Recall vs. Recognition

Someone sent me an email the other day with one of those 20 question memory tests.  Put your score in the subject line and pass it on.  Get your pencil and paper ready and don’t cheat by scrolling to the bottom for the answers. Ready, begin.

I got 19 out of 20.  As I finished I realized that the only reason I did that well was because it was a multiple choice. This test was based more on recognition of the correct answer than recalling a fact.  Of course that didn’t stop me from trying to figure out the answer before seeing the choices. What we do to ourselves…

So that’s how it works…you can actually stop feeling like you’re about to lose your mind simply because your file cabinet of a brain is stuffed with everything you’ve ever seen, heard and learned.  I mean, in your entire life.

I worry about my brain more these days then I did, say, ten years ago.  I find myself forgetting things much more often.  I keep telling myself not to worry about Alzheimer’s until I can’t figure out what to do with the keys instead of just where they are.  I’m also starting to recognize (there’s that word again) that most of what I misplace is due not to aging but to not paying attention.  I’m simply trying to do too much at one time and something gets left behind (literally).

I notice there are fewer people my age at work these days.  They seem to be around the late thirty to early forty ages with an uncanny ability to recall all things they’ve ever seen, heard, and learned.  They are also incredibly tech savvy (which I am not) so going forward I wonder if they will have brains filled with as much as people my age.  Will they be rewired to avoid storing anything? Will they know full well that they can summon up any bit of information they need within seconds for immediate use?

Or will they find themselves doing the same double game test of trying to recall the answer before the choices appear? 


Jasper’s Legacy

Jasper and Shawn I’ve just received an email from a friend in pain.  He’s poured his heart out in this email over the loss of his best friend Jasper.  There are many of you that are reading this and remembering best friends that you’ve known and loved.  There are others that will never understand the magnitude of that love and that saddens me.  I’m not sure that my friend understands the magnitude of Jasper’s legacy.

First let me say that Jasper’s appearance into Shawn’s life was a destiny beyond the universe.  I’m sure, although I don’t know with any certainty, that had he not found that dirty street dog my life would be much different.   Shawn is a dog trainer.  I call him my friend despite the fact that I’ve only seen him an hour and half at a time for all of three times.  I believe he calls me friend too. 

I adopted two little girls from a woman in Arkansas who found them as two dirty street dogs and took them under her wing.  The girls were destined to live with me by the sheer ease with which they made their way to Stowe Lane where I live.  But once they got here all manner of ease was gone.  I was in a state of change I couldn’t even begin to know.  The girls were in a state of change they couldn’t begin to know either.  A perfect storm.  I loved them the minute I met them and they me but everyone else was kept at arm’s length, literally.  Slowly, I began to isolate myself again.  The very thing I ran from was happening again and I had to stop it. 

Enter Shawn.  Jasper had trained him well.  He enters a home with a grace and presence that only a street dog can teach a man.  His energy has been learned from a teacher like Jasper.  Lina, my fearful Staffordshire terrier mix, who usually peed at anyone’s mere presence, fell in behind Shawn and relaxed.  Toto, my Wire Haired Terrier mix quickly relinquished her protectiveness for Shawn’s rules.  As did I.  Slowly, I came to believe that I was in control.  That I could love these girls within the boundaries that would keep us all safe and give us the life we deserved.   We walk all over our neighborhood now; we are not afraid but confident.  We have rules and understanding.  We have each other for the rest of our lives.

Jasper’s message to Shawn has been learned by most of us who’ve become his friend.  I do my best for my girls every day and they reward me with the same love and loyalty that Jasper and Shawn have shown each other. 

I have lost dogs in my lifetime and, with the exception of one, I have been by their sides when they have crossed that same bridge.  There is no greater sense of loss one could ever feel.  I also know that what we do when we let our friends go is more humane and selfless than you can ever know.  I can only hope that someone will love me enough to do that for me one day when I have surpassed my ability to enjoy life.  But through that pain we become who we are meant to be, we learn our strength and pass it on to the next.  All these experiences give us the capacity to love and care for the next best friends that come into our lives.   And indeed they will come into our lives.

I hope Shawn will feel his pain all the way through so that he can come out the other side with even more love in his heart.   As for Jasper, he joins my Toby, Pearl and beloved Murphy.  Very good company for sharing a double cheeseburger.  You remain in our hearts and prayers.

With love San, Lina and Toto too!

Donations in Jasper’s name should be made to


How wonderful is it that my mother and my sister have a race every year to be the first one to call and wish me a happy birthday?  It’s a fine line they walk, trying to time it so that it is early  enough to be the winner  but not too early that they wake me up and well you know how that can go.  My sister thought she had it aced with her new found love of texting; but no it was my mother that won (by one minute) with a good old fashioned phone call.  We laughed pretty hard when I announced “you win” without even saying hello. That’s my idea of starting the day off right.

I had a day of texts, emails, cards and phone calls from friends, colleagues, dealers, and passersby.  My niece Kate, my Summer Sister, my ex husband, my ex boss, Sandi singing from Arizona, I know Sandra’s out there somewhere,  my friend Ev who was home sick but got up to call for my birthday and then go back to bed, my friend Barb bringing cards and flowers and a cookie.  The enormous bouquet from Terri and Ken and the promise of Bang Bang Shrimp at Bone Fish Grill in the near future.  The teasing from Jimmy C, the breakfast rescheduled due to the snow, and a free cup of latte from Starbucks.

You would think it couldn’t get any better but home I went to a bouquet of hydrangea and tulips on my dining room table, the dogs already walked and an invitation to dinner at the Aunt Ms house.  Salad with all my favorite ingredients, homemade pizza, that is out of this world, and pistachio cake.  A total fat ass meal as Muriel would say.  Add to that; balloons, my favorite wine and gifts and my day is beyond complete.

There are those people who don’t want to even acknowledge their birthday but I am not one of them.  It’s true I don’t want anyone to spend money on me but to bask in the love of my family and friends is warm and rejuvenating.  It keeps me young and fills me with gratitude.  

With love to you all til next year…