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Tag Archive: memory

Feb 10

The dawn of a new error

I saw the quote “Every morning is the dawn of a new error” on a tee shirt somewhere, but I can’t remember where or I would go back and buy one. Truth is, I can’t remember a lot these days

It wasn’t always like that.

When I was 21 and living in my first apartment, the insurance agent said I needed to catalogue each item in every drawer and closet in case of loss or damage. I told him “no”, that would not be necessary since I could sit down right now and provide him with a list of every single belonging.

I had a great memory then and not much stuff.

Today, I have a lot of stuff and not much memory.

I am sorry to say that life for those of a certain age is becoming what Sharon told me the other day on the phone, or was it Susan. I think it was Sharon.

“At our age, we are in lower gear but still propelling forward, and our ship is sinking just like our memory.”

“Oh that is profound,” I said, “I have to write that down. I will never remember it.”

She called me back five minutes later and said, “Do you happen to remember what I just told you? I can’t. I hope you wrote it down because I want to remember it, too.”

At least I am not in the boat alone.

The next day, I was on a short road trip with Susan (I am certain it was Susan), and as we drove along we lamented our loss of memory. She told me about a new book just published about forgetting everything and about growing old.

Intrigued, I asked Susan, “What’s the name of the book?”

Susan said, “I can’t remember a thing.”

Me either, I replied and laughed.

Exasperated, she tried again.

“I Can’t Remember a Thing,” she reiterated, meaning that was the name of the book.

I still didn’t “get it”, and from there our conversation became a remake of Abbott and Costello’s famed “Who’s on First” sketch.

Turns out, the book to which Susan was referring was actually Nora Ephron’s new novel, “I Remember Nothing.” I learned the correct title from friend Beth.

Giggle, giggle, I got the last laugh after all because Susan didn’t remember the name of the book correctly.

That scenario happened last week, most of which as you can tell, I have since forgotten. Now, I find myself wondering if it was in fact Susan who told me about the title of the book first and Beth second, or vice versa.

Never mind; doesn’t matter. I located the correct title. I simply Googled it.

Its author Nora Ephron, famed novelist and screenwriter, “googles” a lot, too.

In fact, she says that we are living in the Google years, and for those of us who can remember nothing, that is a good thing.

Nora writes: “When you forget something, you can whip out your iPhone and go to Google. The Senior Moment has become the Google Moment, and it has a much nicer, hipper, younger, more contemporary sound, doesn’t it.”

She explains more: “By handling the obligations of the search mechanism you almost prove you can keep up…There’s none of the nightmare of the true Senior Moment—the long search for the answer…you just go to Google and retrieve it.”

“You can’t retrieve your life (unless you’re on Wikipedia, in which case you can retrieve an inaccurate version of it). But you can retrieve the name of that actor who was in that movie, the one about World War II…or the name of that song that was sung by that singer, the one about love. You know the one.”

But sometimes, she says, “I’m forced to conclude that I remember nothing.”

Me, too, because I just misplaced my iPhone and, for the moment, cannot Google. I think Sharon (or was it Susan or was it Beth) was right. My ship is indeed sinking.

Oct 07

Do you find yourself putting bananas in the laundry basket?

This morning after I poured my Cheerios into the cereal bowl, I noticed I had opened the bottom of the Cheerio box instead of the top. My first clue was seeing the box upside down on the counter with the bottom flap open.

Makes reading the cereal box at breakfast a little more challenging.

“Did I do that,” I asked my husband.

“Yes,” he replied reassuringly, “But we won’t worry until we find your car keys in the deep freeze.”

Perhaps, I should worry that my middle-aged brain is on an irreversible downward slide?

Maybe not, according to Barbara Strauch of Women’s Day magazine.

Quoting experts, she wrote a story recently about the hidden benefits of the aging brain, noting: “When it comes to most areas of cognitive performance, we’re at the top of our game in midlife, not in our 20s as many had thought.

Strauch shares an example about her online attempt at ordering a book by Paul Coelho, “The Alchemist”. She was supposed to read that title for her book club, so she ordered it at home. A few days later at work she thought, “Oh, I should order that book” (for her book club), and carefully typed in an order for “The Alchemist.”

Strauch said the problem is that the book she really needed to order was “The Archivist” by Martha Cooley.

As we age, we may also find that we unintentionally transpose the initial sounds in a pair of words or use the wrong word altogether.

Such as, introducing a friend as a “Eucalyptus” minister when we mean to say a “Eucharistic” minister.

Additionally, “spoonerisms” may begin to pepper our language much like they did for the good Rev. William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930). The term “spoonerisms” was named after him because he had a habit of getting ahead of himself with his speech.

“The Lord is a shoving leopard (loving shepherd)”, he would say to his parishioners, according to dictionary.com.

Maybe his brain was moving faster than he could speak. Happens to me all the time.

I often wonder when I make similar mistakes, especially when I type, if my brain is moving faster than my fingers or are my fingers moving faster than my brain?

The good news is, according to Barbara Strauch, “researchers have found out a great deal about what happens at middle age, which they usually define as somewhere between 40 and 68. Clearly there are some glitches. Remembering names gets harder and brain-processing speed slows down, making it harder to, say, learn to play the piano or focus on one track without getting distracted.”

What were we talking about again?

Oh, yes, our middle-aged brains.

Strauch says in many ways the brain is actually at is peak during middle age and stays there longer than any of us dared to hope.

Hmm. I’m not sure I’m buying that yet.

We all know what it is to have a half-warmed fish, uh, half-formed wish.

Apr 16

Your day will come if it hasn’t already

“The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.” — Doris Lessing, British author.

Are we baby boomers confused? I think I am.

Case in point.

Recently as we carefully prepared for a long road trip out-of-state, I realized how imperative it was to pack certain vital items in a place where I could find them later.

Thus, I wisely put the garage door opener in the truck’s glove box thinking that surely I would find it there when we got home. It was paramount to protect this particular door opener since the other one disappeared three months ago.

Part way on our journey, the truck’s electronic system sputtered, and we were forced to leave the truck at a repair shop and transfer our belongings to a rental vehicle. Prudently, I moved the last-remaining and endangered garage door opener and other valuables to a safe place in the rental van.

That was the last time I saw the garage door opener during the entire trip.

Our house keys suffered a similar fate.

Yet, miraculously, both surfaced days later in the GPS case where they were quite masterfully hidden.

But, there is more to this story.

On the last day of our trip, we visited a museum and enjoyed chatting with its volunteers. When one gentleman learned that I write a column about the reluctant aging of baby boomers, he handed me a document he thought newsworthy.

Little did he know how right he was.

The printed flyer read, “Have you been diagnosed recently with A.A.A.D.D. (Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder)?”

“Google it; you will see,” he said smiling.

“You have to be kidding,” I exclaimed. “I think I have that!”

I could not wait to find out, so as soon as our trip ended and I was back at my home computer, I searched online. There I found that Age Activated A.D.D. is indeed a serious problem, and I read a number of testimonials about how the ailment manifests.

I vowed to get some help for myself, but first I wanted to check my email and read the local paper. I walked once again toward my study but soon found myself in the upstairs hall trying to remember what I originally set out to do.

“What was I looking for and why did I come upstairs,” I wondered.

“I have no idea why I am staring at the ceiling light,” I lamented.

I lose things constantly and have no clue where I put them.

I start a chore, but before the task is finished, I move on to another project.

I am easily distracted, and can’t sit through long meetings without getting up for a drink of water, a snack, or a bathroom visit.

Simply put, I must have Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder.

Yet, I consoled myself, “I am still wearing my glasses. I see that the remote is on the kitchen counter, my car keys are in my pocket, and my iPhone is in my hand. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am headed for the grocery store.”

How bad could I be?

Don’t smirk; your day will come.