Idea Gal

Donna-Lee Lista
Donna-Lee Lista

I like to think of myself as an “idea gal.” This is a concept that I stole from a very old (1982) movie, called “Night Shift” starring Michael Keaton. My husband and I have certain lines from movies that we reference all the time. His classics are, “you guys playing cards?” from Animal House, which he uses when someone states the obvious. His other favorite is, “They say the heavy stuff isn’t going to start for an hour” from Caddy Shack. If we get stuck out in a rain storm, he always quotes this line with his mouth to the side in that weird voice Bill Murray used as the golf course groundskeeper. His quotes are probably more famous and identifiable (especially for those of us who were in college when those movies were popular), but mine is right on target for me. Even though Nightshift was a lesser known comedy movie, that quote has stayed with me all these years.

Michael Keaton plays a guy who works in a morgue on the nightshift. He carries a small tape recorder with him, and when he has an “idea” he immediately records it so he doesn’t forget it. He explains that his brain is constantly spewing out ideas and he can’t keep up because he is “an idea guy.” He is waiting for the one great idea to make him rich. One particular quote that I thought was hysterical is, “What if you mix the mayonnaise in the can, WITH the tuna fish? Or… hold it! Chuck! I got it! Take LIVE tuna fish, and FEED ’em mayonnaise! Oh this is great… call Star-Kist.” Albeit, he is a big loser, who has another crazy idea that becomes the focal point of the movie, but that’s not the point. This movie isn’t exactly a literary masterpiece, but it is very funny and – say what you want – I still remember it after all these years, and it contains my “go to” line.

This brings me back to, “I’m an idea gal.” I feel like my brain is always going. Sometimes I have had ideas way ahead of their time. When I was about 15 and blow dryers had just started becoming popular (boy am I dating myself in this piece!) I was constantly trying to straighten my long thick wavy Italian hair. I would use both hands, pulling and pulling with the brush in one and blow dryer in the other to get it to look like the flaxen straight locks that were all the rage at that time. I use to think it would make so much more sense if the brush could just be on the end of the dryer. I think I said this to many people back in the early 70’s. Well, someone stole my idea (although it took more than 30 years) and now the exact apparatus I pictured in my head can be purchased at the local Target. Of course now I get my hair chemically straightened so it doesn’t matter, but think how rich I could be if my dad had been a patent lawyer, instead of a furniture maker.

So I can honestly say, I have had some good ideas. But, the problem with being an “idea gal” is that I sometimes feel like my head is going to explode. I over think and ponder so much in my life, that I exhaust myself and sometimes those around me. When I get angry or sad, I have to dissect the emotions, to the point, of having a complete dialogue with myself either justifying the feeling or seeing that I am off base. So today, I ponder if this is a curse or a gift. I wonder if my cancer would have been much easier to accept if I didn’t have this personality trait. Or has it allowed me to explore every single part of myself in the last five and a half years and be more accepting? I really don’t have any answers or a witty conclusion.

I just know this month I am trying to come up with ideas for my future as I ponder all of the recent “firsts” in my life trying to understand and accept them. It is the first August in 5 years that I have no pressing fear of “scan time.” I am on a yearly cycle now. It is the first August I don’t have a mother because she passed away in June. It is the first August that I no longer have any children to drive around (my youngest gets her license tomorrow). It is also the first time I am alone in the house on a very regular basis, when my husband is away and both girls are gone. It’s just me and Hershey, the dog. It is the first time I have so many “firsts” at one time.

Although I’m not giving up on ideas for the future, today they don’t seem to matter. I wish I could just turn off my brain and stop thinking and maybe enjoy the break between chapters of this part of my life. I need to try to keep perspective and realize I am lucky that I am here and able to have ideas and “firsts” about anything. Ooh, I just had an idea; maybe today I will rent “Night Shift” and just laugh for a little while!

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