Today the Debs are thrilled to welcome back Graduate Deb Jenny Gardiner! Jenny Gardiner is the author of the award-winning Barnes & Noble bestselling novel SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER and WINGING IT: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who’s Determined to Kill Me. Her work has been found in Ladies Home Journal, the Washington Post and on NPR’s Day to Day. She has a column of slice-of-life essays in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress newspaper. You can pre-order Jenny’s book here and don’t forget to check out her hysterical video of her parrot, Gracie,here! And if you’d like to check out Jenny’s website, we’ve got a link for that, too, right here. Jenny, welcome!
It’s so exciting to be back on the Debutante Ball after all this time—I miss it as well as the regular camaraderie with my Deb sisters. I always felt so honored that Kristy Kiernan tapped me to be in the Deb Ball two years ago—it created so many opportunities and provided a wonderful experience for that debut year. Plus it was such a bonus to be able to share in the experience with other authors going through the same thing. After that debut year you feel a bit more like a seasoned veteran, but nevertheless we’re all navigating the murky waters of publishing together, so it’s wonderful to know that there is this sisterhood out there, the Debutante Ball, composed of many fabulously talented and fun women authors. So thanks for bringing me back into the fold to celebrate the launch of my latest venture, WINGING IT: A MEMOIR OF CARING FOR A VENGEFUL PARROT WHO’S DETERMINED TO KILL ME (Gallery Books/March 16).
I’ve had the chance to get to e-know Sarah Pekkanen a bit through the Ball and I thought she’d get a laugh at this blog post, since we’ve been trying to set up an appearance together, thwarted only by my abysmal memory, which seems to worsen by the minute. I think. But I can’t quite remember…
Help! I’ve forgotten and I can’t recall.
Yeah, I know, sort of a lame take on the iconic 1990’s television commercial featuring an elderly gal with a medical emergency who urgently needed assistance with her feeble self. Thanks to “Life Call,” she had someone who was able to prop her up, and all was well.
So far I’m not in need of Life Call to rescue me from a frail bone-related fall, but I am in dire need of some sort of life call to save me from an increasingly enfeebled brain. They say the mind is the first to go, and my memory–which until recently I’d successfully prodded into action with a regular machine-gunning of reminder alerts on my iCal each day–has taken a day at the beach and decided it doesn’t want to return just yet, if ever.
Thus, I have placed practically my entire memory in the evidently disabled hands of my MacBook’s iCal, which it seems has aged in dog years itself and is failing in its own wretched memory to remind me of all that I can’t help but forget. Two operating systems ago, my iCal reminders worked regularly, even though I overloaded the application with unrealistic demands: most every function of my day popped up to remind me to do it, short of basic hygiene functions such as “remember to brush teeth.” So many demands that while it reliably reminded me, it also crashed constantly. So I upgraded to a new operating system and the failures became rampant. My reminders would pop up for one event, but not for the next. But I’d not remember to check my calendar to see what it was forgetting to remember. The next upgrade failed me even more. I’m a victim of the memory of both me and my fail-safe computer, failing all over the place.
Since my calendar can’t even remember to remember, I’m holding out hope they soon come out with helper dogs for failing memories.
I felt a little relieved after chatting with my friend Tana the other day on the phone while she was preparing to leave for the gym. As she was talking on speakerphone, I heard water running in the background.
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to the bathroom,” she said. “I’m just filling up my water bottle.”
Well, of course any woman with good girlfriends knows that occasionally we all happen to race into the loo while on the phone—it’s a hazard of friendship. So I just laughed and told her it wouldn’t have mattered regardless. We talked for a minute more when suddenly Tana stopped.
“Oh, crap. Where’s my water bottle?” she asked.
As if defining my dilemma for my own affirmation, she did what I regularly do: forgot the simplest of things in the shortest period of time imaginable. It’s what we do best. All day long. And fight it with the meager tools at our disposal to keep us from having to purchase ear horns and walkers and resign ourselves to our dwindling age and capabilities.
The other day I suffered the hat trick of memory shortcomings. First, I lost my reading glasses in the time it took to swap out shirts. A few minutes later, I became vexed because I couldn’t find the enormous pile of tax information it had taken me an entire day to find, which I’d then put somewhere I’d know where to find it. Shortly thereafter, I needed to recall the brand of car I’d rented a few days earlier, as I wanted to be sure we didn’t consider it while shopping for a new car. I’d made a point of remembering the brand. To no avail.
And that’s the thing. I’m always putting things where I know I’ll remember them. And rarely do. I walk to a food cabinet while fixing dinner, forgetting in six short steps what I’d gone there to retrieve. I wake at 3 a.m. with brilliant ideas, but don’t want to wake completely to write them down, certain I’ll recall by dawn. Never do. Yet then I wake up in the middle of the night over mundane things, like forgetting to soak black beans for dinner, only to not be able to sleep, recalling everything I need to remember to do that I haven’t done and worry that I won’t remember to do it. I leave notes everywhere, only to not know where the notes are. I record reminders on my phone. Only to forget to listen to them later.
Maybe life’s pressing needs are actually squeezing my brains dry. Sounds like I could use a good vacation.
A conversation between me and Tana these days goes something like this:
“Did you hear about, oh, what’s her name? Long brown hair, lives up that narrow mountain road.”
“Yeah, the gal with six kids?”
“Exactly. And that dog that smells like death. Her husband played in a band when he was in college—”
“Oh, what is her name? It begins with a P, doesn’t it?”
“It rhymes with my mother’s middle name, I think.”
“What’s your mother’s middle name?”
“Nothing rhymes with Amanda. But anyhow, we’ll think of her name. But did you hear–they’re getting a divorce.”
“No! I always knew he was up to no good.”
“Who? Her husband?”
“Yeah. What’s his name?”
Well, you get the idea. We have all the minutiae committed to memory but the barebones facts have evaporated from our gray matter, by some brain-fog that has settled over our memories, doomed to cloak our thinking and force us into some Sherlock Holmesian effort to recall. Our trail of deduction requires mental bloodhounds, and it seems as if our dogs have got up and went.
“Between the two of us we have a brain,” Tana said. And she’s right. Which makes me think maybe I need to simply be paired up with someone, 24/7, from here on out. Because clearly at this point two heads must be better than one.