Old Fashioned Slang, Words and Phrases
INTERESTING STUFF – 24 October 2015

MENTAL DOODLES: Memory, The Line and Mystery

EDITORIAL NOTE: Since sometime in 2003 when I first began thinking about creating this blog, I have kept a notebook, a journals if you will or maybe it is what used to be called a commonplace book - now a collection of many.

These are where I make notes and lists, write down thoughts and notions and questions, paste clippings, copy quotations and ruminate on ageing in general, for myself and for possible blog posts.

It is a way of not losing what often are no more than little wisps of ideas to think about later. Eventually, you get to read some of this stuff but there is much, much more that never gets beyond my initial jottings.

For several months I've been thinking that some of this material might be worthy of your consideration but sometimes ideas don't become real until they have a name.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, “Mental Doodles” popped into my mind. I like it. And so, now and then I'll write a Mental Doodles column wherein I drop two or three scribbles from my commonplace book on you and you can make of them what you will.

Here goes. See what you think.

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UNRELIABLE MEMORY: Most old people complain about unreliable memories although it's generally not important stuff we forget, just misplaced keys or something similar. Irritating, for sure, but now I have identified an advantage.

I can rewatch television shows and movies and enjoy them as much as the first time because I can't remember whodunit. This happens most frequently with favorite TV shows such as (recently) The Good Wife and NCIS. Sometimes I don't notice until halfway through the show that I'm watching a repeat.

Just so you know, this is not the same thing as watching favorite old movies and knowing not only what happens next but exactly what the dialogue is - The Third Man in my case. That is a different kind of pleasure.

CROSSING “THE LINE”: You never know when it's going to happen to you and no one can put a date on it for you because we grow old in appearance (and other ways too) at different rates.

But the day arrives for each of us - unpredicted, unplanned but inevitably - when you step across an invisible line and from that moment forward, anyone can take away your adult privileges.

They will fire you from your job or not hire you. Because you are now old. They will assume you can't hear well just because your face is wrinkled and shout at you. They will say demeaning things to you like, “And how are we today, young lady?” Because you are old.

Politicians will regularly try to take away the benefits you have earned. Because you are old. And so much more you won't like. Because you stepped across that invisible line and now you are old.

THE MYSTERY OF OLD AGE: Being healthy. Only minor afflictions, mostly ignorable. What will go wrong? How bad will it be? Will I be able to handle it? What am I supposed to do to prepare?

Maybe nothing goes wrong and I just quietly die one day. Since there is no way to know, does that mean I'm wasting my time wondering about these things?


I don't think we know the moment we have "crossed the line," rather something happens or something is said and we realize that in others eyes/experience we have crossed the line. It brings us up short when we confront the reality that we have crossed the line.

That experience of being stunned by the reality of how others see us (old) can happen more than once and in different settings or with different groups of people. It might happen with co-workers, employers, friends, and children. it can be painful, a rude awakening, each time it happens.

We are no less able--no less capable than we were the day before or the moment before...and yet we are diminished in the sight of those we respect and love.

Ronni, given what I want to respond to this morning on your blog, I am so glad that I am the only one that ever reads your blog.

You see, admittedly I watch a lot of those "judge" shows. Yep, I really do. But what is quite strange about it is when they start their reruns I can watch all those shows yet again only a couple of months or so later and maybe one of the plaintiffs or defendants will look a little familiar but other than that I never remember how the case turned out the first time I watched it. It has really bugged me that I don't remember them.

"but now I have identified an advantage. I can rewatch television shows and movies and enjoy them as much as the first time because I can't remember whodunit. - See more at: ">http://www.timegoesby.net/weblog/#sthash.GAQFeOh4.dpuf"

Yes indeedy

Regarding memory: I cannot quickly recall things like names of movie actors, or what the name of the movie they were in was, or the name of someone I used to work with, or the name of an acquaintance's husband/wife, etc. I have never been good with names, but now my retrieval system is slower. I blame it on the fact that my brain is so filled with knowledge that it takes longer to find that one little piece!

I love The Third Man. My mother said she hated reaching 80 because for the first time she felt old. At 68, I hope I reach 80.

Great blog today. Hope NCIS never goes off the air. The reruns are great. BTW, I think I've already managed to step over that line a couple of times.........just sayin'. :) Dee

And favorite old books. I choose them for my current needs. Right now, under a lot of stress, its Louise Penney's "three pines" series. enough plot to be an escape, but not too grizzly.

Crossing the Line: That happened some time ago for me. I started encountering patronizing comments and questions about "access to a computer." Interestingly, my husband The Engineer who's two years older than I is treated that way far less often than I am.

In terms of the mysteries of old age, I'm at an advantage because I studied zoology in college. That's an enormous help in managing Type 2 diabetes, for example, because I get that the problem is not that it's a chronic condition--but that it's progressive if not managed well. Almost all of the information out there about health-care costs ignores that essential fact.

@Jean You have it exactly right. Your retrieval system is slower because your brain is filled with decades of accumulated knowledge. I call this the Rolodex Theory of Recall, and there's some scientific evidence that it occurs and is nothing to worry about.

I just remarked to my husband yesterday that I am always astonished when people treat me as though I am old...I noticed it in the grocery store, and it has happened more than once lately. It might be a benign kind word, or an offer of help. I am 68...not old, to me...my parents are living and 91 :) I decided that I will just enjoy it. Inside I feel the same...but sometimes I am surprised when I glance in the mirror and notice someone with white hair! Also, we enjoy watching "Castle"--lots of humor while solving the mystery. He's a novel writer, and she's an NYPD policewoman. Reruns are just as fun the second time...

I like the whole idea of your Mental Doodles!

And now I will have the theme music from the "The Third Man" running through my head all day! Oh, well, I always did like odd and eerie sound of the zither in this one.

By the way, my standard response to the 'young lady' thing is -- "I am obviously not young and the appellation 'lady' has always been in doubt!" That usually leaves them groping for words !!

"Maybe nothing goes wrong and I just quietly die one day."

We should be so lucky to just quietly die one day! I've had some really intense health problems lately and I can't count the number of times in the past few weeks when I thought, momentarily, that I might die during the night. Not a worrying thought, just calm acceptance. Nope, it didn't happen. But at least now I know that I'm not afraid of death. What I am afraid of is the possibility of being in a hospital and not being able to leave. Being completely at the "mercy" of others and not in charge of my own destiny -- that scares the heck outta me. Dying at home in bed, quietly, actually is a comforting thought.

My first inkling that I was "old" came at age 35 when I realized that I could no longer join the police force if I couldn't find any other job, 35 being the cut-off age. I won't say that everything else since was a downhill ride, but it was a wake-up call that there are no fall-backs for life.

I used to keep a journal, but an attorney once advised me not to put anything in writing that could ever be used against me. So I stopped writing down my innermost thoughts, good or bad. Well, to hell with that! Nowadays, when nothing is private anymore, I think I'll start a "commonplace book" just so I can look back once in a while. Even Facebook lets you go back on your "timeline" to see what you were thinking about a year ago...

Chatty today, aren't I?!

My son-in-law's mother has memory problems: the TV show she most enjoys is I love Lucy. Watching with her has helped me connect better with her - and enjoy Lucy's humour.

Following your heading The Mystery of Old Age, you ask, among other things, What am I supposed to do to prepare ?
That's followed by your wondering if you're wasting time wondering about such things.

Uh, yes, off the cuff, I'd say....perhaps !! I surely had no way to prepare for the shock of two broken hips within five years, A-fib, double vision following cataract surgery, with elderly balance problems now compounded by heavy, clumsy eyeglasses holding "prisms".

Thanks goodness we can only do so much in preparation for the future. The rest we make up as we go along. Someone told me years ago that the crystal ball went to the shop for repairs, never to return.

Unreliable Memory: Great to cite when asked to perform in unpleasant task. "Darn, I try and try but just can't remember how to do that." A related advantage of being an elder facing a distasteful chore: "Oh, I'm not strong enough any more to do that."

Neither excuse should be used when asked to scoop up some ice cream for yourself and guests.

Like your "Mental Doodles" concept.

I really love the "Mental Doodles". This is a great thing you are doing in sharing them with us. I will look forward to more. These are all things that come to mind enough to be really important and shared I think. Thank-you for that. It is like a collage of sorts. I love variety as I have trouble staying on one subject for too long.

The "I am old" just dawned on me in the last few months. Before that it just seemed like something coming soon. Now I am old and I am getting some of the poor treatment that people in public places give elders. I hate being yelled at now as if my hearing went out, and I hate being called honey when I am acknowledged at all. Oh and I am definitely invisible now having had several people talk to other people about me as if I am not there.

For months after reaching my seniority, I avoided taking advantage of "Senior Discounts" at movies, transportation and amusements. One day, while on a visit to the Bronx zoo, I noticed that there was a nearly $6 savings on admissions for seniors 65+. I stepped up to the ticket booth and said "ONE SENIOR PLEASE". The young girl behind the counter didn't bat an eyelash, she didn't ask to see any proof of my age, she just handed over the ticket. That's when I knew I was old.

Yes, Mental Doodles is a keeper. I will be watching for more.

As for watching reruns ... oh my, oh my! Probably 60% of my TV watching are old shows. Currently I am watching "Diagnosis Murder" daily. Recently I started watching "Golden Girls" at 7am -8am... I try to start my day with laughter and music.

My favorite show that I have watched over and over, but forget how it ends in the original "Law & Order".

In case anyone thinks I don't do anything but watch TV... being home most of time, our TV is turn on in the morning, off at bedtime. It's mainly background effect.

Great post Ronni. Memory: I'm re-watching (for the 3rd or 4th time) "West Wing." I am surprised I remember so much of it, but a lot is brand new. Makes me sad too as so little has seemed to have changed, the stories are quite current. I find myself re-reading books half way through before catching on its a re-read. Disturbing. Pride goeth, I just am not as smart as I used to be.

Crossing the line: I realized I'd passed over a line when my granddaughters started saying they wished I wasn't old (a teen) and my 8-year-old grand started looking at me (after losing a great-grandmother) and saying "Are you going to die?" That was set off a series of conversations for she and I. The real line in the sand was when I realized that except for my sweet little 91 year old aunt, I am at 73 the eldest in my family. Only one of my sisters is old enough to share memories with me of what our lives were like as little girls in a world that simply does not exist any longer. My other two sisters are 10 and 20 years younger than I. In spite of my glasses, limps, wheezes, and flaws, I've bumped being old up to 80, or is that old-old compared to young-old?

The last time someone called me "young lady" I told him I hoped he wasn't driving home because he was clearly blind as a bat.

The mystery of old age: I really hope I will not die in pain or linger long. I don't think about it much. I suppose if something critical comes up that might change. My living will has been in place for over 10 years and my kids seem to share my minimalist views on extraordinary care and letting go. I am glad to see assisted suicide become available. I don't quite see me using it but I can see knowing the choice is there might make life more bearable. And, you never know. I see my end of life work as forgiving myself for idiot actions and forgiving others. Haven't quite made it yet but it's nice to have a hobby. ;-)

I can no longer remember when I first recognized that I was old. Like my deteriorating body, it was a gradual acceptance. as I had to give up one pleasure after another and I think it started when I thought I was walking fast and people were whizzing by me like they were on roller skates.

Now there is no question in my mind or in the minds of my acquaintances that I am old. Some days I feel older than other days, but I never never feel young any more.

There is no point in worrying or giving thought to something we have no control over and there is no way to prepare for death. Like everyone else, I hope I just go to sleep one night and not wake up, but that isn't a realistic scenario. I hope I will accept the fact that I am ready and I have lived so much longer than anticipated that I am one lucky duck.

I think the reason for condescending attitudes towards the old is dread. Dread of getting old themselves and dying. It's all about the dying and the non existence that brings. Our youth oriented culture is to put off the inevitable. In Asian cultures where age is revered with wisdom and respect and religious views aren't of the "fire and brimstone" genre, the treatment is much different and people are freer to age gracefully and with peace of mind.

That "line" that is being crossed is in the mind of others. It is how they see someone. A clerk in the grocery store may look at me and automatically categorize me as "old", but another person down the street may not.

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