Today’s the day

I looked at the date this morning, and remembered having made a point of finding a way to remember today’s date. It’s right in between my older son’s birthday, which was a month ago, and one of my in-law’s birthdays, which is May 27.  (I’m not sure if it my mother-in-law’s or my father-in-law’s – the other one was May 23, so my husband always wished them both a happy birthday on May 25.)

So today’s the day. Unfortunately, I have no idea what day. Since I used birthdays to remember it, perhaps it’s someone’s birthday. But I can’t think who that might be. There’s nothing written on my calendar – but then, if it were something I wanted to write on my calendar, why would I have bothered coming up with a trick for remembering it?

There was a Cub Scout pack meeting this evening. But while that wasn’t written on my calendar, it was on the calendar at the Cub Scouts website, which I maintain. And as it tends to be on the last Monday of the month, I wouldn’t have needed to remember the exact date.

I looked at wikipedia, and found that it is the anniversary of some interesting events. For instance, on this date in 1667, John Milton, blind and impoverished, sold the copyright of Paradise Lost for £10. More significantly from a historical perspective, on April 27, 1861 Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus. Within my own lifetime, in 1967 Expo 67 officially opened in Montreal on this date. (And our family went there, though I have no idea what date, and I don’t even remember the trip – but I brought back a souvenir postcard pack that I used to have fun looking at.)

In 1981, Xerox PARC introduced the computer mouse. (I remember getting a tour at Xerox once, and being very surprised to find out they had the first mouse – to me Xerox was always a document company, not a computer company.) April 27 is also the birthday of Ulysses S. Grant, John Stott, and Coretta Scott King. Of course, every day of the year is the anniversary of a number of significant events and births. But I can’t see why I would care about remembering any of these.

Sometimes my memory tricks are more useful. I have finally found a way to find my car in the parking lot at work, rather than wandering around looking for it. (It’s a pretty large lot, the first twenty or so rows of which are usually full by the time I arrive, with almost thirty cars in each row. We informally refer to the farther reaches as the “north 40,” although someone pointed out to me last week that that end of the lot is actually the south end.) It stretches the length of the manufacturing plant, which has thirty numbered truck bays, and I used to try to remember where I parked by the number of the closest truck bay.

That rarely worked, however, as the number just wouldn’t stick in my mind from 8 in the morning until 5 pm. Now, however, I count the number of parking spaces from my vehicle to the end near the building, as well as the nearest truck bay. So this morning, for instance, I parked in the fifteenth space down the row across from bay 18. So I walked toward the building thinking, “15, 18. 15, 18. 15, 18.”

I imagined myself as a 15-year-old, thinking about turning 18. I tried to remember what happened in 1518. (I couldn’t remember anything, though it was the year following the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.) I imagined an office building with fifteen offices on the first floor, and eighteen on the second floor, and tried to decide how best to arrange them. And as usual when I use this method, when I left work I knew exactly where to look for my car.

I hope I haven’t forgotten anything important today. I feel rather like I have a piece of string tied on my finger (metaphorically) but I have no idea why it’s there. If I’ve forgotten your birthday, I apologize. And if you have any idea why I should remember April 27, please let me know. I’d like to be able to take off this pesky piece of string.

[April 28]
Sometime during the night I woke up with what must be the answer to this puzzle. I didn’t put the date on my calendar because it wasn’t the date I was trying to remember. I must have parked my car in the fourth space down near truck bay 27,  and used the date 4/27 to help me remember where to find my car.

Oh well, I’m glad I didn’t forget someone’s birthday…

6 Responses to Today’s the day

  1. Margaret Packard says:

    Oh Pauline, this is funny. So I’m not the only person who gets frustrated trying to remember why I was trying to remember something. (I have it easy at work, a small parking lot and I almost always park in the same spot.) Remember Daddy had a car (Nova?) with a very rusty roof which made it easier to spot? Would your husband mind if you paint your roof an unusual color? P.S. We went to Expo 67 some weekday in late June, because we always went to Eagle Camp right before the full-price season began.

  2. Pauline says:

    The problem with looking for the roof, even if it were more distinctive, is that the parking lot is full of large pickups and SUVs. My Montero Mitsubishi is an SUV, but a small one, and I have sometimes walked in a cirle around it but not found it because the circle was just large enough to include taller vehicles blocking my view of it from four sides.

    BTW, today’s numbers are 18, 16. 1816 was four years after the start of the War of 1812. 18 is the age at which one can legally get married, 16 with parental consent (in most states).

  3. Margaret Packard says:

    You could just write down your parking space every morning, but that would be too easy!

  4. Pauline says:

    Too easy to forget where I wrote it down, you mean? Or too easy to forget to write it down? (As it is, I occasionally forget to count how many spaces down in the row I parked, or which truck bay was nearest – especially when it’s windy or raining and I’m just thinking about getting indoors.)

    I’ve seen little devices you get attach to your keyring to record a note to yourself on where you parked your car, but I’d rather trust my memory tricks than one of those gadgets. Some friends gave Al a voice-recorder (on a magnet to leave a note on the fridge, rather than on a keyring), but he and the friends’ daughters found it was hard to first get it recorded and then keep from accidentally deleting it.

  5. Margaret Packard says:

    Okay. I thought you could just have a pad of paper in your purse where you would write down the date and location every day. But I suppose if it’s rainy you couldn’t see to write down your location before getting out of the car. How do you remember each day’s mnemonic? I think I would remember a whole bunch of them and have to search a couple of weeks’ worth of locations in the parking lot to find today’s. How about a banner attached to your radio antenna? Well, I guess whatever works for you is best.

  6. Pauline says:

    I don’t know where I’ve parked when I park. I have a rough idea, but I have to walk toward the building to be able to see what row I’m in and how far down. At that point it’s not very convenient to get out something to write with.

    I think remembering the day’s mnemonic is a feature of short term memory. Kind of like remembering what I had for breakfast today, but not yesterday or the day before. I used to wonder, growing up, how it is that we can usually wake up in the morning remembering what day it is.

    I knew, when I woke up today, that it was Thursday, even without having to sort out my memories of recent days to figure out that the most recent one I remembered was a Wednesday. (Though as I get older I don’t remember quite as easily.)

    I don’t always remember the mnemonic perfectly. For instances, today was either 26 Flag or 25 Flag, I’m not sure which. Or maybe even 24 Flag. As I walked toward the door, I was occupied thinking how I would explain on here why I was parked across from a flagpole instead of a truck bay (there are offices between bays 15 and 16), and I forgot to concentrate on the number. But I know I’m most of the way down the row opposite the flag, which is good enough.

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