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There’s a reminder that pops up on WordPress that says, “You haven’t written anything yet!” Like I didn’t know that? Like I wasn’t aware that a blank page was staring at me with no words “popping” up in my head with their own exclamation points at the end to put down on the page. Yes, there’s an exclamation point at the end of WPs pop-up and it’s that little punctuation mark that nags me the most about that reminder.

It all takes me back to my days at St. James the Less Grade School. Whenever we had a test, the Dominican nun-teacher would walk-up-and-down the classroom aisles during test-taking-time on the lookout for any potential cheating that might be happening. She had to watch us 6 year-olds very carefully. I’d sit there at my little cluttered desk — surely that, too, was a sin against something — and listen for the rosary beads clicking against the sides of the desk signalling a closer and closer approach. I’d grip my little fingers around the chewed-up yellow pencil and wait for the tap on the shoulder. She always stopped at my desk. I don’t know if it was my slouched form, or my gripping the pencil the “wrong” way or my rumpled uniform blouse, but, inevitably, as the click of the rosary stopped I would hear her “Tsk, tsk, tsk.” in my ear. She would have to bend her 15 foot height over me — I was a very little six year old — and then she’d point to the question I had skipped. She implied, just like WordPress, that I had forgotten question four and not that I just didn’t know the answer. I didn’t dare, then, to tell her that scaring the beejeebies out of me did not help me to answer that question. The fact was that I didn’t know the answer before she came and, after her visit, I was so scared I probably didn’t even remember my name. And, believe me, WordPress, if that nun couldn’t get the words out of me, neither can you.

But, I’ve been thinking lately, that reminders could be good things for my aging brain.   The other day I was cleaning off the breakfast things from the table while at the same time remembering I hadn’t put any face cream on. So, instead of taking the tea pot to the kitchen, I carried it down the hall with me towards the bathroom. If I had reminded myself at the table what I was doing, I could have saved some steps and not felt like the damn fool I was with that tea pot in my hand.

I remember an American woman I knew in Mexico. She was trying diligently to learn Spanish and speak it with her amazingly awful accent. To learn, she had little reminders of words taped all through her apartment. They would swing from the ceiling on little strings, forcing whoever walked under them to see them and, hopefully, memorize that word immediately. I always wondered afterwards whether those reminders stuck and she was now fluent in Spanish. I don’t think so.

Would little index cards of reminders help me to remember what the hell I wanted when I opened the refrigerator door? That, unfortunately, is happening all too regularly of late as is my questioning whether I turned off the stove every time I put the key in the lock to leave. “They” tell me not to worry about these little slips but that’s hard to do. So, diligence is called for, Ms. Annie. Now — right now — is the time to turn this around and become more present, more aware and to concentrate on one thing at a time!!!! Like putting words on this page and not thinking about wanting another cup of tea to procrastinate or going out and changing the channel on the radio. In the end, maybe the nun and WordPress have it right. Just a little nudge towards that blank page and missing question four is just what I need to help me through this aging stuff.