Senior Moments

A long day of work. It’s 11:00 PM when I get home and switch on the lights. Hang up bag, hang up coat. Neglected chores are waiting for me. Dirty dishes piled up in the kitchen sink. A full hamper of clothes that have to put in the washer. Garbage and recycling that needs to be put out on the curb. Ok. First things first: feed the cats. They’re hungry, the poor things. Prince and Jessie are outdoor cats and they eat from a dish on the small stoop outside my kitchen. I take a can of wet food, pull off the cover, and open the kitchen door. “Come on babies! Dinner!”. And there are Prince and Jessie, but they aren’t anxious for food with the usual pacing, rubbing, and tails up in the air, behaving the way hungry cats usually behave. Instead, they’re sitting comfortably, licking their lips, doing the distinctive post-meal cat cleaning. Content. Totally happy and at ease. Huh? Wait. What’s going on here? . . . .  Then it hit me. Oh my god. These cats have eaten already. I must have fed them, five minutes ago apparently, but . . . but . . . I forgot?? No. How is that possible? Didn’t I just walk in the door? I have absolutely no recollection . . . so I stand there, on the stoop, with an open cat food can in my hand, and Prince and Jessie look up at me with wide-eyes, like they’re thinking “More food? Yeah!!”. No, no, no. I must be imagining things. Maybe the cats are just cleaning themselves? I need proof. If I fed the cats already there would be an empty can in the garbage, right? So I peer into the garbage and sure enough, there it was – the empty cat food can right on top. I am unsettled. As someone who can always see humor in things, I see no humor in the situation at all. I am, actually, a little frightened.

A day off from work. Errands to run. I had made a mental note days earlier to buy three needed items from the drugstore: light bulbs, pack of AAA batteries, and a tissue box for my bedroom. I’d been needing these things for weeks but kept forgetting to buy them. Today is the day. I go to Duane Reade and get them. I arrive home and put said items in their proper storage places. All done. All good. Finished. An hour later I notice that my jacket had fallen off the hook on the kitchen wall. I pick it up off the floor and discover a plastic bag underneath. Hmm. What is this? I crouch down, open the plastic bag and pull out the contents. My heart pounds harder at the sight of each one: light bulbs. AAA batteries. Tissue box. Oh my god. No. Please god. Not again. The receipt is in the bag and I take it out. It’s dated from four days earlier. What. The. Hell. I did it already??? But I . . . what??? When???

ConEdison bill is due. I procrastinated so long I let it go down to the wire. Shit! It’s due today! So I call to pay over the phone with my credit card. I connect with an agent. “Ms. Hajian, this bill was paid yesterday.” he says. I am silent for a few seconds. “Yesterday?” I ask, like a meek, confused little mouse. “Yes, ma’am.”. I am flummoxed. I wrack my brain trying to recall when the hell I called to pay that that bill. For the life of me, I can’t remember. Grrrr … grrr. So I begin the mental rundown. Ok, what did I do yesterday? I woke up. Made coffee. Answered emails. Cleaned the glass on my bathroom mirror and wiped the sink. Yes I remember doing that. Talked to my neighbor outside for a few minutes. Took a shower. Called my Mom. Got dressed. Watered my plants. Went to work in the mid-afternoon. Came home at 10. When . . . WHEN did I call ConEd and pay my heating bill? WHEN??????? Ugh. Oh my god. I can’t fucking remember ever, ever, ever doing it. I started crying. Not out of self-pity, but out of fear.

As you’ve no doubt noticed from this anguished post, I’m only experiencing this problem over mundane, petty things. No significant aspects of my life have been impacted by this short term memory loss problem I’m having. My modeling schedule is completely unaffected. I go to the right job at the right time, flawlessly. When I have to fulfill an obligation or appointment that involves another person, I don’t disappoint. It’s only when I’m alone and have to tend to minor daily tasks that this issue occurs.

Just so everyone knows, and since I have voluntarily shared these humiliations with all of you, I am not a potsmoker. The last time I used weed was over 15 years ago. I don’t use any drugs except alcohol. And occasionally cigarettes. There is some Alzheimer’s disease in my family lineage.

A big blank empty swathe occupies your mind where memory is supposed to be. Things occurred, for a fact, and yet they are wiped away. Things that just happened recently. And yet, I remember the clothes I was wearing on my first date with my ex-husband. That was 22 years ago. I remember every dashboard detail of my first car, a 1985 Oldsmobile Delta 88. I remember the tight perm curls of my 8th grade english teacher. I remember the pink skin and heaving, breathing chest of my niece, born a preemie, as she lay in an incubator in the neonatal intensive care unit at Mt. Sinai hospital. I remember my first kiss, my first visit to the Louvre Museum as a teenager, my first role in a school play (Bye Bye Birdie) and my first step onto a modeling platform. I remember these things vividly. What I can’t remember, apparently, is that I fed my cats five minutes ago 😦

But now, some minor activity takes place and then . . . :poof!: disappears. From my memory. Everything that happened before and after is intact. Just this one select daily item is erased. Randomly. Why the ConEd bill paying and not, say, my phone call to my mother? Or the plant watering? It cooks up a recipe of frustration, disorientation, insecurity, and confusion. I want, like everybody wants, a razor-sharp mind. I used to have one. Boy did I. Sharp like a saber. But now these empty gaps are slipping in. Over minor matters. And for some reason, they can really enrage you. And distress you. And make you feel  . . . far away.

I’m only 43 years old.

14 thoughts on “Senior Moments

  1. Mark says:

    You’ve been busy; you’re tired; you’re doing things on auto-pilot. It’t no big deal. Worry a little more when you start forgetting to feed the cats or pay the bill altogether. Even then, under the circumstances, it probably wouldn’t be a big deal, but doing things on auto-pilot and not remembering isn’t even a senior moment. Relax. You’re OK. (Deep breaths) 🙂

  2. You’re not alone in this – and I’m a few years younger! Particularly with routine things – I find myself standing holding my medicine somtimes trying to remember if I’ve taken it yet or I’m about to. Not good.

    But it sounds as if you have some lovely, cherished memories – here’s to you having more!

  3. Ron says:

    Sounds to me like you’re just overworked. They say that if you forget where your keys are, no big deal. If you forget who your family members are then you have something to worry about. Until that happens, you’re OK.

    Now excuse me while I find my keys.

  4. Dan Hawkins says:

    I wouldn’t worry about the mundane things that you do when you aren’t thinking about them. There have been many mornings when I’m in the shower and can’t remember if I’ve already washed my hair or not. So I’m sure that there have been quite a few times where my hair has gotten washed twice…

  5. Bill MacDonald says:

    I’m going to have to look up my last boss’s surname this morning, but I can remember Ted Wiliams’ batting average from 1958. And 1957. It happens to just about everybody, and we all get scared when we first notice it. So you rely more on “to-do” lists, try to simplify when you can, and use that wisdom that you’ve accumulated to help to compensate. And delegate some of those tasks to the cats — can’t they go to Duane Reade? 🙂

  6. Fred says:

    Too much work, or not enough sleep, will do that to you. Catching up on your sleep will go a long way to restoring mental presence and grounding. You’ll be OK!

  7. artmodel says:

    Thanks so much to all of you for these kind, empathetic comments. I loved every one of them. I am incredibly grateful for such sensitive, reassuring feedback. And smiles!

    Again, thanks everyone 🙂

    Claudia

  8. LK says:

    I’ve been going through the same thing past few years. I had no clue of the problem until my shrink told me I was suffering from multiple personality syndrome. : \

    Happy Valentine’s to you. No matter what the case, which I sincerely hope you do feel better, you’re a total angel.

    *LK*

  9. Jennifer says:

    Hope you’ll take some comfort from the fact that it happens to all of us and is often just the result of overwork and multi-tasking, though I can well imagine how disoriented and panicky it made you feel with such a run of ‘senior moments’. And also not pleasant to feel that overwork is having this effect on you, because you want to be able to work while it is available. I hope there have been no more incidents since you wrote and some R&R will soon come your way. Thinking of you.

    Jennifer

  10. Lisa B. says:

    I went through something similar when my doctor told me to take Advil for my tendinitis. My short term memory went completely out the window, followed shortly thereafter by the bottle of Advil. I’ve often wondered how many seniors are thought to be in various state of dementia because their doctors recommend this stuff for aches and pains. Just a thought…

  11. Bob Hicks says:

    As Fred said, you’re not getting enough rest. You need at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. Also, sleep deprivation takes time to overcome.

    Bob Hicks

  12. mwebi says:

    yeah, this happens when i’m stressed. My mind gets so used to worrying about things that even after I fix them I still try and do them. Or wake up in the middle of the night to do them. To be fair, if you don’t worry about the memory loss, it’s kinda nice when you sit back and realize things are done.

  13. violinhunter says:

    My dear young lady, you are a gifted writer.

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