A Reminder About Dental Floss = Everything That's Wrong Right Now. I Don't Make the Rules.
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Several days ago, I was sitting in a movie theatre eating a giant bag of popcorn with extra butter substitute on it —
(the bag of popcorn, unbeknownst to me, was leaking a load of excess butter substitute all over my lap and fancy scarf for three hours, a scarf I can’t wash in case it falls apart, and so now I have a popcorn-flavoured fancy scarf I will wear everywhere anyway while people constantly wonder who farted, you’re welcome)
— and, of course, because this happens every single time I eat popcorn at the movies, which is 100% of the time I go to the movies, a coarse flake of popcorn husk wedged itself painfully up under my gum-line in a spot I can’t properly dig at without inserting at least a full half of my fist into my mouth, which I of course did, telling myself that no one would notice, because 1) it was dark, 2) I was flanked by two groups of nerdy teen boys who are biologically incapable of apprehending middle-aged feminine people, 3) Avengers: Endgame was playing, which is a highly engaging flick, 4) I’m not the kind of animal that can sit still feeling mounting pressure and gum-swelling without ramming the husk around with my tongue until my whole mouth doesn’t work anymore, and 5) I never remember to put dental floss in my bag, which is something I promise myself I will do every time I find myself in a public theatre with half of a fist in my mouth.
(That 260-word opening sentence comes to you care of three consecutive cups of coffee topped up with this terribly sugary sweetener we bought to make my father happy when he came over, and now I have to consume it, because it will go bad before he’s ever here again, and I find throwing out even the worst things difficult. This is how my guilty conscience tries to save the planet. Help.)
Aaaaanyway, I decided once and for all to email myself a reminder to put floss in my bag, and I was working my way through two to-do lists, my reminders app, and the various notifications on my phone that tell me what to do all day, when I finally came across the email again five days later, and I realized this: THE MODERN WORLD CAN SUCK IT.
(Autocorrect made my note-to-self look stupid by substituting the wrong word for “put”, and I thoughtlessly insulted myself. I could write a whole damn book about how the world of constant heads-ups has turned us into reactive pudding-heads.)
My reminder email worked, though, because I just now put a few of those fancy flossing stick dealies in my bag, but I’m stuck with this realization that there are almost no tasks I do in the moment anymore. I have a to-do list for things to take care of around the house, I have a to-do list for client work, I have reminder emails for things that seem too small or ridiculous to put on a to-do list, I have notifications for meetings and events, etc. Almost anything I am doing at any given moment is something I thought of earlier to do later, which puts me in the psychological position of feeling like I’m late when I’m finally doing a task, that I must hurry, that things are undone, that I am losing in some way.
None of these things may be true, but with lists and apps and notifications and the generally increased multitask-ery of life these days, so many things exist as signals of other things that have already happened or feel like they maybe could or should have already happened, and I feel the more urgent push to do something right this minute before that notification disappears and I forget. I’m left feeling like I have to leap on things before they run away from me, that I’m never on top, never in the lead, never finished anything before something or someone is virtually poking me, and then my mind’s off like Alice In Wonderland’s White Rabbit, “I'm late, I'm late. For a very important date. No time to say hello. Goodbye. I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.”
I’ve been turning off as many notifications and doing as many things in the moment as I can, because it’s madness otherwise. I dropped out of Facebook, which cut my notifications for crap I couldn’t even make up by at least two-thirds, I’ve quit my to-do list apps in favour of a pen and paper journal, and my emails to myself now automatically go to a special folder where I can see them clearly all together, but, still, this stupid “Floss” email feels like an irritating bully sticking his finger painfully into my armpit. I always hated that kid.
But now I have floss in my bag! And no one will have to pretend not to see me ramming my own fist into the back of my mouth during pivotal fight scenes! But you’ll all still have to endure my fancy scarf that smells like butter substitute popcorn farts, because it’s irreplaceable and I love it. I’ll try to stand downwind. You’re welcome.