Monday, March 17, 2008

'i have an impeccable memory' or 'who are you? oh. hey ma.'

my memory confuses me. for the most part, i forget everything. i'm constantly berated for forgetting "vital" and "fascinating" details about friends' lives: their majors in school, what they do for a living, their dreams, etc. my inability to remember anything has annoyed me to the point where i actually decided to improve my brain's agility, memory, and overall well-being by buying a pack of mensa problem solving cards from the local toy store one gloomy sunday. i convinced three other friends to do the same, and we sat in a bar for the rest of the afternoon drinking guinness and hunched over the table scratching our heads.

it was the right ratio of nerdy and superfun, and our brains managed to slyly circumvent the secret competitiveness among us by making us each good at different things: ashley with the color problems, cathy with the number puzzles, stefania with the word questions, and me with the spatial orientation ones. turns out that we all sucked at the narrative problems (a man is found dead in a forest surrounded by village idiots and one purple did he die, etc etc), and we announced that the answers to all of those were 'STUPID,' anyway. out loud. and louder, around the third beer.

'what's so confusing about the fact that you're retarded, annie?' i hear you asking rudely. oddly enough, there are very particular things that i remember very vividly, and for no apparent reason.


exhibit a. this article that the weekend journal once published on air spores in five-star hotels

i started reading the wall street journal when i was in high school, not because i was an obnoxious overachiever, but because my dad subscribed to it and it was always looking sad on the coffee table all by its lonesome. every friday, they come out with the weekend journal, which publishes front page articles that are always random and usually interesting.

i was having lunch with one of the mumbai beat reporters for the journal recently, and he was telling me all about his experiences reporting for bloomberg before moving to the wsj. he was pretty chatty, so i wasn't worried about the conversation dying, but i usually start feeling like i should be actively contributing to a conversation after i've been silent for a minute or so.

'hey!' i interjected with the air of someone who has something interesting to say. 'did you know anyone who ever wrote for the weekend journal?' he blinked twice. 'because i remember this GREAT article they published on the front page of that section once that was about air quality in five-star hotels. they took all of these petri dishes and set them down in some of the top hotels in a few metropolitan cities and let them sit around for awhile. the results were pretty revolting. i thought it was really interesting.'

why do i remember this article? i think my brain is malfunctioning, and would like to exchange it for a different one.


exhibit b: a photo of my friend ben on the front page of the health section in the nytimes in 2002

about 6 months after i started working at my current job, this new kid who looked vaguely familiar started working there, and we eventually became friends. during one conversation, he mentioned that he'd once been on the front page of the health section of the new york times.

'wait.' i said. 'were you sitting on your bed?' i asked. 'mm hmm,' he said. 'were you on the top bunk?' he stared at me. 'and were you wearing a gray shirt with blue lettering?' i rambled, channeling the nyt archives.

so. i remembered a photo on the front page of a section of the times that no one reads, of someone i didn't know, three years prior to this conversation.


the forgetting part i can understand. the renegade part that latches onto particular images and bits of useless of information is the part that i'd like dissected later. is it a different density than the rest? is it cross-wired to a completely different section? is there a crayon lodged in it?


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