takes to get up from the chair in the living room and walk into the kitchen to check something on the calendar, our thoughts are likely running something like this: “ow, my knee hurts, I must have been sitting too long – or it could be those lunges I did in workout last night…getting old sucks…ugh, this dog has more toys spread out all over the place than a toddler – oh, that reminds me, I need to check to see if we have a coupon, he’s almost out of food, I wonder if hubby can stop at the pet supply place tomorrow on his way home…yikes, those plants need water, better get some on them before they die – did I start the dishwasher? The recyclables have piled up again, gotta remind my son to take them out –ooh, almost forgot, I have to leave him lunch money tomorrow…..” By the time (90 seconds later) we reach the kitchen, whatever the original reason we had for going there has now been pushed down about 20 levels in brain multi-tasking.
Similarly, one of my classic moves is to go down to the basement to get something like a roll of paper towels…but on my way I realize a load of laundry needs to be transferred over, I need to hang a blouse up to dry, I remember to grab the milk out of the spare fridge to bring upstairs, and then get distracted by something like an old photo album and decide to find a picture that would be fun to post for Throwback Thursday, and 10 minutes later I go back upstairs with not-so-cold milk, and no paper towels. Until I get back into the kitchen and see the empty roll on the counter and groan.
Frustrating? Yes, of course. But these brain stalls get downright annoying when they happen while out and about in the world, doing errands. I know my husband wonders how I can possibly always have so many “errands” to do. This is because men believe errands equate to pleasure shopping…. but all R.W.’s know that is not the case. A true definition of errands is: “an annoying chore involving running around taking care of anything and everything that can not be accomplished at home or at work. “
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a “lister.” I make lists for everything – To- Do lists, meal lists, and most especially shopping and errands lists. This is not purely just for the joy of setting pen to paper… it is to help my feeble, overwhelmed, multi-tasking brain to have even the slightest chance of remembering what I need to get or do, and to get everything accomplished. My rule is that if I have to remember more than 3 items, I make a list. This probably sounds a bit sad, especially to the younger readers out there. Trust me, some day you will do the same.
Several years ago I had the pleasure of hearing Rita Moreno speak at a women’s conference. Part of her talk was about the aging process, and tricks to keep our brains and memories sharp. She gave a few tips and tricks to help keep us mentally alert; one was to attempt to remember lists in our heads. She suggested, for example, that if we needed to go into the store to pick up milk, toothpaste, bread and apples, that we simply remember the first letters of each word, so in this case: M, T, B and A…and that would help us remember what we need to get in the store. I tried this, a few times. And failed. Not because I couldn’t remember what those letters stood for, but because I got distracted by all the other letters on the way in to the store. “ooh, look at those flowers, those would look great in the kitchen, I’ll get them on the way out… ok, so now M,T, B, A and F…. hmmm, F, do I need fruit?” and so on.
And so, in the same spirit as using cruise control on my car, I write out shopping lists to control my impulse buys. Yet, no matter how hard I try, even if I plan well ahead, and get everything on my list, I will get home, unpack groceries, and discover there was something else we needed. This weekend, for example, I got home and my brother called to say he forgot to tell me he needed batteries, could I pick some up for him? And my husband reminded me “my candy jar at work has been empty for weeks, did you pick up any for me?” Sigh. Ok, so later in the day, I swing by CVS to get batteries and candy. Done. Right? No, not really. That evening as I was taking out my contacts I realized I’m almost out of saline…. And I forgot to get blueberries for the bread I wanted to bake…. Argh. Next day, swing into the store for saline and blueberries.
Clearly I realize this is the epitome of a First World Problem. Aww, poor me, I have to get in my car to drive to any of several well stocked, clean and safe stores available within 3 miles of my home to buy what I need. Gee, rough life. But honestly, after the third round of “forgot we need….”, I’m not thinking about how lucky I am. I’m weary and frustrated. At some point I draw the line. If we think of anything else, it is just going to have to wait until next weekend. Because certainly I’ll be out doing errands again. It’s just part of a Real Woman’s life.
So I’ll start a new list on the kitchen counter … right after I find a pen that works, oh, and check my son’s homework, let the dog out, think about the blog post I want to write later, help my husband gather trash to go out, and return a phone call…. Wait, why am I in the kitchen??