42 Steps to Conquering Executive Function Disorder (in 68 Steps) -The Toast

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  1. Set goal: vacuum the living room.
  2. Vacuum. Did I say that already? Have you done it? I didn’t think so.
  3. Wait—don’t get ahead of yourself! Plug in vacuum cleaner and leave it in center of living room. As a reminder.
  4. Check email. Sorry, check inbox—don’t open any emails.
  5. Decide which email to open. (You may need to turn on stereo for this.)
  6. Turn on stereo and insert CD.
  7. Play old recording of The Shadow.
  8. Imitate Lamont Cranston’s Shadow laugh.
  9. Grow confident enough to open emails.
  10. Pick one that doesn’t look scary.
  11. They all look scary. Go vacuum.
  12. Vacuum one quarter of area rug, then stop to
  13. Admire the strength of your vacuum’s “brushroll” feature and how nice the rug looks, like the one from your childhood bedroom. Become nostalgic and
  14. Change CD. Listen to an old Broadway show. Pretend your area rug is a stage and dance about.
  15. Have you showered yet? What is it going to take?
  16. Take nightgown off. Run shower.
  17. Turn on radio. Damn, it’s “Car Talk.”
  18. Turn shower off.
  19. Put nightgown back on.
  20. Hate self.
  21. Decide to sit down, that you may hate self in comfort. As long as you are sitting down,
  22. Check email. Find something that looks good. Open.
  23. Stare at email from a friend telling you she’s landed a Broadway show.
  24. Vacuum toddler’s area rug.
  25. Plot vanishing into thin air.
  26. Make first attempt, by sitting very still.
  27. Fail. Continue to exist in desk chair.
  28. Notice song bird on branch of tree outside window and hum “Green Finch and Linnet Bird.”
  29. Check shelf to see if you still have original cast recording of Sweeney Todd.
  30. You do, but decide not to go there today.
  31. Go to kitchen sink to wash dishes.
  32. Spot coffee maker and realize that’s the problem, you need more caffeine.
  33. Remember ulcer. Hunt for Tagamet.
  34. Wash Tagamet down with coffee.
  35. Scribble note to call stomach doctor.
  36. Scribble note to find business card of stomach doctor.
  37. Find business card of stomach doctor in china bowl on credenza reserved for most precious things.
  38. Wonder how card got there.
  39. Put card in center of desk. As a reminder.
  40. Remember dinner. It is 11:45 already and you’ve purchased no lentils.
  41. Write grocery list.
  42. Break down items into several lists, because you can’t find all the items at one shop. Each list should represent a different shop on Broadway. Not the “Broadway” on which your friend is about to be starring. The one uptown, with all the grocery stores.
  43. When phone rings, turn list over so you may use it to take message.
  44. Let machine take message.
  45. Forget about dinner. Decide to feed soul, so
  46. Visit newspaper basket.
  47. Become disgusted by pile of unread dead trees.
  48. Vow to stop print subscription to The New York Times.
  49. Break vow because scent of dead tree newspapers—so cozy!
  50. Remember recycling reduces carbon footprint.
  51. Sort newspapers. Refuse to throw out any section that piques interest. Yes you will have time to read after putting toddler to bed. Yes you WILL!
  52. Remember that you didn’t DVR Stephen Colbert.
  53. Remember that you don’t know how to use DVR.
  54. Text husband and remind him to DVR Stephen Colbert when he returns.
  55. Receive reply text from husband telling you to leave note on his desk.
  56. Discover favorite pen on husband’s desk and hide it in your top drawer, where you find
  57. A store credit from Bloomingdales that has been there so long it’s depreciated from 150 dollars to 37 cents.
  58. Scribble note to self to go to Bloomingdales tomorrow. Which reminds you of perfume.
  59. Apply perfume. Suffer asthma attack.
  60. Search house for inhaler.
  61. Hopped up on Albuterol and anxiety about others passing you by in life, try to leave house to pick up child from school.
  62. Hunt for Metrocard.
  63. Panic.
  64. At last find Metrocard in vacuum cleaner.
  65. Remember that no good deed, not even vacuuming, goes unpunished.
  66. Vow never to vacuum again.
  67. By same logic, vow never to do anything again.
  68. Conquer executive function disorder!

Leslie Kendall Dye is an actor and dancer in New York City. She has written for Vela Magazine, Word Riot, Salon, The Washington Post, The Toast, Brain,Child, Off The Shelf, The Manifest Station, and others. You can find more of her writing at lesliekendalldye.net.

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