I Remember Nothing. Seriously.

Once I went to a store to buy a book about Alzheimer’s disease and forgot the name of it. I thought it was funny. And it was, at the time.” – Nora Ephron, I Remember Nothing 


I recently took a part-time job folding yoga pants for a popular store at our local fancy-ish strip mall in an effort to bring some structure to my days and give me some kind of purpose as I figure out where all this writing is going. However, the only thing that has become quickly apparent is that I am either A: dumb or B: losing my mind.

And I can’t really figure out which is the better option.

If I cop to stupidity, it does indeed support that very low SAT score I garnered all those years ago, but I really had that pinned on the giant hangover and speeding ticket I brought to the testing facility that October morning in 1987. But it doesn’t bode well for the story I’ve been secretly telling myself forever, which is that I could have been a decent student had I just applied myself instead of talking on the phone and watching “Knots Landing”.

Now, if I accept the idea that I’m not so smart, it might help put my college GPA into clearer perspective.

What if I am losing my marbles instead? What then? I mean I know, at 50, I’m kinda old. Just ask my kids. But in the scheme of things, I really shouldn’t start trying to use celery sticks to start my car or go food shopping without my pants on for at least another decade or two.

What is it, you’re wondering, that’s got me so concerned? Reader, the following are a few anecdotal pieces of evidence of my mind losing that have occurred in just in the last three months.

The Back to School Boo Boo

In September I attended my final back-to-school night at our middle school. I marched up the stairs to the 8th grade hallway towards my son’s homeroom where I’d been told I’d get a copy of his schedule, which I would move through over the course of two hours.

I walked into the classroom and surveyed the handwritten schedules the kids had laid out on top of the desks for their parents. I immediately noticed a penciled scrawl reminiscent of my own child’s scribble scrabble and grabbed the slip of paper and proceeded to his first period class, which the schedule indicated was Language Arts. I sat and got pumped up hearing about how his year would be full of The Outsiders and vocab words and then moved on to Period 2 in the gym.

It’s a casual 10 minute break as we’re all just standing around talking to other parents when I noticed the slip of paper another mom was holding looked really familiar. “Hey, that’s weird,” I said, pointing to the schedule she was holding, “our boys have the exact same handwriting.”

And as I go to show her the schedule I’d grabbed off the desk in homeroom, she starts to tell me how she couldn’t find her son’s schedule in his homeroom and had to go to the office and get a duplicate they had on file. This is when I actually think to look at the name at the top of the schedule I’d been carrying around and noticed it had HER son’s name written across the top. My decision to grab that scheduled was based solely on the sloppy handwriting and that both of their last names begin with the letter “W.”

“Um, Maria?” I say, showing her the schedule in my hands, “I think I know what happened.”

It turns out, I’d gone to the wrong homeroom altogether. In my head, my son was in Mrs. Lesch’s homeroom and that’s where I marched with great confidence to swipe another kids’ schedule. So then I found myself in the school office in the middle of my ninth back-to-school night there trying to figure out what homeroom my kid was in.

Macchia! Right! He was in Mrs. Macchia’s homeroom! Mystery solved.

About a week later, I got a call from our new PTO president to let me know that I’d been picked to be my son’s room mom. I knew that would make him happy because he’d observed a couple of years earlier that, unlike when his older siblings were in middle school, I never volunteered to do anything on his behalf. An observation, I conceded, which was totally on point.

I relayed the good news when he arrived home later and he said, “Cool,” with a mouth full of cookie and started to head outside to kick the soccer ball around with our neighbor. “Tell Mr. Olsen to let me know if he needs anything this year!” I shouted to him as he walked out the door and he paused to look at me. “Mom. I’m in Macchia. Remember?”

Oh. Shoot. Right. Wrong teacher again.

Which led me to realize that in all likelihood, I’d put the wrong homeroom down when I’d so generously volunteered to be room mom and sent the PTO president an email indicating as much. Sure enough, I was homeroom mom or a homeroom my son was not in and requiring me to abdicate that throne (can you tell I’ve been bingeing on “The Crown”?).

The way I see it, my son’s never going to find out so I kind of have the best of both worlds. On the one hand, he’s under the impression I’m involved in his school and on the other hand, I don’t have to figure out how to create group emails and and inundate parents’ mailboxes with news about upcoming teacher cookie exchanges and the 8th grade fruit sale.

The Trouble With Working 

As mentioned earlier, I now fold leggings for a living and it’s reminded me what it’s like to work a room cold. In most situations I find myself in these days, I’m interacting with people who already know me and kinda like me. We’re either friends or they’ve read my blog or I’ve given birth to them and in one way or another, I’ve managed to charm them a bit (I mean, the kids tolerate me because I’m now shorter than everyone and they are convinced I’m losing my marbles so treat me like their crazy aunt they need to take care of). But at the new job, no one really knows who I am so they’re meeting me totally out of context of my whole established “Amy” shtick. I do some weird hand gesticulating or try to crack a joke and they’re just like, “She’s weird.”

None of my idiosyncracies can be passed off yet as just part of my quirkiness.

For example, about a week into the job, I got a call late one Sunday morning from one of the managers asking why I wasn’t at work and I had no idea what she was talking about but apparently I was on the schedule that day. We talked briefly and I said, “Derrr,” and she was less than amused and I apologized one more time and we ended the conversation.

Then I started really thinking about what could have happened and I realized the I had indeed gotten a computer generated email indicating I was to work that day but decided not to write it on my calendar as I had told another manager I could not work that day and was simply going to point that out to her and clear the scheduling up. Except I forgot to do that and went on my merry way that Sunday morning never giving it a second thought.

My bad.

I went in to work the next day as scheduled and towards the end of my shift, that manager asked if we could talk before I left and I thought, “Seriously? She couldn’t have just fired me before I had to fold all those leggings?” but instead, we rehashed the whole me-not-showing-up and I told her what I thought had happened and said it was all my fault and a dumb mistake and then I think we were over it for good.

I came into work the following day and busily got to work folding stacks of leggings and about an hour into my shift, the same manager looked up from the schedule she’d been scanning over at the register and said, “Amy, what are you doing here? You’re not on the schedule.”

I’m not kidding. I’d totally written the wrong shift in my calendar.

“Oh man,” I said, trying to find the humor in the situation, “I guess I was trying to make up for Sunday.”

“If that was the case,” said the manager, “you wouldn’t have punched in.”


So they’re definitely thinking I’m a bit of a loon.

Then last week, another manager decided it was time for me to learn how to use the cash register and told me to go get my employee ID, which I needed to log on and of course, had yet to memorize. I went in the back and copied the number from the notes app on my iPhone onto a post it note and went back out to the register to try to log in with that and the password I’d set up on the first day of work.

Five tries later, I still couldn’t log in and we decided I needed to reset my password, which was a pain to try to figure out how to do. Finally, the manager was able to figure it out and found my ID# and guess what? I’d copied the number down wrong and flipped two of the numbers, which is why I couldn’t log in. She looked at me and laughed and kinda punched me in the arm and I leaned down on the counter put my head down on my folded arms. “What is my problem?” I moaned and we kinda laughed about it.  I’ve worked there a few weeks now and we’ve had pleasant conversations while folding sweaters and tank tops and if nothing else I’m forcing everyone to like me. It’s part of my routine.

So, I don’t know. You guys tell me: am I dumb or crazy? I used to be able to chalk my forgetfulness up to having too many kids or working full-time or even booze but I’ve pretty much got only one teenager to tend to nowadays and that full-time job is no longer and I haven’t had a glass of alcohol in almost three months so there’s not much left to blame for my boobery except the two options I’ve outlined here.

My friend Dan likes to tell me I’ve got CWD (Crazy Woman’s Disease) and thinks menopause is the root of all our lady problems. And sometimes that pisses me off and pushes my “how-dare-you” button but right now I’m thinking he might be onto something.

Hopefully I don’t try to put the cat in the dryer or show up to fold leggings without my own pants on. But at least then we’ll have some answers.

Are you forgetful? A procrastinator? Or, perhaps, just plain losing your mind? Sign up to get all of my latest posts sent right to your inbox by typing your email into the box below and new posts will arrive without you having to remember to look for them. Everything should be this easy. You can also follow me on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and (what the hell) Pinterest

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Burnt Quinoa

a1364128Every Sunday I wake up fairly certain I’m going to start putting into motion all the magical elements needed to change the course of my life, and this weekend was no exception.

To that end, I dutifully made a list of all the tasks I wished to accomplish throughout the week, investigated the health benefits of drinking lemon water each morning, shoved all of the dirty towels into the washing machine and put a pot of quinoa on the stovetop to boil.

And then I went back up to my bedroom, opened up my laptop and got sucked into Facebook.

As part of my ongoing efforts to revamp my lifestyle, I’m trying to incorporate healthier eating. I’m trying to eliminate things like that ham and cheese sandwich with a side of potato chips I enjoyed every day for lunch on the beach this summer and replace with things like salads and the aforementioned quinoa. I find if I have healthier items on hand, just lying around my refrigerator, then I’m more apt to reach for the good stuff rather than my beloved ham and cheese. And, full disclosure, I was also planning on making pancakes for my kids as a special Sunday treat and was going to sneak a glob of quinoa into the batter because I’ll be damned if I’m going to be the only one eating healthy around here.

So there I was, sitting on my bed teary-eyed watching a video someone posted of Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” at a prayer service shortly after 9/11, when the smoke detector started blaring from down below.

“Holy quinoa,” I thought as I jumped off the bed and ran – laptop in hand – down the stairs to find one of my kids waving a dishtowel under the smoke detector and smoke pouring from my All-Clad saucepan on the stovetop. The two cups of water I’d carefully measured and added to the cup of dry grain had evaporated and the remaining quinoa had hardened into a brown crust that adhered to the sides of the pan.

“Mom!” yelled my 13yo son, “what were you thinking?”

And, honestly, I was asking myself that same question. I had completely forgotten that I’d put that pan of quinoa on to boil when I drifted upstairs and fell into a Facebook trance. Like, I never gave it another thought.

Interestingly enough, I’d just finished reading Sarah Hepola’s wonderful memoir Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, which forced me to question my own relationship with alcohol. Did I think about it a little too much? Had I found myself over the years in situations I might not have found myself in had I not been drinking? Little stuff like that.

The author writes about putting a pot of water on to boil for pasta after a night of considerable drinking and the next thing she remembers, a man is breaking through her apartment door holding a fire extinguisher. The story was oddly comforting because I was all, “Hey man, I’ve never almost started a fire when I was drunk. Things have never gotten that crazy.”

No, sir. That would be a job for my ADD.

The incident left me shaken. As I flew down the stairs and rounded the corner into the kitchen, I swear for a moment I thought I saw flames out of the corner of my eye and that scared the life out of me. All I could think about was how I’d just ruined my recently renovated and very adorable little kitchen and that I’d endangered my children and how weird it was I was reading a book where the protagonist had almost set her own kitchen on fire but that I was completely sober. Like, I hadn’t even had a drink in over three weeks (weirder, still).

No, at that moment my issue was a dire inability to focus, and I’m not so sure there are 12 Steps to help get that straightened out. I don’t know how many support groups meet daily in church basements to discuss this crippling disease.

So I bustled around the kitchen, switching on overhead fans, opening windows and throwing the crusty pan into the sink and when the smoke had – literally – cleared, I went back upstairs to make my bed. I threw all the various sleeping pillows and throw pillows and blankets (my bed is a complicated, yet cozy, situation) and knelt down to tuck the bedspread in on my side of the bed, and heard the washing machine in my closet click off.

My towels had completed their spin cycle and the machine gave its cute little chime to indicate it was finished and I thought, “Oh, I should get those right into the dryer.” So, in mid-bed-making, I popped up and started pulling wet towels out of the washing machine and into the dryer. “Wait,” I said out loud. “What the hell am I doing?” I mean, there I was moving onto one task while in the middle of another and probably, I had started the bed making while in the midst of something else.

Later, after the near-fire and arrested bed making incidents, I decided to make myself a smoothie for breakfast. I went to the closet in the hall off the kitchen that now serves as our pantry and pulled the Vitamix base off the shelf but my mind was a thousand miles away. I was probably thinking about what I should wash next or Bette Midler movies. Then I turned to head back into the kitchen and collided with the doorframe, smashing the heavy base I was holding in front of me hard into my chest. It did not feel good and I stood there pretty pissed at myself.

I felt like a giant toddler, drunkenly lunging from my crayons to my sippy cup to my mom’s iPhone and then back to my crayons in about a 30-second timeframe. And I didn’t wike it!!!

And this, my friends, is an allegory for my life and the reason I can never complete a project. This blog post is no exception. I started writing it at around 6:00 this morning and now it’s almost 8:30 and aside from emptying the dishwasher and toasting some Eggo waffles for my son, I haven’t really accomplished much else. Sure, I ordered some items from Target to be sent to my daughter in college, whipped up another smoothie for my breakfast and Googled “best time to buy new car,” but that’s about all I have to show for 2.5 hours. In that same amount of time, I bet my neighbor, Liz, has had three conference calls and trimmed the privet hedge between our two yards. I mean, this is a woman who can stay on schedule.

So today, I am going to try to be more like Liz. I recognize that I flounder without a schedule so I’m going to start blocking out time throughout my day for various projects that have been smoking, much like my quinoa, on my back burner all summer. I’m also going to try exercises to improve mindfulness with a little meditation each morning, which will hopefully save my breasts from further Vitamix crunching.

And last night, as I was bingeing on FXX’s “You’re the Worst,” I pulled out a scarf I’ve been knitting on and off for over three years and began working on it in vain over the course of three episodes. Knit 3. Purl 3. One way. Knit 1. Purl 1. Back in the other direction.

It’s gotten pretty long and is made of a thick, chunky yarn and I probably only have about six more inches before I can sew the ends together and make one of those infinity scarves that you wrap around your neck. But I’ve never really loved its cream color and I was kinda over the whole thing. Until last night, I’d left the unfinished scarf to die hidden in my closet, shoved into a little reusable Whole Foods bag.

But now, I’ll be damned if I can’t see at least one project through to completion.

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I’m 50, Dammit

Credit: Dominique Browning (I think) http://www.slowlovelife.com/

Credit: Dominique Browning (I think) http://www.slowlovelife.com/

Well, it totally happened this weekend. Some time while I was sleeping and probably in the midst of dreaming about snakes or giving birth, something far more sinister occurred.

I turned 50.

Yes. I know. It’s true. And contrary to popular belief – er, that is, what I assumed was going to happen – it did not hurt one bit. There was neither pain nor hair loss nor bleeding.

I just got out of bed and started my day.

And maybe that’s where my 50s will be different from my 40s. I turned 40 in the emergency room of our local hospital, which is a story for another day, but needless to say, I was less than thrilled. But that night kind of set the course for the rest of the decade. In 10-years’ time, I’d change pretty much everything about my life. Oh, sure, I still want to lose 10 pounds and remain a dedicated procrastinator – I defy you to out-procrastinate me – but most everything else about my life has changed.

I ended my marriage, got a full-time job, started a blog, sent three kids to college, sold my house on my own and bought and renovated a new casa. I even went out on some dates and am way blonder than I was as a young girl of 40.

Are things perfect? Absolutely not. Have I figured this whole life thing out? Please, on a daily basis at least 1.3 of my children is mad at me.

But I like to think that I’m a work in progress. And even though I’ve figured out what some of my issues are, like not feeling good enough and the aforementioned procrastination, it doesn’t mean that I’ve gotten a handle on things. I get snagged thousands of times each day.

That’s why I’m in therapy.

But in a weird way, I’m kind of looking forward to what the next 10 years brings. There’s still so much I want to do. So many places I want to go. People I need to meet. And stuff I need to work through.

I hope I stop caring what other people think about me and start accepting people for who they are rather than who I really want them to be. Because getting on top of that shiz will free up a lot of time I would have used to fret and, as we all know, I am not getting any younger.

Honestly, I’m just glad it’s over. The day had been looming for about 18 months and I just needed to get it behind me. It was kind of like wanting to not be pregnant any more and just have the baby already, without all the crying (okay, I cried a little).

But so far, my 50s are going quite well. I spent the weekend celebrating and being showered with all the attention a needy Leo demands. There were lunches and dinners and cocktails and so much dancing that my feet feel like they just turned 60. Friends and family proved how well they knew me by giving me perfect gifts, like the stack of rings from my mom that I’d been lusting after to an autographed copy of Nora Ephron’s I Remember Nothing from my pal who takes such good care of me and a weird amount of booze from everyone else.

But maybe the best part of my birthday weekend was getting to spend a big chunk of it with my four children, who had no choice but to go along with it and act like they were having fun. We took the bus into Manhattan and I sat next to my oldest child, who is sometimes hard pressed to even say hello to me, and listened to him talk pretty much nonstop about his job during the hour’s ride in. We ate a delicious lunch in the Theater District that included thin, salty French fries and big pitchers of perfectly-proportioned mimosas, light on the juice. And when the check came my three oldest children surprised me and footed the bill.

Then, because it was literally (okay, not literally) 1,000 degrees on Saturday in New York City and felt like we were walking through the inside of an oven set to broil, we walked very slowly over to the Barrymore Theater to see “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time,” which we loved. We tried to go to a rooftop bar in Times Square afterwards that proved slightly challenging to locate and when we finally found the place, discovered everyone in our group needed to be 21 to enter so my highly disgruntled party and I found ourselves back on the hot, hot streets of New York. And instead of Googling the perfect place for post-theater cocktails, we ducked into the closest bar and drank cold beers and ate chicken wings while the 13yo sprawled out on a couch and watched the Olympics and everyone was happy. When we finally arrived home that night, we all went our separate ways and that did not make me one bit sad. It was time.

By my calculations, I held the children captive for nine hours, which is about eight hours and 55 minutes longer than our usual time we spend together as a family. And I guess if it took turning 50 for me to get that kind of gift, the gift of my children humoring me and going along with my one-big-happy-family fantasy, then it was totally worth it. Plus, I’ve got enough tequila to last me until I’m 60.

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