One Day in a Row

NunsThey say it takes at least thirty days of continued practice to develop or change a habit. I never quite got that. I mean, how much time are you supposed to spend each day? 24 hours? Do you have to do it a the same time every day? And who are “they”, anyway? “They” are surely the most oft-quoted source in all history, or so they say. I think “they” submit all those Wikipedia “facts”.

Since I am unable to string together even a week of consistency, much less thirty days, it may explain why I have so few actual habits. The only thing I do every day, at the same time, without fail, is brush my teeth. I usually shower, unless I’m sick, but the shower could occur at pretty much anytime during the day, depending on how early in the day I get distracted and whether I’m going anywhere. It’s one of the pluses/minuses of a home office. Excuse me- I have to go get a cup of coffee.

I’m back. What was I babbling about? Oh, forming habits. My lack of consistency and discipline certainly explains why I can’t play the hammered dulcimer, finish my book and and why I will always be a yoga beginner. I get excited when I string together two days in a row.

With that lousy track record I am embarking on yet another is a long line of unkept promises. This time, it’s to eat clean, do yoga, mediate every morning, and write for at least an hour. I am pleased to announce that I have already done these things One Day in a Row! Yay, me. Only twenty-nine more to go. Do weekends count? Surely not.

I have this timer. In fact, I have a bunch of them scattered around the house. I set the timer for fifteen minutes, based on the theory that we can do anything for fifteen minutes, no matter how distasteful. (Who says so? They do.) Clean part of a junk drawer. Match socks. Record expenses. Write. Write business stuff, not fun stuff. When the alarm goes off, I have permission to stop and reward myself. I just spent fifteen minutes trying to find one of the timers, so I got another cup of coffee.

I have the attention span of a moth. (I think I just saw a hawk in the chicken coop. Nope, nevermind. Just a chicken with big aspirations.) Forming new habits takes concentration and patience, two other attributes I was not born with. In an attempt to gain control over my barrel-of-monkeys mind, I have been an inconsistent but devoted mediator for most of my adult life. It’s a Looney Tunes version, with wild and crazy thoughts and images flying in and out as I doggedly chant a mantra, yelling it over the chaos. I may be the only mediator who’s exhausted when done . But I won’t give up. I may win yet. Of course if I could just meditate for thirty days in a row…

Timer just went off. Time to write something business-like. Maybe Time Management? But first I need another cup of coffee.

Riding the Bull

And they wonder why I stress? The driver’s seat adjustment in our old truck is broken. Apparently no one thought to warn me. It’s the only vehicle left in the driveway and I have a doctor’s appointment. For stress, no less. As I’m driving up the street, whipping back to front to back to front, I realize the seat won’t lock into position. After a few vain attempts to secure it, I switch to survival mode, which requires nothing less than complete concentration, using the steering wheel both for steering and to maintain seat position. Too close, and my knees are in my face, my nose shmushed into the front window. Too far back and I’m driving with my big toes. I’m like a human accordion. I consider barefoot, with the thought that I’d have minimally better control. Maybe- if I was a monkey. Biggest challenge? Making a turn. Slowing down throws me forwards, but accelerating out of the turn hurls me backwards, pasted to the seat by centrifigal force. Unable to pull myself forwards with the still-turning wheel, I can’t reach the gas pedal. I’m practically in the backseat, neck, arms, legs- and toes- outstretched, the truck rapidly slowing to a crawl until I can lurch forwards, find the right balance, and finally step on the gas. Hanging on for dear life, hunched up against the dashboard, I look like a possessed woman, trying to make an escape in her pickup truck, going 40 mph…15 mph….40 mph…15 mph…

By the Hair on My Chinny Chin Chin

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“When are you gonna write about chin hair?” asked my best friend of 50-plus years. “I have these white ones…”

It occurred to me that we’d come a long way from wondering if we were ever going to grow boobs. Back when we were kids we had this secret, giant rock, where we’d go to discuss life’s biggest questions. “Mr. Barbieri having sex? Your parents? Mine?!” We’d just learned the details and were screaming with laughter as we pictured the adults in our lives in that ridiculous position. Including our handsome, ex-Marine 6th-grade teacher. We decided that French kissing was disgusting, something only oversexed French people would do, in berets, smoking Gauloises while licking each other’s tongues.

Boob growth, of course, was the Big Topic. We were still in T-shirts, but some of our more mature classmates were bragging about their brand new bras. I asked my mother if I could get a few training bras. She laughed. “For what?”

I sighed and looked down at my totally flat chest. I secretly hoped that the bras trained them to grow. I was devastated when, during gym class, my best friend proudly whispered to me that she was wearing a bra. I changed my clothes in a locked bathroom stall, humiliated. I arrived home in desperate tears. My father took pity on me and encouraged my mother to get me a bra. Not one to accept defeat easily, she established strong parameters. The children’s department of Nyden’s, the specialty department store where I regularly got my Scout uniforms. Not exactly where actual grown women bought their bras. And a personal fitting by the formidable saleswoman with the tape measure. I cringed, but it was that, or t-shirts forever.

The saleswoman took on look at my chest and sneered. She had enough chest for three or more women, and made it clear I came up wanting. But a sale is a sale, so she measured. “Arms up in the air!” She brought the tape measure around my back and stopped at my nipples. I shuddered. She grinned. “Extra small!” she pronounced loudly enough to turn heads in the Men’s Department.

An extra-small consisted of tiny shoulder straps to hold up what were not so much cups as pieces of a stretchy fabric-also tiny- that would ideally expand to hold up the budding breasts. Mine did not expand. In fact, it puckered. The saleswoman snapped the back of the bra and offered the possibility that I might one day grow into it. She didn’t seem optimistic.

But I had a real bra. At 13, life doesn’t get much better.

Fast forward several decades, and our conversations have taken a decided shift. When did my arms get too short to read fine print? Why does it seem people aren’t talking loudly enough anymore? What the hell is body hair doing in places it doesn’t belong? When did colonoscopy prep become an acceptable conversation topic?

Colonoscopies, prostate exams, Botox and face lifts, rotator cuff surgery, hip and shoulder replacements.

We seem to be rusting.

My sister tells of the first time she spotted a chin hair. The sun caught it just right, glistening in the light. She remembers it as being several inches long, but I think she exaggerated. Unfortunately, she was driving at the time of her discovery. She began desperately trying to pluck it out, only to have it repeatedly slip through her fingers. She weaved in traffic. Yanked the steering wheel in one hand and the stubborn hair in the other. Somehow both survived long enough for her to get to a store to purchase tweezers and dispatch the invader. The tweezers turned out to be the first of many anti errant-body-hair products, from creams to waxes to lasers. One friend of mine finally gave up and started shaving daily after all her efforts didn’t prevent a 5 o’clock shadow.

The aging human body is a never-ending treasure trove of surprises. The shock that you feel the first time you bend down to pick something up and make “that” noise as you stand up. Your first inclination is to look around you to see when your mother came into the room, only to realize that was you. Your noise. And just the first of many new noises you will make as time passes. Or the lack of recognition of your own self when you walk by a mirror. When did an alien put on my skin? It doesn’t fit like it used to! You challenge yourself in the mirror, pulling up your cheeks to wipe out the mouth lines that make you look like Charlie McCarthy while sucking in that extra tummy spillover and throwing back your shoulders to pull up the boobs. Unfortunately it’s hard to maintain these adjustments for very long- like, say, walking around in Target- without raising concerns about your sanity.

And those boobs? Contrary to what the saleswoman thought, I finally did grow me a pair. Not as substantial as hers, but good enough. And it seems like I’ve come full circle, because the best thing in the world right now would be a good training bra. Same objective: holding up budding, well, budded breasts. Except with commercial-grade fabric. Maybe something in titanium?

Another Mother’s Day

Another Mother’s Day, and another pause in the march of time to remember the birth of the child who made me a mother for the first time. I learned two amazing things that day. The first one was that they actually let you take this helpless infant home without any instructions.

My husband and I were equally amazed and terrified when they rolled me and the baby out the hospital’s front door and up to our pickup truck. (At the time, that was our only three-passenger vehicle. I still owned a two-seater sports car that I naively thought I could keep indefinitely.) He picked up our newborn and laid her gently in the car seat while I struggled with the high step into the truck a mere 12 hours after giving birth. I needed a running start but could only manage a wobble. When I finally collapsed into the seat I noticed my husband valiantly struggling to connect straps and clips without disturbing our tiny daughter.

“She’s too small for it,” he observed.

“Maybe if we stuff her blanket behind her?” I suggested.

Our daughter had to be wondering who the heck let these two clowns assume responsibility for her. As if to confirm my suspicion, she started to wail.

“Did you poke her? You must have poked her!” I was experiencing either the first stages of Mama Bearness or the last stages of medication.

“No, I didn’t poke her. She probably picked up on the fact that we don’t know what we’re doing.”

“Shit. We’re in big trouble.”

Together we finally managed to get her in securely and headed for home. We took turns staring at this stranger between us and wondering what the heck to do with her.

Babies don’t come with instruction manuals, but they do come as teachers. Training new parents is certainly challenging, but there’s a timeworn and reasonably successful process. Parents learn signals quickly and begin to distinguish a hungry cry from a tired cry from an “it’s your turn to change the diaper” cry. (Not to be confused with the “running down the street with hands over ears” cry. That’s the parent cry, and that’s a whole ‘nother issue.) On rare occasions, when the parents do something right, they are rewarded with a smile. Most times the reward is simply a few moments of silence. It’s not unlike training puppies.

There’s also support from the community of experienced parents. They told us, for example, how to anchor the newborn when I confessed that the first time the two of us bathed her, handling her like surgeons, she slipped right out of my arms like a football and shot into the water. (Use a towel in the tub.) Or the patient mother-in-law who followed, without complaint, my rule to boil for three full minutes the pacifier that tipped onto the baby’s bib, and was nice enough not to point out three children later that I now wiped it on my shirt and stuck it back in the baby’s mouth, muttering something about the 4-second rule.

First time parents read a lot of books and measure their child’s progress like scientists. At what age she should be turning over. Sitting up. Crawling. “She skipped a stage! Is she a prodigy, or does that mean something’s wrong?” This is the same mother-me- who was not only surprised by slightly dismayed when my third child walked by. “He’s walking? Oh, no! Just what I need- another one mobile.” I may have pushed him down.

By the third child, parents are much more laid back. And more confident, since the first one survived. And was a good teacher.

I mentioned that I learned two amazing things. The second one? That is truly is possible to fall instantly in love forever.

Hair Raising

When I was eleven, my hair was the color of warm honey. Or maybe honey butter. Flaxen, golden. Even auricomous, not as well-known a term for blonde, but I’d read it in some obscure romantic novel and thought it sounded cool. I know my lovely blondness to be true because there are photographs. But I must have suffered some awful shock over that summer, because by the first day of junior high school my hair color had turned to mud. Dirty blond. Dishwater blonde. The only decent description I could come up with was ash blonde, but even that sounded like it had barely survived a fire. Along with other exciting body changes that included menstruation, acne and the coke-bottle glasses required for my suddenly awful eyesight, seventh grade was a bad trip without the acid.

So when the next summer rolled around-with the aid of one of my wilder friends- I became a Summer Blonde, a subtle blonding-in-a- bottle that worked its magic gradually. This served two purposes- it helped make people think my hair was naturally “sun-kissed” and the change escaped my mother’s eagle eye. My friend and I spent long summer days at the beach, encouraging our tans with iodine, baby oil and tinfoil reflectors, even though my skin allowed only two options- white and burnt to a crisp. At least I had my “beach” hair. But as surely as summer becomes fall, my summer blonde turned to brassy whore. At least that was my mother’s take on it. A few days before school started, she dragged me off to her hairdresser to get it dyed back to my natural color. After the inevitable curlers and a stint under the bonnet of the beauty parlor hair dryer (a long row of women torturing their hair for beauty’s sake), she unrolled the curlers, combed out my curls and spun the chair around so I could see my old yet improved self.

I was devastated. There was my dishwater-blonde hair, magnified by tight screwy curls. I looked like a sepia-toned Little Orphan Annie. With a peeling sunburn. My mother, however, was delighted.

“There!” she crowed. “Much more fitting for a young lady.” I wondered what I’d done to make her hate me so. I sat, stony-faced. She invoked the support of the hairdresser.

“Tell her how nice she looks! How appropriate for her age. How would you describe her hair color? Isn’t it lovely?!”

The poor woman had the decency to look uncomfortable. She waggled her head indistinctly and managed a negative nod. “Um…” she struggled for words. “Kind of blond. Ish. Ashy. Ish. Dirty. Blonde.“ There. It was out in the open. “Dirty blonde. But maybe it will lighten naturally!” She clearly didn’t believe that.

My mother glared at her and hustled me out the door. I don’t think she left a tip. “Hmph. What does she know about hair color, anyway?”

Right. After all, she was only a…hairdresser. It was only her job.

After that disaster and with a strong need to survive eighth grade, I became sneakier. I turned for help to my wild-child friend, whose bedroom was a cornucopia of beauty products. She was one of two children and the only girl. She was also a dancer, like her mother, so she had access to all kinds of stage makeup, which we decided looked as good at school as in did under stage lights. She also had her very own dressing table, with a lighted mirror. I had to settle for sharing the bathroom mirror with my four sisters.

She scrutinized my hair. “Maybe you could get a wig!” she offered, hopefully. She already owned two. I had watched her pin her own hair up and tug on the cap of plasticky hair. I shook my head. I already hated hats and, although I didn’t tell her, everyone knew that when she wore one of her wigs it was either because her roots were growing in or she hadn’t washed her hair. At our age, with the typical maturity of our male counterparts, it was inevitable that someday one of them would yank off the wig. (As it turned out, that didn’t happen until junior year in high school, but the point is, it did happen.)

We decided on streaks. We’d buy a box of extra light blonde hair color and, with her experience and skills, she would paint my hair with lemony streaks so subtle that it would seem as if the hairdresser’s prediction had come true and it had lightened naturally. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for one thing, that thing about timing? It actually is important. Leave it on too long because you got distracted listening to the latest Beatles album and discussing who was cheating on who in our class and whether being tripped by a boy was a flirtatious move or a vindictive one, and it goes from lemony to bleached bones. Pure, blinding, white. I looked like a skunk crossed with a pre-teen. I caught our reflections in the lighted mirror. A bug-eyed pre-teen with acne, tortoise-shell glasses, a thick layer of stage makeup and muddy hair streaked with lightning bolts. And her equally bug-eyed friend. We screamed.

She was already up thinking up Plan B. I We did what seemed to us the most logical thing to do. I put on a hat and we convinced her mother to take us to the mall, where we bought a box of ash blonde hair color and hurried back to her house to fix my hair.

By dyeing it again.

You know what’s worse than dirty blonde hair? Than skunk-streaked hair? Green hair. Yeah, something about mixing hair colors and ash and blonde and, ultimately, it didn’t matter. We were as good as dead.

I could only hope my mother wouldn’t notice that I was going to be wearing my friend’s wig for several weeks. Because I was pretty sure that if she did, I’d be the only green-haired girl in the eighth grade.

Butter Up!

Anyone know how to get butter and chicken shit off shoes? If so, email me, I am running out of options. And shoes.

I found out the hard way that Pyrex measuring cups not only break, on special occasions, they explode. The special occasion in this case was precipitated by my laziness. I found this great recipe for a “really simple” apple dumpling that required only butter, crescent rolls, apples, sugar, cinnamon and ginger ale. Easy peezy. I thought that would go nicely with my famous apple squash soup (famous because it has been positively reviewed more than once by people not related to me on Allrecipes). I had the squash simmering, the onions sliced and frying. I peeled apples for the soup and the dumplings. Rolled them around in the sugar/cinnamon mix and wrapped them in roll mix. The next step was to melt a stick of butter in a pot and add the sugar/cinnamon mix- but it was already in the pot. Rather than get another pot dirty, I tossed a stick into a one-cup Pyrex measuring cup and then into the microwave. On high. One minute. Figured I’d get to the melted butter long before that, but the onions needed attention and before I knew it the timer buzzed.

Innocently, I opened the microwave door, triggering a joint butter and cup explosion. Butter and glass shards splashed everywhere- on me, the floor and entire surrounding area. Stunned, I simply stood there, until I realized that my two big black dogs were running towards the promise of butter heaven. But this butter was studded with sharp shards of exploded Pyrex, so I whirled in their direction, waving my arms frantically and yelling, “Back! No!” This was a poor decision on my part as the melted butter had turned the kitchen floor into a skating rink. My feet were flying in two different directions like a cartoon and I clawed at counter tops to stop myself from falling. When I came to a stop, the dogs were simply staring at me. They turned away and I could swear they sighed.

The mess was so huge I didn’t know where to start. The dumplings needed 45 minutes in the oven, and the onions were almost done, so I decided to finish the food prep and clean up later. I got another stick of butter and another, bigger Pyrex cup. Figured, what are the odds? And so I placed them both in the microwave and set the timer.

No, it didn’t happen again. Well, the part where the cup explodes didn’t happen again, but the part where the opening of the microwave door triggers a melted butter explosion? Yep. I stared at the inside of the microwave and the empty cup. Large icicles of butter dripped slowly from the ceiling.

I now had almost two sticks of melted butter covering just about everything in the kitchen, including myself. The dogs didn’t even bother coming. I started laughing so hard I was crying, and forgot I still had onion on my hands when I tried to wipe my eyes. Now I was crying, and blind, and trying to navigate a buttered floor. I couldn’t see the paper towels that I needed to wipe my glasses so I could see what the hell I was doing. Which obviously wasn’t anything good.

By the time my husband got home I had pretty much managed to finish the dinner and was in the process of stripping off my clothes and figuring out the best way to clean up the mess. Naked and buttery, in the kitchen. He shook his head. He offered to help, but one pair of buttered shoes is enough. He looked relieved and quickly disappeared.

Several moppings later I had most of the mess cleaned. I was sure I would find spots I’d missed for the next several days. I then Googled “head to toe butter removal”. No hits. Huh. Apparently you can’t Google absolutely anything. The best advice I got for the clothes was Lysol. They still sell that? And who knew it was once touted as a douche?

The next morning, my husband woke me before leaving for work to tell me a raccoon had slept with the chickens and was still hanging out in the coop and could I check later to see if he left,  and then let the chickens back inside? I promptly forgot, figuring he was just messing with me. Sometimes when he babbles like that my brain just switches to puppies. Or sleep.

But when I got back from a trip to the store for Lysol, which it turned out should have been Lestoil, he called for a wildlife update. Great. Nothing like a cornered raccoon. I grabbed a flashlight and the dogs for backup. To my surprise, the gate was wide open. Apparently finding a raccoon in the hen house (and NO dead hens!) shook up my hubby more than I’d realized. He never leaves the gate open. I was surprised and most pleased that none of the chickens had escaped. I grabbed a hoe, opened the main door and stuck my head inside for a peek. From behind I heard a noise, turned and WTH…?! A crazed critter was headed straight for my head. The raccoon! I screamed and waved the hoe in crazy circles until I realized it was just a chicken. A pissed-off chicken who wanted back in her coop. I waved her away with the hoe and opened the inner door.

My husband had seen the raccoon hiding in a small space near a back door that he had propped open in hopes he would use the rear exit (the raccoon, not my husband). I wasn’t taking any chances on another surprise attack. I flashed the light above me, around me and into every nest. Nothing. I moved slowly towards the back, banging the hoe and yelling “Huh! Huh!” in raccoon. Nothing, except maybe chicken laughter. I finally got to the door and confirmed that the intruder had gone. I went to close the door but the hook stuck. I jiggled it. Harder. Harder. BAM! It slammed down so hard it startled me and I fell to my knees. In chicken shit.

Cursing, I headed back outside to open the front coop door. That’s when I realized that six chickens were on the wrong side of the outside fence. Suddenly dogs as backup became dogs as chicken lovers. As in “yum”. I raced to get the dogs in the house with rash promises of rides and cookies. Lies, but it worked. Now I just had to herd six chickens.

Now chickens are really really really stupid. They will keep running into the fence wire, as if they can will themselves through to the other side. If you hold out something long, like a hoe, they think you are a super-wide big scary thing and will run where your hoe guides them. But six chickens never run in the same direction, so the guide for one causes another to run the opposite way (see: really really stupid). I chased them around the entire span of the coop, getting just one to run back inside each time. Four trips and I still had two loose. I was concerned that others might run back out while I was chasing those two, but I had no choice but to leave the gate open in order to herd the runners back in. At this point a big black hen decided to run for daylight instead of around in the big loop and headed into the woods. I silently wished for a fox to wander by and grab a quick lunch. The other outlier was still running all around the coop, trying to get in through the wire. I leaned on a tree and sighed. I turned slightly and noticed the poison ivy within inches of my face. I went after the runner.

It’s hard to sneak up on a chicken. It’s impossible to sneak up on a chicken in New England in October. I gave up and hoped the fox would appreciate the gift. I refocused on the stupider one, now banging her head against the wire. I hoed her towards the open gate, where she was greeted by about a half dozen of her coopmates, who had all wandered out to see what all the excitement was about. At that point I went kind of mental, waving the hoe like a crazed axe murderer. Wisely, the chickens opted to run back inside (or at least attempted to- there were a few banging away at the wire, but I scooped them in.)

Five down, one to go. I wandered nonchalantly deeper into the woods, deliberately making no eye contact with the runner. (Note: Making eye contact with a chicken is actually kinda hard to do.) I sauntered around behind her, whistling. Before she had time to make a further escape I ran at her, screaming and flailing the hoe. She practically passed out. Within seconds she was flying towards the door and into the coop. The others gathered around her, fussing and squawking. I wonder what they talk about at night.

Me, I was done. I headed back to the house., left my jeans and shoes in the laundry room and grabbed a cold bottle of wine from the fridge. I poured myself a nice big glass and crashed on a chair at the kitchen table. As I lifted the glass to drink, a blob of butter gave up its hold on the ceiling and splashed into the wine.

I Was So Much Older Then

Getting ready to meet a colleague some 40 years after we’d worked together, I wondered how to begin the conversation.

“So, what’s new with you?” 40 years of “new” is way more than one lunch.

I looked in the mirror and considered the fact that 40 years ago I would have been more obsessed with how I looked. I would have changed two or three times. Asked- did I have enough eye makeup on? My 20-year old self was convinced there was no such thing as too much eye makeup. 40 years ago I wouldn’t have gone out to the mailbox without full makeup, contact lenses and matching underwear. You never knew when that bus might strike…you wind up in the ER with, gasp, mismatches! Oh, the shame. The headlines. My 59-and-some-months self put on the jeans that fit and touched up a few age spots, decided that was good enough.

As for glasses, I was as blind as a bat and wore Coke bottles. I starting saving for corrective surgery when I was 12, but once I had a husband, house and kids, there were plenty of other uses for the rare extra money. One day, somewhere in my 50s, after another day of juggling lenses, reading glasses and distance glasses, I wore my utterly, completely, totally useful, no-line, thin and light-as-a-feather bifocals to facilitate a class. To my surprise and joy, no one ran screaming from the room. My evaluations were fine. I never wore my contact lenses again.

I wondered what else I’ve gained and lost in 40 years.

The same ten pounds, that’s for sure. They’re as familiar as an old friend, and I’ve developed a sixth sense for when they’re coming. There are sure signs. I start to run into chocolate more often than usual, and Bugles appear in my grocery cart. Ah, salty sweet! Dinners with friends take on a strong Italian flavor, and apple pie seems incomplete without vanilla ice cream. Normally I’m neutral towards ice cream. (I know, right?) Coincidentally, I’m sure, my stress level rises and my sleep hours decrease at about the same time. Running into a 7-11 for potato chips and a Chunky bar is a bad, bad sign.

I also know the first sign that indicates those ten pounds are on their way out. The exit route appears about 10 minutes after I realize I’m at the top of my black pants size range. Hasta la vista, baby! Yoga pants shouldn’t hurt.

I used to pride myself on my multitasking skills. I could be mentally reviewing an item from the work day while making dinner, with one ear on what my kids were watching on TV and the other on “who started it”. I handily stored “to-dos” and appointments in the lockbox that was my brain.

But lately I’ve been finding myself in brain rooms with no idea why I’m there; the only option to return to where I started and hope for enlightenment. Soon I’ll need a breadcrumb trail to find my way back. If someone now interrupts me in the middle of an activity I’m liable to stop, hand in midair, frozen, unable to finish whatever it was I was doing, yet equally unable to handle whatever interrupted me.

I have the attention span of a moth.  Just trying to wend my way from the kitchen to the car, I start the dishwasher, refill the dog’s water bowl, throw in a load of clothes, let the dogs out and check my email, eventually wondering why I have my coat on. It isn’t until I get to the post office that I realize I forgot what I meant to mail. Two days later I find it on the dryer.

I am heartened to learn that recent studies prove that multitasking doesn’t even work. We just bounce from one thing to another, splitting 100% of our brains multiple ways. That explains the recipe that only tastes 30% good or the kid 20% dressed. Multitasking sounds good; semi-tasking not so much. I’ve let go of multitasking and gained better quality meals, and almost always go out fully dressed.

I didn’t lose any friends worth keeping and am at peace with the loss of the others. Just as well for all concerned. The 20-year old in me thought she had all the answers. The longer I live the more I realize how little I truly know. And I forgot the rest.

I probably won’t tell my old friend all of this. At least not at the first lunch. Maybe I will tell him that in my 40s, I gained a tattoo. I guess it was my mid-life crisis, but it worked out well. My husband liked it and was just glad I didn’t run off with Dennis Rodman. Me, too, now that’s he managed to offend even the North Koreans.

Which reminds me. Since I last saw my old friend, I divorced a boy and married a man. My colleague knew my first husband, and thanks to Facebook, he’s seen pictures of me, my last husband and our kids. I’m sure he sees the difference in my expression. I’m so much younger now.

Now why do I have my coat on?