The Upside of Being an Airhead

Here are the things I’ve always found challenging:

Where am I?


Instructions (written, spoken and pictorial)

Maps (obviously)

Sciencey things

Paying attention

The good news about these long-standing issues is that now that I am of a certain age I’m not overly concerned when I find I have accidentally sent the uneaten slab of a dinner ham in my husband’s lunch box–instead of the thinly sliced sandwich I made for him.

Or that I’ve zoned out while driving and missed my exit by many, many digits.

Or misplaced the Costco receipt somewhere after the cash register and before the exit guard. And similarly lost yet another parking ticket between the upright salute of the wooden arm when I entered the lot—and the seriously annoyed garage attendant on the way out.

Long line of stopped cars with drivers standing around
That’s me up front dumping out my purse in a hot panic, looking for the parking ticket


And that I find cookbooks every bit as daunting as the texts that I returned to the store after dropping statistics in college. Twice.

Home-made dogtag with author's college dorm address
Never knew how much he was willing to cough up.

Speaking of college, I spent so much time turning the wrong way out of buildings, hopelessly wandering campus, that my boyfriend (of 39 years now) made a dog tag for me, engraved with the address of our dorm. It also promised a reward for anyone who pointed me in the right direction.

Anyway, the payoff for always being scattered is that no one is bundling me off for a neuro exam now. In fact, the alarm would only be sounded if I were suddenly able to assemble anything from Ikea, shed my unnatural reliance on GPS, and stop disappearing receipts into thin air.


Photo of author Erika RaskinThe fiction editor for Streetlight, Erika Raskin is a writer from Charlottesville. Her first novel, Close, explored family therapy—on TV. Her second, Best Intentions (St. Martins, summer ’17) is about a hospital social worker, an unraveling marriage and medical malpractice. Her website is

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