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Burrs and Swiss Cheese – a game of memory roulette

I am lousy at remembering people’s names. I try, but right at the point they are saying their name my mind has wandered off and isn’t paying attention. I want to remember names, I have tried all of those helpful hints. They don’t work if you miss the name in the first place, or if when really, really trying you try one of those hints and you think you have their name tucked away but you totally missed the rest of the conversation because you were trying to remember their name, and now you don’t know if you want to know them anyway. And which distant relative did they have a name like again?

And the days you remember everything. Every single thing. Nothing of interest happened, but you remember it. I can hardly remember my wedding but that day I had breakfast, read a book, and did nothing much, all there in glorious detail.

One day in year 11 or 12, the computer studies teacher gave a small, seemingly offhand talk on some obscure subject, didn’t seem worth taking notes. On the exam there was a question on this subject and I could remember his talk word for word. The other bits I had studied for, not so much.

I am so lucky my husband has a sense of humour about all my quirks and foibles. He will ask me to remind him about something. I will remember he asked me to remind him, but not what I was supposed to remind him about. I can remember I want to tell him something but not what I want to tell him. I am in the habit of telling him that I was going to tell him something so that if it was something important he knows I tried.

And the useless information I do retain. My mind is a steel trap for information that serves no purpose except trivial pursuit and quiz shows. For all the people whose names I can’t remember, I probably end up knowing their middle name and date of birth, not exactly useful except for saying happy birthday when everyone else forgets.

When I have errands to run I count the number of errands on my fingers, and concentrate on which finger I need to get to. I can feel that finger, like it is being touched. As I complete each task, I tick off a finger. When I get to the touched finger I know I am done. Except when I do a task I forgot about when I started counting fingers. Same number of tasks, maybe not the right ones. Pre-planning my route can help, provided I don’t get distracted by something shiny.

I use a lot of association to help remember things I need to. I remember things as groups, or tag them on to something else. Remembering can be a bit of word association or giving out random facts until my husband guesses what I mean. He can be very good at making sense of random things. You know, that person that did so and so with such and such. Yeah them, well their wife was with the woman that is married to that man that did that thing. He knows, he gets me.

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