Mar 31 2014

False Memories of You

Published by at 5:36 pm under Education,Letters from Katie,Travel

I’ve been taking a MOOC called The Science of Everyday Thinking. I don’t remember what “MOOC” stands for, but the first letter is for “massive,” one of the O’s is “online,” and the C is “class.” So you get the idea. They’re free computer-based courses, this one offered by University of Queensland in Australia. The class is pretty interesting—at least, the parts I understand. Some parts are over my head, alas.

One week’s topic was how human recall works. Is it like a video recorder, that you can play back to see what happened? No. Our memories are highly flawed. Really, all of what we remember could be considered “false memories,” because of our subjectivity, selectivity and forgetfulness. So, for example, imagine you take a disastrous trip to Mexico with M__t. You miss your connecting flight. The airline loses your carry-on with your money and credit cards and medicine and camera and phone. M__t is so worried that he is grumpy and distracted the whole time. You end up having  to cut your trip short, and then the airline proceeds to lose all your bags on the way home. But wait: there was that evening he gave you a big hug. So looking back, you think, “My, what a fine journey that was.” False memories. TJ and I started riffing about the topic of memory, coming up with titles for books we’d like to write. Our favorite: False Memories of You, which must be about my life with M__t. What other explanation is there that I’ve stayed attached to him for all these years, despite his unreliability and self-absorption? An ancillary volume is Dances with Himself.

Speaking of things that crack me up, remember my sister from blog posts past? Today I was complaining to her via e-mail about my neighbors who object to the smoke from my wood fires. One even threatened to call the police and warned me that she has photographs to prove that I am bad, firewise. This is what Katie wrote in reply. [I know Oleg will be glad to see Katie stories back on The Wormlips Scrapbook.]

Why do your neighbors care if you have a fire?  Is there a law against it?  I can see if you have a bonfire, but not a fire in your fireplace.  Can they really call the police?  Do they have a goddamn leg to stand on?  Call the police and accuse them of wearing masks in public and when it turns out they that weren’t, say incredulously, “oh my God, that’s your FACE.”

I have been unemployed since December. To any readers: please find a good job for me. It is very discouraging, demoralizing and downright scary to be unable to find paying work. It’s not just because of the money, though that’s most of it. It’s because, in this day and age in the U.S., our self-esteem is closely tied to our work status. Ask anyone who’s looking for employment these days and you’ll see. It’s an unfortunate truth, but there you have it.

Inspired by Molly’s model from her job-hunting days, I’ve set up a database of jobs that I’ve applied for. It’s kind of fun, if you like  that sort of thing. Here, check it out:


See that field that says “Date of Response”? See that it’s blank? In all but one of my applications, it’s like that: nary a peep from my intended company. I did get one phone interview for a position as Web Content Specialist at University of San Francisco, but then never heard another word. I spend the better part of a day on each cover letter. It’s like pouring Moët & Chandon down the drain, really. All that investment of valuable time, for nothing. Word-of-mouth is the better way to go, if only I could find the right mouth.

It’s quite unfortunate that one can’t truly enjoy the free time one has when unemployed. All those unattached moments are encumbered with a pall of worry. Oh well.

To ameliorate the unemployment effect and to fill my time with something other than job hunting, I’ve been knitting up a storm for Emmy and for Eleni’s fetus, which is due to arrive in human form in November. I’ve even made a few things for myself. Come look.

I’m also making a possum-merino shrug for Emmy and a microscopic-stitched newborn-sized kimono, the latter of which is as tedious as this blog post.

The other thing I’ve been doing for sanity is watching stuff on DVD. I gulped down the entire Downton Abbey Season 4, Sense & Sensibility, In Bruges, But I’m a Cheerleader, Grass, 7 Up and o’ so many others. I watched so many that the DVD player broke last week.

Do you realize that I will turn 60 in just under two months? This is huge to me. I need to do something to commemorate the day, but don’t know what. On my decade birthdays I always throw myself a party, but I don’t feel like a party this year. But what will I do? It’s gotta be something economical. Please tell me if you have ideas.

I saw Emmy yesterday and we did her favorite thing: had a tea party.


What else is new in my world?

  1. I’m taking a class in Oaxacan woodcarving with PT. I’m making a sort of turtle-frog thing.
  2. I  have a little gadget on my phone that graphs the times I sleep versus when I’m tossing.
  3. I haven’t cleaned my house in months.
  4. I’ve reached “Paramedic” level in my new iPhone game called QuizUp.
  5. I just got a jury duty summons for a few days before I’m due to go East in May.
  6. I took a class in Social Media for Journalists, and one in Microsoft Excel, and I’ve forgotten everything already.
  7. Molly decided she’s going to continue living in my basement for another year. Yay!
  8. That’s all I can think of now.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “False Memories of You”

  1. Molly says:

    A blog! A BLOG! I’m so ‘cited. And a long and well-thought-out one, even, with lots of tiny but important updates. I genuinely enjoyed reading it, even though I know much of this already.

    Memory is a fascinating and fickle beastie. I’ve sat in on many a neuroscience lecture on it, and so I can authoritatively say this.

    Katie has the best advice of all time. I pray you heed it.

  2. marianna says:

    book: mistakes were made. about false memories. one of the writers remembers her dad reading a book to her and them dancing to it. years later, dad dead, she buys a first edition of the book for her kids. well, the date on the first edition is after her dad’s death. there you have it….

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