A NORMAL DAY
This was the path I took one typical June Sunday afternoon. After enjoying a beer (hey – it was only 55 calories!), I stood to take the empty bottle out to the garage to the bin for returnables. As I stood, I remembered that I needed to iron clothes for work on Monday. I carried the beer bottle into the bedroom and set it down (just for a minute). I set up the ironing board, and got the iron from the walk-in closet. While in the closet, I stopped to organize some of my shoes. Back in the bedroom, I noticed the steam iron was low on water. So I headed to the kitchen for the little measuring pitcher I use for the iron. While there, I remembered the dishes in the dishwasher were clean, so I started unloading it. The coffee pot was sitting right there, so I got that set up for the next morning. I grabbed the empty beer bottle from the counter and took it out to the garage. While in the garage, I grabbed a fresh roll of paper towels for the kitchen. When I finally got back to the bedroom, I had the iron in my hand before I realized that I’d never gotten the water for it. On my way back to the kitchen, I figured I may as well fire up the computer as I was walking by. I got to the kitchen, and stood there for a few seconds before I remembered what I was there for – water for the iron. I filled the pitcher, went back to the bedroom, filled the iron, then decided I should pull the bedspread off the bed and fold it up. Once that was done, I ironed pants and a shirt for Monday. After hanging them up and turning off the iron, I closed the blinds in the bedroom and headed out to the computer. About 20 minutes later, I needed to use the master bathroom. Walking back through the bedroom, I noticed something shiny on the nightstand. It was my empty beer bottle (the one I’d removed from the kitchen was my husband’s). The item I originally wanted to put into the returnable bin hadn’t made it past my first pit stop. I’d never completed my original mission, although I finished a number of unrelated odd jobs in the meantime.
A remarkable story? Hardly. Outrageously funny? Not so much. But this type of scattered, fractured journey happens to me all the time. Every. Single. Day.
I can have keys in my hand one minute, and literally lose them the next. I’ve become a master at retracing my steps – out of necessity. When I reach for something and it’s not where it belongs, I automatically reverse my steps and check everywhere I’ve been. When the logical places don’t pan out, I start looking in the stupid places. Did I set the keys under the sink while looking for dishwashing liquid? Did I drop them in the trash when I threw away that tissue? Are they still in the door? In the car? It’s absolutely maddening.
THE WILD SEARCH
Just a few weeks ago, I lost my leather cell phone case, within no more than an hour of removing my Blackberry from it. I’d already been looking for my favorite Red Sox ball cap, so now I was hunting for two items that seemingly vanished off the face of the earth while inside our home. I brought my husband into the hunt, and we tore the place apart. Logical places. Silly places. Under the bed. Under the sofa. Behind the cushions. Dresser drawers. Bookcases. Suitcases. Cars. Basement. I was seriously wondering if some mad man was breaking into our home and stealing stupid things just to drive me crazy. After an hour, I suspended the search in frustration (and the firm belief that if you stop looking for something, you’ll usually find it).
Days went by, and I really wanted that ball cap (the cell phone case was replaceable if necessary). Wondering if maybe I’d rolled the hat up and stuffed it in a jacket pocket (not something I normally do, but I was getting desperate), I started working my way through the coat closet. On my fifth or sixth jacket…SUCCESS! I found it! Well, not exactly. It wasn’t the ball cap I discovered in a pocket. It was the missing cell phone case. The hat was still nowhere to be found. But the next day, the errant ball cap showed up. At the bottom of the dirty clothes hamper, located as I went to do laundry. Don’t ask. Oh, okay, I’ll tell you – I’d set it on top of the washer, and apparently a vigorous spin cycle vibrated it off and into the hamper.
You know the dogs in the movie “UP!”? Well, that’s me. Deep in thought or conversation, and then, Look! A squirrel!
Think I’m exaggerating? I’ve left this page twice since I started typing an hour ago. Once to check my email and Facebook, and once to change the TV channel, grab a snack, and then look for the TV remote, which I’d left in the kitchen.
I’ve always been a bit forgetful and addled (at least three different times in my life I’ve put the milk away in the pantry instead of the refrigerator), but lately it is getting out of control. As the hormones start doing their 50’s dance, my brain cells are dysfunctioning at an alarming rate. Yeah, yeah, I should focus more. I need to pay attention, write lists, concentrate, avoid distraction, etc., etc., etc. As if I could remember to do all of that.
WHY IT’S HAPPENING
A recent fact-filled article in Newsweek by Cynthia Cline (“This is Your Brain. Aging.”) gave me at least some consolation. It’s not just me. We really do lose short term memory as we age. Scientists have proven that the long, graceful neurons (okay, they didn’t use the word “graceful”…) are lost as we age – as much as a 45% decrease in short-term memory and the ability to learn and remember new things. The good news is that we continue to grow the short stubby neurons that control long-term memory. Funny how everything that happens as we age involves the words short and fat. That’s why I can remember the red dress I wore to my neighbor’s wedding when I was ten years old, but I can’t remember what I did with the TV remote five minutes ago. It’s a medical thing. It’s not my fault! I wish that made me feel better, but the truth is, I’ll probably forget all about it by sometime next week….
And the worst part of the whole thing? The remedy. New studies suggest the best way to improve brain function is not the brain teaser games or crossword puzzles (although they certainly don’t hurt). No, the best way to improve brain function is the same thing that improves all our other functions – good old-fashioned exercise. EXERCISE! Walking, running, working out – vigorous aerobic exercise stimulates the growth of new brain neurons. No quiet reading and problem-solving for my mind. No. I need more exercise to improve my brain. Terrific.
That’s just perfect. I’m already battling my body and exercising in my frustrated efforts to lose weight. Now I have to do even more of it to keep my brain from getting any foggier than it already is. So fine. Tomorrow morning I’ll be back at it with the Wii and walking at lunch and Zumba in the evening. Even if the pounds won’t leave, I can at least be adding something to my body that’s good for me, like some sexy brain neurons.
Now if I could just find the Wii remote. I’m pretty sure it’s here next to the sofa. Hey, is that the book I’ve been looking for? I should sit down and finish reading that, right after I get a drink of water, and then I’ll look for the…wait, what was it I was looking for? Look! A squirrel!