July 23, 2009

I Wish I Could Remember What I Was Going To Title This Post

A couple of weeks ago, I had a little memory problem. See, I either work out of my regular office - in which case parking is free - or I work in Monkeytown which requires me to park in an uber-expensive, cash-only garage. I'm always paranoid that one day I'm going to totally forget cash and because of the dearth of ATMs anywhere close I'll be reduced to begging or blowing the parking attendant to get my car out of the garage. And that's not a scenario I think I'd be overly fond of.

Back to a couple of weeks ago.

A few Mondays ago, I had to be in Monkeytown bright and early. The previous Sunday night, I realized that I didn't have any cash handy. I made a mental note to stop at a cash machine first thing Monday morning. But the more and more I thought about it, I realized that I couldn't remember my ATM PIN. I went through every combination I could come up with and none of it was clicking mentally. And the harder and harder I tried, the more elusive the number became.

So I got in my car, hit a local ATM, fed my card into the little slot and tried. I was annoyed after two minutes of unsuccessful tries. I was mildly frustrated after five minutes. I began to seriously question my sanity after seven or eight minutes. And I was just flat pissed after 10. (I was also surprised it let me try for 10 minutes without eating my card.) But then I got it. Somehow, I managed to happen on the right combination and sequence of numbers and the machine gave up cold hard cash.

But then I thought about the whole event and I actually got a little worried.

I maintain that I am smart, insightful and never forget a thing. But that last bit is bullshit. I forget a lot of stuff. Whenever I have to answer a question about my annual salary, for instance, I have to call Beth. I often don't recall how old I am. I have to do the subtraction then account for the fact that my birthday actually hits in the last month of the year. I feel, sometimes, like I've forgotten more than I remember - names of people from high school, stuff I learned in college, details about my first job. Maybe that's why I haul a camera everywhere I go. It's possible that forgetting some things is preferable to remembering everything. Take Jill Price, for instance. Dubbed The Woman Who Can't Forget, Price recalls everything - even the most minute and obscure detail - of her life since the age of 14.

So, maybe forgetting is a mixed blessing. But it seems like it's happening a lot to me lately. Though I haven't truly embarrassed myself - like forgetting to wear pants to work or calling my boss by the wrong name - it's really annoying.

Am I the only one? Do you forget a lot or do you have a pretty good memory? Would you want the ability to remember everything?

Posted by Chris at July 23, 2009 6:30 AM

I have a long list of the silly things I forget.

I'm great at useless trivia but sometimes it takes me three trips to the kitchen to remember why I'm there.

The other day I couldn't remember the name of the fruit that looks like a small peach. Knew it started with "a" so I ran through every food I could think of. Finally I came up with apricot.

Remember everything? I'm sure there are things in most people's lives they'd prefer to forget.

Posted by: Ann Adams at July 23, 2009 7:19 AM

I will pass on the ability to remember everything. I remember details of trivia, but often forget other things. My stress level directly effects my memory and my stress level has been high lately.

Posted by: MariaV at July 23, 2009 7:48 AM

My forgetfulness is medically induced by Zoloft. Before that I remembered EVERYTHING. Ex-girlfriends hate that I remember so much. Unfortunately, it's not selective. Forgetting isn't such a bad thing.

Posted by: Knot at July 23, 2009 8:14 AM

No way that I would want to remember everything. In fact, the list of things that I would like to forget is incredibly long. I still get hit with waves of embarrassment over things I said or did 20+ years ago! Self-conscious? me? never...

But then at times I find myself wondering what purpose brought me into whatever room I find myself in. I'm easily distracted so short term memory is always an issue. I haven't forgotten my PIN (although I've come close) but I have forgotten my phone number and my zip code. But I can tell you the phone number of the house I lived in 25 years ago (617-473-2575) and its zip code (01757). I think I had too much fun in my twenties! :)

Posted by: Elizabeth at July 23, 2009 8:23 AM

I also forget things... but yet, I am fairly good at remembering things I'm supposed to remember... most of the time.

I think it's all directly related to how much stuff you have on your plate, or, rather, have to keep stuffed in your head. Let's face it: you've got a lot going on. Which means, you've got a lot of info floating around in your head, and you probably don't have enough time to allow your brain to properly 'file' most of it away so that it sticks.

Also? Your age changes every year, so it's not a stagnant number. I *always* have to think about how old I am when someone asks. Sadly, if I blurt out how old I am without thinking about it first, I'm either 2 years younger or 1 year older than I actually am.

I also think that if it's info you don't use regularly, it's harder to recall. You don't get asked your age that often (in most cases). You probably don't use your ATM PIN too often. You don't get asked how much you make in a year too often... you get my drift.

So, hang in there. There's a lot going on inside that head of yours!

Posted by: ironic1 at July 23, 2009 8:48 AM

I hate it when I forget things but its always the most perplexing when its something you use all the time. I've forgotten my parents' telephone number or my PIN or a password I use daily, and it will just disappear until I somehow get reminded of it and then it will be back in my memory again. Seems to happen to most people from time to time though so I choose to believe it's normal :)

Posted by: glid at July 23, 2009 8:51 AM

My memory stinks. Mostly I chalk this up to having had a major head injury at the tender age of 26. I do make lists and try to do association to remember what I need to.

Posted by: Maribeth at July 23, 2009 9:06 AM

I can always remember my age but I always have to do the math to remember my husbands age since he is younger then me. But if it weren't for my camera I'd forget a lot of things and post-it notes save me daily.

Posted by: Jody at July 23, 2009 9:18 AM

I hate to break it to you, but it only gets worse. My long-term memory is impeccable -- I can even remember my phone number from when I was 5 -- but short-term? Forget it. I can't even tell you what I had for dinner last night. This is me on the way to the market: "Rice, chicken, bananas. Rice, chicken, bananas." This is me getting my cart: "Rice, chicken, bananas. Rice, chicken, bananas." This is me after getting the rice and chicken: "Rice, chicken, ... SHIT! What was the third thing??" My only piece of advice is to write down everything (well, maybe not PINs and passwords). There's no solution, only this lame workaround.

Posted by: Karen at July 23, 2009 9:18 AM

My memory is for shit lately. Or the past few years adn getting worse actually. I agree with Karen, it gets worse every year and I do the same chant for things I need until I can find paper to write it down. If I'm in the bathroom in the am and realize we need toothpaste, contact solution and soap, I'll walk around saying it out loud until I can write it down or I'll never remember. Lists are the only thing that keep me sane!

But my long term memory is still intact. I too remember my old phone number from childhood including the area code which has since changed!

Posted by: Lisa at July 23, 2009 9:23 AM

I can remember how to get places and where I parked the car. I'm horrible with dates (which makes birthdays a pain; I am eternally grateful for Facebook's birthday reminders) and if someone tells me something and I don't write it down with details immediately, I will forget about it. The more sleep-deprived I am and the longer my depression goes without treatment (also: the cycle of my depression plays a role), the worse it is.

I think the weirdest memory lapse I have is my dad's cell phone number. He has had it for about 7 years now and I can't ever remember it. However, I somehow magically know my mom and dad's new home number even though I never call it.

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at July 23, 2009 9:37 AM

I contend that I must have been in some sort of horrible accident and that I have amnesia. Although no one seems to be able to corroborrate that story.

Posted by: k8 at July 23, 2009 9:39 AM

Your brain can only retain so many items. Sometimes PINs and dates and numbers that can be easily retrieved with research (i.e., a call to one's less forgetful spouse) have to be shuttled to make room for the lyrics to "One Night in Bangkok."

I forget stuff all the time. Family, full time job, busy lives...it all contributes. I write a lot of stuff down and leave messages to myself all the time (emailing myself at work to remember to make a doctor appointment, leaving a message on the home voicemail to remind myself to put something in my briefcase when I get home, etc.)

Posted by: MamaKaren at July 23, 2009 9:52 AM

I think it gets worse once you become a parent. My husband and I had a discussion the other day and he was trying to tell me something about the refrigerator. Except at that moment, he could not, to save his life, remember the word refrigerator. So he called it a big tall square box-y cold thing. Fortunately, I'm a parent too so I knew exactly what he was talking about.

On second thought, I actually think that's worse...

Posted by: Jean at July 23, 2009 10:11 AM

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it gets worse. There are days when I struggle to remember what all I did yesterday. I now carry around a notebook and datebook to remember things of importance. I don't think Alzheimer's will get me, I think memory loss will. One morning I will wake up and forget how to breath!

Posted by: Jeff A at July 23, 2009 10:13 AM

Welcome to getting older. BTW - I realized after the fact that my mom would have been 63 yesterday - a lot older than four, but it's nice to think of Mia sharing the same birthday as her.

Posted by: Heather at July 23, 2009 10:44 AM

I have a spectacularly bad memory (remembering your cake catastrophe from last year was just a fluke, I swear).
I'm not sure if it's hereditary (I wouldn't know, I'm adopted) or if it's a result of all the times I was given anesthesia as a child, or if it's just some kind of dimensia.
But either way, I can have a half-hour conversation with someone and not remember their name, or sometimes their face, a few days later. I have very few memories of my childhood, compared to my brother or anyone else I know. It's both frustrating and embarrassing. And it's one of the main reasons I blog - because I know otherwise every day is like water down a drain.

Posted by: Amy at July 23, 2009 10:48 AM

I don't say I've "forgotten" things, rather "they take a long time to remember." I like to think I haven't lost track of them completely, and the recollection will hit me eventually.

Like, in the shower, four days later, when I yell "Stephanie! Her name was Stephanie!" and my husband is all "What the hell are you talking about?"

Posted by: lumpyheadsmom at July 23, 2009 10:59 AM

I can totally relate to this post! I think that having kids is what made my memory go crazy. I used to remember everything, and when lovely number one came along, I started fading. Now that lovely number two is here, I can't remember anything! I have even been known to forget the diaper bag. It is annoying, but I'd rather be forgetful and have happy kids, then be so anal that I stress out about remembering everything that my kiddos aren't happy!

Posted by: Wendy at July 23, 2009 11:32 AM

Oh, I totally have a great...um...what was the question again?

Posted by: J at July 23, 2009 11:41 AM


This allows you to store your information securely online and in your phone for easy access. Before this, I routinely forgot passwords and my ATM pin.

I feel the problem is compounded by the fact that most of us don't need to remember numbers and dial like we used too. We just click on names and information in our cell phones.

You need passwords for everything and it is unreal the amount of information that we are supposed to just recall.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at July 23, 2009 11:54 AM

I can't remember what color invoice to give the vendors; I can't remember what color packing slip to give to the drivers, and I have a secret code of all my PINs in a special place.

But I remember very clearly things that happened many, MANY years ago. And how to get to places I've only been to once. Now whats up with that?

Posted by: Amy at July 23, 2009 12:59 PM

I *hate* my bad memory. I try and make up for it with emails to myself & checklists & post-its everywhere. Sometimes it works...

If recalling something bugs me it *really* bugs me until I remember it. I had to laugh at lumpyheadsmom's story as it is similar to me phoning my husband and screaming "HE'S OUR DENTIST!!" I'm sure he would have said "who IS this?" if not for call display.

Posted by: harmzie at July 23, 2009 1:30 PM

I have a horrible memory. I think I need to start using sticky notes around the house.

Posted by: DCUrbanDad at July 23, 2009 3:29 PM

Who are you again?

Posted by: Loth at July 23, 2009 3:55 PM

I have a horrible memory and cannot remember things day to day. I carry a notepad to make lists so I don't forget. I am only 34....oh wait, I'm 35, hahahah - so I hope it doesn't get much worse. Must be all the pot I smoke(d). =)

Posted by: Lesley at July 23, 2009 3:58 PM

I forget often, and it drives me up the walls. I feel like I should be able to remember more than I can. But I also train my little brain to forget the bad things, the sad things, the things that cause pain and hurt you, every time you think about them - and then I am thankful that my wee little brain is just the slightest bit broken in the best possible way.

Posted by: Emily at July 23, 2009 5:00 PM


I too have many memory problems. As a matter of fact I read this post this morning and was going to comment. I got busy and forgot until now, a mere 6 hours later.

I forget a lot. I am amazed, at how often I forgeet things. What's worse it is hard to have an argument with my spouse because I can never remember what was said. :)

I really thought it was a side effect of certain medicines, but now I am wondering if it's not just age catching up with me. Being born in Oct of '73, I also have to do the math when asked about my age. I think once you reach a certain age, you are no longer obsessed like kids from 4 1/2 to say 15 3/4. :)

Have a great day!

Posted by: debb at July 23, 2009 5:30 PM

I'm the same age as you, and I often used to wonder, "How can old people never remember how old they are?" Well, guess what? I forget all the time. I have to do subtraction to figure it out. I find myself all the time forgetting names of common items, it takes a few minutes and I feel like a complete idiot. Oh well. I guess that's getting old.

Posted by: chris at July 23, 2009 5:36 PM

I'm the same age as you, and I often used to wonder, "How can old people never remember how old they are?" Well, guess what? I forget all the time. I have to do subtraction to figure it out. I find myself all the time forgetting names of common items, it takes a few minutes and I feel like a complete idiot. Oh well. I guess that's getting old.

Posted by: chris at July 23, 2009 5:36 PM

The eye doctor just asked me the other day during an exam, my age. I just sat there, and had no clue how old I was. i finally came to my senses and mumbled an answer but still!

Posted by: Kami at July 23, 2009 6:12 PM

You're definitely not alone. I used to have a good memory, but lately it's been horrible. The worst is standing in front of someone asking what my address is, and I just stand there with a blank look on my face. It's embarrassing. I also forget how old I am. I guess the older you get, the less important birthdays are... and therefore I'll always be 25 (at least that's usually the first number that comes to mind... it's not too far off). I forget much more. I'm definitely losing it.

Posted by: Laura at July 23, 2009 6:46 PM

I think your head's just so full of obscure musical trivia you're running out of room for other things ;)

Posted by: Heather at July 23, 2009 7:33 PM

I'm 30 weeks pregnant (our first) and in the past week, I have forgotten: 1. Where I was going once in the car 2. What day it was and whether I needed to get up for work 3. How to spell the word "and" (yeh, I know) 4. Who I was calling and why 5. how to cook (which may have been intentional)

I won't even go into what I forgot at work...

Posted by: Lori at July 23, 2009 9:23 PM

What was the question again?

Oh, right. Obviously I can't remember s*it either; and I think you and I are roughly the same age (I turned 36 in February, and yes, I had to do the math).

I have about 10 or 15 passwords for work and as much as I try to make them all the same, they all expire at different times making it impossible unless when I change one I change them all. I use the same PIN # for everything (bad, I know, but I can't remember it otherwise), and often can't remember why I entered a room without going back to where I came from to find out what I needed to get up for. I often remember little pieces of information at a time, resulting in 'ah-ha' moments on a regular basis.

I many times can remember someone's name once I've met them if I've met them in person and used their name during the conversation, but this is more of a conditioned response since I work in banking.

The bottom line: I think I may be getting OLD; and I don't like it!


Posted by: ProudMary at July 24, 2009 12:31 AM

I'm amazed at the things I manage to forget and the things I still remember. And believe me, like everyone else, there are some things in my past I'd really like to forget!
I don't know at what age that forgetfulness and panic that follows comes along, but it looks like you're just one of us now.

Posted by: NancyJ at July 24, 2009 6:53 AM

I totally forgot my PIN once a couple of years ago. Mind you, it's the same damn PIN I had since like I first ever got one (I used the same one when I opened my new account in CA when I moved from TX). I couldn't believe I forgot it! Of course, now that I'm pregnant (8 1/2 months!) I wouldn't be surprised if I were to forget my own name...

Posted by: Teenuh at July 27, 2009 1:36 AM

i have a selective memory- i remember certain things very vividly and well, other things, usually important ones, i do not. it's very strange.

Posted by: la petite belle at August 4, 2009 2:54 PM