It has taken a lot of mid-life musing to finally reach a stage when I trust myself to know when some Mama J burn-out could be just around the corner. This ‘super power’ doesn’t always allow me to take the heat out of the impending smoldering, but it does at least allow me to share a forest fire warning with those I love, before I risk fanning the flames myself and singeing my own eyebrows.
The first tell tale sign is overthinking things. For example, although no-one will really care whether my jumper shelf is alpha-sorted into co-ordinated pantone shades, I start to obsess that the engineer chap coming to check my gas boiler later in the week (not a euphemism) may enter my wardrobe by mistake and make a character judgement based on the lack of filing system for my sweaters. I then start wondering if I have time to blitz the shelf before that visit – perhaps decant a few jumpers and squeeze in a visit to the local charity shop – or will this mean having to cancel going to running club? I can’t share my fretting with those I know and love because they will think I am joking. I go to running club but on the hill sprints start obsessing about the state of the drawer containing my running kit; no wonder I was late to running club – my leggings were all tangled up with my t-shirts. This needs a rethink. I start to wonder whether any of my old t-shirts would make good dusters, after all, my flat could certainly do with dusting. In fact, if I don’t dust the flat, that gas man will surely make a character judgement about me during his visit… and so it goes on.
I make a conscious effort to start under thinking; I realise I am not really sure how this works.
I try to calm my mind by making mental lists of my favourite things. I attempt to put them into my top 5’s – you know, Top 5 restaurants, Top 5 European cities visited. I start with the restaurants, hoping this will slow my agitation down. I think I may have chosen the wrong time to do this; I have just returned from running club and realise I must be hungry, for as soon as I start thinking about the restaurant list, I get distracted by trying to think what my top 5 meals would actually be and where I might have eaten them. Forget ‘no carbs ’til Marbs,’ (I am too burnt out for a holiday, anyway), I find myself obsessing about meals that are all heavy in the carb department. I blame running for this.
Rather than returning to the list of restaurants, instead of getting Hasselbacked, I decide to follow this potato blight. I focus solely – and calmly – on carbs. I start with potatoes. I decide to list my top 5 and it starts like this:
- Baked potato
- Roast potato
- Sweet potato wedges
I spend the next hour obsessing about numbers 4 and 5 because I realise there would be no 4 and 5. Perhaps I don’t love potatoes enough. I blame my mother for introducing us to instant potato in the ’70’s. I think I got well and truly mashed on her Smash. I feel myself listing to starboard and distracted by thoughts of the many options for filling a baked potato.
The thought of an incomplete list is not a very calming prospect. I wrestle with the thought of real mash, but it can be too creamy; I can’t afford the fat involved in chips (and even if I could, I will then have to decide between curly fries, chunky chips or pomme frites – no, cheesy chips – heck!), and I just don’t trust new potatoes with all that butter and mint. I already have decision fatigue. I am frittered, but can’t seem to stop frying.
Do Spudulikes still exist, I wonder? I swear they went into administration. Hmm. And why do I still laugh when people say that franchise name phonetically? Which comediene first made a joke about them the ’80’s? This is all going to worry me now.
Perhaps I have overthought potatoes. Under thinking would have surely started with pasta. But then, as a vegetarian runner who loves her pasta, where would I start? Should red pesto pasta go before green and am I brave enough to publicly declare a student obsession with pasta and melted marmite? I haven’t even started thinking about pasta shapes. I am not sure what my position is on Conchiglie, Farfalle or Fazzoletti. Should I have a position, even? This could end badly. I can smell something burning and it could just be Mrs Potato Head getting her brain fried.
Thankfully, knowing myself as well as I now do, I realise that a bit of blog writing will allow me to switch off from the world for a couple of hours. No carbs involved – well, just that pack of chocolate biscuits I use for inspiration – legitimate brain food, people. Popeye had his tinned spinach and I haven’t started a Top 5 veg list yet). My blood pressure relaxes back down. I am not even thinking about how this came about. In fact, the only tell tale sign of my previous burn out is my permanently surprised expression. You try looking calm when you have singed your eyebrows off cooking up a listing recipe. I need to grow a pair – clearly. Until then, apologies if I appear a little listless.