What is memory when it’s not necessary?

Since I’m dead in the water (also known as sleep on the couch) right after my back-to-back-to-back news source (The Daily Show, Colbert Report and Rachel Maddow), the three shows provide me with the combination of comedy and news that I need for a balanced brain. Just recently Colbert gave me some food for thought during his “The Word” segment. The topic was transactive memory or “a system through which groups collectively encode, store and retrieve knowledge.” This is a great idea for someone like me who has a memory like a sieve. Seriously, I forgot the word campaign the other day, who does that?

Back on topic now, Colbert then brought up the idea of memory in the age of Google, based on a report from Betsy Sparrow, which showed that people are increasingly relying on technology for their memories. Well lo and behold, as I was picking up books for graduate school (one week and counting!) I saw this book on the discount table.

Can you believe I only paid 50 cents for this? I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn from the book on here. I love the reference to an awesome sci-fi, futuristic movie, which itself is based on the amazing Philip K. Dick story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.”

So if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to curl up with a good book.

Push (Compel) and Pull (Impulse)

The other day, as I slowly delighted in half of a homemade brownie, I immediately fought with my inner desire not to get the other half. I distracted myself with work and then began to think about impulse control and the lack of it. I managed to quash the “need” for baked goodie and started looking into the science of why it’s so hard to stop at just one chip, cookie, kiss, etc.

Apparently, impulse control is influenced by an imbalance in serotonin levels, which also affects anxiety, depression and panic. I’ve always thought it as more mind over matter and self-discipline but then again that’s why I’m not a scientist. I can almost get it. You know that ping you get when you walk down the snack aisle and you want to sweep your arm across the entire Lay’s display. You feel like you know better but there is a larger part of you that is charging you forward to the undue behavior.

At the opposite end, instead of trying to not do something, I often find myself struggling to find the compulsion to do things. Must-do items like write and exercise, things of that sort. Now that I no longer have the luxury of work-sponsored gym membership or apartment amenities, I joined the nearby 24 Hour Fitness. I know exercise is good for you and all that jazz, but I truly find balance when I’m active and physically expending my frustrations.

So the note I keep in my head: don’t be so hard on your impulses, even if they do involve cupcakes, and compel yourself to three times a week in the gym, especially when you’re paying for it!

About making it happen for yourself

I’ve been sitting on the suggestion from my mom for a few weeks: start a blog. For years, she’s been telling me that my sister and I should blog based on our conversations alone. Over the four years since my older sibling has been in London, living the life of a blipster ex-pat married to a lovely Brummie, and I’ve been out of school working full time, we’ve had what we lovingly call the “Bat Cave.” In reality, it’s Gmail chat, who is a moody wench sometimes (depending upon our topic of conversation). These hours-long discussions of literature, culture, fashion, t-shirt ideas, love and loss and all things Kanye have been a lifeline for both of us. Although we weren’t close growing up, (despite our mom’s many calls down the hallway at our rumblings that “you only have one sister!”) we have created a bond that sustains us through twice-a-year (thrice in the good years) visits on one side of the pond or the other. However, I know that if I shared a Roni-and-Leisa only blog with people, it would be met with raised eyebrows and mutters of “How many 80s movies are they going to reference?” So that idea was vetoed.

After a recent heart-to-heart with my mom, she gave me advice that I’m sure I’d heard before but somehow came through my fog and funk louder than usual: “Make your own opportunities, because no one is going to hand you anything.” It is so true, especially in these times, that making something out of nothing, a dollar out of 15 cents if you will, is the way of the world. Jobs are harder to come and my prediction that the bachelor degree is going the way of the high school diploma in terms of must-have-to-be-considered status has come true. I made an agreement with myself about two years ago: new job or grad school. At the same time that I wrote essays and requested transcripts, I placed resumes and hit up contacts. In April 2010, I came to the job I have now and put grad school on the back burner, knowing that desire would come back. Lo and behold, I applied for school in January of 2011 and decided upon University of Texas at Arlington.

But I still feel the need for a challenge. So my mom’s advice to create my own wind behind my sails manifested itself in the idea to start a blog. I don’t consider myself the best writer in the world but I enjoy people’s stories. It’s why I studied communications; it’s why I enjoy working at an association. And I hope it is what keeps me going as I continue to share on here. And so ends my first post!