Some days I wonder how I'm going to get through the day. That happens when for the first time each day I need to think in order, when I need to make decisions.
That wouldn't be as difficult as it is if I could keep my mind on the job, because at this time perhaps more than any other my mind is inclined to wander. It ends up at places a long way from where it needs to be, and my body seems to give a split-second start when I realise my mind has lost the path again.
This is at breakfast, specifically as I set about making breakfast. The eating of breakfast is not a problem because my mental energies are captured by the digital version of this and other newspapers, but the preparation is as disordered as a mad woman's breakfast, as they used to say in less correct days.
First decision is whether to have breakfast. Often I have just a cup of tea, which is always lychee tea if I'm having just tea. Lychee tea has a smokiness that is to taste what bass notes are to the ear.
My wife buys me bags of lychee tea from a tea shop at Coffs Harbour, online or she disappears when we stop for a break while passing through Coffs Harbour and I'll know she's gone to the tea shop to buy lychee tea. I don't let on because I know she'll feel good that she's bought me a surprise. I'm as happy with cheap lychee tea sold in tins in Chinese supermarkets, but I don't let on about that either.
Which way should I cut the toast? Will I cut it into two rectangles ...or an askew diagonal cut? Why do I have to think about such things?
Whoops, back to breakfast. So, today I'm going to have breakfast, but what? Even compiling a list of the options requires a discipline I don't have in good supply in the morning, and I guess that's the advantage of having the same things for breakfast every day.
Until I was a mid teenager I had three Weetbix and hot milk every day for breakfast, and we gave eggs every week to an elderly neighbour who loved two eggs for breakfast until he told us with disappointment that his doctor had told him not to eat more than two eggs a week. At age 90.
Sheesh, back to breaky, and I don't want the same thing every day, hence the pre-breakfast struggle. Today the choices are toast, a small tin of baked beans, fruit, leftovers or oat biscuits, and I'm going to have a piece of toast.
Now, when I have breakfast I have coffee, pod coffee. I ran out of pods last week, which surprised me because I was sure I'd seen two or three packets of pods on the shelf a few days earlier. Someone, I complained to my wife, has taken the coffee pods. Who, my wife scolded, would dream of taking the coffee pods! No-one else has a pod machine! The very next day we were at a daughter's house when my wife saw me looking at the coffee pod machine on the kitchen bench. Stop it, she said.
So, breakfast. First step is to take the toaster from the cupboard under the sink and sit it on the stove, and second step is to turn on the rangehood. I usually forget this second step, and I invariably burn the toast, which come together as a screeching smoke alarm. Suddenly I need to divert to turn off my wife's internet-linked Alexa because the radio it's playing drives me nuts when I'm trying to think. Alexa was a birthday gift to me by daughters who knew their mother wanted one.
It's always listening. Several months ago when my wife accused me of ruining the floor by scraping the legs of my chair on it I said we needed to find some of those felt pads for the chair legs. She said they didn't work well on chair legs because they came off. The very next day there was on my Facebook an ad for rubber sleeves that fit over the bottom of chair legs. Back to breakfast! Cut a slice of bread and pop it in the toaster, turn on the pod machine and get three pods, get the butter from the first fridge, if I can find it, and the toast pops up barely toasted. I know about the darkness dial but it never works for me.
IN THE NEWS:
So I push the toast down for another bout and I resolve to stay to watch lest it burn, as it always does. The flashing lights tell me the pod machine needs more water, so I refill it immediately because that will take only seconds, then I put Carnation Milk for the coffee in the microwave because that won't take long. Oops, I race into the bathroom to turn the instantaneous hot water to its highest temperature so I can use hot water to pre-heat the double-skinned coffee mug.
God help me! The smoke alarm is screaming. I turn the toaster off and flap a tea towel at the alarm for two minutes.
I scrape the toast and look to what can go on it, deciding on one of those individually wrapped slices of processed cheese on half and harissa on the other.
Which way should I cut the toast? Will I cut it into two rectangles, only ever the long way, or my signature division, an askew diagonal cut? Why do I have to think about such things? Today I cut two long rectangles, to better accommodate the square cheese slice.
If my wife was nearby she would say "That's not real cheese you know", and I would say "whatever it is I like it". But when I took the lid off the harissa I was very pleased she wasn't within sight, because there were a few blobs of mould on top, which would have sent her into a shrieking frenzy about mould being deadly.
But not today. I quietly scraped the mouldy bits off, bury them out of sight in the kitchen bin and the harissa was excellent. And I'm still here, at this point in time.
I'll be here longer if I skip the stress of breakfast.