MY MEMORY PALACE GETS A MAKEOVER
Stuff is leaking out of my ears.
I know, ewww. But it’s not what you think.
Believe me, I wish it was wax. (Think of the second income to be had from personalized candles.) Or monkeys. Or monkeys made of wax. In football helmets. On ginger ale-powered snowmobiles gliding across fields of snow that’s actually cotton candy spun on the same machine debuted at the 1939 Worlds’ Fair in New York.
What was I talking about?
See? That’s the problem. What’s leaking out of my ears are memories. I can’t remember a damn thing anymore. Twenty-four hour TV, computers, e-readers, social media accounts – all feeding me more information than I know what to do with and I still can’t even remember the names of my kids. I only have two, but I never call the one I’m talking to by the right name.
But there’s hope.
It’s called a memory palace.
It sounds stupid.
But memory champ Joshua Foer says it works, so I’m in.
Don’t remember who that is? Well, why don’t you get a memory palace…
So here’s basically how it works. If you want to remember lists of stuff – names, dates, important numbers, whatever – you create images in your mind that you associate with those items. This “memory palace” can be an imaginary place, but the recommendation is to use a real room or building you’re familiar with and associate items in that room with whatever it is you’re trying to remember.
For my memory palace, I choose: the upstairs bathroom in my house. That might sound odd, but even though it’s not huge, there’s lots of stuff in there to attach details too. Also, a lot of my quality time is spent in there. (Mmm. Minty!) So here goes.
Okay, I’m closing my eyes..k3-vmklw4=-30uvl. Dammit! Okay, I’m opening my eyes, but envisioning what my bathroom looks like. I’m mentally linking important facts and names with objects that I see.
Bath toys scattered in the tub = my son’s name. As in, “For pete’s sake, H, please pick up your bath toys NOW!”
Pile of wet towels on the floor = daughter’s name. As in, “For the FOURTH time, S, pick up those towels!”
My personal loofa scrubber hanging in the shower, the only one with a handle = my wife’s name. As in, “Yes, J, I happen to like the one with the handle. Sue me.”
The toilet = the names of the various candidates running for political office this season nationally and in my district. Why? Well, clearly representative democracy is headed down the toilet.
The clogged sink = the names of all navigable waterways that flow into or out of the U.S. in order of discovery by the original settlers. Also, what New England clam chowder looks like.
The toothbrush = the name of comedian Steven Wright since I got it from my dental hygienist and one of Wright’s classic bits is about how he thinks his hygienist is pretty so before he goes in for his appointment, he eats an entire box of Oreo cookies.
The selection of various perfumes = Paris. Ah, Paris…
The shower = rainfall. Specifically, the average yearly rainfall in Portland, Oregon is 37.5 inches.
The mirror = Kurt, which is the name of the monster from an alternate plane of existence I see out of the corner of my eye drooling over my shoulder every time I look in the mirror, but who disappears when I turn around.
Beard clipper = the first application of the term “clippers” to ships, specifically the Baltimore clippers, the topsail schooners developed in Chesapeake Bay in the 18th century before the American Revolution.
Black and White cat sitting on the sink, demanding a drink = Zorro
Multi-colored cat hiding under the sink, daring me to reach in and try to get a clean towel = Sneezer
I close my eyes again nepjrf94;poejflkfpo4[ DAMMIT! Okay, I open them and sear into my mental neighborhood this newly erected (har!) edifice of memory. IT WORKS! I remember everything now! I-
How was I going to end this?