We’re less than a week into the New Year and I’ve already had three major “Duh!” moments, realizations that I’ve been missing the obvious in spectacular ways. I’ve been looking for zebras when there were horses right in front of my face.

But rather than slapping myself upside my head in private, I thought I’d share my lesson: That a simple shift in perspective can make all the difference in solving a problem.

Example one: Plumbing the depths

This is the dumbest and the most embarrassing example of not being able to see the obvious. I called a handyman yesterday to help me with some small problems, a broken faucet and a clogged bathtub drain. When he came over and I mentioned the bathtub issue, he asked, “Did you try plunging it?” Now I know toilets and bathtubs get clogged on the same principle: Too much stuff in the pipes. And I have a plunger in my bathroom. But somehow it never occurred to me to try to plunge the bathtub. Sure enough… problem solved.

Example two: Bad medicine

You didn’t think there wouldn’t be a Frankie story somewhere in here, did you?

Last week, in the post Year End Musings and Newsings, I alluded to the fact that Frankie had begun to have hypoglycemic attacks every time I took him for a long walk. It didn’t make sense; I was adjusting his insulin based on  his urine blood sugar tests as I always do. He was also shivering a lot, and putting a sweater on him didn’t seem to help.

I was becoming resigned to the notion that he was getting old and that maybe he wouldn’t be able to exercise as much. I didn’t think Frankie would mind terribly if I never took him by car to our usual walking route — he won’t walk in the neighborhood, which is too long a digression for me to explain here — but I would miss my friends on the trail. Walking without Frankie would be depressing, and I’d have to keep telling people why he wasn’t with me.

But of course I needed to confer with my vet before I made any life-changing decisions. He was away last week but he got back after New Year’s and I left a message for him to call. Before he could phone me, however, it suddenly occurred to me: Urine tests notwithstanding, maybe the insulin I was using was bad.

Sure enough, when I checked my records, I saw that Frankie’s problems were concurrent with my having started him on a new bottle of Caninsulin (the Canadian form of Vetsulin). My vet confirmed: The reason that Vetsulin was taken off the market was inconsistent formulation of the medication. Just because I’ve been lucky for a long time, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues.

I’ve just started Frankie on another bottle and so far, so good. Whew.

Example 3: Ich bin travel writer

In the same post I referred to earlier, Year End Newsing and Musings, I also alluded to the fact that I had recently discovered my great uncle’s butcher shop is now part of the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna. Naturally I have been dying to get there to see for myself, but I can’t really afford it. I’d been wracking my brain and burning up the internet trying to find research grants when I got an email from a friend asking me to be part of an anthology that gives advice to aspiring travel writers.

This reminded me: I’m a travel writer, who continues to write about Tucson and southern Arizona for outlets like Sunset magazine, even if I don’t do much overseas traveling these days.

The Freud connection is a good hook to a travel story.

Simple shift in perspective.

A semi-gratuitous bit of advice

While I was writing this post, I got an email press release titled  “Three Top Things to Avoid at Restaurants.” Aside from the odd fact that the author only offered two things to avoid, the advice was pretty obvious — substitute veggies for fries, water for soda — and unremarkable until the last paragraph caught my eye:

These two simple substitutions save at least 400-900 EACH TIME YOU DINE OUT (depending on drink refills and fries portion size). And you’re avoiding the most harmful foods to your body as well by avoiding the trannies and high fructose corn syrup.

It had never occurred to me that hanging out with transvestites could be fattening, though most are far thinner and more glamorous than I am, thus possibly making me look fat.

Oh, by trannies you meant trans-fats? Um, I’m a food writer too and I didn’t get that. Perhaps you’d better spell it out to avoid confusion.

At least that wasn’t MY Duh! moment.

24 thoughts on “A Shift in Perspective: Learning from Duh! Moments”

  1. I love that the answers to many of our problems are the things we don’t know we know. Sometimes we just need to get out of our own way.

    I can’t wait to hear about your trip to Austria. I presume you’ve already started pitching stories?

  2. I’m so glad to hear that Frankie’s doing better!

    Isn’t it cool how an email can click a switch and give you a completely different perspective on things? I’m excited to hear where this new approach will take you … to Vienna, I hope!

  3. There’s also this thing called a Zip It, which is like a plastic thing you stick down the drain and it helps remove clogs. My husband introduced me to it, and I think it’s the most brilliant invention. It’s one of those ideas that are so simple, I wish I’d thought of it!

    Anyway… you’re so right that the answers are sometimes right in front of our noses. I hope that the shift in perspective sends you to Vienna! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Vicki. I was getting worried that no one noticed what I thought was the best — if not the most useful — part of this post.

  4. Whatever the reason, I am so glad Frankie is doing better this week. Sometimes it takes us a moment, but as long as we figure these things out eventually, I consider it a win. I bet you’ll never forget to try the plunger first again!

    I’ve never heard tans-fats called “trannies” before either. And I used to work for a weight-loss company (a fact I am sorry to admit). Was the writer trying to be cute?

  5. Re: Frankie and his increased hypoglycemic episodes – shivering uses a lot of energy, too, so while the insulin may indeed be the main culprit, the shivering didn’t help – unless it is part of his reaction :(. So glad to hear the new bottle is working so far….

  6. Thank you all for your good wishes about Frankie! @Roberta, I think the shivering was a symptom, since it’s pretty much stopped.

    @Pamela, @Amy and @AJ — I literally just remembered today that I was a travel writer. It’ll take me a little time to shift gears and come up with some good venues to pitch. The NYTimes just ran a travel piece today about Vienna, damn them!

    I appreciate all the plumbing sympathy and advice. And @Kristine, I think that it was an odd press release all around. I didn’t have a clue who the writer was representing. And I’m glad to hear from you that I didn’t miss any widespread shifts in meaning of the word “tranny.”

  7. Glad to hear Frankie is now steady on his feet! Now I hope you can get a grant to go to Vienna! I used to marvel at the local custom of eating pastry every day at 3…loved the coffee houses there;)

    And the whole tranny thing was hilarious!

  8. I have those moments too. Like this morning when I started running water to wash dishes, then had to use the restroom. I’ll be right back. No, got distracted, ended up making up the bed in the bedroom. Then went to the kitchen to get the broom and WHOA! Where did all that water come from?

    1. Ha! I’ve done that type of thing too — including leaving the house with the back door wide open! I figure no thieves walked in because they couldn’t imagine anyone being that much of a space case.

  9. You are brave and selfless for sharing your doh! moments. 🙂

    Tanks for clearing up the tranny thing too. Now I understand while I feel fat. Curse those trannies. It’s probably their fault I think my feet are too small too.

    1. I live to serve 😉

      I couldn’t help but notice your most recent post — thanks to the wonders of CommentLuv. You might be ready for the Pet Blogger’s Challenge tomorrow~

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