Lately, perhaps because of stress, my poor memory is getting worse than ever.
It's incredibly frustrating to go through my files, like I did today, and look at hundreds, maybe a thousand papers I've already read. And forgotten.
They've all got my handwritten notes on them, so I know I read them. But for many of them, even the titles don't look familiar.
Oddly, I recognize some of the names of the authors, even though I've never met them. But that's about it.
I'm trying to tell myself it has a silver lining, that I usually have new ideas when I re-read stuff. My perspective always changes so I notice different things. And even only reading something once makes some kind of impression and changes the way I think.
I have a book sitting at home that I keep meaning to read, on how to improve your memory. It has exercises and other tools that supposedly help.
I can't remember the name of the authors.
Anyway I made it through the first chapter, and it's a bit ridiculous.
Their first and apparently most versatile and fundamental tool is to imagine everything as huge, cartoonish, and yes, ridiculous, and then to link them together. I don't remember the name for the cartoony tool, but the second one is called Link. That I can recall.
So I tried this trick and it works, sort of, but only temporarily. For example, right now I can't remember the list of objects they promised we'd be able to remember forever if we used their foolproof methods.
Meanwhile, I have a giant stack of papers I need to re-read, on top of the ones I was planning to read for the first time.
Fuck, now I can't remember what I was going to say next. Oh yeah. I usually like to read several related papers at the same time, so I can make connections between them and compare them, etc. before I forget what I read. But a really big pile is kind of intimidating, even to yours truly (who loves to read, particularly when the weather is crappy and cold).
I haven't gotten to the chapter in the memory book (or whatever it's called) on how to remember everything you read. I have to admit I'm not too enthused about bothering.
But it only adds to my stress, this constant feeling like I'm doing something stupid and should know better because I've probably done this before and then forgot. You know that stomach-dropping-out feeling when you realize you locked yourself out of your house or your car? I get those a lot.
Needless to say, my biggest fear is that someone told me, at some point in time, EXACTLY how to get a faculty position, and I forgot what they said.
I'm kidding of course, but in theory it's possible.
Couple that with an almost constant sense of deja vu, and you have some idea how bad I am about this. I've either been reincarnated, A LOT, or I'm stuck in some kind of Groundhog Day loop.
So I have a pretty elaborate system of note-taking and calendars and reminders that mostly gets me through daily life, but sometimes I feel like the main character in Memento. I might wake up one day and find a maze of tattoos on my body telling me things I knew I would forget. Right now I know I have a list of things to get from the grocery store after work. I just have to remember where I put it.