I consider myself to be a generally thoughtful, intelligent person, but some things befuddle me. Simple things. Things that cause others to roll their eyes in disbelief that I can’t seem to “get it,” or to think that I’m feigning ignorance for some unknown reason. I promise you, that is not the case. No matter how hard I try to overcome, the problems persist. It’s like math anxiety only with a wider scope.
Directions. Yes, many people – including most of my siblings – are challenged by directions on a large scale. When people say “west,” do they mean “left?” Or “right?” And, unless the sun is actually setting, how do some people, without a compass, just know which way west is? And, undoubtedly, retracing a complex series of directions in reverse is always baffling. I have never had a good sense of direction.
I get particularly frustrated with myself, though, simply trying to navigate the small town of Charlevoix. It’s the mainland town where the Beaver Island ferry boat docks, and where our planes fly into. I’ve been there a hundred times. The town has one main street. The water – with the boat dock – is on one side. The airport is at the south end of town. If you go north, the road leads to Petoskey. That is enough obvious information so that I should always know where I am. Yet, I’m always lost.
I’ll come out of a shop and walk four blocks in the wrong direction, heading for a shop that I’ve visited dozens of times before. In my car, I am constantly having to turn around. I’m often headed for the airport when I’m trying to go to Petoskey, or vise versa. Last week, I was trying – over the telephone – to tell a friend how to get to the book store. Was it on the water side…or not? Was it on the airport end of town? Maybe it was in the center of town. Finally, in frustration, my directions consisted of, “It’s somewhere on the main street!”
Forms. I don’t care if it’s a simple questionnaire or a complicated application, when a form is placed in front of me, I freeze. I can almost see the wall going up; I am immediately tense. I can’t figure out the simplest things. Do I write my name on the line above the place where it says “name” or in the box below it? I never know.
Last week, my sister, Brenda, helped me with my taxes. I had two years worth to do, and had been stymied by all the considerations having to do with the news magazine that I acquired at the beginning of 2015. Though she’s a C.P.A., Brenda is retired. She does taxes for a few friends and relatives, but neither of us wanted her to be taking on my mess as an additional annual obligation. I wanted to learn, so that I could do it myself next year. So…we worked through it together.
Brenda printed out all the forms. She’d slide a page over to me. Seeing the panic in my eyes, she’d start gently, “Put your name here…” Like the good teacher she is, she asked the right questions, offered good advice, and made me do it myself. Depending on the hour, there was always coffee or wine at the ready, to keep me plodding along. When we finally finished, I felt like we deserved champagne!
Daylight Saving Time. Finally, after some genius came up with the catchy, “Spring forward…Fall back,” I can at least remember which direction the clocks get changed to, depending on the season. That’s good, because it’s confusing enough without that issue to worry about. I dutifully set all my clocks forward before I went to bed last night. Then, when the dogs wanted out at six-thirty this morning (on my day off, and the one day this week I planned to sleep in), I thought, “Oh, if it weren’t for Daylight Saving Time, it would be seven-thirty, and these poor dogs must really have to pee!” I jumped out of bed, let them outside, started coffee, brushed my teeth and made the bed before it came to me. If it weren’t for Daylight Saving Time, it would be five-thirty!! Aargh!