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Memory Trails (and Trials)

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Mar. 10th, 2004 | 05:01 pm
mood: stressedstressed
music: Erasure - Chorus

I am thinking about a particular subject. I remember that so-and-so gave me some information about that subject that would be useful right now. I should call him and at least leave him a message so that information can come back to me again. ('Right action' for me often has to be 'immediate action' or else it is lost.) I take out my Treo 600 and hit 'address book'.

I stare at it, wheels spinning quietly. Nothing happens. I am waiting for a stimulus: his name popping into my head as a result of thinking of him. When that happens, I'll be reminded that I'm calling him and my fingers will move. This either does or does not happen before looking at the phone reminds me of something else and I switch mental tasks and -- off I go. Or, if no new task comes along, I'll wonder what I was doing. This time, I do remember what I was doing, and I push, mentally. "What IS his name? It's... it's... Grrr..." I know where the name would be in my memory. I know what it would be like to remember it. My brain just won't make it GO. Go, brain, go!

The Treo wants very much to help -- it will look him up and dial for me given just a few letters of his first or last name, and if I've called him recently, he'll also be highlighted in yellow and displayed at the top of the list already, or if he's called me there's a timestamped history of that I can dial from with two clicks. I can create speed-dial entries in two different contexts and I can assign icons, alarms, categories; cross-references. But, it has to have something to go on. At least a hint.

What I'm learning to do is allow myself to find alternate pathways. This requires letting go of the obstacle and allowing things to not be perfect; even embarrassingly silly. And letting go of all kinds of shame and expectations. So: his face is there, in my memory, but no name. I think about the possibility of a hypothetical situation where I am referring to him by physical features, traits, or whatever. (I am simultaneously thinking about the general case as well. (That's why I'm so heavy on metaphors in my communication, I think actual AND meta together, always....)) He has (or sometimes has) a "bad-guy beard". I've used that phrase before. I replay a memory of an actual situation where I did say "um... bad-guy beard" when trying to remember his name. The memory is visual; I see the person I was speaking to. "Jason," she says firmly, prodding. There's my answer, but it doesn't feel right yet. Backtrack and backfill to the spot where the name should be in my memory. I already believe the answer is accurate, but it needs to feel right. OK, a little mental rehearsal and that fits; seems to check out. So instead of the direct-lookup memory of someone's name, we have a memory of the sound of a particular instance of someone else saying that person's name. Still can't get at that place where the name should be in my memory, but I can draw a line to it and it fits, so here we are, having come the long way around, and I can dial the freaking phone.

Excuse me, I have a phone call to make.

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Comments {5}


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from: kukiri
date: Mar. 10th, 2004 05:08 pm (UTC)

I think you should add to each person on your treo the descriptions that you come have up with to remember them in the past, so you can search for that.

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Triple Entendre

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from: triple_entendre
date: Mar. 10th, 2004 06:03 pm (UTC)

Oooh! That's a great idea, thank you! There's a global search function, too. Could make some interesting associations.

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