Listless in South Carolina

By Susan Harvey

I am the poster child for chaos when it comes to organizing anything from my closets to my calendar, but I wasn’t always this way. When I had a family to care for, everything in my home had a place, and I never forgot anything. Back then life was hectic, but I stayed on top of everything with my lists, my calendar with everyone’s activities scribbled in the appropriate date, and last but not least, my unfailing memory. I could remember the birthdays of all my friends and family, their phone numbers, addresses, and anniversaries. My home was organized; my life was organized; my mind was organized.

Something happened as I flew past middle-age and into senior status. Once I put the AARP card in my wallet and requested my first senior iced-tea at Bojangles, my life changed.

Last night I made a mental list of items I need to pick up the next time I go shopping, but this morning when I sit down at my desk to make a list, three things happen: 1) I can’t find a pencil, 2) I can’t put my hands on a clean piece of paper that’s larger than a square of toilet tissue, and 3) by the time I locate both the pencil and paper, I have forgotten what I wanted to list.

I get up from the desk and roam around the house, trying to remember what I was doing when I thought about making a list. I open a drawer and get sidetracked cleaning out old socks. Once those are in the trash, I move to my underwear drawer. Now I remember: I need a new bra! So, I run to my desk to start my list. I locate the pencil and paper – again – and write bra on the page. Okay, what else?

My mind is blank, so I check my calendar to see what’s on my schedule for today: Lunch at Conch Cafe. Really? With whom? No name, no time, no memory.

I stare out the window in front of my desk. A cardinal perches on the edge of the birdbath where the water is low. When I go outside to fill the birdbath, I notice the birdfeeder needs a refill, so I go to the garage to find the bag of sunflower seeds. I know it’s in one of the fifteen blue Rubbermaid tubs, but which one? Ah, yes, it’s in Tub Number 14. I close and restack the other thirteen tubs and fill the birdfeeder. Once that task is completed, I pull a few weeds. Weed killer! I run to my desk and locate another pencil and make another entry on my list. I know I had more than two items on my mental list. What else do I need?

Maybe I should check the pantry and fridge for needed items. Cans in the pantry are out of place, so I take a few minutes to straighten out the jumble and decide I have enough canned, packaged, and bottled food to sustain me and ten others for a year in the event of a nuclear attack. The examination of my fridge reveals I need milk, eggs, and cheese. I run to the desk and add these items to my list using one of the two pencils I had tucked in my hair. As I write, I remember laundry detergent and paper towels, so I add these to my list. At ten-thirty, a friend calls and asks if we are still on for lunch.

“Sure. What time do you want to meet at the Conch Café?” I ask, hoping that remembering the name of the restaurant impressed her. The last time we met for lunch – rather the last time we were supposed to meet – I was at Flo’s Place and she was at Creek Rats because I forgot to write down our meeting place.

She wants to meet at eleven-thirty, so, leaving nothing to memory, I write the time and place on the bottom of my shopping list and quickly do the shower/dress/make-up routine since I am dirty from wrestling with the Rubbermaid tubs and the weeds. Finally, I smear on some lipstick, spritz on some Tommy Bahama, and run out the door. Then I go back inside to search for my car keys.

As I pull out of the neighborhood, I check my watch and see that I have a few minutes to get an errand done before I meet my friend for lunch. How organized is that? Now, where should I go first? Oh, if only I had remembered to bring my list!

About this writer

  • Susan Harvey Susan Harvey is a humor writer who teaches college English. She lives in Murrells Inlet, and in her spare time enjoys cooking and reading mysteries.

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