Coffee heat rising

Tornadoes Outside, Whirlwind Inside

LOL! Hilariously, every time it rains here, the news media — whose employees are perennially bored witless — regale us with tales of tornadoes, monsoons, and menacing floods that would put Noah’s Ark to shame. They’re having a great time just now: a tropical storm has blown up from the Sea of Cortez, and everyone’s in a great uproar. Oh, the horror! Oh, the terror! Omigod, it’s a tornado!

Well, no it’s not: it’s a whirlwind that picked up a lot of dry dirt. We call those “dust devils” in these parts.

As for the terror and the horror: well, yeah…the level of stupidity that holds forth among Arizona drivers is terrible and horrible. They drive into flooded washes, and then they’re astonished to find that a car will stop running when it’s up to its carburetor in muddy water. 😀

This morning when it came time for our dawn walk, huge pregnant clouds were floating overhead, and the richly humid air felt thick as cake batter. Ruby the Corgi and I decided to risk it, though: we set out for a mile-long hike with an umbrella in hand. But nay…we never needed to open the thing.

Shortly after we got back to the house, though, water coalesced out of the atmosphere in a brief, stiff downpour, huge drops falling straight down. No wind to speak of. No lightning, no thunder.

Ruby is not fazed by wind and rain, though she could do without bright flashes of celestial light and ear-splitting thunder. Just now, though, she is terrorized by an indoor whirlwind: this little dog hates, loathes, and despises the vacuum cleaner. Luz the Wonder-Cleaning Lady is here, forcing the vacuum to suck up every micron of dust off the floors. Ruby’s pet human, on the other hand, is most grateful to have someone else doing that job, and doing it exceptionally well.

After the Dog and the Human returned from journeying around the neighborhood — delightfully, the threat of rain chased most of the dog-lovers indoors, so we encountered just three other dogs, two of them on a single lead — the Human took it upon itself to shovel out four of the five office file drawers that have become overgrown with weeds. The sheer amount of paper that pours into this house — most of it generated by Medigap, Medicare, and assorted financial institutions — truly defies belief. So much of it piles in that it induces a kind of paralysis, so that after awhile you end up with mounds of paper stacked atop every table.

My active file drawers had grown pretty unintelligible. Cleaning out and organizing those things was an all-morning challenge…not to say “aggravation.” However, a strategy for simplifying the tasks of filing and finding occurred to me: Once the files are cleaned out and reorganized, create an index for them.

Duh! How obvious is this?

So now I have four tables generated in Word — one for each drawer — that show where each set of file folders resides and how the things are organized. I’m going to print out these little guides and drop them in the desk, where they can easily be found…et voilà! No more searching for paper stashed…where?

Or at least, with any luck, a whole lot less searching.

This little project entailed hauling out pounds and pounds of paper to the long-term storage file cabinet in the garage. One of the disadvantages of self-employment is that you have to save every piece of business-related paper until after the fall of American civilization. This accrues a phenomenal amount of debris. So much, in fact, that the big four-drawer cabinet in the garage is now chuckablock full. No way can I squeeze so much as one more sheet of paper in there. If this paper-storing enterprise is to continue, next year I’ll have to start stashing the stuff in cardboard boxes and storing those in the garage cabinets. Like I’ve got lots of room in the cabinetry to waste on paper.

Welp, here comes another downpour, this time accompanied by a little lightning and thunder. A little…close-by lightning! Since we’ll likely soon lose the power, time to post this thing and begone.



The Great Closet Winnowing

So I’ve been thinking for awhile that it’s time to clean out the closets. Even if I hadn’t been gifted with a fine new body style, it would be time to shovel out the increasingly decrepit clothing. But now that some of the stuff will never fit again, one feels moved to tidiness.

Surprisingly, most of the stuff looks OK. A few tops look pretty grotesque, but others drape nicely and create a slender, athletic effect. It’s impossible to tell which will do what, though, simply by looking at them. They have to be tried on.

Even so, the tops that don’t adapt themselves to a certain boy-like verticality are happy when worn over falsies — yea verily, some look markedly better than they did before. 😀

Problem is, quite a few of them hurt. As it develops, a burning or tingling sensation in response to the touch of fabric on the skin can persist for quite some time after the surgical incision has healed. This apparently is the result of dissected nerves regenerating. For many women, the effect goes away after some months. But one of WonderSurgeon’s nurses told me that for some women, it never disappears.


So some of these old shirts are headed for the recycler or the thrift shop. Which ones, though, remains to be seen. Mostly, it seems the type of no-iron, no-dry-clean knit pullover I favor is particularly irritating. But you can’t tell just by looking at them: some shirts that look like they ought to set your teeth on edge have no effect at all. Some that should be comfortable hurt.

Rather than try on every single one of the darn things, I decided to set aside all the pieces I know hurt or think might be uncomfortable and sequester them for about three months, by which time this condition should have passed, if it’s going to pass. Three months from now is the middle of May.

Hence, stage 1: set apart all all the suspect garments.

Meanwhile, over time the closet contents have gotten massively jumbled: winter clothes mixed in with lightweight summer stuff, grubby gardening rags with nice dresses and skirts.

So, stage 2: sort the stuff out!

The winter stuff went into the back-room closet, along with the potential throw-aways. The summer stuff got moved into the bedroom closet, along with the precious collection of Costco jeans. Voila! Ready for the next season!

An ongoing annoyance with those closets has been the inevitable jumble that results from stuffing clean laundry back in there. Every time I shovel these things out, the mess grows back like kudzu. Within two weeks, it’s a jungle in there. Again.

The challenge calls for a full OCD charge. And nobody can do OCD better than I can…

Stage 3: regiment the clothes hangers!

Masking tape strips on the hanger racks mark out sections by clothing type: jeans, casual shirts, better shirts, dresses & skirt, and on and on. Added some labels to remind me to quit jamming stuff in higgledy-piggledy. And since I know I won’t remember the scheme to test the suspect tops all the way until the middle of next May, I put the date on a label over that high-style collection. With any luck at all, the tag will remind me to go through that stuff and get rid of the stuff that can’t be used anymore.

O’course, that assumes I’ll look in a closet full of winter clothes on a day when the temperature’s hovering around 100 degrees…


Existential Angst, Depression, or Just Plain Boredom?

So here’s the problem:

I cannot make myself get back to productive work.

No matter what I try to do to get back on track, I just. cannot. do. it. Before the past seven months of surgical fun began, a normal day’s to-do list consisted of fifteen to twenty tasks. Now I’m lucky if I get through five. Day by day, I’m not getting any work done, and perhaps more alarmingly, I don’t want to get any work done.

If this is the New Normal, it’s going to freaking bankrupt me.

When I am supposedly working, I’m spending about half the available time cruising the Web: reading various news sites, reading up on the odd item some client or student addresses (how do you spell Genghis Khan’s real name, and why, and who was he anyway, and did he really bring civilization to Europe, and speaking of Europe, I wonder what the BBC has to say this afternoon?), playing computer games, blogging, reading e-mail, hanging out at the corgi site, and whatnot. Add up the actual  number of time-stamped hours spent on a client’s Wyrd file, and you get about half the number of hours I sat in front of the computer while pretending to work on the project.

Okay, I’ve always had that tendency. But it’s never stopped me from getting work done, one way or the other, sooner or later. But now I’m not getting much done. Because…

I don’t want to start.
I don’t want to stay focused (or can’t stay focused?)
I’m stuporous with boredom.

So I decided to devote some time today to trying to figure out what the heck is the matter with me. Hence, the following rumination…

The Problem: I can’t get back to productive work.


1) What I’m doing bores me stupid!

 Even though most of my paid contract work is pretty interesting, even the best of copy can get a little old on the second read and what we might call “boring” on the third read and exponentially more boring on the fourth read.

Reading student work is not only boring, it’s often annoying. Yea verily, even infuriating.

BUT: It pays the bills.

BUT1: The bills aren’t so huge that they can’t be paid from other funding sources.

2) Possibly I’m suffering some sort of existential angst.

Any health crisis brings one’s mortality to mind: Do I really want to spend what little time remains to me on work that puts me into a coma?


BUT: What else am I going to do?

Can’t afford to travel
Can’t work up much enthusiasm for any other pecuniary endeavor
The status quo is comfortable

3) Possibly the status quo is too comfortable?

4) Possibly I’m mildly depressed?

Are There Any Solutions?

1) Bored with work

a) Stop editing copy

This would cut boring tasks by about 20% to 50%

BUT: I use the money to keep computer hardware up-to-date and to support websites.

BUT2: Most of the websites would be redundant if the business were closed.

b) Stop teaching

This would cut boredom by about 50% to 80%.

BUT: Teaching makes it possible to live without drawing down much from retirement savings.

c) Get a job

This would make Social Security pure gravy and eliminate the need to spend savings. All required IRA withdrawals could be reinvested or gifted to M’hijito.

BUT: I dislike few things more than having to trudge to a workplace every day.

BUT3: I’m too old to get a decent job.

d) Take a break

Go on a vacation somewhere. Get out of here for two to three weeks.

BUT: Who’s going to care care of the dogs?

I can’t afford to travel.
I find flying aversive in the most intense way.
My car should not be driven into the sticks.

One could go camping. It’s easy enough to camp for a week or two at a time. Rent a truck and get some new camping gear. The dogs could then go with.

BUT: Who’s going to take care of the house, pool, and yard?

Simply sign off all work, including Scottsdale Business Association, for a couple of weeks.

BUT: I’ve already done that, perforce, thanks to the past five surgical procedures. The effect was to make me not want to come back to work!

Find ways to take mini-breaks.

Set aside days in which no work will be done.
Rent vehicles for day trips.

2) Existential angst

a) Find something else to do with life.

Quit teaching, quit editing, sell the house, and go someplace utterly different.

BUT: This seems way too risky and could lead to more, not less angst.

b) Find some other line of work.

Look for a paid job.

BUT: I don’t want to go back to work! UGH!

BUT4: Last time I tried to get hired, prospective employers made it abundantly clear they considered me too old. That was six years ago!

Try going back to freelance reporting. It’s fun and does allow one to meet a lot of people.

BUT: Talk about your second childhood!

BUT5: It pays no more than what I’m doing now.

BUT6: And it would put a helluva lot more wear and tear on the ancient vehicle.

Get a real estate license. This could be amusing and might even earn some money.

BUT: It’s costly and there’s no guarantee I’d earn anything. The amount of work put into marketing real estate could be devoted to selling books.

Quit working for others and do your own thing.

BUT: The chance of earning a living wage is exactly nil.

3) Change the status quo

a) In a small and subtle way: Devote specific amounts of time per day and per week to the boring work. Do not devote any more time than allocated to these tasks.

b) Make day trips once or twice a week or a couple of times a month. Rent vehicles and bring the dogs.

c) Change the effin’ attitude!!

4) Address the possibility of depression

a) Limit boring work to specific, scheduled periods. Do not work outside these periods.

b) Get more exercise.

Back on the mountain!
Specific, scheduled period, maybe more than once a day, for exercise; e.g.,

dog walk
human hike
yoga/physical therapy exercises

c)  Train the puppy properly

Take Ruby to obedience training

d) Take art classes

Check at Shemer, Desert Botanical Garden
Or just start drawing again

e) Break loose time in which to do only my own thing

Set computer to run offline; use offline time to write my own books.
Or do my own writing on paper, of all things, and then type second drafts online

So if I were to organize time so as to accomplish the following, what would that look like? The following:

1 day trip per month
2 days/week to do my own thing
1 new endeavor, such as returning to art
4 hours of paying work per day, five days a week, for paid work, limited to that.

4 hours x 5 = 20 hours
20 hours x $60/hour = $1200/week, max
4 x $1200 = $4800/month, max

20 hours x $45/hour = $900/week, max
4 x $900 = $3600/month, max

Okay, I can live with either of those scenarios.

When do these famous work hours get done? Eight to noon or one to five, obviously. This leaves the evenings to grade student papers in front of Netflix, which dulls the pain. It leaves four hours a day for exercise, dogs, shopping, and housecare. And it leaves two full days per week in which to do nothing or to go on day trips.

On Thursdays I’m in Scottsdale, getting out of a meeting around 9 a.m. An upscale Costco is located on the way home from that venue, as are two Trader Joe’s, an AJ’s, a Walgreen’s, a fancy Fry’s, and a less than perfect Whole Foods. If I diddled away an hour until Costco opened, I could go there once a month and hit the grocery stores on the other Thursdays, thereby minimizing the car trips and allowing me to shop in much nicer stores than the ones in my part of town — for the same price.

{Sigh} It’s hard to believe that just “getting organized,” which is what all this comes down to, would dispel whatever the present cloud is — whether it’s boredom, angst, or nascent clinical depression. On the other hand, some steady exercise certainly wouldn’t do any harm. And starting something new, such as a new art course, doggy obedience training, or just exploring more by bicycle would at least create a distraction.


New Year’s Closet Cleanup!

Five days (four days and a wake-up) to go before the Big Double-Deboobification Caper, I decide that as long as I’m stocking up and organizing things for friends who have kindly volunteered to help out, nothing will do but what I need to shovel out the long-neglected hall closet, which holds everything from perfume and hair conditioner to candles to the dog and the human first-aid kits.

Tidying cabinetry is not my favorite activity. Wouldn’t go so far as to say I hate it, as in hate grading freshman comp papers. But it is a pain.

P1030301Threw out an entire, large basket full of debris, stale bottles of pills, lifetime supplies of junk that should’ve been bought at Walgreen’s in human quantities, not at Costco in elephantine quantities.

Discovered a number of valuable precious commodities, gew-gaws, and gadgets that have been “lost” for some months or years. Glad to get those back.

Found a bunch of batteries. Moved them into the battery drawer in the other room.

Scrounged up a bunch of boxes from the garage, the office closet, underneath and on top and inside of places… Used these to organize the potpourri of junk, pill bottles, shampoo bottles, Bandaid containers, and whatnot. Even put labels on them, so as to remind myself to put stuff back where it belongs.

P1030298The result is not bad: certainly much more usable and less annoying than it was! The shelves are crowded but not jammed, and everything is within reach. The dog meds are organized; the first-aid  kit is organized; and next time I get a cold, I can pull out the humidifier without bringing half-a-dozen Ikea pillar candles down on my head.

Very nice.

Ate one of the four lamb shanks I cooked up yesterday in anticipation of the medical chivaree. Should have  left it in the freezer, but it’s SO cold today and I was hungry and didn’t want to go fiddle with the barbecue.

Continued fiddling with the pool’s acid level. Wonder how on earth I’m going to persuade someone to add a couple of cups of acid to that thing three or four times a day. Realize I’m not. Disgusted.

When you drain and refill a plaster pool, the water is basic: pH of 8.2 or higher. You want to get it way down in to the range of 7.6. This entails adding muriatic acid in amounts of no more than about three cups at a time until you get it down into the “ideal” range, and continuing to add acid until the pH stabilizes at that level. It takes a LONG time. A couple of weeks of fooling with it every day, several times a day.

I’d hoped it would be OK by the time I have to go in for the next round of surgery, but pretty clearly, it’s not gonna happen. I won’t be able to pick up a bucketful of water with acid mixed in and slosh it into the deep end of the pool. So somehow I’m going to have to persuade someone to do it for me. Hm.

Created a guide for our journal authors explaining key differences between Chicago author-date and APA style. Most of them are sociologists or cultural historians and so are used to APA style. The differences are subtle but significant. That took half the day. Shipped it off to our client editors and my associate editor for review and critique.

Many, many more things to do in the miles before I rest, etherized upon a table…

Tomorrow must make a Costco run: out of stuff for breakfast. Out of a lot of other things, too. Then off to AJ’s and Fry’s, in search of the half-dozen rolls of dog food needed to last the hounds through until I’ll be well enough to buy and cut up new rolls of food. That’ll occupy most of the day.

When, for crying out loud, am I going to get any work done between now and the 6th? Besides three client projects, I still have to do the course prep for the magazine writing course! Holy sh*t.

What IS so all-important, really?

This morning SDXB calls to tell me he’s decided not to drive into town and grace me with his presence half the day because it’s raining and too cold to sit outside on some coffee shop’s patio. He wants to reschedule for some day totally inconvenient for me, and as usual is consternated when I keep telling him I can’t do Thursday, I can’t do Friday, I can’t do….

It’s kind of comical. And probably it’s just as comical that I find it eye-rolling ANNOYING that he calls me up and announces he’s going to descend on me at some time and date of his choice. He seems to assume I have nothing to do but entertain him.

This morning I found myself wondering why I do find that trait so annoying. What on earth do I have to do that it can’t be put off to spend time with an old friend? What’s more important than one’s friends and family, anyway?

I suppose it’s the presumption that he can tell me when he’s going to show up here and I’ll go yup yup yup and drop everything for him.

So what did I do yesterday that’s typical of what I think is so damn important?

First, the cleaning lady was here all day, so really, I needed to stick around. But that’s not what you’d call do-it-or-lose-it WORK.

Wrote a post for Writers Plain and Simple, a lengthy one that required some thought and a fair amount of time.

Wrote a post for Funny about Money, an afternoon bagatelle, but still: content added to a website that needs to be fed daily.

Deposited five checks, one for the corporation, one laughable adjunct “paycheck,” and three from Medicare and Medigap. This turned into an inordinately time-consuming proposition, because my system and the credit union’s both work at the speed of a stampeding snail.

Called the Mayo and remitted the amount paid by Medicare and the Medigap insurer, by charging it to American Express.

Went back into the credit union’s excruciatingly slow site and paid that amount to AMEX, so as to fork it over before I get a chance to diddle it away on prime steaks from Whole Foods. Or some such.

Entered deposits and payments in Quickbooks.

Tested the chemical levels in the newly refilled pool; decided it would suffice until the pool dude shows up. Realized I’d better buy more acid, since Pool Dude knocked the lid off the last containerful that was out there and I had to throw out the remaining muriatic acid rather than let it sit there in the yard in an open jug.

Calculated how long I think it will be before I can lay off Pool Dude, who’s nice but whose services are altogether redundant when I’m feeling well, which I expect to be along about the end of January. Not having to be subjected to radiation will cut a month or more of hassle, time consumption, and suffering off the ongoing boob horror show.

Vacuumed up leaves off the bottom of the pool that blew in there as the present storm was wafting in on the wind. And cleaned out the skimmer basket and reattached Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner.

Made an appointment with Mega-Client, who’s back in town and hot to trot. Sent him 100 pages of edited copy.

Made an appointment with Financial Adviser.

Added up 2014 expenses and income; then estimated the amount of drawdown from savings needed for 2015 — a frightening figure. Organized that data in an Excel report preparatory to the meeting with Financial Adviser on Friday. Have a bad feeling F.A. expects a market downturn, a sense gleaned from his rather antsy response to my phone call about the 2015 drawdown.

Corresponded off and on through the day with Novel Author Client, who’s struggling with a scene that he can visualize but is having a hard time putting into words.

Corresponded with my mastectomy buddy, who will be going in for her DMX shortly after Christmas.

Corresponded with Windy City Gal, who happens to know how to make these amazingly cool fake boob insert things that Buddy and I both covet.

Wrote three book reviews for Goodreads, leaving my sticky little fingerprints there in the form of ads for Slave Labor.

Learned how to view Kindle’s sales record for Slave Labor and corresponded with the art director about the same.

Corresponded with the director of distance learning at the college, regarding next semester’s workload.

Took the three Goodreads reviews, converted them to blog posts for Writers Plain & Simple, and scheduled those posts to go up once a week through January 12. That will keep WP&S alive at the rate of one post a week until I’ve recouped from the upcoming surgery, I think.

Explored the sites of several followers of Writers Plain & Simple and took note of their URLs by way of using them in a round-up, which I suppose I’m going to have to write today,  huh?

Articulated, in writing, a broad outline for a book on the mastectomy/reconstruction/no-reconstruction drama and began gathering research for the same. Considered whether to seek an agent for this to publish through a mainstream press or whether to add it to the Plain & Simple Press publishing empire. Decided I lean toward the former. Put that thought on a back burner.

Finally, walked a mile with the dogs.

Really, is any of that anything that could not be handily co-opted by a visit from His Nibs?

What would I have missed doing today had he showed up as announced?

Write cover copy for PoD versions of Slave Labor and FireRider.

Try to finish chapter 9 of FireRider, book II.

Do the laundry.

Try again to contact a local press that I would like do business with.

Write and send out this week’s announcement to SBA members.

Write a newsletter update for clients of The Copyeditor’s Desk; in addition to sending out season’s greetings, add a plug for Slave Labor by way of update, and clue them that the company is now in a position to help them with any self-publishing projects.

Start working on incoming copy for current issue of Chicana/Latina Studies.

Write a post for Funny about Money.

Write the round-up post for Writers Plain & Simple; schedule it.

Write a new post for Adjunctorium.

Figure out how to get invited to present to a Chamber of Commerce meeting; begin groundwork for engineering that.

Create and post a video for the spring-semester 102 sections on how to write a position paper.

Dream up a subject I might present to my writer’s group and figure out how to get invited to do that.

Do physical therapy exercises and figure out how to work a daily yoga session into the schedule. 🙄

Chat with Cox tech CSR over the phone about the slow service (DONE!).

Visit Cox website, identify compatible DOC 3 wireless modems, and identify retailers, preferably Costco or Fry’s electronics.

Start nagging M’hijito to come over this weekend (or sooner,  if at all possible), install it, and configure it.

Walk at least two miles, rain or no.

Huh. I’d better get to work on that stuff…

Terminal senility…or drug-induced brain fuzz?

A friend on the choir cleared up a little mystery that’s been lurking around for a while. She’s a pharmacist — has been for some decades.

She, having observed that recently I’ve been even more bat-brained than usual, remarked the drug anaesthesiologists use to knock you out causes a kind of brain fog that can last upwards of a month. Hmmm…

The Mayo’s nurses tell you not to sign any legal documents for a day or two after the surgery on the theory that you may feel confused for 24 to 48 hours. But my pharmacist friend says to extend that to several days, and not to be surprised if you can’t remember where you left your fingers for several weeks.


That explains a lot. Since the current surgical marathon has been going  on, I’ve become as scatterbrained as Lucille Ball! I cannot remember ANYTHING. Every day I lose something, I make wrong turns, thinking I’m turning into the neighborhood but ending up in the one to the south. And I’m constantly making weird little ditzy mistakes.

She says that’s the long-term effect of the anesthetic. She advised being careful not to leave the kitchen when you’ve got a pan on the heat, and not to get upset when these little glitches happen. And also to be extra careful while driving.

LOL! The other day I had a 7 a.m. meeting in Scottsdale and a 9:30 a.m. in northwest Phoenix, way on the other side of the Valley. (The “Valley” is larger than the city of Los Angeles, which should give you an idea of what that means.) I wanted to let the dogs out between them so as to have less mess to clean up after getting back from the second meeting.

So around 8:50 I come flying in the door, rocket to the bedroom and let the pup out of her crate, shovel the two dogs into the backyard, stash my computer in the car for the 9:30 meeting and haul the stuff from the 7:00 meeting and dump it in the office, lock the dogs into the backyard with the dog door open and the bedroom door to the dog-door room closed (more mess prevention), fly back out the door, leap into the Dog Chariot, charge out of the garage, get about a half block down the road and think…hey! WHERE’S MY PURSE?

Well, it’s not in the car.

Back to the house.

Not in the kitchen. Not in my office. Not in the living room. Not in the dining room. Not on the bedroom bureau. Not even in the bathroom! Helle’s Belles! I figure I’ve left it at the restaurant.

Now I’m frantic — the Scottsdale restaurant where my bidness group meets on Thursday mornings is a half-hour drive away! And my entire life is in that thing. And it’s a breakfast joint — closes in the early afternoon. The other place I have to be is a half-hour in the other direction.

Grab the phone, look up the place’s phone number, dial it, and pace anxiously around the house waiting for someone to pick up the phone. That’s when I see an odd black mass sitting on the bed.

A short, fat zombie?


I’d dropped my purse on the bed when I shot in to let the puppy out of her crate. And completely spaced it. Never would even have begun to think of looking on the bed for it. Nor would I normally drop a purse on the bed anyway.

For the past ten years or so, I’ve been deep enough into my dotage that I can’t find things unless I put them down in the same place all the time. But over the past more recent while, what with four procedures in five months, it’s gotten much more ridiculous. 😀

Cotta2Last weekend in some kind of a hurry, I took off my choir robe and cotta and tossed them on a chair in the choir room, and flew out to do something — don’t even recall what (because of course I can’t remember my name longer than about an hour these days). When I got back, someone had taken the robe and left the cotta (or at least so i think). So I get a substitute from the store of new ones. I become so preoccupied with this that I don’t realize I’m supposed to be wearing the brightly colored chant choir robe, because chant choir is singing the introit. So I throw on my white cotta and, late as usual, run to join the others at the front of the sanctuary (oh, yes…where ELSE?). Naturally, I’m the only one up there who doesn’t match. And the communications director is shooting photos. I try to hide in the back row, no doubt ineffectually.

As if that weren’t enough, shortly I manage to lose one of the church’s music books — these are lent to choir members, assigned by numbers. Between last week’s rehearsal and this morning, I search the house, I search the car, I rack my brain. Finally realize I probably left it in the choir loft (or maybe in the choir room) (or who knows where?). But since it’s nowhere to be found, I figure I’ll be purchasing and donating a new music book. Hmm… £13.95. That would be $21.92. Plus shipping.

Fortunately, the choir director found it and put it aside. Saved!

People say things in meetings. I can’t remember what was said. I don’t even remember that something was said. I write and distribute a report that makes it obvious I haven’t a clue.

I say I’ll do things. And have no memory of saying I’d do those things.

I show up at choir practice late because I’m so engrossed in grading papers I lose track of the time.

I go off and leave the space heater on.

Have you noticed that as you get older, it takes you longer to get out of the house? That you’re always running late because you’re bloody never ready to go???

That’s not a function of the drug-induced brain fuzz, but it certainly has been aggravated of late.

I started trying to figure out why it takes so long to get out the door now that I’m old, given that I never had this problem as a young pup. What has changed?

What, indeed.

  1. Computers. Back in the good old days, one didn’t fill the first moments (and the next moments, and the next moments…)  of the morning with e-mail. Now every day starts with a check of e-mail, replies, maybe another check for replies to replies.
  2. Makeup. When I was young and pretty, I didn’t need to paint my face quite so artfully. Yea verily, I didn’t really need to paint my face at all, and often didn’t. Now a good, thick layer is required to cover the brown spots and fill in the wrinkles.
  3. Lost stuff. A lost purse. A lost file. A lost list. A lost whatever.
  4. Liquids. I never used to carry a cup of water with me every where I go. Not a chance. I never fixed coffee before leaving the house so’s to pour a mugful and stash it in the car. If I wanted coffee, I bought it en route, usually at a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts, now defunct. Now I’ve taken it into my head that the car can’t leave the garage unless it’s stocked with something to drink.
  5. Locked office door. Whatever I’ve remembered that I forgot, it’s always on the other side of the goddamn deadbolt on the office.
  6. Dogs. In the olden days, dogs did not shit all over the goddamn floor. Therefore, the household livestock did not have to be wrangled into pens or herded outdoors before the human could leave the house. One could simply close the door behind one and lock it, leaving the dog inside to snooze undisturbed until one returned.
  7. Dog food. Before the melamine flap and the offshoring of everything, including dog food, to China, I fed the dogs kibble. It took all of 10 seconds to dish up a bowlful. Now I have to fiddle around with measuring out eight ounces to each dog from packages of freshly made concoctions and then storing the remainder back in the fridge.
  8. Dog competition. Dogs of yore did not try to steal each others’ food; therefore one of the dogs did not have to be tied to the oven door to keep her from chasing her betters away from their dog-food dishes…
  9. Space heaters. Back in the day, one could afford to pay to run the central heating.

So it goes.

The whiteboards with the calendars and space for daily to-do lists help a lot, especially the one that’s now installed on the back door. Lately I’ve been trying to organize stuff a day or two in advance and load it into the car, making it harder to forget things and cutting the last-minute thrash-around factor. I try to remember to put everything back in its accustomed spot (if something isn’t where I expect to find it, I’m not gonna find it). I’ve quit carrying water, tea, or coffee in the vehicle. I make lists, in hopes of not forgetting something important. But I can’t second-guess what I’m going to forget.

 Got any ideas? What do you do to avoid losing things, forgetting things, muffing things, and chronically running late?