Sunday, July 20, 2008

Out to Lunch

Although I’m a writer and speaker, I continue to work at my day job for those little necessities like food and health insurance. My job as an office manager is fulfilling and challenging enough to hold my interest. We work ten-hour days with an hour lunch break. Sometimes, it seems that my brain is “out to lunch” during that one hour of theoretical down time in the middle of the day.

Friday, just as I was ending the work week, I decided to eat at the office and work on an article and story with looming deadlines. I walked back to the kitchen, removed my Schwan’s Broccoli-Chicken and Rice Bowl and popped it into the microwave. Rather than waste six minutes while I waited for it to cook, I grabbed a glass of ice water and returned to my desk, popped in my flash drive, and began to write.

The problem with healthy food is sometimes it just doesn’t stick with you. At three o’clock I was famished, and just as I reached for my apple, I realized my lunch was still in the microwave. I never thought I would live long enough to forget to eat! HereI am, a master of multi-tasking, and forgot to eat lunch.

Last week, I rushed from my hair appointment through a drive-thru window at Goody’s. I bypassed the “Order Here” menu and drove to the “Pick up Order” window. Just as I was contemplating backing up, the window opened and a grinning man said, “Could I have your order, please?”

“I can’t believe I didn’t stop and place my order.”

“It happens,” he said, “people just have their minds on something else.”

I didn’t tell him this was an improvement over the fiasco at the same restaurant last year. That time, I ordered at the proper window, paid for my food, and drove off with only my drink. I’m sure I was thinking about more important things than lunch.

My friend, Tracy Mobley, diagnosed at 38 with early-onset dementia, has something to say about people like me who have so much on their plates that their brains are out to lunch. She says, “They are quick to say, ‘Oh, I do those things.’ I truly wish this disease were as forgiving and forgetting as they make it seem.”

Well said, Tracy! When Jim developed dementia, I realized how serious and life-changing Alzheimer’s really is. He began a process that could be described as unlearning.

Our lives are so hectic today that we often find ourselves with our brain on one track, and our actions on auto pilot. This mental overload is not Alzheimer’s, but simply a brain trying to process too much information.

The lesson for me is to hang a mental “Out to Lunch” sign during my lunch break and spend my time more wisely. I need to take a deep breath and slow down. If I meet friends for lunch or go to the park and relax for an hour, I bet I wouldn’t forget to eat.


For information on Memory Talk presentations, visit, and click on the Alzheimer's Speaker link. Alzheimer's Anthology of Unconditional Love available at,, and selected Missouri Barnes and Noble stores.

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