The agonising started with the raspberry choc-chip muffins. I whipped them up between my morning porridge and my first cup of coffee for the day and thought I was going great guns. 'You, Katrina Nannestad, are a wonder to behold,' I told myself. (If I don't say it, no-one else will.)
But ten minutes later, I looked in the oven and my heart sank like a souffle.
The muffins in one tray had erupted like Mount Vesuvius, the batter spewing out over the tops of the papers and flowing across the pan.
The muffins in the other tray barely managed to muster the energy (and batter) to make it to the top of the papers. They were pulled from the oven looking like they'd been at some sort of extreme health farm for the week, living off luke-warm water and a half-ration of kale. (Which, let's face it, would be better than a full ration of kale. Kale stinks.)
And that's when I started to agonise.
How can I make it to fifty and still not know how much batter it takes to make a lovey, rounded muffin?
It's not rocket science!
But it didn't end there. The muffin-agonies led me thinking, yet again, about all the things I think I should know by now.
On the domestic front, there is still the embarrassment of not knowing how to roast a chicken, how to cut pumpkin without drawing blood, how to ignite the gas heater when winter arrives and - this is a biggie - how to change a doona cover without breaking out in a cold sweat and using my entire repertoire of naughty words.
On the garden front, I still don't know when to pick the rhubarb (it always looks red!), how to whipper-snip around the trees without ring-barking them or how to use the electric hedge trimmer without cutting the extension cord in half.
Then there's just general stuff. Facts I should know, but don't. What comes after Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars? Are worms androgynous or ambidextrous? What's the capital of Bolivia? Is Bogota a place or one of those meat dishes that sounds like it will be disgusting but tastes like you've died and gone to heaven? And where's Santo Domingo? Is it even a place, or is it one of the Three Tenors ... or, perhaps, a Caribbean version of Father Christmas? So many things to learn and so little time. And don't tell me to Google it. I should just know!
And then there are the books and poems I still haven't read. Shouldn't a writer have read everything? It mortifies me when someone mentions their love of Charles Dickens, because the only Dickens I've read is A Tale of Two Cities. And, apparently, that's not typical Dickens! Sure, I've seen at least twenty-seven different movie versions of Great Expectations and can sing, 'Who will buy this wonderful morning?' from Oliver Twist, the musical, but it's really not the same as reading the novels.
I've never made it past the first two pages of a James Joyce novel.
I've never even held a Virginia Woolf (and just did a double check that it was 'Woolf', not 'Wolf'!).
And flies will become extinct before I subject myself to another Tennyson poem.
Does this make me a bad person?
I don't know, but it keeps me agonising.
That's a lot of stuff I've just listed and it's just the tip of the iceberg. (Good grief! That's another thing I don't know! Is it ten percent or five percent that pokes out of the water???)
So here, now, I'm going to take control. I'm going choose five things that I will know/learn/do in the next week.
1. I will learn how to use the whipper snipper in a non-destructive manner.
2. I will memorise the order of the planets in the Solar System.
3. I will discover the truth about worms.
4. I will locate Santo Domingo on a map (or an opera bill or a Christmas card).
5. I will sneak around the house singing, 'You've got to pick a pocket or two-o-o-o, boys!'
Okay, so number five is a cop out, but I will sit Great Expectations on my bedside table. Yes, the novel, not the DVD! And I promise to embark on reading it before the year is out.
Is there stuff you don't know but are too ashamed to tell?
Go on. Confess. Here and now.
You know it will make you feel better.
Well, maybe it won't.
But it will make me feel better ...