Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Nastiness of Bad Memories

I disapprove of deliberately misleading titles, but the title of this post is deliberately misleading. I couldn't help myself.

I'm not talking about the kinds of memories that bedevil us and interfere with sleep. We all have those, surely. Rather, I'm talking about not being able to remember things - a memory that doesn't function properly, in other words.

My memory has always been awful. If anything, it's not quite as bad now as it was when I was a kid. I think I've developed coping mechanisms, as they say, such as being sure to write things down and using a calendar program on my PC. When I was a kid in school, my inability to remember, coupled with poor hearing and poor vision, sometimes got me classified as either stupid or naughty, depending on the teacher. I can understand why it must have looked that way.

If this problem is hereditary, it must have come from my mother. My father has always had a remarkable memory. He's now approaching 100 and complains about how bad his memory is nowadays, and it's still better than mine. Gads, what will happen to me if my memory does start deteriorating because of age, as it normally does with everyone? Maybe it's not hereditary. Maybe it's yet another aftereffect of my mother having to get up in the middle of the night while heavily pregnant with me and trundle down a few flights of stairs to the basement, dragging two sleepy daughters with her, because of the German bombers coming overhead. It's the fault of the Germans, you see. They started it. They invaded Poland. (Fawlty Towers joke.)

My inability to remember is an oddly intermittent, patchy thing. I can remember books and movies from decades ago, which causes Leonore to insist that I have an extremely good memory. Somehow, my brain handles that kind of information differently from practical info, such as where I'm supposed to be on a certain day and at what time. Or what I did last weekend. Maybe that's not uncommon, though. Years ago, in an online discussion, the writer Damon Knight talked at length about which stories by which authors had appeared in which issues of a particular science-fiction magazine around the time of WWII. This was all from memory. I expressed amazement that he could remember that. He responded that it was because it was important. I guess I need to train my brain to regard future appointments as being as important as old books and movies. That might be impossible.


Travis Erwin said...

Ahh ... Selective memory. The best kind.

David said...

Doesn't that imply deliberate forgetting? :)

Lahdeedah said...

Your mind is many places, just not in the present moment, where your body happens to be located, therefore it's not a memory issue so much as 'where is your mind wandering' when people are talking to you...

That's my excuse anyhow.