Sunday, March 13, 2016

Forget, Forgetting, Forgotten, Forgetfulness #SOL16 Day 13

During March I'm participating
in the 9th Annual Slice of Life
Story Challenge sponsored by the
fabulous team at Two Writing Teachers.
Billy Collins's poem "Forgetfulness" is one of my favorites. I laughed the first time I heard it, but I cringed a little, too. As I age my ability to remember, to avoid forgetting, continues to wane. 

Take Saturday for example: 

First I went to the gym. I came home and wrote my slice for Day 12. I vacuumed. I cleaned two bathrooms. I jumped in the shower---and remembered. I had a 1:00 p.m. hair appointment, and it was 12:45 p.m. 

Since I was rushed for time, I hurried down the road at the same time a cop arrived on the same road. Yes, I got a ticket. This time my forgetfulness will cost me $90.00. I deserved the ticket, but I would not have been speeding had I been remembering. 

Sometimes the list of the forgotten seems longer than the list of the remembered. 

I worry more about my inability to recall information at work. The titles of works and authors frequently slip my mind--although momentarily--these days. 

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot, 
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of, ....

This can be a problem as I have a new prep this year. I feel vulnerable and insecure when I can't remember the page number for a passage I want to share or discuss in AP Lit and Comp. Will I seem unprepared? Will I seem stupid? My students are smart. One is a National Merit Finalist. They don't miss much, and they often remember what I can't. 

These days I struggle to learn the names of students. I soon forget the names of most once the trimester ends. I see them in the halls and recognize faces, but I can't remember most of their names. 

I know there are parents I meet who wonder why I can't remember their names or which child they belong to. If the parent is someone I met at school and see at the gym, my memory has no chance of recall. 

As a young student I memorized. That's the way we learned in the 60s and 70s. I memorized bible verses at church, poems at school, historical documents in history. I've lost much of that skill. I see my short-term memory skills slipping away. 

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets, 

something else is slipping away...

Forgetting leads to fear. I'll retire in a couple of years (2 or 3). I've longed to move to a warmer climate. I've dreamed of retiring in an urban, walkable city. I want to live on a beach and drink umbrella drinks. 

Now I worry that I won't remember my way around if I move to an unfamiliar place. Already I sometimes forget I'm going to school and not to the gym. Sometimes I forget appointments. These are minor memory transgressions.

But as I watch my neighbor next door forget. As I watch her forgetting. As I observe that she's forgotten which house is hers. I know forgetfulness crouches in the dark recesses of my mind, awaiting an opportunity to steal my memories.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember, 
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue...

I don't worry about not being remembered. I worry about remembering. I don't concern myself with colleagues and former students forgetting me. I'm concerned about my forgetting them. 


  1. Glenda, this piece is so . . . human. Thank you for writing with such honesty.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and for such a gracious comment. I'm trying to approach the March challenge from a position of honesty; I'm trying not to rush the writing.

  2. I loved reading this, and even read it a second time--not because I couldn't remember it, (heehee) but because I loved the way you intermingled it with the poem. I was just telling a friend that my organization skills and focus seem to be leaving me. Your words about memorizing, which I did also, make me wonder if relying on technology too much could be part of it. I wonder, if I gave up my computer, could I remember more? Improve my focus? Become organized again? Food for thought.

    1. I do think technology impedes memory. I've read several books that address that issue, and even though I think about it more with younger generations, I, too, am tech dependent.

  3. The good news is, I haven't forgotten what you wrote. The bad news is, I can relate!

    1. The memory game is an issue about which friends and I have conversations. My neighbor is my age, and she has Alzheimers.

  4. This piece is beautiful and a little sad. I have turned around to call on a student and suddenly not remembered his/her name. It's so embarrassing! I am finding nowadays I have to put things on a to-do list or calendar. I existed for years without either one. Not sure how I did it.

  5. I am with you...but it is what it is. A smile and a shrug and move on, right?!

  6. I am with you...but it is what it is. A smile and a shrug and move on, right?!

  7. Oh, Glenda, this post is just as Dana said, "beautiful and a little sad." I see some of my parents in your neighbor and some of me in the little things you list as forgotten. I'd never really thought about the fear factor before. Such good writing, Glenda.