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Bigger Than a Bread Box

December 17, 2023

I made breakfast the other day, a Sunny Delite breakfast sandwich. Egg white, turkey sausage, some kind of cheese on an English muffin. That is my breakfast on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. A routine. I also have 8 oz of orange juice.

I microwaved my sandwich and went in and sat down in my rocker for my daily news read and realized, after I sat down, I carried my orange juice, paper towel, and a bottle of Tobasco with me. (I use Tobasco and ketchup on my sandwich.) I left the sandwich in the kitchen. Not a big deal in itself. Life is fast and lots of things get missed, misplaced, and mistaken. Hiccup. However, things never seem to happen in a vacuum.

I’ve been noticing things lately that are causing increasing concern. I have a microwave and it sits on top of a large breadbox that I made to maximize space on my kitchen counter. More often than I like to admit lately, it seems, I’ve been opening the breadbox for something I want to microwave. Once or twice could be sloughed off as haste. I do move quickly, though that is changing too as autumns accumulate. I could also chalk things up to ‘senior moments’, but I’m not sure that is any comfort there. Those moments are adding up too.

To increasing annoyance, I find I need something stored in the basement. I trundle knee-creakily down the stairs and forget what it was I needed. Sometimes I remember. Increasingly often after returning upstairs (of course), but sometimes it takes a while. Sometimes I never do remember. And it is not even only the basement. I have forgotten things I walked into another room for. Same struggle. Same success rate.

I rely on notes. Punch lists. Ticklers. Of things I need to get at the store. Old habit. I have always needed reminders of things I need or need to do. I also find that I frequently forget the lists. Or remember to take them but forget I have them. I have even forgotten ITEMS on a list despite having the list in hand.

I’ve made silly mistakes in the past. Once, when I worked for Mellon Bank (computer programmer), I went to work with two different style shoes on. In my only defense, they were both dress shoes, but different style and color. I’m not sure anyone would have noticed if I had not self-owned, but it was not a big deal and I was a good twenty or more years younger so I chalked that up to dressing in the dark. In haste. And presuming I had done everything right rather than double-checking my ‘work’ after dressing. This is a mistake I would still make today if I worked and had to do business wardrobe and go into an office. Some problems exist across all ages. They may just get more frequent with age. And maybe less noticeable.

I am fortunate in one way. I thrive on habit. Habit prevents a LOT of mistakes. If you remember my “Keys In The Hand” article, you might appreciate that I have not locked myself out of house or car in decades. I have gone to my shed to get something and realized I forgot my keys. Or what I went to the shed for. I have never locked my keys in the shed though.

Sometimes I forget things literally in the middle of a sentence. I did this when I was younger too, but I fear it might be getting more frequent. Sometimes the search is for a correct word. Sometimes it is a search for a whole thought. I’m not lost in space or time. There is just a train of thought and I have disembarked. The odds seem to be increasing that I may have just moved on.

Some of my troubles are caused, I believe, by having a very active mind. I never stop thinking about what happened; Is happening; Will happen. Each in context of the others. How do they relate? How did I deal with them? Respond to them? React? I’m sure it comes across as not listening to the other person(s) in the conversation. Sometimes that is the exact reason. And to be fair, it is also done to me. An active mind has caused me problems sleeping for years; Having conversations with my wife. A response that seems like a drastic conversational left turn to her is a very linear, logically-progressive-thought-inspired comment/response/statement. I don’t stop thinking because one of us stopped speaking, even long enough to inhale. My mind doesn’t stop just because a conversation takes pause or changes speaker. My mind is often far from where it was when I was last part of that conversation. I used to be able to trace the path from where I wandered off. It seems often these days I wind up somewhere in thought with not a hint of where I ventured off the path. Sometimes even how I ultimately ended up where I ended up when someone recaptured my attention. Sometimes I don’t return. Or remember leaving.

I’m getting older. It is tough getting old. As the actor Bette Davis said, getting old “is not for sissies”. My grandmother tried to warn me when I was a teenager. It is tough getting old. I was sure at the time that it was just her. I was up for whatever life threw my way. Bulletproof. These days, I’m not so sure. Not so confident. Getting old is harder than it looked when I was young. I’m getting the sense that I’m going to have to toughen up because I’m seeing some cracks in my routine and I’m starting to think my problems are bigger than a bread box.


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