where wildly different is perfectly normal


If you’ve ever shopped at an Aldi, you know it’s not your typical supermarket. From needing a quarter to procure a cart to the WTAF section in the center of the store, it’s a different experience. I really should shop there more often. Not anytime soon; our larders overfloweth and with half the family off at college clearing out food before it goes tits up is the current House of Chaos Olympic sport.

So at Aldi once you’ve stocked up on hyper-affordable staples and at least one item from the WTAF section in the center of the store you head to checkout. There you stare in amazement as the clerk whips through your items like a sugared-up 5-year-old through birthday gifts, chucking them into a waiting cart without a second glance. What comes next is what a good friend has dubbed the Recombobulation Station. That long counter at the front of the store where you bag your groceries into the totes you brought with you or shamefully purchased when you realized that you took the bags out of your car when you moved your kid to college and kept forgetting to put them back. 

I love the idea of the Recombobulation Station, a place to pause, breathe, and put things to rights. You start off discombobulated, move through recombobulation, and eventually get to the other side fully combobulated. Beware though; the whole process can be thrown off course by a forgotten onion or something shiny from the WTAF section. Never doubt the power of a chocolate-hazelnut scented soy candle to throw off the combobulation evolution. You leave that checkout line for low cost snacks and wine it’s all over. Eye on the prize, people!

The last several months I’ve been in a recombobulation loop. Discombobulated for the last couple of decades, I was ready for that recombobulation station. Get my poop in a group, return my cart, retrieve my quarter, combobulate on with my day and life. Alas. I’d get almost up to that long counter and find myself pulled away to retrieve this, deal with that, manage the thing over there. How this was happening with more time and focus on my hands in years was a mystery only Scooby and the Gang could solve. I have plenty of soy candles and can go without onions. I dunno. Maybe because I’m adamantly pro-mask. Meddling kids.

Where am I going with this? Damned if I know. All I know is that I intended to get back to consistent writing in September and it’s now 18 days before Christmas and there have been no words in that time. I’d feel guilty but I’m pretty much stuck on confused. Doubly discombobulated. Little IKEA assembly guy scratching his head in the international symbol of huh? It’s the thousandth day of March 2020 and time has no meaning.

Will I ever make it to the promised land? The Recombobulation Station? That wonderful counter upon which I can gather my metaphorical shit? We shall see.


  1. Dear Jen,
    Thank you so much for this! I, too, am a blogger, aspiring author, and mother of 2 neurodiverse sons. In all fairness the last five years have been good intra-personally as I have made some progress; starting the blog, and returning to grad-school. I haven’t posted on my blog very often in the last year or so and things have stalled a bit. It is very encouraging when someone like you shares their day-to-day quest for “recombobulation”. I’s always great to hear from you!

    1. Jen

      The recombobulation station is like the hallway in a horror flick: the closer I get to it the further away it becomes. My post? Your comment? Three weeks ago. With the holidays in there it may as well have been an eternity ago. Long, stretchy hallway of time.
      I have hopes for 2023.

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