Between Math and a WhoDunIt

I’m pretty sure my to do list is an ever-expanding universe gathering dust and making stars from it. It’s an endless caterpillar that grows legs faster than they fall off. It’s a black hole I throw my time into like a carnival game addict, just fifteen minutes for a toss.

I’ve been scowling at it for ten minutes now and nothing has changed about its accrescent flowering. It just, bloomin’, sits there.

But, well, if I’m being fair, despite its annoying longevity, it is a good list. It takes care of the people in my life. It protects me. Despite the crumbling world and uncertain times we’ve all found ourselves in, I have become the greatest danger to myself.

Yesterday, or sometime just before —(time isn’t real anymore, be free!)— I pulled my phone off the counter and scorched my finger on the burning plastic of the case.

Why is my phone so hot?” I thought to myself, before the sparking bits of plastic on my countertop told me it was on fire.

“On fire! How did it get near fire?

But, aha! The mystery was solved by yours truly after a minute or two. It was in fact– (dun dun dunnnnn) — the detective herself who committed the murderous attempt on the phone’s life.

I set my phone down on a tealight candle. A very-obviously-burning tealight candle. A tealight candle I had lit minutes before setting my phone down on it.

I’ve become a very good detective in the sense that I always get to the end of the mystery. Stylistically, I’m a detective of the doddering variety because it never– (never!)– occurs to me that I am the most likely suspect despite the fact that I’ve been playing the role of my arch nemesis for some time now.

Who filled the microwave with a pile of instant coffee? And why?

Who erratically placed tape all around a lotion bottle? And… why?

Where did I lose the bottom of my shoe? And how long have I not noticed?

Where are all my literal spoons?

For that matter, where are all my metaphorical spoons?

For those unfamiliar with spoon theory, I’ll catch you up.

Spoon theory is a metaphor that is used to describe the amount of mental or physical energy a person has available for daily activities and tasks. The theory was developed by Christine Miserandino as a way to express how it felt to have Lupus.


Essentially, you only start the day off with so many spoons, and each activity depletes your spoon supply. Living with chronic illness has always made spoons relevant, because some days just feeding myself takes half my spoons. I can either chop off caterpillar list legs, or eat. Not both.

Since the strokes, I find myself exerting spoons on things that were never even important enough for the list. It takes a good deal of energy to make sure your phone is okay after you lay it gently into a flame.

So –(trigger warning: light mathematics)– let’s say I have 10 spoons, but my list needs infinity, and I already used 3 spoons pulling tape off the lotion bottle only to realize the cap was broken as it poured over my pants that now need washing. (I must have taped up the bottle thinking it would help the cap in some way. It almost makes sense.) Let’s say I’ve been in spoon deficit for months and so I need to use at least half of my 7 spoons to catch up on things due a long time ago. So that leaves 3 spoons to do my daily basic necessities, which, based on my energy levels today, leaves…

Just kidding, there’s no math needed. The answer is always the same.


I’m negative spoons, always.

Because of this, in an effort to treat myself as gently as I try to treat others, I write things on my infinity list in fragments. I don’t write “[_] Send a postcard to Frodo”.

I write [_] Chose Frodo’s postcard, [_] Write return address on postcard, [_] Write postcard, [_] Stamp and send postcard”.

It manages the spoons I currently have, but it feeds the black hole which subtracts from the spoons I have to start a day.

So in an effort to get ahead of this, I push myself on the days I can.

Like today, where I slept a decent amount, and already had food made to eat, and could reasonably skip a shower.

But then what happens is, it wears down my still-healing-brain until StrokeBrain is all that’s left. StrokeBrain that isn’t sure how to spell any word you’ll find in this post and has had to look them all up. StrokeBrain that shakes my hand so badly that I cannot write anything legible and I need to brace my arm to type.

StrokeBrain that took all my literal spoons out of the drawer and put them where?



Day 11 of 30.

Upside-down Pepper over the words "NanoPoblano2020 -"

27 thoughts on “Between Math and a WhoDunIt

  1. I know that this isn’t completely the same, but I feel I can relate on some small level.
    I have discovered, especially after I started taking the medications that help with my extreme anxiety but do bad things to my memory, that I rely on habit to get me through the day. In a quite literal example, if I get interrupted while in the process of trying to get ready to brush my teeth I literally cannot remember how to get the toothpaste from the tube to the toothbrush. I have no idea which hand does what, how to hold things. It is scary and extremely frustrating. With my autism, if I’m allowed to follow my routine without distraction, I can do things just fine. If my routine gets interrupted because someone wants to “help” I become lost and angry with the person who helped, even though I know it’s unfair to them. At least I finally realize why my routines are so important though, they are literally what get me through the day and allow me to pretend to be a functioning adult. Without them I am left helplessly holding a tube of toothpaste unsure of what to do next.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Routines are so critical sometimes. I finally remembered what I was going to tell you and it’s not important at all. It’s just that in some countries, they keep their toothpaste in a bucket and use a spoon to apply it to their brushes. Just a fun fact. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I knew that that thought would float back up to the surface eventually. πŸ™‚ Keeping toothpaste in a bucket would present a whole new layer of challenges for my husband and I, mostly finding room in our bathroom for the bucket of toothpaste! Then your adding yet another tool into the mix with a spoon… Although, it might be easier than trying to navigate some of these tubes of toothpaste. πŸ˜‚ Thank you for sharing that fun fact with me!


  2. I have no idea how you take such a serious topic and make it so palatable — enjoyable, even, for those of us who don’t know what it’s like to be in your head. I am in awe of you constantly. Thank you for sharing StrokeBrain antics, and at some point I’ll come visit and help you find your spoons (or make you a meal or two and help you send postcards to Frodo).

    Liked by 7 people

  3. Ra<3, with all this going on and the negative amount of daily spoons you have, you still do better than most (self-included). I would love to help with your caterpillar list. Could any item be done remotely? internationally? I am serious. Please be gentle with yourself.

    Remember, phone and flame are not meant to be friends. (((hugs)))

    Liked by 7 people

  4. I relate to this post so much! I just love your description of your “to do list.” You paint such a vivid picture with your words. I too find myself exerting “my spoons” without realizing it until it’s too late. Living with and managing chronic illnesses is a delicate balance and something we learn and relearn every single day. My thoughts and virtual hugs to you!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Yes, the daily relearning is the hardest part! In a weird way, having a really obvious hip injury was easier. My limits were my limits– no jumping, no heels, etc etc. But with the brain, every day is different. Thanks for reading and understanding!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “I’m negative spoons, always” feels like something that should be on a t-shirt. It’s incredibly relatable. I’m (relatively) neurotypical, but I feel like I’m at the end of my spoons quite often.

    Also, Negative Spoons would be a great name for a band.

    Liked by 7 people

  6. Your immense creativity is boundlessly fun to read when fire is not involved. Please stay safe, my friend! Your caterpillar todo list and the items that mingle with the stars and maths, I can almost relate in so many ways, especially to the part about making tasks smaller, such having a checklist item for affixing the postage stamp, these are really necessary details and stepsβ€”and I know I need the encouragement for the small stuff, even. A check list can be encouraging, and β€œgood,” as you say. For WhoDunItβ€”you made me laugh in the best way. Don’t we all do that? Maybe not the tape on the lotion bottle, but the confusion? β€œWhy is this here?” To all the found objects in our living space that WE placed unknowingly in strange puzzles. I’m glad you are a good detective! I hope your arch nemesis can find a softer spot for you in her heart, and keep you away from the danger of fire.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. πŸ˜€ Thank you! Yes, I’ve been pretty good about staying away from fire, but as it becomes more wintery, candles seem so nice. Thanks for reading, Ka– I’m glad the micro list things made sense to you. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I wish I could come help you find the missing spoons! But just know I’m cheering you on. You write so beautifully and clearly about what things have been like lately. Just know that it’s okay. I struggle with my energy too at the moment, in a different way, but with a brain that only has so much room and patience before getting overwhelmed. What a year it’s been! (I’ve been saying that for years, but wow, this year). We’re all doing our best in our own ways ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So, not being friends with even light mathematics, I’ll respond with a writing thing. I don’t know if speaking the words is easier for you than writing or spelling them, but I understand that the speak-to-type thing in Word has come a long way. My supervisor mentioned it to me not too long ago, but not being a fan of talking to my technology, I haven’t tried it. To save on daily spoons, maybe speaking your post into Word and then just copying it all into your blog might help?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do this most of the time! 90% of my posts since the strokes have been dictated. But handwriting practice and typing practice, and even checking on the spelling of stuff is good exercise for my brain and I’m at that stage of healing now so I try. I send shaky handed postcards out and do my best to type without help. πŸ™‚ It’s part of my neuroPT. I usually just pick a paragraph or two, but since I’ve been doing better– decided to tackle a whole post and, sigh. Mistake, πŸ˜€ But now I know. Back to baby steps!


  9. Wow, this is very interesting and so candid of you to share. When you explained spoons and individual tasks that make up “one” task, everything is in perspective. Definitely food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person


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