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©March 2001

Carol Jane Remsburg




Kilroy and the Memory Bank





Ever have something on the very tip of your tongue and can't pull it out from your memory bank?  It happens.  Sometimes it will happen so frequently that you wonder if you aren't verging on either simple dementia or Alzheimer's. 


When this occurs it is one of the most maddening stretches of time until that idea, that memory, or that word is finally located amidst that powerhouse computer/jumbled gray mass we call our minds.  Once located it takes about a nanosecond or less for us to verbalize it.  Unfortunately this can often happen at 3 AM and we've been asleep for hours.  Suddenly we'll find ourselves awake, upright, and out it comes.  Nearly like a surprised bark from the dog we not only awaken ourselves but our spouses who don't even want to know about it anymore.


But still we relish that moment.  Eureka!  Behold, we've found that shred of thought or that memory.  Meanwhile we've driven ourselves crazed before we simply gave up, went on about our lives, and then closed up shop for the night—except for those diligent dudgeon workers slaving in our mind that never seem to get a break.


The worst part about these episodes when you are drawing up a memory that was just a jit and a jot back some 20 years or more ago is that we can't let it go.  The world stops for us and although the washer may be overflowing and one of the cats may be hurling a hairball or your kid came home with a bad report card—all that gets put on hold while our minds shunt the rest aside like it wasn't real time.  Okay, so the body may react and deal with that washer and the cat, likely words have already been expressed over said report card and will return to it at a later time—but just now; JUST NOW is the time we rev up the power of the personal search engine we call our minds.  We know it's in there somewhere and By God, we're going to remember it or fall into catatonia until we do (onlookers please avoid noticing the drool if the mouth was left open before the mind went into seek-mode). 


I'll be very honest.  This has happened more frequently as the years have passed.  I'm forty but things are different in the world since I arrived back in '60.  I certainly think if things were still at the same speed as those times—even the '80s weren't so busy, that life was workable and doable and not as distracting.  I do recall this brain stutter happening all throughout my life—just not with the same frequency.


I believe this phenomena has increased for three reasons:


The first reason being, yes, I'm older now and I've got a whole lot more in my brain then I did when I was ten.  There's more stuff to sift through when it's an obscure reference—even a not so obscure reference.


The second reason for this type of memory-hiccup happening is that, well, life is busier.  When people tell you that life isn't what it used to be—they weren't lying about it.  Life really IS different.  For those born somewhere in my era it's almost like a Batman TV show come to life.  It's all ZAP, POW, ZING, KA-BLAM!  Life is all NOW, it's fast, it's instant gratification, and it's also a "hurry up or we'll be late again" type of scenario.  Life is simply busy from the morning alarm to work to shopping to feeding dinner to laundry to DirecTV with a gazillion channels to the Internet with Instant Messaging and emails.  Life used to be simpler.  There would be the occasional phone call to the family and friends and a few letters.  If you were busy the letters you sent were a few a month.  Now you can email all 857 of your dearest friends—EVERY DAY and MULTIPLE TIMES.  Life is simply exhausting.


Oh, and there's another, the third and final reason these memory lapses hit so hard.  I'm a mom.  From the minute my kid opened her eyes and blinked before beginning to howl, I swear she took half my brains with her.  That was it.  Sleep deprivation for the last nearly eleven years will not make your brain and its memory banks serve you well.  Like the good machine the mind is, it requires some care and attention.  When you treat it more like a dust rag it tends to become as jerky as a car with a clogged carburetor—hmm, some of that dust must have gotten stuck in there.


And the only thing that makes this memory retrieval any worse is if you have obsessive/compulsive/anal tendencies.  Unfortunately those are all traits in my gene pool.  Thus when I saw the little picture on the end of a really good email the other night and shared it with my husband—I pointed out the little man and drew a dead blank.  " ? was here."  Oh, God, I couldn't remember it and knew it so well.  I knew from whence it came.  It was from well before my time—from WWII.  It's a picture that's been scrawled on anything with a surface for decades.  It's a dear little face—but the name escaped me.


Ever watch one of those science fiction shows—no, not the new ones, the old ones—when the man or the woman had their minds taken over?  You know, that blank look they took on as their heads tilted to the right and the soundtrack made that high little hum?  Okay, so you get the picture.  That's how I feel sometimes when the mind is running and seeking and checking and tossing out wrong answers.  Is it, FIDO?  No.  Is it, Julian?  No.  I know it's some stupid name.  Is it Sad Sack?  No, but you're getting close.  And on it goes.  I spent nearly an hour wracking my brain to make that STUPID name be retrieved.


Sigh . . . it came.  Of course it was Kilroy.  Every idiot knows it—even me.  How I forgot it I don't know.  I don't know why either.  Still, it's one of those weird and silly times when the world stops so I can make a brain withdrawal.  Oh, and yes, Kilroy WAS HERE.



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