The Fine Art of Losing Things

30 07 2009

August will soon be upon us, causing families and individuals to depart from their normal routines and look toward far horizons. The annual summer quest has arrived and all must answers its call to relax, even if that means a significant of amount of stress and work to achieve such vacation-season bliss.

In preparation for my vacation, I have already forgetten $140 in cash, my sunglasses, an iPod charger and my poison ivy meds.

In preparation for this trip, I have already forgotten $140 in cash, my sunglasses, an iPod charger and my poison ivy meds.

My family has long been a vacation family. Growing up in such an atmosphere, one of my personal faults has been magnified on a yearly basis. I constantly lose, forget, misplace and find new ways to estrange my possessions from my person. I do this, persistently, despite being aware that it is a failing of my character. I have developed the fine art of losery and shed cell phones in particular at a remarkable rate.

When I take a trip, I don’t send souvenirs back, things get mailed to me.

Tomorrow, my brother and I will gas up my mother’s Toyota and drive with all reasonable speed to join the rest of my family clan in a lake-filled corner of southwestern Missouri. The preparation for the week’s relaxation is a perfect opportunity for me to pack my bags, travel 8 hours from home and promptly forget one or two things.

Here is an example. When I left Chicago yesterday en route to central Illinois, I went five minutes and realized I had left my iPod. A week sans tunes unfathomable, I retrieved the music-playing peripheral. An hour into the drive, I recalled a $140 in cash I forget on my desk. Another hour later, I remembered the poison ivy medication sitting in my bathroom and felt a vague itching.

Seriously, I once forget to bring a winter coat on a snowboarding trip.

My mother has been tireless in her efforts to change this particular aspect of my nature. She recommends checklists and mnemonic memory devices. All fail, because even if I make a list, there’s a good chance I’ll just forget to put it there in the first place. Sometimes, I will forget things I remember, or am at least aware that I need, as was the case with the aforementioned winter coat.

I consider myself a thoughtful person, and this is the source of my trouble. By generating an endless cycle of introspection within myself, my thoughts shuffle and flow almost at random. This knack for switching mental tracks so readily means a lot of my thoughts simply fall off the rails and out of my inner sight. Thus, even if I write something down, even if I come up with a clever rhyme to recall it, even if I spend all day hell bent on remembering to not forget, it only takes a moment of mental misdirection to undo these efforts.

To clarify, this quirk has never caused me academic stress, as I can read, study and memorize facts and ideas with no unusual problems. The lack is of a more common sense nature.

For illustrative purposes, let’s say I am walking upstairs to get my winter coat, a critical item for the snowboarding trip for which I am packing. As I walk, I will notice a Time magazine open on the kitchen table. I will then wonder if I had read that issue. I will ponder (still walking) about my prospects of working for such a publication. I will next think maybe I should take the magazine to read on the trip. I will then arrive in my room, see the shirt I meant to pack an hour ago, grab it and stuff it in my bag.

In this way, 12 hours later in Denver, I will step outside of a car, note the chilly air and then remember the big, warm, waterproof coat in my bedroom closet.




4 responses

30 07 2009

You need a second brain. I experience the same, but not as bad you experience. I got turned on to google’s to-do lists for everything I need to remember. Remember the Milk is a free web-base program for ultimate to-do list and organizing items. Evernote is another that’s really awesome second brain program/ note taker, which is free as well.

Or just go old school and just start bringing sticky notes with you and write everything you need to do the second you get the thought.

As Marlin Mann’s 43 Folder’s blog on Getting Things Done points out, you never remember to get milk when you are the grocery store; rather when you at the fridge and notice the wretched smell from an almost empty container of dairy product you recall it.


30 07 2009
Sarah Arvin

yeah, sounds like me, too. you make a list of what you need, but where is that damn list?

31 07 2009

Oh frankie poo! It’s all so true! Can’t wait to see you at the lake Friday mid-afternoon!

8 08 2009

I will be mailing you the library book from Arlington Heights that you left under the seat in my car.

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