February 20, 2008
In the past week I’ve been tagged for a meme by a few people and thought I’d be eco-minded and just combine all the answers here.
The 123 Book Meme from Annie at Health Treks is actually the easiest–just open a book to page 123 and copy what it says. The other meme, from Michelle at Cooking the Books and Karen at Test Drive Kitchen, is definitely more difficult for me: “Tell us 5 facts about yourself. ” Well, I feel as if I’m already spilling far too much right here on this very blog, so coming up with something beyond all this is challenging, to say the least.
As I was reminiscing about various past events, it occurred to me that one way to approach the topic is through memory as a topic on its own. So for this meme, I’ll talk about my memories and how memory plays a role in my life in general.
123 Book Meme: Since I’ve been focused on my chocolate detox this week, I’ve got tons of my nutrition-related books lying around. I picked up Elson Haas’ The Detox Diet, flipped to page 123 and saw:
“To prepare juices, we want to start with the freshest and most chemical-free fruits and vegetables possible. They should be cleaned or soaked and stored properly. If not organic, they should be peeled, especially if they are waxed. With root vegetables such as carrots or beets, the above-ground ends should be trimmed. Some people drop their vegetables into a pot of boiling water for a minute or so to clean them before juicing. If there is a question of toxicity, sprays, or parasites, a chlorine bleach bath can be used.”
Well, I cheated just a little and added the sixth sentence (not to be confused with the Sixth Sense, mind you, or you’d be juicing with dead people). Since Haas’ paragraph only HAD six sentences and I thought the last one was interesting, I figured you’d want to read it. How perfect that he’s talking about juicing, when I just wrote about this a couple of days ago (and it WAS a true coincidence, I swear!).
“Five Things” Meme (I’ve chosen five facts related to memory, or an actual memory in each case):
1) When I was in graduate school, I memorized the entire text of Beowulf—in Old English (am I a nerd, or what??). This was for my final translation exam, where we’d be given any random passage from the poem and would have to translate it into English. I didn’t want to take any chances, so memorized the entire thing, all 3183 lines of it. Today, all I remember is the opening bit, “Hwat! Wey Gar-deyna, in yea-ar-dayum . . . “ Comes in real handy at cocktail parties (if only I ever went to any).
2) I’ve memorized the names of every single one of my students over the years, usually within the first week of classes. I feel it’s only polite to use someone’s name when you addressing her/him, don’t you? Given the number of semesters I’ve taught, the alarmingly large classes these days (sometimes up to 45 students per class) and the increasing courseload (up to 5 courses per semester), I figure I’ve now memorized the names of more than 7,000 students. Can I start my own phone book? Unfortunately, they depart as quickly as they came. . . I tend to forget most names shortly after the semester ends, clearing out room for the next batch. (Once, years ago during one of our marathon pub-chats, my mentor told me that, after having taught for 20-odd years, he was lucky if he could remember the name of even ONE previous student a year later. But the important names stuck, he assured me, the ones who make an impression never leave. So I do remember those few special students who, for whatever reason, stood apart from the rest and have left an indelible mark in my memory. Hi, guys!)
3) I remember phone numbers. I admit, that statement isn’t as sexy or unique as saying, “I see dead people,” but I am pretty much able to dial a number once, then remember it in perpetuity. My first apartment? 944-3929. The Geminis’ old house? 744-0332. My dad’s old store? 276-1601. And just what does this bizarre talent get me? Well, I can probably order my Chinese takeout faster than you can–I don’t have to go to the phone book to look it up.
4) I once memorized the entire screenplay of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. When I was a sweet young thing (okay, a young thing), I saw the movie in a revue cinema in Montreal and immediately fell in love with the quirky humor, amazing scenery, witty dialogue and upbeat music (and, truth be told, Robert Redford and Paul Newman weren’t too shabby, either). I decided then and there–aged fourteen–that it was my favorite movie of all time. After which I proceeded to return to see the movie 27 more times. No, not a typo: twenty-seven. After which I was able to recite the dialogue, word for word (though I was never able to sing “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”–not only because I don’t like the song, but more so because I can’t carry a tune. In fact, one time when we were kids, The Nurse and I were watching The Monkees on TV and I began to sing along to my favorite song. She whipped around and suggested sweetly, “Couldn’t you just lip-synch?”).
5) One of my happiest childhood memories involves a rather mundane activity, going to the grocery store with my mother. My mother didn’t drive, and the closest grocery store was a 10-15 minute walk away. My younger sister and I would normally trudge along behind my mother on the way there, plead for Cap’n Crunch or Oreos in the store, then trudge along behind her, toting a grocery bag or two (if they weren’t too heavy) on the way home. How did ice cream survive this trek in summer, I now wonder? How did we lug all those bags without breaking any of the fragile (then-glass) pop bottles? Yet somehow, we did.
What we never anticipated was rain. One day, as we made our way along the familiar route to the store, the skies darkened suddenly. Before we knew it, it was pouring. I expected my mother to turn back, but she surprised me that day; she turned to us and whispered as if sharing the greatest of confidences, “Let’s run!” We dashed to the closest tree, where we found shelter under the umbrella of leaves. With the rain pelting down, we’d run from tree to tree, seeking momentary refuge under the protective branches before heading back out into the downpour.
We did this maybe ten or twelve times, inching our way toward the store and getting more and more drenched as we went, but having the times of our lives, giggling and laughing as we dove for cover, gripping the closest trunk and panting until we were ready for the next sprint. I don’t even remember if we made it to the store that day, or how we got home. All I remember is the playful trill of my mother’s laugh as it rose above the pelting tatoo of drops on the leaves, before floating nimbly away on the breeze.
I won’t tag anyone specific for these memes–many of the names I’d choose have already been tagged, anyway. But if you’d like to participate, please do! Just leave a comment here and let us know you’re playing along, so we can check out your own responses.