Dec 4, 2008

maximum occupancy

So I was searching my house, wracking my brain, trying to figure out where I put my daughter's theater slip when I had an epiphany -ok, maybe not an epiphany, but more like a regular idea- about why I am so scatterbrained these days.

I used to remember everything.

When I was in 6th grade I could name everyone my age. The student body wasn't huge, but that was at least 350 people. And just because I didn't actually know them all, or maybe know all of their last names, I could identify almost every one of their faces.

In high school and college I was an expert crammer. I would study right before the test, remember everything with crystal clear precision for a few hours, score amazing grades, and then forget most of it. That information was concrete for those few hours, and tests were a breeze.

This morning I walked up the stairs to grab a pair of socks for Monkey, but once I reached the top step I couldn't recall why I was there. It took another trip back down the stairs to see his naked feet to remember why I had gone up in the first place. This method is good for physical exercise, but forgetting so easily drives me insane.

You could stand directly in front of me, with no distractions, and tell me something while I concentrate on your face. And I will still manage to forget it immediately after you've closed your mouth.

And I've figured out why.

My brain is full.

You know how in conference rooms or big classrooms they have one of those signs that says the occupancy limit? Or like the weight limit on an elevator? My brain is like that. Only I don't have a sign.

And since my brain has met it's capacity nothing else will stick. All information is rejected at the door.

So I have this hypothesis about how I could probably retain some new info if I just make room in there. Except that I don't exactly know how to get rid of things like memories and stray thoughts. Because I definitely would choose to discard some of the things swirling around inside my head. Like, do I really need to forever remember that the butthole of a cell is called a vacuole? That's not exactly useful information for day to day living.

There are some embarrassing or otherwise regrettable life experiences I would gladly trade in for the ability to remember why I am on the top step or where that stupid slip, that I still haven't found, is. Like yesterday when I went to the grocery store and stared, blinking wildly, at a lady from church for 2 minutes straight because I couldn't remember her name, and now she probably thinks I'm some kind of ill-mannered lunatic. If only I could swap out that memory for her name.

Too bad brains don't naturally work like that. Although that would make a great "Fringe" like science experiment - - Obtaining the ability to exchange, delete and acquire information and memories by choice. I would totally sign up as a volunteer (guinea pig) for that.

Or wouldn't it be great if the pensieve in Harry Potter was real? Then I wouldn't have to delete everything, I could just pull out the stuff I don't need for now, and stick it in my swirling memory soup. Except that would also require a magic wand, wouldn't it? I guess I'll need one of those too.

But since neither option is very likely, I must extend to you this warning: If you tell me something, be prepared to get a blank stare and/or no response in return. Because, like I said, my brain is full.


Barbaloot said...

I totally know what you mean! I have this weird thing with birthdays; I remember EVERYONE'S. Like kids from 2nd grade that I have not seen since 2nd grade. Now, it's getting to the point where I meet new people and would like to remember their birthdays---but can't. I want to swap the old ones for the new ones.
Let me know if you figure this out.

Claire said...

I just choose not to remember. It's too much effort to try and store information. I'm just not invested enough. And FYI... you're the person I wanted to be at school - able to cram study and pass exams. I had to put in long hours throughout the year, and still manage to just pass. Poo to you;)

Diet Coke and Zingers said...

I could have written this post myself... If I would have remembered to!

lifeinthehighlands said...

Actually, your whole theory is supported by science. The brain has a finite amount of space.

If only we could add a memory card to our brains like we can to a computer.

That Girl in Brazil said...

And to think I wasted all those hours studying trig when I should have been memorizing "101 Ways to Avoid Spanking."

Amen, and amen, sistah friend.

Jen said...

Yeah. To all of it. Especially the part about the pensieve. I really want one of those - and I'll definitely take the wand along with it. That way, when I lose something I can just flick my wand and it will come flying back.

Ahh, dreams.

LisAway said...

This is totally a motherhood thing. There is ALWAYS so much information that needs to be right up there at the top that new, less important stuff just cannot get through. You have to remember what time the sick kid needs his medicine, that you have to pick up so and so at such and such a time, that, OH YEAH, it's time to make lunch etc. all while you have "'remember to get a different brand of baby wipes next time', 'these fingernail clippers don't work, I have to search for the other ones' and 'shoot, I think Tommy might be allergic to tomatoes.'" are swirling through your head as well.

Really, it's all too much.

Jake & Michelle said...

LOL Be glad that you are just finding that memory problem. I haven't even started to have kids and I find myself standing in the kitchen sometimes wondering why I am there, and if I was really about to cook something.. Kind of dangerous though because I forget if I have had lunch or not, or if I was about to eat so :) sometimes I think I get 2 or 3 lunches in before dinner lol
But I totally know what you mean about standing at the top of the stairs, or looking oddly at a person, because you think you might know them but for the life of you, you cant remember their name..

wonder woman said...

My theory is that we lose brain cells/activity/capacity when we're pregnant (a scientifically proven fact) and we never gain it back. I really hope I'm wrong but have a scary suspicion it's true.

I just have to say that your sons potty troubles make me feel a little bit better. =D We most definately will have a party when it's all over!