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Saturday, August 09, 2008

THREE QUESTIONS: Memory


I am fascinated by those people who can meet a roomful of people and recite every one of their names; that's not me. At all. This article, by contrast, is very much me.

1. What is your earliest memory? Mine seems to be me at the late, lamented Catskill Game Farm inside a metal pumpkin when I was about three. Although now that I think of it, do I actually remember it, or do I remember the picture of it? Same with those "frozen in time" memories: do I remember the JFK assassination, or am I now remembering my own retelling of the event?

2. What are you good at remembering? Names, dates, places? I find that if it has a numeric hook, I'm more likely to recall it: some credit card numbers, our license plate number, certain dates. I remember the date in 1974 that I saw Joni Mitchell (August 22); on the other hand, I was waiting all summer for that concert, and it turned out to be pretty much of a disaster.
Other dates I can remember if I can hook it to another date or at least period. Carol and I often refer to things as B.L. and A.L. - before and after Lydia, as a point of reference. When did we see some play? (Probably B.L.) Having the blog helps in this regard.
Whereas names commonly escape me. Let's say I see a bank teller every day for two years, and refer to her by name; she leaves the bank, I see her six months later, I remember HER, but her NAME has escaped me. Oddly, the facts about her (where she lives, what she likes, the pets she owns) stays with me. It's only the actual name that fades, not the person's identity.

3a. Do you worry about losing your memory? I do, when certain words don't come immediately to me, usually specific terms that I learned later in life, such as that big piece of furniture in my bedroom that holds my clothes for the last four years. What IS that? Oh yes, armoire. I was a dresser and closet guy and "armoire" does not come immediately to mind; the fact that I don't really LIKE the armoire certainly has nothing to do with remembering its name, does it?
3b. Did you ever have a false memory? I SWEAR I saw Jose Canseco get his 40th stolen base in Oakland, to join the 40/40 club in 1988. But looking at the Baseball Almanac, it appears that he got his 40th HR on September 18 in Oakland, where I've been, but didn't get his 40th steal until 5 days later in Milwaukee, where I've never been. I definitely saw the 40th SOMETHING, but I seem to have dreamed the rest. Did that ever happen to you?

2 comments:

Gary ("Old Dude") said...

At 71 and counting, yes I kinda worry about my memory skills. I have slowed down from my youth. There was time I could memorize a acouple hundred words of a fictional text perfectly in less than acouple hours---today it would take me a good full day to do the same thing. Then the question is how long would I retain the memorization----ahh its the old use it or lose it gambit for me. On the other hand I am good at remembering lyrics to old songs---but usually not the whole song just portions of it----and as I recall those bits also remember where and when I heard it----"Monday, Monday-----can't trust that day---" found me nursing a beer during a lengthy unemployment period.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

My father, a minister, used to use similes to try and remember names, not always successfully, but usually. Me, I just recite something over and over and hope it sticks.

They say that doing crossword puzzles helps keep the mind sharp. Too bad for me I never liked them.

I generally remember old song lyrics, too, but commercial jingles and TV theme songs even more so. If I could set my life to them I'd never forget anything!