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.
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.
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