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Suburban Island

Open Mouth, Insert Foot
Thursday, Mar. 18, 2004, 11:35 p.m.

QUESTION: Did I really just say that?

WHAT I LEARNED: Sometimes less is more.

If Forrest Gump were here, heíd hand me a box of candy. In fact, food was one of the only positive components of my experience over the last 12 hours. Today was a bad day punctuated by 2 really good lattes, leftovers from a St. Patrickís Day dinner, and a piece of pizza from California Pizza Kitchen that one of my co-workers shared with me because he probably felt bad for critiquing a presentation I had done this afternoon. His critique was right on but since he always telling me what a swell presenter I am it was a bit of a blow. So I ate pizza and he ate pizza and we both felt the better for it.

In between these small edible consolations were 2 clients in the morning that didnít show up for their appointments after I drove like a bat out of hell and stood around on a corner in the soggy weather hailing a cab to get to our meetings. In the afternoon, my luck turned from bad to worse as I discovered that giving a presentation in a training room that looked posh and high tech was going to be a little more complicated than I expected because the computer with the projector attached to it wasnít working. The high point came though when I accidentally called one of the attendees by the wrong name. His name was Guy and I called him Gay. Yes, I called Guy Ė Gay. Not Gay Guy Ė just Gay and just once but Guy quieted down after that. I donít know what that means.

Thatís something that Iíve been noticing lately. Maybe itís the constant lack of sleep, high stress levels, or just a curious trick of the brain, but I have found myself saying one word when I mean another now and then these days. I hope this doesnít mean that now that Iíve hit the big 5-0 Iím headed for an immediate downturn into early dementia.

And thereís another mental malfunction Iíve noticed of late and this is in regard to my memory capabilities. Sometimes, when I see people out of their normal context, I donít recognize them, or their name flies out of my head or both. For instance around the holidays some old neighbors came by the house. We love them. They are the best. But they were supposed to be in Texas, not standing on our front porch, and we hadnít seen them in a couple years. My friend came to the door and when I opened it, instead of throwing my arms around her, I said hello and stood there. I couldnít place her until I saw the van with her husband and kids in it. I was traumatized. I felt like the worst friend in the world. Not quite as bad but still embarrassing - at a conference last year, I saw a really good friend, went to introduce her to someone and just couldnít remember her name.

I suppose that as long as I can remember my own name, I am not too far gone and these momentary lapses are simply an indicator of the stress and overload that we all experience as we race through life in the 21st century. Either that or everyone is going to have to start wearing nametags.

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