Memory Aids

post-it personWhy did I go into the living room? I was perfectly happy in my study behind the computer. Did I need something in the living room? Was it a thing, a coat, a sweater, a magazine? If I retrace my steps back to the study, maybe that will jog my memory. No, that didn’t work. Something in my mind told me to go to the living room, but on the way there, I forgot the reason.

The solution is to write it down before you leave on the fool’s errand of going after something you are going to forget on your way to get it. Now I find myself writing Post-Its that say “get newspaper,” “get out hammer,” “moves clothes from washer to dryer,” etc. The drawback with this system is that my scrawled printing is so pathetic that I often cannot read my own notes. I can stare at “hawg pc” for hours before remembering that I was supposed to put up a newly framed picture ("hang pic").

So we make lists. We have grocery lists, task lists, gift lists, weekend lists, job lists, fix-it lists, wake up and do lists, and today lists. God help you if you go off without your list. Freelancing in the grocery store is not a great idea. Sure, you get some of the usual things that you know you always get, but you come home without the eggs that you needed for the baking you wanted to do, which is why you went there in the first place.

I know that it’s natural for short-term memory to degrade, but that doesn’t make me any more cheerful when I fail to pull a name from my random access memory (RAM), which is what I call the place where my brain stores everything I need to solve a crossword puzzle. There’s erg for brain scanunit of work, Oona for Charlie Chaplain’s wife, Erato for sister of Clio, élan for pizzazz, and literally thousands more. Unfortunately, the instant recall button doesn’t work as well as it once did, which means I’m leaving a dent in my forehead from where I slap it every time I say, “I knew that.”

It’s not unusual to waste my waking hours (and maybe a few of the ones when I’m sleeping) repeatedly trying to jog my memory so that I can think of someone’s name. I can picture them, maybe even remember the spouse's name, but all else eludes me.

At this point, I would be happy to take a pill if it solved the problem, but I know that it will come with a list of side effects, such as headache; loss of appetite; stuffy or runny nose; and of course, the dreaded "loss of short-term memory."

I know there is a reason why I shouldn’t take a pill like that, but I can’t remember what it is and I didn’t make a list.


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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