Then there are moments when I’m sure my cookie jar is almost empty. (Homer can relate.)
This past week, my life as an administrative assistant involved working on various projects; following on multiple administrative requests; preparing a quarterly budget projection; helping managers with personnel and purchasing matters; and performing many other pieces of the job, which included a few conferences with the bosses and managing the office in general.
I felt smart, organized and akin to awesome on Thursday. My ability to multitask was at it’s peak and I was flying through the day at amazing speed. Not too shabby for a high school graduate without college experience, who spent her teenage years in front of the TV with the cast of “The Partridge Family” and struggled with any subject related to math – don’t you think?
Sadly, Thursday night was a different story.
I was home in front of the computer, relaxation in mind, and in the process of buying a ticket for an on-line concert through a site called Stageit. The start time said 9:00 p.m. OK, no problem. Then I made the mistake of looking at a blog of the artist’s unofficial fan page – start time 7:00 p.m. Huh? I know the moderator/blogger of that site, so I decided to message her about the time differential. Our “conversation” went like this:
Emptycookiejar: “What time is the show tomorrow? Your blog says 7 p.m., Stageit says 9 p.m.”
Hazallhercookies: “No wonder you can’t pick contestants.* Blog times are Pacific.”
(*Haz runs a contest on the forum relative to American Idol. Winners get glossy Idol nail polish or a blue Idol ball, or an Idol blow-up karaoke microphone for selecting the correct order of when contestants leave the show. I’m currently losing very badly and I really want the blue ball.)
And we continue . . .
Empty: “You’re really a smart a** tonight. OK, 7 p.m. it is. I will watch while I mix up cookie dough.
Haz: “Now you’re just messing with me, right?”
Empty: “No, I’m confused and tired. The time on the Stageit website says 9 p.m. and your blog says 7 p.m. and that’s a difference of two hours if you’re both running on Pacific time.”
Then I looked at the Stageit website and realized they are on CST, not Pacific time. So, in review, Pacific time is 7 p.m. and CST is 9 p.m. Doh!
Empty: “Nevermind. I finally figured it out. It’s time for me to go to bed. You’re right. This is why I can’t pick contestants and don’t win prizes – I can’t even tell time.”
The application of time zones in this instant was an embarrassment and led me to wonder if I would remember my name in the morning. I’d like to blame age or lack of sleep or an alien taking over my body for 15 minutes. I can’t say this is the first time I experienced disconnect in my life with my thought process. It happens more than I’d like – I walk purposefully into a room and forget why I am there; I lock my keys in the car; I search for a word that’s on the tip of my tongue and won’t come out. I realize these occurrences happen to everyone, but it’s frustrating nonetheless. Is there something wrong with me? Am I using more than 10% of my brain and it doesn’t know what to do with all of that information? Have I had too much caffeine and sugar?
When I whined about this, several years ago, to a former psychologist at work, she called the disconnect “cognitive overload” (too much conscious intellectual activity). I like it! I’ve used that often as one of my excuses for an empty cookie jar moment. Our current psychologist, on the other hand, has been no help to me. My pleas for a brain transplant have gone unheeded. I thought new brain matter might help, but he just laughs at me and tells me that he’s not qualified for medical procedures.
I have done a little reading on stress and the effect it has on cognitive function. It came out of the past five years or more of being in a bad marriage, going through separation and divorce, moving mom and dad into assisted living (and the mass of related paperwork and phone calls), moving myself, and losing three of my kitties within eight months. Stress and anxiety can negatively affect cognition because of the effects on attention and concentration. It has to do with activating the cortisol system, which, in turn affects the brain.
There are so many reasons and so many excuses to explain away my issues with time zones. I’m not sure which one to choose.
In the end, though, I have to let the empty cookie jar moments go and know that it’s who I am. I take care of myself in so many other ways – with exercise, healthy eating, social activities and spiritual connections. Having those few “doh” moments is not incapacitating. It is merely fodder for my friends, co-workers and family. I keep them laughing.
Here’s an update: I remembered my name Friday morning and how to get to work. I also remembered how to turn on my computer and work the mouse. As the caffeine in my first cup of coffee made it’s way into my stomach and the protein in my peanut butter toast made it’s way to my brain, I started to fill up the cookie jar. I looked at the piles of paper on my desk and I knew what to do with each piece of 8-1/2 x 11” paper – replies to emails with intelligent answers was a breeze. There was not any part of my job that had departed my head.
I looked at the clock and knew the time. It was 7:30 CST. I was awesome again.
Has there been a time in your life when you want to slap your forehead and yell, “Wow, that was silly?” If yes, you can either laugh quietly at yourself or you can share with your comments.