David Jester: Amnesiac Moments Indistinct in a Fog of Memory

The problem isn’t that I am not listening, or tuning you out. But in the end, your words empty from my mind, like sand through a sieve.

I have always had a poor memory. As a child I learned strictly through repetition, and I spent countless hours beating multiplication tables, the order of the presidents, and Spanish verbs and nouns through my thick skull. Now, it’s not that I consider myself stupid, it is just how I learn. Because I know this, and am frequently affronted with the loss of memory as if a bout of amnesia took me over, I’ve learned to write inspiring moments and reminders for the future with an immediacy that borders on panicked urgency. I have found myself whipping my car off the road, barely tapping the brakes, as my wife and I speed down some remote highway in the wooded state of Maine. Barely a shoulder on these rural roads, our car straddles the line between gravel and pavement, teetering on the edge of a ditch. On that precipice of vehicular traffic, I frantically search for a piece of paper and pen to scribble my writer’s epiphany, as the jumbled words swirling chaotically through my head were released from the eddy, forming a coherent sentence, floating on a river of impermanence. Sitting there, in my car, I repeat the words allowed, a mantra of literary gold, a self induced trance of a verbose nature, as I pen the words onto whatever scrap of paper could be found. Sometimes a crumpled up receipt, sometimes my journal, I later find notes shoved into spots that I thought would be perfect for safe keeping, but instead become nothing more than trash at a quick gas stop.

I love the look on my wife’s face when the moment strikes as I become dumbfounded not responding to her, in fear that I will lose what I just gained. Her understanding of this phenomenon occurred somewhere on Route 3 outside of Bucksport, Maine. Jerking the wheel of my CR-V to the right, we found ourselves sitting in the parking lot of a vacant hardware store, the grass poking through the cracks in the pavement, like stubble on an old man’s beard. I leapt out of the car without explanation, muttering to myself, as I frantically pawed through my bag in the backseat, knowing my journal was wedged somewhere within. After that, she became a pro. I often wonder if this obsession with words and phrases is just me, or if others practice with the same zealotry that I do, frantic when I can’t find an instrument to write with, or a location to pen my words. Although I love the feel of pen to paper, chalk to board, graphite to sketch pad, I must concede to the ease of technology, as my hand cramps writing ten pages in script with my black ink pen. I was always a ‘write first, type later’ guy. But you know the story–technology.

I was always anti-cell phone. In fact, I was the last to get one amongst all my friends and acquaintances. I am not a Luddite, but do not like how technology is ruling our lives. I can forget my cell phone and not panic, and do it quite frequently. But, since I upgraded from a flip phone to smart phone, my life has been so much easier, because while traveling down interstates and highways, I no longer have to pull over and write; all I have to do is speak. Voice recordings, small soundbites and snippets of thought disjointed from the plot and narrative, float around my phone in a list of thirty different driving moments. That I have never revisited these, I am not sure what that tells, but either way, whatever brilliant moment I felt I needed to capture at that time is waiting on my phone for me to someday listen to and apply to some larger narrative. And then there is the notes list.

Due to the fickle nature of my mind, the impermanence of my memory, the amnesiac essence of my life, when I am not driving, I use the notes section on my phone. I wish knew what the context was when I wrote these notes to myself. So like walking through a fog, I search for the vague shapes through my memory, hoping that the note will stimulate a recollection of why. As I am perplexed about my own notes, I will share a few with you. Here is my list of scatterbrained thoughts.

1.) Turn Spit Dog

2.) Dysfunctional

3.) Magnecite. Floor.

4.) The hill side patches

5.) Thunder Road, Fireball Island

6.) Russian Arc

7.) Damned Romance

8.) Take these broken dreams  (Apparently I was listening to Mister Mister that day)

9.) Siena Sonoma Valley Red

10.) Raw, gritty, unfettered

11.) Anthropodermic Bliblopegy; It tastes like poop smells (look it up, its a thing)

12.) Sunburst Chinese Witch Hazel

13.) But a cat is not human, there is no ceremony in death…

And, my favorite.

14.) All that was left was a foot and a scream.

I have weeded through my list overtime, figuring out some and purely baffled by others. These, for some reason, I cannot figure out, so I leave them in my phone. As I began to write this, a few explanations have popped into my mind as to why I had jotted down these notes in the first place. Maybe I just need to write about them more to glean into their meaning. Anyway, as my mind ejects other information, and takes in the new, it is a crapshoot on what stays and what goes. Because of the capricious nature of my mind, I will continue writing notes only to forget them later, baffled by the strange innocuous statements which linger on my phone. And now I have Mister Mister stuck in my head.


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  1. I think what I enjoyed most about this article is that I could have written it. I don’t know what wicked God of the Road is responsible for popping my best ideas into my head while driving, but just once it would be nice to have that same inspiration hit me when I’m NOT hurtling down the road at breakneck speed. I too have adopted technology and started using a small digital recorder to note my ideas for a time when I can actually write them out in full. My list is not quite as cryptic as yours, but the majority of my verbal notes usually have little to no meaning for me upon playback (three weeks later). Great piece. Thanks for letting the rest of us know that we are not alone.

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