Last week, I left the house without shoes. I had on my slippers, and I made it all the way to the front stoop—with three locked doors behind me—before I realized something was wrong. A friend today told me she once walked half a block without any shoes at all. She has two kids, and I have no doubt I will one day get to that point as well.
Such is my mind these days. It’s hard to remember that I was once among the world’s most organized people. I’ve always made reminder notes, but more because it was just a way to stay organized; now, if I don’t write something down, it’s out of my head in two seconds. I’ve been late with our credit card payment three times in six months (fortunately, they’re forgiving—so far). I’ve lost an entire envelope of tax receipts from the first half of 2010 (surely put “somewhere safe” for the move, and also, surely, never to be seen again). I’ve lost 30,000 Dividend Miles from USAirways because I didn’t write a reminder to redeem some miles before their expiration. Yesterday I left the oven on for two hours after baking a loaf cake; I’d pressed the wrong button when I went to turn it off. When I went for a manicure on Sunday (an hour’s mothering respite!) I absentmindedly put my fingers into the bowl the manicurist presented for my rings, removing them only when she gently prodded, “No, miss, your rings.” And when I was making corn chowder Sunday night, I measured out the corn while the onions cooked, and then promptly dumped some of the corn into the onions instead of the bowl with the corn. Not a soup-ruining move, but irritating nonetheless. Come to think of it, it’s pretty hard to ruin soup, which suggests to me that I should probably stick to soup for a little while.
Lucia is nearly sixteen months old, so new-mommy brain is no longer an excuse. Instead, I have first-molar brain, forty-minute-nap brain, Wheels-on-the-Bus-a-million-times brain. Nothing is organized anymore. I did some filing this weekend for the first time since June. Usually by this time my tax stuff is ready to send off to the accountant; right now it’s in a pile, bills with receipts with 1099s. The house is in permanent disarray.
This is why, I think, it’s so satisfying to do my editing work these days. The rest of my life might be a travesty of organization; but I can fuse comma splices, undangle dangling modifiers, align verb tense, and iron out parallelism until a manuscript sparkles. I may not be doing yoga these days, but carefully tending to tangled prose is a kind of mental rest as well.