Losing It

This morning, I spent 25 minutes looking for my keys. I cleaned up the living room last night, so there weren't any piles of paper or books for them to be under anymore, and I had them to drive home with after class last night, so I know they had to be in the house. And my house is not really big. It is pretty cluttered, but even so, there shouldn't be that many places to look. Especially because my partner, in an attack of common sense (he does tend to have that sort of thing), put up a key hook in the kitchen where I hang my keys when I walk in the door. That, at least, is the theory. The practice is me going nuts for 25 minutes, missing my bus, and finally conceding defeat and taking the spare pair that don't have my office keys because if I don't I won't ever make it out the door.

The thought has occurred to me that the only reason I've gone into academia is because absentmindedness is far more tolerable there than anywhere else. I'm halfway to "absentminded professor," after all.

Even so, this is not the way to live. Academia or no, I should not be spending hours of my life looking for things I put down less than five minutes ago. And I do. I have this amazing talent for losing things the minute they leave my hand. Other people have seen this phenomenon and been awed. Like when a friend came to pick me up and I had everything with me, and then I put my purse down to go to the bathroom one last time. When I came out of the bathroom, the purse was gone. My friend had just seen me with it, so she knew I wasn't making up that I'd "just had it now and put it down, I swear!" (And no, she hadn't taken it. That would've made matters much easier.) We both looked. Together. And spent ten minutes before we finally figured out that, for reasons unknown to me upon reflection, I had decided that in a bookshelf, on top of some books, was the perfect place for the purse to wait until I'd finished in the bathroom.

Recently, I lost my phone. We have a cordless, and although it's frequently lost, it's usually easily found with the intercom button. Sadly, this time the phone's batteries were dead, which means the intercom didn't work. It took three days, during which time I eventually gave in and dug out our old corded phone, before we found it. It was under laundry and pillows on the couch.

I still don't know where my keys are. I did once actually find them in the fridge, though that was a freak occurrence, even for me. I've found them in the pockets of pants I swear I wasn't wearing. Once on the front seat of my unlocked car, where they'd been for a few hours. Several times in my backpack, even though I was sure I'd taken them out. Often under a stack of papers. Occasionally in the silverware drawer. (Oh, I forgot to check there - I'll have to do that as soon as I get home!) Sometimes on top of the washer, though - so far - never inside. I look on bookshelves, by the phone, on the bed, by the bathroom sink, on the rim of the bathtub, on top of books, in the hall closet, on the kitchen table, on the shelf by the front door, on the stove, on top of the fridge, next to the kitchen spices, on top of the TV, in the medicine cabinet, on the couch, in decorative bowls and boxes, next to the computer, on top of the printer, under the couch pillows, under the bed pillows, on top of the VCR, on the kitchen chairs, under whatever clothes are on the bedroom floor… you get the idea. And the sad truth is that I've actually found my keys in many of those places. Who knows where they are now - the silverware drawer is actually a decent bet.

I don't know why I do this. I try to stop doing it, and things like the key hook should be helping. But when I put things down I'm so much on autopilot that I'm not even aware of my behavior, which makes it really hard to change it. Apparently, my body decides, "I don't feel like holding these keys anymore," and doesn't bother to check in with the brain before just dumping them somewhere - wherever I happen to be walking past at the moment. Moments or hours later, my brain, out of the loop, realizes that the keys are missing, and the game begins. Couch? No. Kitchen table? No. By the phone? No. And so on, ad nauseam.

I've really got to stop doing this. And if anyone has any suggestions on how, do let me know. But before I do that, I really have to find my keys.


Something will come in this space soon.

I just finished two term papers this week, though, and still have grading left to do, so this week's column goes up piecemeal! Or perhaps you'll have to wait for next week's column to get your sidebar fix!

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May 10, 2002

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