As Time Goes By — Herman Hupfeld, 1931
Immortalized by Dooley Wilson, Casablanca, 1942
Barb and I love going to the movies, and “Still Alice” is the best one we have seen this year. Julianne Moore’s portrayal of a university professor suffering as her memory fades away, a consequence of early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, is haunting. A terrific award winning performance.
Memory is such a tricky thing. Who understands what we remember and what we forget. Barb and I are constantly saying to each other “Don’t forget to remind me to buy toilet paper next time we are at shopping.” And sure enough, there we are wondering down the supermarket aisle, and both of us will totally forget about buying the toilet paper, or peanut butter, or walnuts, or seltzer water. It is amazing how much money we can spend at the grocery store considering we can barely remember why we went there in the first place. And then there was the time we couldn’t remember how to get out of a Walmart; we just couldn’t find the door! I still have nightmares about that one. Barb also tells me we had a knock down drag out fight with the builder of our current house 25 years ago. I have conveniently blocked that memory out for good, or I don’t know if I would be so eager to be building now.
On the plus side, my ability to remember music is pretty uncanny. I can name that tune in one note, and I don’t need any clues. A wailing sax note (Baker Street, Gerry Rafferty) or a suspended in the ether guitar chord (A Hard Day’s Night, The Beatles) is enough to set all my synapses flickering and before you even know there is a song on the radio my brain can dump out a Wikipedia’s worth of information.
Remembering names and faces, now that is my real downfall. Vendors pass through my office almost daily . I have pleasant conversations, learn something new, and send them on their way. I could meet the same rep on the street the next day and not know who they are. Sadly, the same is true for people I meet at parties, weddings, funerals and bat-mitzvahs. So no, I am not being rude, stuck up or intentionally ignoring you, I just can’t place the face. Want me to remember you? Sing me a song, Mr. Piano Man!
I know there are all sorts of memory tips out there. Say the name of a person when you meet them and again at the end of the conversation. Associate the name with an obvious physical trait. Maybe that works for some of you, it doesn’t work for me. But here is my list of things that do help me remember.
- Write myself a note. Useful if I can find paper and a pen with ink or a sharpened pencil before I forget what I wanted to write down. The usefulness is also inversely proportional to how tiny my handwriting is on any given day.
- Write myself a note on my hand. I don’t actually do this, but someone in my lab does. I just can’t remember who it is.
- Stick a Post-It Note on my computer. Helpful, but I wind up ripping them off when they block everything on the screen.
- Put a Sticky Note in my computer. This is one I really like. A program called “Stickies” puts images of sticky notes in my monitor that can be made to disappear and then reappear at a later time. The problem is that when the notes reappear I can never remember what they are referring to.
- In tennis matches, I say the score loudly before every point. This also has the added benefit of annoying your opponent, but aren’t mind games worth a point or two?
- Tattoo the important information onto my body. Not something I have ever done, but “Prison Break”, “Memento” and “Blindspot” all use this as plot devices, and see how well I remembered those. Ok, I will admit it. I did a Google search to remember that last one.
- And that leads to the last helpful tip: Google. ‘Nuff said.
Barb is out of town for a few days. Hope she remembers me when she gets back. That kiss is still I kiss.