Cure for chaos: coffee or oatmeal

Of course if it?s just us, then couldn?t it be that they did something insensitive, thereby triggering our reaction causing a disturbance in the relationship that they couldn?t handle, leading them to pay a little more attention to the NBA playoffs in hopes that the problem would just go away?

No wonder we think they?re self-absorbed. I mean come on, could it be any clearer? I just don?t get the men/women gap sometimes. Stay with us guys.

Now, what was I saying?

I think it was going to be about communication or understanding or?something like that. But ultimately, it was going to be about signals. Confusing, mixed up, irregular signals.

Personal relationships are full of them, but for today I?ll leave that alone. Those issues have been around since forever and they?re not going anywhere.

It?s the other signals that fly at us from the minute we wake up. When I lined them all out for thought, I couldn?t help but wonder how any of us get through our days.

The beginning. The alarm clock rings. Hit the snooze. I should get up and exercise. Run a mile or two, do some stretches. That yoga DVD isn?t going to downward-dog itself. Guilt appears for the first time. (Or second or third depending on how many snoozes were hit.)

Breakfast. As I rap my fingers impatiently in front of the coffee maker, my eyes fall to a box of oatmeal. Quaker is watching me. Yes, I want to control my cholesterol, increase my fiber intake and feel the buzz of natural energy every morning. You know that?s why I bought you. But don?t you remember, I also bought that giant can of coffee?

And those Pop Tarts.

Tomorrow I?ll eat the oatmeal after my morning jog. I will.

Kids. I wake them up with as much cheer as I can muster. Yes, it?s really morning already. Yes, you have to get up. No, you can?t sleep five more minutes.

Fifteen minutes later, I wake them up again. With 20 minutes to eat, get dressed and fit in that necessary half-hour cartoon, we find ourselves in a bit of a time crunch. Naturally, I lose it and yell things like, ?You should have had your clothes laid out last night,? and, ?Why another Pop Tart? What?s wrong with oatmeal??

On the road. We load into the car after I find the keys I should have laid out the night before. On the drive to school, I quiet down, feeling the mommy guilt settle into my stomach. I put on a smile and say, ?Have a great day, honey.?

Now I can spend the entire morning worrying that it will be the yelling, not the ?good-bye? that rings in their ears.

On my way to work, a quick stop at the convenience store for future mid-morning break supplies, maybe a scratch ticket and a bottled water.

Then I find myself facing the dreaded coolers. I hate those coolers. I was pretty much set on the water. Suddenly I?m standing in front of decision central. Flavored water. Sounds good, but don?t they load those up with sugar?

An energy drink. I may need that in a couple of hours. But the caffeine in one of those is equivalent to something like a keg of coffee. Since I?m working on cup No. 2 in my travel mug, it may not be the best choice.

Pop? I?m really drawn to that Diet Mountain Dew, but there?s that caffeine issue again.

Maybe a chocolate milk. But it?s whole milk and all that extra sugar?.

Forget it. I grab a bottle of mountain stream water that?s probably from some guy?s handdug well in Nebraska. As I start to question how natural this natural water actually is, I also realize how late I?m running.

And it?s only 8 a.m.

Maybe this isn?t an average morning for most people, but I?m willing to bet my scratch ticket that it?s close. I wonder how we function with this much mind clutter.

Has it always been like this? Were our parents and grandparents juggling these endless questions and confusing signals? Maybe so. Maybe they were just different kinds of questions.

Or maybe I need one more cup of coffee. Or one less?