Category Archives: Memory Loss
Last month, I was a bit frenzied as I prepared for an upcoming trip out of state during which I would be chaperoning 8 teenage girls. A couple of days before the trip, I ran an errand to Michaels, the craft store. I honestly can’t remember why I went there because, what, did I need a ream of scrapbook paper to add to my already over-stuffed luggage? Anyway, I did whatever I meant to do, and left the store. It was probably the 3rd place on a list of 10 that I needed to visit before picking up my daughter from swim practice in 20 minutes, so to say that I was in a hurry would be understating things.
I hit the button on my key fob and got in my car. I was about to stick the key in the ignition when I stopped.
I looked around suspiciously.
Why wasn’t there bulldog hair generously decorating my dashboard?
I looked at the doors.
What idiot stuck a bunch of bills in my driver door? (After having my car broken into twice, I never keep anything that identifies me in the car.)
Oh. My. God.
I was in someone else’s car.
I looked out the window. Directly across from me, a woman was sitting inside a truck, watching me curiously from her passenger seat.
Oh. My. God.
That woman was going to see me get out of this car, and report me to the real owner of the car.
But if I stayed in the car, the owner of the car was going to find me in the car. I was pretty sure that would be worse.
Oh. Crap. I needed to get out of that car.
I got out as calmly as possible, turned to the row behind me, and saw my car. I made a beeline for it.
I got in my real car with the bulldog hair on the dashboard and snotty tissues in the door pocket and left that parking lot as fast as I could.
I silently prayed that the woman in the truck would not see anything 911 worthy about someone getting into a car, looking wildly around, then hopping out of the car and running to a different car precisely 1 row away in the exact same spot.
So, that’s the story.
I recently told that story at a party, thinking that others would commiserate with me and share their own stories of mis-identified cars.
That didn’t happen.
“Wait, you got into someone else’s car?!!!” Yes.
“Was it the same kind of car as yours?!!!!” No. But it was the same color.
“Was it even an SUV?!!!!” You mean like my Rav4? No. I’m not even sure it had 4 doors. Or 4 tires.
But it was The. Same. Color. And, it was open. And I was worried about keeping 8 girls alive and out of the hospital for 5 days during a trip that promised to put my sanity to the test. Don’t those factors mean that I’m less stupid?
You say, “Potato.” I say, “Harriet Tubman.”
Because potatoes are from under the ground and Harriet Tubman conducted the Underground Railroad.
This is why people prefer not to be on my team when we play party games like Catch Phrase. Supposedly, my word associations are a bit “out there.” I like to call it, “creative thinking.” Other people have less charitable ways of putting it.
This also explains why a conversation between my mother-in-law, who has been having difficulty choosing words lately, and me usually ends up sounding like an exchange between a secretive teenager and Phoebe Buffay.
MILlie was trying to tell me about a friend of hers who visited this morning, and another mutual friend of theirs. I think they went to college together but I’m not actually sure.
“She, you know, does things,” MILlie said.
“Things?” I asked.
She moved her hands back and forth together like she was weaving.
“Knitting? Quilting?” I guessed.
“An artist,” my mother-in-law finally said after shaking her head at my guesses.
“Oh, okay, that’s interesting.” I prepared to move on in the conversation, but “artist” was not specific enough for my mother-in-law. She still had not gotten her message across.
“Rap,” she said.
And that’s where our conversation kind of went off the rails.
“Your friend was a rap artist?!!!” I asked. I tried to picture an 84-year-old former rap artist. Then I tried to figure out how old she would have been when the term “rap artist” was even coined. Then I tried to picture a 60-year-old rapping on stage with Snoop Dogg.
MILlie shook her head, but didn’t seem offended by this suggestion. It’s possible, of course, that my mother-in-law is not exactly familiar with the term, “rap artist.”
I tried to think of another job that would combine art with “rap” and moving your hands in and out.
“A professional gift wrapper!” I yelled, triumphantly.
“No.” Now MILlie was beginning to look frustrated – probably with both of us at this point.
After several more increasingly off-the-mark guesses, it turned out this talented friend played the accordion.
I never did figure out how that related to the word, “rap.”
But if you’re on my team some day, and we are playing Catch Phrase, and there are seconds to go before the beep, all you have to do is say, “accordion” and I will guess “rap artist”, and then you can leap up and say, “YES!!!!!”
And everyone will be too busy wondering how those two things could possibly go together while we nonchalantly hide the real catch-phrase and celebrate our victory with as much enthusiasm as Harriet Tubman probably felt any time she got the chance to eat a hot, buttery baked potato.
We made the difficult decision this week to move my mother-in-law into a Memory Care unit. None of us are happy about it. But when someone insists on going to bed in a room that isn’t hers and starts storing her socks in the freezer, it’s pretty clear that independent living no longer suits her.
At least it’s clear to the supposed “experts.” I’m not so sure.
The thing is, my mother-in-law discovered, several years ago, a curling iron that I had put in the freezer. So, I feel like I’m one bed hop away from my own memory care incarceration and I certainly don’t have room to judge. However, the place where she is living administered a quiz to my mother-in-law that apparently assesses one’s need for more assistance and it, surprisingly, did not include any questions about the proper place to store your socks or your hair appliances.
“What did they ask her?” I asked my husband.
“The date. She didn’t know.”
Oh geez. Half the time I don’t know the date either. I have to ask my students or the lady at the dry cleaners when I’m writing a check at 4:00 in the afternoon.
“What city she lives in. She knew the state, but not the city.”
Well, I do know that. But I’ve lived here for 25 years (she’s only been here 2 years). And if you ask my Kindergartners what city they live in, they will tell you anything from Canada to Paris. I don’t see any of them getting stuck in a memory care unit.
“They asked her to fold a piece of paper a certain way and she did that perfectly.”
Oh. My. God. I’ve watched videos on how to fold a fitted bed sheet 10000 times and I still can’t do it right. And now they want me to do origami?
That’s 2 out of 3 questions I would have bombed. So, basically, I would have scored the same on the quiz as my mother-in-law.
Please don’t tell these people I lost my wedding rings last week, then found them on the floor by my feet, or that I punched the play button on our home answering machine this afternoon and did not recognize my own voice leaving a message that I thought I was leaving on my husband’s cell phone voice mail until I replayed the stupid thing twice.
As long as I refuse to answer any questions and stay out of the freezer, I think I’m good for another couple of years.
But I’m going to learn how to fold a fitted bed sheet if it’s the last thing I do before my dementia diagnosis. And I know exactly the person who can teach me…
Technically, I didn’t bring you the terrorists. I just called attention to them. Well, I tried to call attention to them. As far as I can tell, the F organizations (FBI and FDA) have made absolutely no attempt to thwart the terrorists’ blatant attempt to slowly sabotage our population by putting memory-erasing additives in increasingly gluten free food. Of course, they could be making efforts that I don’t know about – or that I’ve conveniently forgotten.
In the meantime, the terrorists have infiltrated the dry cleaning business. How do I know this? My keen powers of observation tell me so.
I was recently at the cleaners, and got a bit nosy about one what of the employees was doing behind the counter.
“What is she doing?” I subtly asked the person dropping my clothes into a bag.
“Her? Oh, she’s just ironing a bar code onto those pants. You know, so we can make sure they don’t get lost.” She said this kind of nervously. And who can blame her for being nervous when being interrogated by the intrepid Mrs. Cap’n Firepants?
Before I could ask any more penetrating questions, the terrorist/dry cleaner employee shoved my claim ticket into my hand, and beckoned the next customer.
And then it hit me.
“Oh. My. God.” I thought. I raced home and dashed into my closet. Sure enough, all of my recently drycleaned clothing had bar codes in them.
So much for my keen powers of observation.
“I’ve been violated and I didn’t even know it!” I whispered to my bar-code free pajama pants.
Sure, they say it’s to make sure my ten dollar blouse doesn’t end up in the hands of a serial dry cleaning thief. But I know better.
The terrorists are tracking my clothing.
That way, when I finally kick the bucket as a result of their food poisoning plot, and my husband gives away my clothes to someone, and the new someone brings them in to be cleaned, and the terrorist/dry cleaner sees that someone else used to own those pants, and they call my house to let me know that my pants have been filched, and my husband lets them know that the pants are no longer mine because I am deceased due to forgetting that I’m not supposed to walk in front of cars going 65 miles an hour (and he assures the terrorist/dry cleaner that those are not the actual pants I was wearing when I met my demise), the terrorist/dry cleaner will be satisfied that the food poisoning plot is working just as planned and report this encouraging progress to the Head Honcho Terrorist with a cryptic tweet, like, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants wears control top panty hose.”
My husband seems to think this is a bit “of a reach”. Coincidentally, he uses a different dry cleaner. Who does not put bar codes in his pants.
So, clearly, I am sleeping with the enemy.
The plot thickens.
I often wake up in the middle of the night, panicked that I still have a googlemillion things left to teach my daughter, and only 8 more years until she goes to college where everything I have taught her will be turned into a Bucket List of Things I Should Do to Freak Out my Mom. For example, I keep forgetting to tell her to, “always check for toilet paper before you pull your pants down.” Of course, I know this is important, and I am 44 years old – and I still forget to check.
In fact, I think I’ve had to ask my own daughter if she can “spare a square” a couple of times.
So, this not only means that I need to teach her a googlemillion things, but I need to repeat each thing a googlemillion times so it will finally sink in and she will make it to 44 years old without ever having found herself in a bathroom stall at Dairy Queen begging for toilet paper from her daughter.
My ineptitude as a mother reveals itself daily, but even I was horrified by my own failings a couple of nights ago when reading to 10-year-old Dimples from The Fire Chronicle before she went to bed.
“The universe is a mass of constantly expanding energy, and one day it will collapse upon itself. Like a cake left too long in the oven.”
“Why would you put a cake in the oven?” she derisively interrupted.
“Are you kidding me?” I asked. Then I thought, maybe she means after it’s already frosted and ready to eat. “Not after it’s made. You know, when you’re baking it.”
Oh. My. God. My 10-year-old child does not know that cakes are made by baking them in the oven. *
I started hyperventilating.
“Where did you think cakes came from?” I managed to splurt out.
I think I blacked out.
Later that evening, as I surfed the net in search for some excerpts from Mommy Dearest to make myself feel better, I realized that I actually have made cakes with her before. It’s been awhile, but we did it together for a couple of her birthdays.
Okay. They were 5 and 6 years ago. But still.
This led me to the conclusion that it is a complete waste of time to try to be a good mother to your child before the age of 6. They remember none of it, show absolutely no gratitude, and by the time they develop any kind of memory retention, you will be too burned out to continue in the vein in which you started.
A better plan is to keep a notebook of important advice, which you can bestow upon them the first day they realize you have taught them absolutely nothing.
Here’s a list to get you started:
#1. Always check for toilet paper before you pull down your pants. Because one day your momma won’t be there to bring you some more.
Deuce. Cakes do not grow on trees.
III. When backing out of a Kroger’s parking spot, do not keep looking behind you, or your front end will dent your neighbor’s car, and you will then be faced with the dilemma of either leaving a note or driving away in shame and having that guilt on your conscience for the rest of your life.
This is just a suggested list. You can write whatever you want. But you might have to pay the price if you don’t include number III. Insurance for teenagers is expensive. I’m just sayin’.
When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not. ~ Mark Twain
It’s picture day tomorrow. Dimples is 10. This is her last year in elementary school. Her last class picture with less than 200 people in it. I get it. I should buy the picture. However, she brought home four order forms.
“For clubs. We have to do a separate order form for each club.”
There are four clubs taking pictures. Dimples is in three of them, in case you have not done the math.
Each picture costs approximately $500.
Just kidding. But, they are relatively expensive. Especially for someone who just had to pay to recover data from her not-dead-yet hard drive.
“So, I’m just wondering. Do you know where last year’s class picture is?” I asked.
“Oh, we didn’t get one last year,” she quickly responded.
“Yes, we did. What about the one for the year before that?”
“Oh, we haven’t bought any for the last couple of years.”
“Yes, we have. I’ve bought one every year.”
“Well, where are they?”
“That’s what I asked you. But since you obviously don’t know, I will tell you. They are in a file drawer.”
“Well, why are they there?”
“Because every year, you toss them at me, and I stick them in the drawer. And you never think about it again.”
“But we should hang them up!”
“Really? This is what we should display on our walls? Photos in which 5 years from now we will be able to identify 1/28th of the people represented?”
“Well, we should put them somewhere.”
“I’m not hanging them in the hallway, and I’m not paying for 4 more pictures to stick in my drawer.” Even though I just lost your whole lifetime of pictures when my hard drive bit the dust. But let’s not dwell on the past. Or the complete absence of it.
Later on, she informed me that she was willing to deal. One club picture and the class picture.
I think there’s enough room in the drawer for them.
Before you read on, in my defense, I would just like to say that trying to fight depression during the Christmas season, especially when you are a teacher, takes Herculean strength and not a few brain cells. Plus, I was a bit pre-occupied with the world ending and a few other things.
One more party. Last night, we had one last Christmas party to attend. And I was so looking forward to being done with them all.
The entire Firepants family was invited to this one. I had inconveniently scheduled a hair appointment right before the party, but I had planned ahead to make sure we could head over there as soon as I was done. White Elephant gift bought and wrapped. Dessert prepared. Address Google mapped.
Before my appointment, I reminded Dimples that she needed to find a “dress-up” outfit and something to use to roast marshmallows before I returned home.
(If you are new to my blog, I must inform you that I have an overactive Dorfenbergerthalamus that overheats and explodes if I am late to anything. This may seem random, but it’s a pertinent fact.)
I arrived home 40 minutes before the party.
“Dimples, do you have your dress-up outfit chosen?”
“I thi-in-n-k so.” This took 5 minutes to sort out.
“What about the marshmallow roasters?”
“No. I told Daddy, but he hasn’t found anything yet.”
I strode to the pantry and grabbed some barbecue forks.
“O.K. It’s going to take about 15 minutes to get there. Is everyone going to be ready to leave in 10 minutes?”
Cap’n Firepants spoke up. “Yes, I’ll probably be ready. But we’re going to need to stop on the way to pick up some beer.”
“What?!!!!!!!!! You’ve been home for 2 and a half hours. Why didn’t you get beer earlier?”
“What was I supposed to do, take Dimples with me to pick up beer?”
“So, now you are going to take all of us to pick up beer?!”
5 minutes later – “Oh, I forgot I had some beer. So, we don’t need to stop for it.”
“Thank God!” This was not sarcasm. I was truly appreciative that we would not lose minutes picking up beer. My Dorfenbergerthalamus was beginning to smoke.
5 minutes later – “O.K., everyone. Let’s go.”
Wonderbutt is coaxed into the Kitchen Corral. Mrs. P.I.B. gives us the panicked look she gives every time we leave. Armed with our required and optional party supplies, the Firepants family exits stage right.
10 minutes later, as we are flying past the airport, a sudden realization hits.
“Oh, crap. I forgot the White Elephant gift!” I exclaim.
To his credit, Cap’n Firepants, instead of letting the expletives fly, says, “Do you want me to turn around?”
I won’t list all of the options that rattled through my brain, but they included stopping at a convenience store and grabbing a can of Pringles or wrapping up the marshmallow forks in a car mat.
“Yes-s-s,” I reluctantly whisper as I sink deep into the seat and wait for my Dorfenbergerthalamus to go nuclear.
“Don’t worry, Mommy,” Dimples assures me from the back seat. “According to my Girls’ Book of Glamour, it’s best to be fashionably late to a party. Twenty minutes is ideal.”
Yeah, tell that to my Dorfenbergerthalamus…
In Which I Write a Very Assertive Letter
I recently checked the status of my orders, and noticed that one of them is labelled as “Delivered” even though I have not received it. It is order number 123456782, and I would like to know how to rectify this situation. This item is meant to be a Christmas gift, and can only be purchased online. My daughter will be completely heartbroken if this present is not under the tree, and I will hold you personally responsible for the miserable day our entire family will experience while she cries her eyes out after realizing this gift is missing. I do not understand how you can label a package as having been delivered when it clearly was NOT delivered. What kind of shady organization are you running over there?
An Extremely Disappointed,
Mrs. Cap’n Firepants
In Which Amazon, Obviously Fearful of My Wrath, Responds
Hello, Mrs. Cap’n Firepants:
I’m sorry this package never arrived and you had to contact us. I completely understand your disappointment. That’s definitely not what we want our customers to experience.
At this point, we can only presume that the package was lost during shipping. I sincerely apologize for this.
We do our best to ensure that all orders leave our fulfillment centers as soon as possible to be delivered within the delivery date estimated when you place your order, but occasionally a shipment may be lost by circumstances beyond our control.
I’m forwarding your experience with USPS to our shipping department–I know they’ll want to hear about your experience. We’re aware that our choice of delivery services reflects on our business as a whole, and we appreciate your feedback.
I’ve checked your order and see the item was ordered from DIP ‘N DIVE , a seller on our website. Because DIP ‘N DIVE ‘s inventory is constantly changing, we can’t replace items sold by them that are Fulfilled by Amazon.
I’ve requested a refund of $9.02 to your Credit card.
You’ll see the refund on your Master Card statement in the next 2-3 business days.
As this was an inconvenience caused to you while shopping at Amazon.com, I’d suggest you to place the new order with One-day shipping and write back to us with the order number so that we’ll either waive of or refund the shipping charges on the new order.
Please make sure that you place an order with Amazon or any seller which is labeled as, “Fulfilled by Amazon”, so that we can modify or make any further changes to the order. If you place the order with any third party seller then we won’t be able to change the shipping charges on the order.
If we can be of further assistance, you can reply directly to this e-mail.
Thanks for your patience and understanding. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Thank you for your inquiry.
In Which I Lose My Online Shopping Privileges
Thank you for your prompt and considerate response regarding my $9 purchase. Wow, you guys are quick.
So, I was wondering, hypothetically, how you would feel if I mentioned that, right before I received your apology and promise of a refund PLUS free, one-day shipping, I walked into my closet, and found the package to which I was referring sitting on one of my shelves? And, hypothetically, I wondered at that moment how the heck U.S.P.S. got into the corner of my closet without me having to even sign anything. And I then remembered that I was the one who put the package on my shelf because I wanted to hide it from my daughter, and I also remembered telling myself at the time not to forget that I had put the package on the shelf. “But it’s right there next to your box of bras, so of course you aren’t going to forget,” I chided myself. Because I do wear a bra every day. And it sat there for 6 days until I happened to notice that my Amazon account said it was delivered. And it obviously wasn’t. But it was. And I thought about saying that my husband must have picked up the package and stuck it on my side of the closet without telling me. But that didn’t make a lot of sense. Because he never goes in my side of the closet. And, somewhat more to the point, surely, after 6 days of retrieving bras from my bra box I would have noticed there was a package standing right next to it. That I had not put there. But I did not notice it. Even though I put it there. Which was a better hiding place, in my estimation, than the refrigerator, which really only works for small things that are not sensitive to cold. So, there you go. Hypothetically, of course. Just wondering what you would do in that situation.
Thanks for your patience and understanding. I look forward to seeing(?) you again soon, too. As long as you are not a stalker.
Your very loyal customer,
Mrs. Cap’n Firepants
After reflecting on my year of blogging, and the subsequent downslide of readers, I have come to the conclusion that changes must be made. One suggestion from somewhere by someone was that blogs should have a niche. I think this might also be known as a “gimmick”. I have thought long and hard, and fallen asleep, and then woke up, and now have come to the conclusion that I will appeal to the hypochondriac hamsters who read my blog by offering you a new diabolical diagnosis every once in awhile. It won’t be daily, although that is implied in the title of this post. I like alliteration, and “Disease/Disorder of the Moment during Which I Feel Like Writing About It” did not really seem to flow.
Have you ever looked at a loved one, and thought, he/she is an alien, and I probably should club him or her over the head with the frying pan to save mankind? If you do not live near Roswell, and have not recently had any unexplained power outages or crop circles in your back yard, then you, my friend, may suffer from Capgras Syndrome.
Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen and Hamsters, this is a true disorder from which people can suffer. Sometimes, the poor patients become convinced that an impostor has taken over a close friend or family member – an impostor that looks identical to the true person. This, as I am sure you can understand, can be quite disconcerting. Sharing a bedroom with an alien pretending to be your spouse can tend to put one a bit on edge.
There are different thoughts as to the causes of Capgras Syndrome. One of the world’s most famous neuroscientists, V.S. Ramachandran, believes that it is related to a disconnect between the parts of the brain that recognize faces and emotions. This structural defect could be brought on by a physical incident, such as a car accident. Other scientists surmise that it is purely a psychological issue.
Despite all of my research, I have found no evidence that this is a syndrome that occurs once a month, usually lasting about a week. So, I think my husband and I will need to do a bit more investigating to uncover the reason for our own apparently cyclical personality changes. We cannot seem to agree on which one of us is the impostor. Which is worse – to be the person who suspects a loved one of having his or her body taken over by aliens, or to be the person who actually was taken over by aliens and doesn’t believe it when you tell them (I’m not sure what they call that syndrome)? You can see our dilemma.
So, the next time you look at your husband, wife, or child, and think, “This person is acting completely out of character,” rest assured. The problem you think is a problem is not really the problem you think it is. In other words – it’s not them, it’s you.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or psychiatrist, and I’m not particularly intelligent, so don’t go bonking your husband or wife on their noggin with a kitchen appliance and blame it on this post.
(Twenty-five years ago, in the midst of being “kidnapped” at 1 A.M. by sorority members during pledging)
Fellow “kidnapping victim”, looking at me: Geez, how do you always look so perfect? It’s the middle of the night, we just got dumped out of bed, and you’ve got every hair in place, and you look gorgeous.
(Yesterday, in the parking lot, after spending an hour getting ready to go to the hospital to visit my mother-in-law:)
Dimples, my daughter: Mom, why do you have two different shoes on?