Monday, August 27, 2012

Hyperthymesia and Little Notebooks

Mulling over ideas for a post, this popped into my consciousness:  What was I doing twenty years ago today?

As it happens, it is not outside the realm of possibility that I can answer the question, not because I have a memory like Marilu Henner, or the Poppy Montgomery character in "Unforgettable."  Nor is it because today commemorates a landmark event in history about which we all remark, "I remember exactly where I was when..."  JFK was shot, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, or the Twin Towers fell, for example.  No, it is because for several of the years in my distant past I kept a journal, or more accurately a very abbreviated set of notations logging my activities,  necessarily very brief in nature, because I kept this log in a vest-pocket "Scully" day planner, a booklet a mere 2.75" x 4.375" in size, each pair of pages representing a week, one day on each quarter page with a monthly calendar in the remaining quarter page.

I went to the bureau drawer where these mostly-neglected booklets lie undisturbed most of the time.  I pulled out the one with "1992" embossed in modest gold numbers on the front cover and turned to August 27.  Are you ready for the excitement?  Here goes!

"27 Thursday  Fished briefly.  Rained all day.  Read mostly.  Bill Mauldin's The Brass Ring."
Not much, but it tells me more than you see.   "Fishing" tells me we were at our lake place, and "briefly" tells me I fished from the pier, not from the boat.  "Rained all day" evokes the sound of the rainfall on the screened porch roof, under which I was sitting as I "read mostly."  The notation of author's name and title tells me that I finished the book, for that is how I signalled completion.
"28 Friday Left Secrist 8:45- arr Tipton 10:25  Green beans!  Tomatoes!  Squash.  Picked. Canned applesauce, green beans.  Supper @ Shack.
 100 minutes to make the 85 mile drive.  Immediately into the garden to harvest produce, then to the kitchen for processing and canning.  Went out to Pizza Shack.  Probably had the salad bar, blue cheese dressing (this would have been before I figured out that that was what was giving me heartburn, not the spaghetti or pizza) and the spaghetti.

Without more quotes, we spent all day Saturday canning. Sunday went to church, played nine holes of golf, and had a visit from son and d.i.l with their five month-old daughter in the evening.  Monday mowed mother's yard and our yard, had a round of golf in which, highly unusual, my score was one stroke better than was the spouse's!  Made apple butter and finished Michener's The Novel.

You get the idea.  I have many of these booklets, covering several years, but I have not done this for a long time now.  Not living a life of "quiet desperation" either then or now.

It's a great life!  I just don't "recall" it as well as I once did.


Shelly said...

Those notebooks are really treasures. I wish I'd had the forethought and discipline to sow into them. Glad you have yours!

Anonymous said...

That is/was a nice idea. I never thought anything in my day to day life was worth noting since it was just, oh, you know, life. Even with my better than good memory I have a difficult time assigning events of the 1980's to specific years - it was, as general recollections indicate, a very tumultuous decade for me. (Yes, DECADE) What most annoys me tho about that decade is I can't remember what music I was listening to, and liking.

Jacquelineand.... said...

Having never been hyperthymesiac myself I long relied upon considerably wordier journals. One of the sorrows of my life was losing most of them in a house fire.

The one remaining journal was written when I was 19 and when reading it I wonder how I could have been so callow and yet still able to walk and chew gum at the same time. =)

Secondary Roads said...

I used monthly Daytimers when I worked in sales. Used them to record contacts and expenses. I threw them away years ago.

vanilla said...

Shelly, you are young; not too late to start!

Grace, my jottings reveal very little of real import, but it is still a fun thing to look back on!

Jacquelineand, sorry for the loss of the journals. But having the one from “19” is a nice marker for the progress you have made since then!

Chuck, definitely work records. Dispense with ‘em, as I did with my old gradebooks.

Lin said...

I can't believe you still have those! I never kept a journal or a diary. If I did, I'm sure it was a very boring read. ;)

Did Marilu Henner have a good memory? Or a bad one? I don't remember.

John Cowart said...

What a treasure you have. Protect those notebooks.

I owe a debt to Dracula because as a Boy Scout I read that novel written in the form of journal entries.

That inspired me to begin my own journal... one I have kept off and on for ages.

In 2005, my kids set my journals up as an almost daily blog online--with a few ancient entries from the '70s & 80's.

My journals help me try to make sense of life... sometimes. Mostly they record my befuddlement.


vanilla said...

Lin, it is said that Marilu Henner's memory is such that she remembers everything. She is a consultant for the show "Unforgettable." (I liked her better as Nardo on "Taxi.")

John, yes, I treasure the notes. But they are very little compared to the record you kept. That is impressive.

Vee said...

This is an indication of an extremely organized person. Once upon a time, when I was a child, I had a little pink diary. I think I made three entries. I kept a calendar when I worked, but only out of necessity.

vanilla said...

Vee, if there was ever anything "extreme" about my organization, it is long gone now!

Pearl said...

I think that's lovely. What wonderful things, notebooks are. I have books/calendars going back to the 80s. As busy as I still am, I used to be even more busy!


vanilla said...

Pearl, keeping that record is a wonderful thing. Keep up the good work!

Sharkbytes said...

I love that you keep little notebooks! Even a little bit tells you so much. I wonder if I could answer that question. My journaling is sporadic. However, in general I was working at an environmental testing lab, but almost done there and ready to leave for grad school in just another week.

Ilene said...

Your remember what you did 20 years ago. I don't have a clue what I did, but as I recall, it was fun! The difference is, you can prove that you had fun. Left/Right.