All posts tagged: Memory

The Day I Stopped Trusting My Memory

“I don’t have time for this shit,” I grumbled to myself as I searched the apartment for my keys. Moving piles of unopened mail around on the kitchen table, I felt the familiar pit in my stomach begin to grow. “Why didn’t I put the keys on its porcelain dish as usual?” I chastised myself. “And why was this happening so often lately?” Just last week, I went searching for my iPhone and found it in the freezer. In the freezer. Don’t even ask me how I did that because — guess what — I don’t remember. Back in my years before Impending Cronehood, I had a remarkable memory — almost photographic. Dates, names, and intimate details were etched into my brain so clearly that I could recall them vividly, and I was often used as my friend’s journals, to be opened when their own recollections of the past grew hazy. “Hey, Issa, what was the name of that guy I used to date our freshman year in college? You know, the one who was …

What is the Lifespan of a Memory?

Memory is a funny thing. Why do we remember the things we do, and how is it that people remember the same event differently? How does one person remember and another forget? I’ve always been fascinated by this, and so when my kids were very young I began an informal experiment by asking them at different stages about their memories: “What’s your best memory? What’s your worst memory? What’s your first memory?” Even with their young brains, there are some things that they have already begun to forget. Which leads me to one of my biggest fears: that I will begin to forget too — their stories, my stories and my family’s stories. And if I forget bigger events, what will happen to those little moments? How my mother laughed and my father smiled? And what my daughter’s first hug felt like? This melancholy musing has led me to ask: What’s the lifespan of a memory? Family stories seem to be the easiest thing to keep alive. I keep dredging them up and telling them to my kids …

Margit’s Note: What Was I Going to Say?

The brain is a weird place. We instantly forget the name of someone we just met, but we remember every damn lyric to “Hotel California.” (“What a nice surprise, bring your alibis.” ARGH!) We rely more and more on our cloud-synced calendars, to do lists and electronic data to keep us current, and if that cloud ever crashed, our whole world would fall from bytes to bits. I am somewhat terrified of losing my memory. I remember seeing my great aunt delicately picking up a spoon to use with her salad and then putting salad dressing on her hamburger and being quietly explained to that she had lost her ability to remember how to do things. (To be fair, given today’s grain-filled salads, she might not have been so off.) As a six-year-old, I was scared to imagine that in the same way I was learning things, I might at some point unlearn them, too. I’ve often thought that there’s only enough genetic data for one sibling to get all the memory juice. For example, my sister has a photographic …

What’s That Smell: When a Scent Transports You Back in Time

A particular, weird, wonderful aroma can instantly shuttle me back in time; they call that a Proustian Memory. Happiness explorer Gretchen Rubin reminds us of the power of scent to evoke a full-fledged feeling or immediate recollection. For me, some of them are pretty random: White Shoulders = My first boyfriend who had a penchant for the cloying perfume. I liked it then. Now it recalls a stuffy Greyhound bus trip to Penn State. Rubber cement = The smell of pasting up stories on flats with an X-acto knife and some version of rubber cement (when we used to do that sort of thing in the newspaper business.) Harry’s Habanero hot sauce = My writing retreat at Dairy Hollow. I found this rockin’ hot sauce in a local health food store and used it on my eggs every morning. Consequently, it also makes me want to write when I use it! A useful smell. For Adrianna: Cigarettes on old leather jackets = My college experience. I miss all of us thespians huddling together outside in the cold, bumming cigarettes off …