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Losing My Mind

Memory

This morning, on my way to recharge my phone, I got distracted by something on tv. So I walked into the kitchen, poured some cereal, and proceeded through my morning routine. As I brushed my teeth, I remembered that I had to recharge my cell battery. But then I misplaced my earrings and spent 10 minutes looking for them. On my way out the door, as I grabbed my phone to call a friend, I noticed one slim bar left in a flashing red battery icon.

I had forgotten to remember to recharge my phone!

I’ve noticed lately that I do this more and more often. I get up to grab a stamp, only to forget why I walked over to my desk. I’ll turn on the dishwasher, realizing too late that I had already washed those dishes. I remind myself to buy tokens for the laundry room, only to get to the basement with two filled bags of dirty clothes, detergent, and fabric softener and no way to run the machines.

Worse still, I’ll run into my neighbor in the laundry room and completely blank out her name. Until an hour later, while I’m playing Tetris on Gameboy, when I remember her name, her ex-boyfriend’s name, and the name she gave her new laptop.

Or while working, I’ll open a new tab to search for something, get sidetracked by incoming email or a phone call, turn back to the open tab with no recollection of what I needed to look for.

Is it ADD? Dementia? Early onset Alzheimer’s? Just another symptom of growing older?

So I’ve started paying attention to reports and new research on ways to improve memory. And though some studies recommend certain chocolate or moderate drinking or standing on your head while reciting the alphabet backwards, it seems that there are 10 basic ways to boost brain power:

1. Cardiovascular exercise for a least 30 minutes per day ie. a brisk walk

2. Daily cup of caffeinated coffee or soda

3. Green or black tea

4. Reduce stress and become a yoga enthusiast

5. Sleep

6. Eat foods like blueberries and grapes; include supplements like Omega-3 fatty acid, Thiamine, Niacin, and Vitamins B-6 and E

7. Use your brain — learn a language or how to play a musical instrument

8. Learn mnemonic techniques like a memory palace.

9. Organize your life — if you always place your keys on a peg beside the door, you won’t struggle to remember where you last put them.

10. Write in a journal everyday — even if you forget, you can always look back on your own private record.

Do you feel like you’re losing your mind? What do you do to better remember?


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History repeating itself

pageant

A long, long time ago when I was in college, a group of us were rushing around getting ready to go out. I think we were dolling up for a semi-formal or some other like event.

Anyway, someone turned on a tv and one of the beauty pageants was on. As we took turns running to the bathroom down the hall and stopping in one another’s rooms, the pageant was winding down with the all-important questions.

Miss Louisiana, a stunning girl with long dark hair and a beautiful face, stepped up to the microphone. One of the judges asked for her opinion on affirmative action. She stood there under the bright lights and asked him to repeat the question. By this point a group of us had circled around the television set and I had a feeling something special was coming up. Her answer went something like this……

“Well,” she said. “I believe in optimism and living my life affirmatively. I think everyone has the right to choose to live an affirmative life. Affirmative action is a positive force.”

Miss Louisiana stood at that microphone with the brightest smile on her face. And there was silence. The panel of judges all sat there with their jaws dropped. We all stood there wondering how the pageant princess could have no idea of what affirmative action was. And finally, finally, a row in the audience burst out in applause and hoots of “great answer,” “good job”.

And apparently it happened again!

I must be living under a rock because the first I heard of this was Matt Lauer’s interview with Caitlin Upton this morning. I’m sorry – but she was “caught off guard” and “overwhelmed?” Look at this travesty of an answer:

“I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uhmmm, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and uh, I believe that our, I, education like such as, uh, South Africa, and uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uhhh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for us.”

What does this say about the state of education in South Carolina?

Let’s see you take this one for a whirl — “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the US on a world map. Why do you think this is?”


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Short fiction

All Story

I am a huge fan of short fiction. I devour stories by Alice Adams, tasty morsels by Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway, decadent treats by Isabel Allende, dark chunks by Poe, and those wonderful America’s Best anthologies.

I picked up New Sudden Fiction the other day, and am enthralled with Stacey Richter’s “The Minimalist” and Leslie Pietrzyk’s “Pompeii.”

I wish I could write like them — but my brain just doesn’t marry images and words the way they do.

These stories are delicious torture.


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An impulse

hairdryers

I usually keep my thick brown hair really long, hanging an inch or two past my bra strap. And I’ll wear it long for a few years and then, always on impulse, I’ll have it cut short.

Back in 2003, I woke up one morning with the urge for really short hair. I got lucky. Someone had canceled their appointment with Remi at Molecule, who the Washingtonian had dubbed the best short hair stylist in the city. An hour after walking in, my locks were 14 inches shorter. I loved the super-short sassy cut.

But then I got tired of short and let it grow out. Until this morning.

I woke up with my hair wound in the topknot I’d been wearing to sleep for the last four months. As I started to brush it out and pull it back into a ponytail, I decided I was tired of long. I phoned Norbert (my new favorite salon) and got lucky. Mario could squeeze me in between coloring appointments.

I strolled in at 2:00pm and an hour later, with five inches of hair strewn on the floor around me, I glanced into the mirror and grinned.

I have friends who flip through countless hair magazines looking for the perfect cut, then hem and haw before finally making an appointment. I’m at the other end of the spectrum… I make the most drastic changes to my “style” on a whim. What does that say about me?


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Slugging it

DVD Weekend

I spent the entire day at home imitating a slug – sitting or laying in one place while reading the hours away or watching dvds.

I finished The Hunt Club by John Lescroart. Years ago I was a faithful fan and read all of his mysteries as soon as they were published in paperback – Dead Irish, The Vig, Hard Evidence, The 13th Juror, A Certain Justice, Guilt and The Mercy Rule. Although a few of the main characters from his past novels make cameo appearances, Lescroat uses The Hunt Club to introduce a whole new world of characters. The backstory is well done and all of the red herrings make logical sense. At 512 pages, the book runs a little long and could have used more editing to eliminate some of the repetition.

I started reading The Kite Runner by Khalid Hossei but didn’t get too far because I was distracted by The Assignment. You would think that with a cast that includes Aidan Quinn, Donald Sutherland and Ben Kingsley it would be a halfway great movie. Notsomuch… it was long, a little confusing, and convoluted. And they tried a Basic Instinct-type ending which plain didn’t work because it felt like an imitation of that memorable finale (was she or wasn’t she the killer?). You know? There was so much potential… but it just missed its mark. Though that didn’t keep me from devoting two hours to it.

Then I popped in 11:14. Again, great concept with a solid cast that just missed its mark. The film recounts the events that take place leading up to 11:14 p.m. one night from the viewpoint of the different characters. Using flashback, each perspective adds new layers and details so that by the last recounting you’re finally in on the whole story. Though there isn’t one character I sympathised with or even liked. In the end they all got what was coming to them.

I broke one of my resolutions. I turned on the tv to catch the premier of 24. I couldn’t help myself. It would have been torture to wait until November 2007 for the release of the DVD. So I caught up with Jack Bauer and enjoyed the first two hours of the new season. I think I’m going to have to make a weekly exception for 24 and House.

A part of me feels guilty for really doing lots of nothing today. I should have done a load of laundry, bought some groceries, edited an annual report. I guess now I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow.


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Show me the money $$$

Dollars

The House voted to increase the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour.

“You should not be relegated to poverty if you work hard and play by the rules,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

I believe this paltry increase still keeps the person earning it at poverty level. I mean, WHO can live on $290 per week before taxes working fulltime? That’s $1160 per month before taxes or about $15,000 a year if you don’t take any sickdays or vacation time.

How do they pay for rent, utilities, food… not to mention medicine???

Over the holidays I got sick and purchased $50 worth of medical relief at Walmart’s low, low prices: Bronkaid, Theraflu multi symptom thin strips, Tylenol Cold for severe head congestion, Vicks vapor rub, a box of 280-Kleenex, and Lipton tea.

How does someone earning the minimum wage buy over-the-counter meds?

And I don’t understand why it took ten years to rasie the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour. Think about it… $5.15! That’s a Starbucks Venti Cafe Latte.

Perhaps, if our elected officials made a proper increase to the minimum wage, the governemnt wouldn’t spend so much money on social services to supplement what these families can’t afford.


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2006 Wrap up

Countdown

I feel as though I didn’t accomplish much this year. In fact, if someone were to tinker with my memory and erase large portions of time, I don’t think I’d miss forgetting 2006… or not remembering.

The meager highlights:

  1. New Year’s Eve with friends
  2. a few random road trips with J.J.
  3. attending two writers conferences and meeting with editors and book reviewers
  4. my niece’s 1st Birthday party
  5. Fourth of July in San Diego
  6. volunteering with the Smithsonian
  7. art history at NMWA
  8. a new dining room set
  9. Democrats take back Congress
  10. Christmas holidays with the family