That’s what my mother used to call me growing up.  The Absentminded Professor.  My father, on the other hand, would simply tell me: “You’d forget your head if it wasn’t screwed on.”  And, in all fairness, it was hard to argue.  I’ve been a habitual forgetter for as long as I can remember.

Names, faces, birthdays – I’m not so good with.  On the other, neither am I good with every day words that slip my mind, so there will be instances when I’ll refer to “the thing” or “the whatsis” to which Akemi will invariably reply: “The what?”. Just the other day, I mistakenly referred to broccoli as cauliflower.  “It’s not cauliflower,”Akemi corrected me.  And then “What is it?”  “Broccoli,”I replied – and then realized she was testing me.

Which led me to test myself late last night after spending sometime online researching memory decline and ominous brain-related ailments.  Was I feeling depressed lately?  No.  Was there a history of cognitive impairment or neurodegenerative diseases in my family?  No.  Is your memory getting worse? No.  I don’t think so.   Maybe?  I can’t remember.

I didn’t flag any early warning signs (I’ve never left the stove on or gotten lost coming home) but, just in case, I decided to take this convenient 25 minute test brain health assessment:  I paired symbols (very well), put names to faces (fairly well), and identified patterns (well enough).  My results placed me in the 85th percentile.  Not bad.  But much better this morning when I made Akemi take the same test and she managed only 80%.  She claims the language tripped her up, but that didn’t stop me from imagining her, an addled octogenarian, eventually having to rely on 100 year old me to remember the dog’s meds, turn off the stove, and point out that the broccoli she picked up at Safeway is, in fact, cauliflower.

Fact is, I’ve always had a bad memory.  As old whatsisname once said: “The true art of memory is something something.”





20 thoughts on “The Absentminded Professor

  1. My memory is abysmal in the outside world. Names, Dates, terrible. I would constantly be in detention at school for failing to do homework. The teachers hated that, as “smart as you are, you’re failing!”

    .. but that was a long long time ago.

    In the time since, I’ve learned that my memory is seemingly “scenario” based. Sit me down in front of an open text file, and my memory seems to leap directly to the point that I saved the file. Like my memories gets saved, too! Sit me in the same room as before, and I’ll suddenly remember the last conversation.
    These are really strong memories, too, and if I’d’ve realised this when back at school, maybe I’d’ve made something more of life.
    .. but I guess I forgot to do that 😉

  2. It’s smart to get a baseline for your cognitive functioning. There are things besides decline you can test against that, such as concussion or if a new prescription is having side effects.

    I’ve seen smart people experience mental decline. They have tended to keep a lot of notes to hide it as long as possible.

  3. Thanks! I’ll share with Husband, who is just a little bit worried about his memory.

    In other news, the second cataract surgery went well yesterday. I now read 20/25 with both eyes. I am adjusting to being far-sighted, having been near-sighted for 53 of my 62 (come this Sunday) years.

  4. I like to console myself with the thought that we brilliant creative types are so distracted by other more important thoughts that we can’t keep track of mundane details.

    Or something.

  5. Joe, you are certainly not alone. I think some befuddlement I have is the fault of overload. Too much information, from too many source choices, available 24×7!
    Do you also find it difficult to relax, mentally, physically? I really think it’s overload.

    Once you find a solution, please share. Until then, well, hang in there, whatsyourname?

  6. In exactly 2 weeks I will be turning the dreaded 6 ohhhhhh shit. I know my mind is going. My dad has dementia. His mom had it too. I’m pretty sure I am next in line. My grandma had it in her mid 70’s. My dad got it around 90. I think I will get it early like my grandma. I took that test. It was dismal, but they said I was okay. I think they were just being nice.

    So if I begin to not make sense in my comments here, be kind. Just give me a “thumbs up” and I won’t know any better and I’ll be happy.

  7. This actually is my biggest fear is memory loss, dementia or losing the speed of thinking.
    I read somewhere that if you don’t get sufficient sleep, it leads to dementia and sometimes I can’t sleep at night because I starting thinking I’m not falling asleep fast enough and I stress out about not falling asleep and it keeps me awake.

    But most my family die before they’re 60, drowing, falling out of trees or sky, hitting things in cars or cancer. So I’m hopeful I’ll be taken before my memory goes.

    You bring a lot of joy, good book tips and amusement. I hope your family and friends treat you well over the Christmas season. <3 <3

  8. I enjoyed your meme of the day. Since I have a TBI (traumatic brain injury), I use it as my excuse now as often as possible. In fact my Mom asked me if I was going to keep using that as an excuse, and I say, ” as often as possible”. I even made mention as my TBI was a motivator for changing my diet. Not that it was dedicated to junk food, far from it. I even happened to be watching PBS one night and he, Dr. Amen, was talking about diet and how it melds with brain function. I have his book and other videos of his. He has a brain clinic in Chicago. I have yet to read his book, but in doing a quick search I have come across dark chocolate has benefits. Yes eating for the mind has its benefits. I eat more leafy greens and came across a good brusselsprouts and cranberry recipe (internet search). I go to yoga every Saturday since my club membership includes the cost. I learned that I can’t do sit-ups yet, and my coordination won’t allow me to do Palotis effectively.

    Being a big TV producer and show executive, I am certain you have made room on your action packed schedule and saw Jason Momoa’s latest work, Aquaman. I just got back from the MN Zoo and their IMAX theater. The IMAX has become my theater of choice if I go see a movie. All seats are good and the view is spectacular. The 3-D is well worth the cost.This movie was a bit, as some Thais would say, ower (they are not good with the Vee sound). It was a bit much as it happened to get a bit fantastical. The character’s mythology was a combination of superman and ironman. I must say the female costar left me wanting, I mean I realized how pathetic my life is. She captured my attention when she was on the screen.

  9. Haha, funny. We were talking about this with Flora 2 days ago because I tend to forget more and more as well. She told me to work on my memory and do some exercises from time to time to make it work and keep active.
    I used to know a tons of names about cinema and FX field persons, now I can’t remember 50% of them. Very frustrating. But I guess it’s my fault for not working enough on this matter.
    I’ll go and try your test !

  10. Thanks a lot. I wasn’t worried, but now I have a high 60 score. I got worse each time I did the find the stupid symbol match. I did great on the rest. Hrumpth. Going to sleep and do it again.

  11. I got 61%. I screwed up on the memory test because one of my clicks didn’t register and I was clicking boxes before I noticed. I think having anxiety and depression issues (and fessing up to them on the test) also worked against me. Either that, or I’m ready for the old folks home. 😛


  12. I got 81%, which is not bad for my age, and considering I have a raging case of WidowBrain. The mood survey was truly a bummer. Yes, I feel hopeless, worthless, sad, and without purpose. I will for some time. I did well on the names and faces, as I do not in real life. However, that’s like a seating chart. Give me a seating chart and I will know your name throughout the school year. At one time I knew almost 700 kids by name as a substitute teacher.

    I keep lists if I want to keep track of chores and tasks. Absolutely have lost my ability to multi-task. I am reading a bit more, nothing dense. Graphic novels and even a movie novelization, which is barely scraping above fanfic. But it is reading. On my phone, paper books still defeat me.

    I do apologize if my posts are not cheerful. It’s going to be a very long year.

  13. I too forget the proper name for things, I’ve always been like it (like writing ‘adult tadpoles ‘ instead of frogs in a biology exam or doing an essay on the JFK assassination & forgetting Lee Harvey Oswald’s name). My conversation is littered with thingys dooberies & whatsits .

    I also sort of think in images, so I can picture something but not find the word for it. I once described a house as cheese shaped instead of wedge shaped as my brain selected an image of some Swiss cheese as a reference point 😃

  14. *****Happy Birthday***** in advance @Gilder!
    Just in case we forget to wish you as much on Sunday.
    And hope your eyes heal quickly from the surgeries.

    And …..
    Because so many of us seem to forget or be distracted on her special day,
    I hereby officially declare
    The entire month of January 2019
    to be @Ponytail Celebration Days!!

    Follow her on twitter @gailspeed beginning New Years Day
    and send lots of warmth, smiles, love, laughter, cute animal & nature pics
    and other beaucoup good thoughts her way. XO <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

  15. Not getting enough sleep makes me punchy for sure. But some words wedge in my brain in a weird way; I would routinely mistake Burt Reynolds for Robert Redford (famous 80s actors) and I still see “venson” when I read venison; read it wrong as a kid and it stuck that way. Took me years to stop saying swede when I meant suede. The brain is super plastic, and even when it atrophies we can re-plump our brains through physical and metal exercise and other stuff, which I forgot. Oh yeah, nutrition and more sleep: brain ted talk, and using a different language exercises the brain. Which I why I’ll be watching The Hookup Plan for the umpteenth time. J’aime bien ce show.

  16. @Drea: Thank you!

    @Ponytail: Happy celebration month!

    @Judi: Spunds like you think in concepts. That is a desirable skill for interpreters and translators; it helps them express the intent of the original speaker /writer. (Word-for-word interpretation /translation can produce a meaning far different from the original.)

    Thanks to everyone for sharing their cognition /memory differences, challenges, and specialties.

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