Sunday, November 09, 2008

Individual Modus Operandi

While I bustle around preparing for Tuesday's Thanksgiving care packages to soldiers, I also stew on inconsequential things in the the iota of space I have left in my head.

Modus Operandi. Individual modus operandi. I contemplate, lately, the things I do to get me through the day that, perhaps, the rest of you might not. I'm relatively sure that many of you have your own operating systems, and I think it would be fun to compare and contrast.

Many of my systems revolve around reminding myself to do something. I make lists. When I absolutely MUST remember to do a thing, I resort to more drastic measures: Post-it notes on the bathroom mirror, reminding me that a coworker needs a ride to work this morning. Drawing an "X" on my hand, because I hate ink on my skin (tattoo excluded).

Here's another "system" I use. When I MUST remember to do something at the end of the day, I park my car at work and throw something in front of the steering wheel:

Seriously, who's going to forget to take home the milk they put in the workplace refrigerator when they find this? It doesn't have to be a shoe: A water bottle, instruction manual, any old thing you can find in the car will work. (If you get all the way home without noticing the shoe, you shouldn't have been driving in the first place.)

Clint, when reminding himself to grab something on his way out of the house, will set it in front of the door. Right. in. front. of the door. Like a doorstop.

Another friend, to remind herself to grab a thing, pulls this little stunt:

Keys in the freezer. No one's going anywhere without these, and oh! Don't forget to return the hedge trimmers to your sister!

Not all of my personal, quirky modus operandi revolve around memorization. For instance, when I do any sort of housework, yardwork, work work, I listen to books on tape. In order to work freely and keep myself from periodicaly catching the cord on doorknobs and such as I move about the house, and thus prevent snapping my neck, I uses small hair clips, and pin the cord to the back of my shirt:

When Brian was growing up, we developed a system of leaving notes to each other on the floor. They never went overlooked:

Being light skinned, but not quite "Porcelain" or "Geisha" as are the lightest shades of makeup, I buy 2 colors of foundation every time I shop, and mix them every morning. I don't know about you, but my skin isn't the same color every day. Lack of sleep can leave me pale, extra sunshine leaves me blushed; I'm covered every day with this system. And I get by on cheap makeup this way also. 2, $7 tubes do more for me than 1, $55 cosmetic counter color.

Doing it on the run, as I do most things in my life, I suck at laundry. After losing one too many sweaters or other delicates, I now have a laundry system that works for me every time: A magnet on the washer lid.

Magnet on the back of the lid means "toss everything in the dryer. Knock yourself out."

Sliding the magnet to the front of the door, however, means "there's a bra in here that costs so much that you've opted to pay 23% interest and make $10 monthly payments on it. Take heed."

Here's the magnet I use. It's my own personal laundry drill sargeant!

Did you know "Hooah" isn't really pronounced "Hoo-Ah," as Al Pacino would have us think? It took me quite a while, at Brian's bootcamp graduation, to realize that "hoo-ah" is pronounced more like a gutteral "HUAK!"...only without the actual hard "k" at the end. It's more of a disgusting hocking sound, one you wouldn't want to hear from the guy in the booth behind you at Applebee's.

Well. I digress. "Hoo-ah" is my laundry reminder.

Why don't you regale me with tales of your own individual modus operandi? I'm sure there are some brilliant ones out there, and that we will all benefit from your systems.

Go ahead. Make my day.


  1. I also set things by the door. If it's a bag of something to return to the store, I hang it from the doorknob. I just found the bedside phone and set it on the kitchen counter where I make my water to take to bed so I will remember to take it with me. If I can't run the dishwasher right at the time I fill it (someone's in the shower or something) I put the dishwashing liquid jug in the middle of the kitchen floor. If it's phone calls I need to make, I have to write a note and leave it on the couch so I will see it if I go in there to sit down. That picture with the car keys in the freezer was kinda gross since they were on the ice. I can't imagine keys are very clean. Good luck with your care packages!

  2. I don't really have a MO for day to day stuff. "organized chaos" is probably more accurate for my dain bramaged self:

    For dishes (I have a dishwasher now that isn't me, w00t!) I have two magnets... green for good/golden... red for dread.

    I set alarms on my phone for everything... and other timers in the kitchen that are less obnoxious to set for anything kitchen related. Whether it be pills, doc appointments, or 3 minutes before stirring something on the stove becomes an effort of proper chiseling.

    Names... oh lord names. Yeah, well, I kinda just gave up on that. Women who are friends: lady. Guys who are friends: thank god they don't care. Family/acquaintances/every other circumstance imaginable: "hey, you!" No further reference attempted.

    To keep up with the days (yes I forget what day it is) I have routines on reading and exercise that I try to keep up with.

    To remember where I parked my car in parking lots (because I always forget) I try to always park in a pattern of my next location and only go to places I normally visit.

    For books I'm reading... I use expired fake-sugar packets ripped at an angle. Down and tucked in means I finished on the left side towards the top of the page... down and in... left towards the bottom... up and out... right towards the top.... down and out... welcome to my life... I mean right towards the bottom. :-)

    I have to keep a constant running tally of my grocery list or I'm doomed when I go to the store. I can't wait until I'm out of something or I'll forget... I keep a backup of everything. And when the non-backup gets low, it goes on the list.

    When out in public the rules change. You have to be "normal." So I constantly remind myself of the rules. Polite, focus, staring at inanimate objects acceptable, staring at people or their stuff is not. When interaction is imminent, stop trying to think silly lists of memorization games and focus on what they're saying/doing. Try not to be a weirdo... try harder.

    When it has been recently rainy... think about anything other than the puddles... recite the phonetic alphabet, do it backwards, try to think of [random number president, his party, interesting fun facts about him], try to think of [random number constitutional amendment] and what year it was proposed or ratified. (yes, I'm a hydrophobe... and, yes, for a creature dependent on water to survive, that's a real pain.)

    While driving... check mirrors... all of them. Have I checked them lately, good. Check again. Check surroundings, check if I remember my last few steps or should I pull off and not be driving... okay good, keep driving. Light ahead, was that the light I saw a second ago? Yes... okay don't pull over, you're still orientated (shrink term) or no, you aren't orientated... pull over and take your pills if your alarm isn't already set, set alarm so you don't take more too soon.

    Feed the pets... are the pets still alive? Oh thank god, I'm not a horrible person. Here pets... why in the sam hell do I have pets? BEEP BEEP BEEP oh crap... pills... okay. Couch time. WTF day is it anyways? Oooh, heroes is on, I love that show... man I'm sleepy... must be the pillzzzzzzzzzzz...



    GAH!!! WTF!!!! Ah, sleeping with PTSD. What time is it... @#%*ing Saturday... WTF happened to Friday??? AM or PM... okay. Well that's not too bad. Set alarm for monday to call the VA. Okay, caught up now... and I can order a pizza now... w00t!

    Mmmm pizza...

    And life is good.


    On second thought I remember one of the VA docs giving me hell about my high cholesterol... damn pizza!

    Oooh leftover pizza!!!

    Wait... what was I just thinking about? Oooh leftover pizza!!!

    Life is good!

  3. I do the same thing with my car and also putting things in front of the door. Sometimes I will open the door and think; Who the heck left this bag in front of the door and then remember it was me. Duh, I am so forgetful sometimes.

  4. Anonymous7:58 AM

    I really liked Glock's relpy, I can relate. I write on my hand, it currently says "Chilli"....(pause to take chilli out of freezer)...I use my phone alarm for everything and set my keys/wallett/phone near anything I need to take out the door with me. I keep a word doc on my desktop that's my "To-Do list" I save it everytime and just keep adding and subtracting items. I have very understanding friends so when I forget a birthday they understand. The days of the week are a challenge since I'm on nights, sports are the only way I know, college football it's Thurs or Sat; NFL Monday or Sunday, and Tues and Wed I'm off work. I'm not crazy just nuts.


    Jeremy Jay

  5. StFarmer8:13 AM

    I make lists in with a note in my iPod Touch.

  6. Well, I do the note on the dashboard and setting stuff in front of the door. I have a big ol magnet on the backdoor that I leave notes on. Sometimes I put notes on the bathroom mirror. And always, always I use my calendar. If it's not on there it doesn't exsist! Love the makeup idea, might have to try that. Since ya know I'm so fair I'm clear. ROFL

  7. --I use my cell phone alarm to remind me to take medication.

    --After risking overdrafting one too many times, I've started using the calendar feature of my Yahoo mail account to remind myself to write automatic deductions from my checking account in the checkbook register (like daycare and car payments, etc). I can write a note on the actual day the money comes out and have it send me a reminder email a few days in advance, just in case I need to transfer money.

  8. Geewits: The dishwasher tip is a good one. Anything in the middle of the floor is good. And..don't you sterilize your keys?!!

    Glock/Cusack: Ya killin me! You have some good tips there, though your bookmark system boggles me, and yet reminds me of the Waffle House jelly pack system (

    You do a pretty good job at seeming normal when I've run into you—but then, I'm usually tipsy and trying to put something on your head for a photo op.

    And timers, I use them also. I keep one in the bathroom—hair coloring for 25 minutes, hair remover, 7 minutes, conditioner, 5 minutes...

    Greg: I forget my reminders sometimes too. How many times have I left the list in the car?

    Jay: I SUCK at remembering birthdays. My resolution this year was to acknowledge everyone's birthday. I made it through Jan 4. Which is my own birthday, which made it easy to remember someone else's on the same day.

    St.Farmer: Hey! I do that too!

    Kirstin: I use the google calendar also, for chores that I'd otherwise forget: Change the furnace filter! change the contact lenses!

  9. When my brain-befuddery is less severe it's easier to pull off the normal interactions. When it's going total nutterbutter, my friends generally wonder where I've been for the last month(s).

    When I fall off the grid the above routine becomes par for the course. Every trip to the store becomes a mission, fraught with mental dangers, until I can get back to home base.

    When I start getting a grip again, I have routines of test flights to social situations. Eating out at a restaurant. Move up to reading a book down at the diner as much as possible. From there move up to playing a game of pool somewhere. And from there test flights out to the pub.

    If that all goes well I can start setting a routine that avoids hiding out in my apartment cave and start considering signing up for classes with the hopes of being able to finish them before I go fubar again.

    The little things make it all worth it though, right down to silly-hat photo-ops. The big things are on such a long time frame at this point, that I get to enjoy the little things probably more than most. And as political junkie and movie-holic, I'm probably afforded a disgusting amount of free time to read or see as much I want of either.

    Seems to be what routines are all about though... getting what needs to be done, done... avoiding unnecessary complications... and generally affording more time to do the things in life that make life worth living... instead of looking for where the hell I parked my car... or scouring a pan of food that was left forgotten on the stove...

    ...or my personal favorite, airing out the place after creating one of my famous frozen pizza shaped charcoal briquettes. Ugh!

  10. I forgot to ask, do you pull your car keys out by your car or do you find them before you leave work? Buy a large box of bright colored rubber bands to keep in your car and wrap one around your keys to remind you to bring something from the office.

    hee hee, the word verification is "PRINGLY"

  11. Shari G8:33 AM

    I just use an old tried and true method that my mom taught me to remember things. I write myself notes and staple them around the strap of my purse. I never go anywhere without my purse so this method works great for me.

  12. I set things by the door and I put post it's on my cell phone. Since I always have it on me, the notes do not go by un-noticed.

  13. SO much awesome! LOL Rock on my most favoritist of Army moms. U da bomb!

  14. is an amazing site which texts your phone (or sends you e-mails, or Skype's you, or something of that nature).

    For dishes, I wrote "Dirty" and "Clean" on two Post-It notes, put a magnet between them, and taped it inside. It sticks to the dishwasher door and lets everyone know they should not put their dirty spoon in with the clean silverware and require it all to be washed again.

  15. That is a REALLY cute pink bra hanging over your washer! What kind is that? :-)

    I've never even heard of Rimmel make up. I think I need to get out more.


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