Joanne Palmer: File it under ‘lost’ |

Joanne Palmer: File it under ‘lost’

Joanne Palmer

In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or

What are you thinking about right now, this very minute?

Researchers estimate the brain has about 70,000 thoughts per day. Whose brain? A salamander's?

A mother's brain has about 2 million thoughts per second. Where is my child? Has he eaten? Does he have his phone? Is it turned on? Does he know what time to be home? Does he have his lacrosse gear?

And this is a mother's brain in "relaxed" summer mode. Now that school is about to begin, the number of thoughts quadruples because mothers have to start wondering: Has he missed the bus? Why is his school lunch still on the counter? Did I sign the permission slip?

Have you ever paid attention to what exactly is bouncing around in your brain during a five-minute period? Try it. I think you will find it alarming.

Most of the time, what I think about can be categorized into four subjects: love, logistics, laundry and lost items.

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Love: My family.

Logistics: Money. Menus. House projects. Work. Exercise.

Laundry: Never-ending.

Lost items: Never-ending.

Last week, I spent a disproportionate amount of time in the lost items category. I had "misplaced" my car keys, a term I use when I don't want to admit I am a complete failure when it comes to keeping track of my stuff. I tore the house apart looking for those car keys. Yes, I had another set, but the missing set contained my mailbox key, and that is what I really needed to find. So I looked in all the usual places. Pants pockets. Coat pockets. Under the bed. In the garage. In the car (the last time I lost them, they were wedged between the seat and the door). In the cubby where I am supposed to keep them are receipts, coupons, checkbooks and photos I will deal with in the year 2018. As I stuffed my hands in pockets of clothes, I thought, "Maybe you should be more organized. Maybe these jeans don't fit you anymore. Maybe you could write a best-seller if you weren't so busy looking for your car keys. Perhaps you should be weeding the garden or mowing the lawn instead."

I want to defragment my brain. Defragmenting is a computer term. It is a program you run to clear up the hard drive in your computer. If you think of the hard drive as a giant filing cabinet, throughout time, things get misfiled, or stuffed into the first available file. All of these fragmented files slow a computer's response time because it takes longer for it to access information. When you "defrag," all the files are organized, rearranged and tidied up. All the files on movies are in the movie section, all the money files are filed under finances, recipes are under "food," etc.

What a concept.

Linear thoughts.

If I am wondering what to make for dinner, I can go straight to the recipe file in my brain. I don't have to ricochet from what to make for dinner to how much money is in my checking account to where the recipe is to if the bag I use to put the groceries in is in the car or is it at home to how many calories are in the recipe and is it "healthy"?

I've never thought that way in my entire life.

My brain is so cluttered, so full of half-finished thoughts and bits of useless information that I need a broom to clean it out and start fresh. Especially before the start of a new school year.

As for the car keys, I finally found them.

They were in the silverware drawer.

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