Skipping Down Memory Lane

I have the strangest selective memory of anyone I know.  It usually plays back as smoothly as a good LP (kids, look that up). I have a few minor pops and crackles, but it’s generally fine.

And then suddenly my needle skips a track.

I can effortlessly spout off all my credit card numbers with expiry dates and PINs.  I even remember my very first Mastercard number from nearly 30 years ago.  If you’re interested in the value of pi to 9 digits accuracy or the torque spec for my lug nuts or my grandparents’ phone number from the late 1960s, they’re instantly retrievable.  I also know all my business and personal bank account numbers, PINs and access codes… except one.

For reasons known only to my brain, that one bank account number won’t stick.  Usually I can look at a number a few times and it’s effortlessly stored, but no matter how many times I try to memorize that one, it just won’t stay with me.

I take a pill for acid reflux every night.  Literally within minutes of swallowing it, I forget I’ve taken it.  So I’ve developed a system.  I take the pill, and then I eat a cracker.  I can never remember taking the pill, but I always remember eating the cracker.  Don’t ask me why it works, but it does.  I’m afraid to question it.

And then there are the not-so-shared memories.  One of my siblings will begin, “Do you remember when…”

I don’t.  Ever.

And it’s not just obscure reminiscences.  A few years ago, the conversation turned to grade school, and somebody (I can’t remember who, go figure) asked me, “Do you remember when you beat up (name redacted to protect the guilty)?”

I didn’t.

The guy in question was four years older and twice my size, and apparently I got in trouble.  You’d think something like that would’ve stuck in my mind, but I have absolutely no recollection of it (though I’ll proudly claim the victory just on general principles).

My dad once said, “While everybody else is still thinking about it, Diane’s already got it done.”  I took it as a compliment, but the truth is I’m not exceptionally industrious or dedicated.  I get things done simply because if I don’t do them as soon as they’re mentioned, I’ll forget about them completely.

I generally retain names with no trouble, but every now and then one vanishes, never to return.  I remember that my orthopedic surgeon’s first name is Kevin, even though I have never addressed him as Kevin or heard anyone else call him Kevin.  I saw it once on his office door, and I’ll know it forever more.  His last name escapes me despite the fact that I’ve referenced it repeatedly on various medical records for years.  I know it’s a common name that starts with ‘H’.  Every time I look it up, I think, “Aha.  Now I’ll remember it!”

I don’t.

Back in my interior design days, I once swore I’d never visited a building.  The drawing notations indicated I’d done the site measurement, but I was positive I’d never been there.  Until I stood in the lobby and went, “Oh.  Yeah…”

It’s a good thing I like surprises because with a memory like mine, I get lots of them.

Anybody else have a wonky memory?

48 thoughts on “Skipping Down Memory Lane

  1. Phones and computers remember numbers. why should I? On the other hand every joke I ever heard is stored somewhere for instant recall under the right stimulus. Or the three main points of the Poor Laws of 1603 under James I (James IV of Scotland).


    • Jokes are a worthy and important use for memory! I wish I could remember more jokes – I have a few that stick, but most of them fall into the category of “I should remember that…”

      But I’m afraid the Poor Laws may have limited application in today’s world. 🙂


  2. Yes to everything in this post. I felt as though you were describing my brain: “Now I’ll remember it!” And three seconds later, it’s gone. Sometimes I can’t even remember what it is I’m trying to remember. I’m on an antibiotic right now that I have to take three times a day, and at least once a day I think, “Did I just take that pill, or was that eight hours ago?” So you’re not alone, Diane. If that helps.

    I loved this post. I’ll probably read it again tomorrow, and it will seem vaguely familiar.


  3. You and I have very similar brains, Diane. I remember phone numbers of people I haven’t seen in 40 years. I know all my credit card/PIN numbers by heart, all my online passwords, etc etc. But I can see an episode of Law & Order: SVU five times and I still won’t remember the plot until about 20 minutes into the episode.


    • Too funny! I do that, too. A couple of times a year, I sit down and watch a show on TV; the rest of the time I glimpse shows on my way through the living room when Hubby has the TV on. I don’t know how many times I’ve glanced at the TV and said, “Oh, you’ve seen this before.” The scenes are embedded in my memory… but even if I’ve watched the whole show, I can never remember how it ends.

      On the up side, I get more entertainment out of reruns than most people… 🙂


  4. I have goldfish memory. I cant remember on a day to day basis to shave my face even though I’m military for 4 years and when i forget, I get hammered. I write appointments down in several places and add alarms to my phone to remind me. I repeat my kids and wife’s birthday to myself regularly to implant it in my brain. Its very labor intensive but it works. Yet when my wife says shes looking for something i immediately recall a mental image of where i saw it last… A very tight, up close image that is actually useless in finding the item because i cant see whats around it. Sometimes i can recognize the surface its on or whether its basement or upstairs. Same goes for parts or tools at work. I did a once over of the tool crib when i first got there so now i at least know if the tool i want is in there. I may take a while looking but i know its there because i can see the picture. I dont know anyone else with that type of memory. Its like a bust-a-junk version of eidetic or something.


    • Wow, you have amazing visual memory! At least yours is accurate. I’ll remember seeing something, and I’ll see it down to the last detail just like you… but then I can look right at it without seeing it because somehow my memory got the colour wrong and I’m positive it’s orange instead of blue (or whatever). Then there’s that embarrassing moment when I ask somebody else to look for it and they say, “Duh, it’s right in front of you.” Oops.


  5. I remember my dads social, my husbands social and my social. I remember everyone’s birthdays but my parents. I’ve known them all my life, you would think I would remember but I can’t.


  6. Susan, I have and aweful memory for names. I used to travel a lot and people would come up to me in airports, greet me by name and start talking. I’d have to hope I could remember who they were from the subject.



    • Hi, Bruce! Thanks for commenting – you must be new to my blog. But your face sure looks familiar. 🙂

      I hate “they know me but I don’t know them” situations, but when I used to ride the commuter train to work, I had the opposite problem. I’d see the same people over and over every morning, so their faces were very familiar. Then I’d see them downtown and think, “Oh, I know that person. What the heck is their name?” And I’d spend hours beating my brain against a brick wall until I realized I’d never known their name in the first place…


  7. Hehehe!!! Can I say I love ya without sounding too weird? I’m also in total awe at your ability to remember all those numbers!! You should be on The Ellen Show!!
    I have the exact same problem..I can’t ever remember if I had taken my medication or not!! I can’t remember a name, but I can remember faces…kind of.
    Maybe it’s just our way of making our lives just a little more fun? Wonky memories that is 😉


  8. Definitely! People remember complete details from events in which I was supposedly involved and I don’t even remember the actual event. It’s scary. It’s because the terrorists are poisoning our food, you know.


  9. Oh, yes indeedy, Deirdre – I mean, Diane – I’m a member of this elite club!
    I forget all sorts of things. I once forgot a work colleague who I’d worked with for years… I was thinking ‘who on Earth are these people talking about?’ as they spoke about her. I had to apologise when I saw her next, and remembered her instantly!


  10. You’re not alone – my brain seems to delete memories randomly, though I do remember my old phone number from when I was a kid along with my best friend’s phone number from way back then.


  11. Numbers? Oh, my enemy! Anything closely related to being mathematical is lost on me. I have to write address and phone numbers over and over again until they stick.


  12. Wow, that IS selective. Maybe it would just be easier to cancel that bank account and start fresh with a new one.

    My memory is odd in that I remember things I hear better than things I just think about. If I truly want to remember something I’ve thought of–a great idea, or maybe a plot development for my WIP–I say it out loud, so I can hear it.* I guess the auditory pathways in my brain are more efficient than the thought pathways.

    *Yes, this can be embarrassing if I’m in public when an important thought strikes me.


    • Hmm. Too bad it’s the joint account – Hubby might have some objections if I cancelled it. But maybe I should try your auditory method. As it is, if I think of something for my WIP, I have to rush off and write it down immediately or I lose it. Then again, with my luck I’d remember the public embarrassment but forget the plot development. 😉


  13. I bet research neurobiologists would have a field day with your brain. They’d do a fancy imaging study and see which parts light up and why. Perhaps you should donate your time? ;

    My memory stinks. I don’t remember a lot of things in my past except the bad stuff, and unlike you, I also don’t remember numbers and other useful details. And don’t even get me started on names. Great. I can already see what my future holds…


    • I’ve tried donating, but every time I say, “Let me give you a piece of my mind”, people back away…

      And think of it this way: Your future holds an endless parade of exciting new experiences. Amiright? 🙂


    • Welcome! Yes, LPs are getting popular again here, too. It’s hard to believe we still haven’t surpassed that sound quality with some new technology. If they could overcome the skipping/scratching/breaking/melting problems, I might even be glad to have them back. 🙂

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.