Christie’s Chronicles: Living the non-uppity life

Chuckles candy comes in five flavors: cherry, lemon, lime, orange and licorice. Here they are in miniature form. This fact is firmly entrenched in my memory. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

When I read an email that starts off with “You’ve been selected,” I don’t get too excited. Usually it’s for applying for something I didn’t want anyway. Besides, applying doesn’t mean getting. If so, I would have started my career in Indianapolis.

I also suspect that many people have “been selected.” This is humbling. That means I’m not special, at least not in this instance.

But life is full of humbling moments, many of which have to deal with my increasingly bad short-term memory.

I was driving my car the other day when for some reason, I couldn’t recall who sang “Werewolves of London” and “Excitable Boy.” My life didn’t depend on getting an answer right away, but it was bugging me enough that I performed a Google search on my phone when it was safe enough to do so.

The late Warren Zevon was the answer. Of course — how could I have not remembered?

My train of thought shifted to the possibility that had I been a contestant on “Jeopardy!” my momentary loss of cognitive competence might have given me a negative money balance and public humiliation.

However, ask me the five colors of Chuckles candies — cherry, lemon, lime, orange and licorice — and I’m right on it. That’s the stuff I need to know.

Physical coordination also is getting to be a challenge.

Most people probably have a harder time navigating going down a flight of stairs instead of up.

Not me. Not too long ago, I somehow missed my footing traveling up from the basement, and slipped, scraping some skin. Choosing to overlook the obvious pain in this ridiculous situation, I started to laugh while spread over a few steps on my belly. Those endorphins really helped me get past this shameful misstep.

A similar incident occurred along Lake Superior in the Founders Landing area. I was lying down after a fall, making an imprint of my body into the sand and releasing those endorphins when my husband Dave told me waves were headed in my direction. I got out of the way in time.

I wonder what my endorphins would have done to the water quality had I gotten submerged. Would they have been contagious? Would there have been smiling fish in the water? It would give “Laughing Whitefish” a whole new meaning.

I know that the older you get, the hardest it is to remember certain things, plus clumsiness becomes more of a factor, especially the first thing in the morning. (Don’t ask me to hold a priceless vase at 7 a.m.) Still, I’ve picked up a few strategies to fend off my feebleness.

Some are a bit old school. I use an engagement calendar more than my iPhone to remember important dates. A bonus is that since I keep it on a table in the bedroom, I don’t have to dust underneath it. It just leaves a nice imprint between dustings.

I do use my iPhone, though, to keep a grocery checklist. Not to assume I can recall everything, I even put the staples of bread, orange juice, milk, butter, Honeycrisp apples and cherry Bing drink on the list just in case I still forget. However, some items I pick on the spot depending on what’s available: sunflower oil-based tuna beats water-based tuna, baby Swiss cheese trumps regular Swiss cheese and crunchy peanut butter wins over creamy peanut butter.

I also am not fond of how I say my R’s. Too hard, but not quite like the Irish. I tried softening them up once but it sounded like a bad Boston accident. So, I don’t sound upper crust. That’s one more reason to be humble.

These are some truisms in my life that probably will never change, regardless of my ever-evolving cognitive abilities.

What does change is my increasing willingness to accept my greater number of missteps and imperfections as I get older. In a way, I have no choice. I need that hand-railing more and more, my reading glasses are essential when trying to decipher between a 6 and an 8, and when I get a numerical code sent via text message, I have to mutter the multi-digit code several times to myself lest I forget it in the next few seconds I need to input that code.

I just need enough humility to not worry if people see me muttering to myself.


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