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Posted: August 5, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Just about to burst

For most of us most of the time, the days of our lives go rolling along placidly and maintain a predictable pace. The paper arrives at 5:30 a.m. The garbage truck comes on, say, Thursdays, and most of us manage to get the Herby Curby out the night before. (It's hit or miss here.) The laundry gets picked up on Saturdays, and Wednesday is Senior Citizen's Day at the local grocery.

The dog gets a bath every week; the cats would if only I didn't want to look like an accident with a paper shredder. The oil gets changed every 5,000 miles, and there's a dental check-up every six months. If you're of the female persuasion, your roots have to be done every five weeks, usually, or the gig is up.

The day begins with the newspapers and a morning show, and the network news comes on at 6:30. The IRS comes calling on April 15th (this year April 18th), and the first half of property taxes are due September 20th. One's birthday comes every year, like it or not.

Vacations are planned around the school breaks. On Thanksgiving, we always eat too much, and the Christmas parade is always the first Saturday in December. We swear every summer is hotter than the year before (only it's true this year), and come January, we'll swear again that it's never been colder.

At some point in our lives, we pretty much know where the turns are, when things are going to speed up and when things are going to slow down. We know where complications are going to occur and how to maneuver through them. We know on whom we can count and on whom we can't. We know when to stand our ground, and when to let it go. The daily grind rolls over us, and right on time, we'll wake up and do it all over again the next day.

But occasionally, do you ever feel like just bursting in the face of the sameness, the seemingly never-changing vista, the always-with-you schedules and other people's agendas? Are you ever overcome with a full-to-overflowing sense that you want to change something in your life, do something different, upend the normal routine, break out of your daily habits, toss it all out the window and streak toward the hills?

A line from a country music song comes to mind: "Let's do something - even if it's wrong." I don't espouse that sentiment, although it often turns out that way, but it speaks to the urgency that sometimes overwhelms me. One night last week, listening to some favorite songs from the ‘70s, following along with a scratchy, off-pitch rendition, I was totally overcome with the desire retrieve or re-create those days with a partying crowd and dancing for the pure pleasure of shaking off inhibitions and forestalling the dawn. The phone rang. It was Reality calling. I answered. "You can't go back there, girl," it said. I hung up, sad and frustrated. So how does one scratch that itch when it comes?

Sometimes women can do it with a new hair cut, color or even a change in stylists. Many men do it by trading cars. My husband, for one, changes vehicles so often the insurance company has trouble keeping him in insurance cards. Re-arranging furniture will sometimes suffice when the desire for a change asserts itself. I have a dear friend - small in stature and build - who will rearrange a whole house of furniture when a whim hits, and all by herself.

Shopping used to be the way many of us coped with the urge for something new and different. Shoe shopping would always scratch my itch, but a pervasive recession mentality - and reality - has tempered that habit. These days we go to malls just to keep cool. The economy doesn't appreciate this new habit, of course. If we're not shopping, this country's economic engine stalls.

What else might you change, if not your hair, your shoes, your car or your furniture placement when the desire for something different overcomes? One thing I might suggest today is to change political party affiliation, dump whatever name you might call yourself and become an independent. Both parties have failed America miserably.

Come election season, you can vote out whoever's in for a better candidate, but in some cases, that would mean just not voting, a heresy in my book but at the moment, the thought appeals to me.

Our mothers would be ready with the answer about what to change when you find yourself mentally stuck with your circumstances, all dressed up with no place to go, so to speak. In unison they would say, "Change your attitude. It doesn't cost a thing." And I'll say, "But Mamma, ... ."


Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics.

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