"I have never ever like behaving. Now I am pouting in defiance.
Now I am giving in.
Fine. I'll behave.
This is my question, well two really, but they can blend. I wonder these to myself when I read you, and the rare comments you leave elsewhere.
Is your brain truly a compendium of interesting knowledge as it seems to be? And do you have a photographic memory or one that is selective only to things that interest you?"
I have a mind like a sieve - yet it seems that the chunks of knowledge that don't make it through the holes are the fossilized bits mostly made up of my remarkable grasp of the trivial, and it's those bits and other old sludge that hold everything in, with plenty escaping. Or, it's like a cloud of cream in a cup of coffee, a bloosh of minutely useful stuff, with some currently relevant information that floats around like grounds. But it's all there, swilling around... until something pushes it out, like an attempt to add more coffee or even an attempt to walk with the cup. Then it just splashes out, and I find the stains days later. Or it just trickles over the edge, and I try to save some of it in the saucer.
And that's fine with me.
One of my favourite stories is to the effect that Einstein never memorized his own phone number - because he could always look it up in the phone book. Perhaps you've heard it? Heard me tell it? I don't bother to retain whom I've told it to. They'll either be polite, or tell me. Either is fine. See how it works?
I don't have a lot of solid knowledge any longer, I have echoes and reflections of what used to be. What gets added to the mix often doesn't have time to settle the way it used to, and the surface of what I know is never calm and smooth. The stuff just gets poured or measured or slopped in there, until my sieve runneth over.
Back when I worked at a dry-cleaner's as a teen-ager, I'd have the customers' names, phone numbers and orders memorized the second time they walked in the door. When I was a jeweller, I knew the specs on each piece without looking at the tags. At the auction house, the daily gold fix and metals calculations needed to appraise jewellery were right there, with no fumbling for references needed. As a mommy? It's all pretty much a blur. What I need to know changes daily, hourly, minutely. And at the jobs I'm employed at now, with second-hand merchandise changing daily, for example - I learn about an object, remember it until it's gone, and then tip the facts out. I can always learn things again.
I love to research. I had to learn how to do it properly at the auction house, and I'm good at it. I love love love my computer - because every once in a while I'll want to check to see if a fact that's stuck in my head is still true, or if I can discard it, or update it. And while some of the old information is still there, just wedged way down, and can be dredged up, I get a little thrill that it's still there, when every once in a while, Steve will ask me "What is that thing on my keychain called again?" and I reply "It's a thaumatrope, dear." I remember that well enough because he asks me often enough, and because I see it daily, but don't have to call it that. When I do, it's BING! Thaumatrope. There it is, still in my head. The proper name, when called for, gets nudged loose, it floats to the top, then settles back down somewhere.
I find keeping my head rather empty keeps me more in the moment, and the things I do know don't feel all jam packed and stored away - they're merely present, and need to be stirred, not shaken. As dear friends know though, there are certain bugaboos that make me so crazy that I wish my mouth could print out the knowledge like a ticker tape so I could hand it to people and be done with it - and it's that stuff that I actually have to nudge out of the way like I have to step over the Basset Hound when I'm cooking dinner - so that I can have a normal conversation with people without having to mention fecal matter in laundry again.
There are some areas where I can't evict information, but it's useful to others so I don't mind. As a rather rebellious person who somehow really loves rules, I can give an example of the type of thing that sticks from when I used to ride my bike. Of course, then, I followed the law to the letter; so when I see violations now as a driver or a pedestrian, instead of swearing in front of Josephine, I yell rules at people, such as "No bicycles with tires over 24" in diameter on the sidewalk!" and "It's a $90 fine to ride a bicycle in the crosswalk!". Same with the rules of driving. Instead of cursing, I'll mutter "When three cars enter a four-way stop intersection at the same time, the car to the farthest right goes first!" instead of "Fucking fuckity fuck fuck." Always have. Though, I may add a sarcastic, sneering "Were you waiting for an engraved invitation to proceed?" with a dramatic gesture waving the dumbass through. For an American, I am polite that way.
As for the second part of the question - no, my memory isn't photographic. It's like a pen and ink drawing filled in with watercolours. I remember the artistic expression of the actual memory and how it illustrates whatever pertinent facts are underlying. I also understand things longer and better if I get to share them with other people. Hearing myself say things out loud makes the facts stick longer. Hence telling Josephine to "Sit down! Over 20,ooo kids under the age of 5 to to the emergency room for shopping cart accidents each year!" helps me to remember that fact. And it keeps me from saying "fuck" a lot.
My memory is also selective to things that interest me too, because why else would I retain what a Trembleuse cup and saucer is from the days when I sold them if not for the two divergent stories about what they were originally used for? Sure, the saucers and cups are designed to keep from shaking or rattling or spilling - but one reason given is that chocolate was so precious people couldn't bear to spill a drop - the other reason is so that if you had a secret lover and served him a drink, your husband wouldn't hear the clattering noises. See? Now you'll always wonder too. I would much rather have that space available for the lyrics to the Magnificent Seven, beyond "vacuum cleaner sucks up budgie".
The last few things I can say on this subject? My memory is such that I am good at some very very specific things - and I suck so very badly at others. For example, I'm absolutely lousy at a job I'm currently doing a few Saturdays each month until May. A friend asked if I'd fill in for her receptionist at the hair salon she owns, and I perform abysmally at it. I'm nice and everything, but I can't get everything right and I get flustered and it pains me not to be good at something so I have a bad stomach the night before and am in sour mood the evening after.
The job sounds simple - as the clients come in, take their coats and hand them a robe, and offer drinks and take them to the stylist. Book appointments. Answer the phone. Confirm the next working day's appointments. Handle the register. But I can't make it happen smoothly - when several clients come in at once, and I struggle to grab the right coats and hand them the right robes (some are X-tall, which really mean X-large and I have to gauge who deserves one of the four we have without seeming judgy ) and I forget what they asked for in their coffee and forget their names to present them to the stylist - it starts to snowball Then, I can't keep straight the invisible half-hour needed for processing colour if they're going to have a cut booked after; and some stylists cut on the half-hour and some on the forty-five minute hour. Some don't do some things. Some are booked until the end of April, and I have to refuse and/or offer waiting lists, yet remember that we move mountains for others. Hi-lights take so long, and straight colour takes so long and minis take so long...and then? The phone ringing and cashing out? And keeping the tips straight? Transactions divided between cash, Interac and credit cards (because there are appointments that end in the mid triple digits, you know) and add in product? It's a mess. But mostly? People go out looking so different than they come in - I just plain don't recognize them. I also don't understand that luxury, though I don't begrudge people $130 haircuts. It's just that $130 feeds us for a week - and I seem to like objects and projects almost more than people.
And, with all this - I wonder how my brain would be working right now had I pursued higher education. What would I have done with all that knowledge and effort I'd have poured into it, hoping for improvement? I think about this often - had I stayed on a different course, I'd be an entirely different person. A long time ago I decided that I would not have been a better person if I had, though. Whatever my ambitions were (are there such things as a Photojournalist Social Worker?), I think I'm achieving them differently. I mean, in the end, it could still have come down to wearing a Cafe Press "I went to school for my PhD and all I got was this mommy blog!" t-shirt. So, I think while I have a lot in my brain, and the memories are weird and rich and varied, and I may be smart - how the old noodle works is good enough for me. The world has given me the education I need to live the life I'm meant to, the path showed itself because I was open to it. I'm very happy now that I have a family I chose that I adore; I love what I do for work and feel it has value in the world (finding new homes for old items and encouraging the purchase of only carefully chosen environmentally friendly, or reusable or sustainable new items - yay!) and I'm good at it; I am active in my neighbourhood and not in a "slactivist" way; I have a few very good friends and have realized that more "friends" aren't better if I can't manage true friendships well.
So I know myself pretty well by now. The memory works how it works, and understanding that, I try to work to my strengths. I am smarter now and try not to over-promise and under-deliver - which is also why blogging is a fine outlet for the creative bits.
Thanks for the question...um, did I answer it?
Oh - so, in short: Yes. No. Yes.