Emptying the Junk Drawer in My Brain


My family is important to me.  So are my friends, my students, my career and my health–and, Lord knows, I spend a tremendous amount of time, energy and effort worrying and fretting over these aspects of my life, especially when I take into account how little control I actually have over any of them–but worry and fret I do.  That’s just the way I am.

Even worse, though, is all the time, energy and effort I waste stewing over countless trivialities that don’t–or shouldn’t–matter at all.  Like most people, I tend to let those trivialities–the “junk”–clutter my brain and suck my life force when I should just let them go, scatter them into the winds and be done with them.  Yes, it’s time to empty out the junk drawer in my brain and free up some of that valuable, dwindling storage space for the things that really do matter.

So, here are just a few of the little things that annoy the heck out of me–the trivialities in my junk drawer–and I vow (I promise and I swear!) that I am throwing them away, and I will not let them bother me anymore:

  1. Trying to watch a YouTube video that is taking too long to load–especially when I have to wait through the attached commercials first.  (Chill out and do something else while you’re waiting, Miss Self-Proclaimed Queen of Multi-Tasking.)
  2. Filling my glass with stale, freezer-burned ice cubes and not discovering my mistake until the first sip.
  3. Getting 20 pages into a book I just bought only to realize that I have already read it.
  4. Knowing that I bought a key recipe ingredient at the grocery store and then not being able to find it when I unload the groceries.  I check the receipt to make sure I actually bought it–yep–so then I re-check the bags, re-trace my steps, and scour the seats and  floorboards–and then finally accept that it has simply vanished.  (Even worse is finding that key ingredient several days later and realizing I must have put it in the cabinet without thinking.)
  5. Finding detergent residue on black pants or a tiny stain on a white shirt while ironing and realizing it’s too late to find something else to wear.  (Seriously, will anyone else even notice?)
  6. Watching a waiter intentionally ignore my empty tea glass–that has been strategically placed at the edge of the table for easy viewing–as he repeatedly walks by my table.  (I realize women dining alone aren’t typically considered good tippers, but this one is, and every time that tea glass is ignored, his tip goes down in percentage points.  I may quit worrying about this one, but I’m not budging on it–keep my tea glass full or suffer the financial consequences.)
  7. Whining through two–count ’em, TWO–cold winter months without a single snowfall and not even having the slightest glimmer of hope of a snow day in the foreseeable forecasted future.
  8. Waiting in line at the convenience store to pay for my gas while the person in front of me leisurely scratches off lottery tickets on the counter.
  9. Spending 20 minutes and half a can of hairspray to style my hair and then realizing my efforts were wasted when I step out the door into 40 mph wind gusts.  (That wind-blown look is supposed to be sexy anyway, right?)
  10. Having to step out of the shower mid-stream after realizing I forgot to replace the empty shampoo bottle at the end of the last shower.
  11. Scanning through the car radio stations–repeatedly–and finding nothing but country music songs and gabby talk shows.  (Turn off the radio and sing to yourself–no, wait a minute, that’s not such a good idea–find a CD instead.)
  12. Getting caught in a downpour on the way into work and spending the rest of the day squishing around in wet shoes.
  13. Clumsily ramming my big toes and/or my knees, my calves and my elbows into every desk, door frame, wall corner, filing cabinet and chair that happens to extend into my path.  (Make up entertaining stories about how you really got all those bruises.)
  14. Having to bypass what would have been a good parking spot because the person parked in the adjoining space saw nothing wrong with leaving his Chrysler straddling the yellow line.
  15. Fighting to push a shopping cart in a straight line when it obviously needs a front-end alignment.
  16. Having more clean clothes than hangers to put them on.
  17. Wanting to use the microwave at work but being disgusted by all the dried-up, unidentifiable food splatters left behind by previous users.
  18. Realizing–after it’s too late to correct the problem–that the underwear I chose to wear that day has no intention of staying in place (and always needing to be on the lookout for places where I can give it an inconspicuous tug).
  19. Being so distracted by a speaker’s constant insertion of “you know” into his conversation that I completely miss the gist of the message.  (Have fun with it–throw a few dozen “you knows” of your own into the conversation and see if he picks up on your subtlety.)
  20. Having my just-washed car splattered by bluejays.
  21. Finding an unpaid bill in the bottom of my purse three days after it was due.
  22. Remembering something important that I need to do–and then forgetting it almost immediately–but being left with the vague knowledge that there was SOMETHING important I needed to do.
  23. Being assaulted by lingering body odor in every aisle of the grocery store–odor so strong that I can smell it in my hair and taste it on my tongue.
  24. Scrubbing and scrubbing to remove the sticky brown residue left from a bandage (and eventually deciding that it will just have to wear off on its own).
  25. Spotting a skittering spider disappearing into the darkness beneath the bed right before bedtime.
  26. Running out of checks before running out of bill-paying errands.
  27. Being unable to find the other earring or the other shoe I was planning on wearing.  (Quit stomping and slamming and cussing–you have other earrings and other shoes.)
  28. Trying to prove to myself how tough I am by not taking the prescribed pain medication at the appointed time and then having to accept four, pain-filled hours later that I’m not so tough after all.
  29. Missing phone calls and text messages that don’t show up on my cell phone until several days later.
  30. Being told by someone who is NOT the boss of me that I CAN’T do something and then having to prove that person wrong even if it is to my own detriment. (Okay, let’s be honest.  I probably can’t let go of this one completely, so maybe I’ll vow instead to stop doing the really stupid stuff just to prove to the other person that I can.)

So, how about you, reader?  Do you have a junk drawer that needs dumping, too?  Feel free to spill it here . . .

(And now that I’ve gotten rid of some of the trivial clutter, the next item on the agenda will be letting go of some of my silly fears . . . stay tuned!)

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About icedteawithlemon

I have recently retired from a 30-year career in education in one of the best school districts in the world. I hope to spend my second life reading, writing, photographing, traveling, biking, cheering on my favorite baseball team (the St. Louis Cardinals), and soaking up glorious sunshine. In my spare time I enjoy playing with my pet tarantulas, trying out new flavors of chewing gum, and knitting socks for prison inmates. I'm almost positive that in a past life I was one of the Seven Dwarfs (most likely "Grumpy"), and in my next life I'm going to be either a taste tester for Hershey's or a model for Victoria's Secret's new line, "Bloomers for Boomers." I want to travel country back roads, singing Vanilla Ice songs at every karaoke bar and rating bathroom cleanliness at every truckstop. And someday I plan to own a private beach where skinny girls aren't allowed. I want to be a writer when I grow up. "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."--Henry David Thoreau
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18 Responses to Emptying the Junk Drawer in My Brain

  1. Those advertisements on YouTube clips drive me nuts.

    Thank you for sharing your cognitive junk drawer with us!

  2. maryfollowsthelamb says:

    I got some chuckles while I was nodding my head as I read your list. I’ll work on cleaning out my own junk drawer right after I put down my hairspray while searching for the latest bruise on my arm from banging into the bathroom doorway to check for stray pieces of lint on my navy jacket…

  3. rhonda newton says:

    Great! It is lovely to realize that we are ALL in this together! I can relate to multiple subjects in your blog. In fact, I have experienced most of the above mentioned. Keep writing. We love it! P.S. I would notice the stain on your shirt. 🙂

    • Rhonda, if you have experienced most of the same “trivialities,” then I hope you have done a better job than I have of not letting them stress you! And I have gone to work upset over the laundry detergent residue on my black pants, but I have to admit that if it comes down to wearing a shirt with a tiny stain (or even a pin-prick sized hole) or being late due to a wardrobe change, then I almost always choose being late. Thanks for the encouragement–as long as you keep reading, I’ll keep writing!

  4. Miles Long says:

    haha!! Being such a Baseball fan… “Having my just-washed car splattered by bluejays.” I am sure Cardinals would NEVER to do that!

  5. emjayandthem says:

    So many here that I could relate to but #5 (detergent residue) gets me often and always when I’m in a hurry with no other options – grr. I also gag over the crusty, gnarly looking office-microwave and coffee slops by my co-worker slobs. Great list! MJ

    • Thank you, MJ! And you just reminded me of yet another triviality I need to let go–my husband’s spilled coffee messes all over the kitchen counter! How can he not SEE them? Deep breath … letting it go!

  6. SUE says:

    Oh, Karen, you really know how to start my day!! It is always such a pleasure to wake up & find your new blog on the computer and this one, as always, gave me smiles & out loud laughing. That’s probably because I also relate to most of them. Good luck with your cleaning – I hope you do better than me!

    • Thank you, Sue! I am going to try very hard to let these little things go, but there are countless others still cluttering up my storage space … this is just the beginning of the cleaning process!

  7. HA! I love it when people can admit that they have clutter, just like the rest of us. But, I’m just going to say that I have always admired you for how great your clothes look. Your whites are gleaming white (and I have always been super envious of that), your darks are un-faded, and your colored clothes are the color they are supposed to be. I am an ironing freak, so I also notice that you are completely pressed. I would totally notice that you had laundry residue on your pants, and that there is a tiny spot on your shirt. It wouldn’t change my opinion that you are a laundry queen, I’m just saying that I would notice. (Does it freak you out that I notice your clothes so much? Hmmmm…) Unclutter…Release…Purge… I do predict that you will stick with your high standards of your wardrobe. Own it! Or, let it go…either way…you will forever be my White Clothes That Are Gleeming White Queen!

    • Ha! Too, too funny! Does it freak me out that you notice? No, but it does re-affirm what I’ve always suspected–that pride in our appearance does matter! I am an ironing freak, also–I have a spray bottle of “wrinkle release” in my desk drawer, and on those days when my work “day” extends well into the evening, I have also been known to bring a second set of clothes to change into so that I can ditch the crumpled look! And you’re probably right–I may never be able to completely “let go” of my wardrobe fussiness, but I still vow (promise and swear!) not to let it stress me so!

  8. John Bradley-O'Neill says:

    How about going into a Subway sub shop and specifically ordering a foot long BLT on whole wheat…the employee then asking you…

    1. “Would you like lettuce and tomatoes with that?”
    2. “Would you like that on white, whole wheat or multi-grain?”
    3. “Six inch or foot long?”

    I’m not kidding.

    Banging.My.Head.On.The.Counter.

  9. bronxboy55 says:

    Wonderful post, Karen — even the reminder that item number 22 seems to be happening more and more. It just means we’re too busy, right?

    • Right–at least that’s what I try to convince myself. I’m also quite certain that I can’t remember things sometimes because there is just SO MUCH accumulated knowledge crammed into that tiny space that it takes a while to filter through it all. Yeah, that’s it. (Thank you.)

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