Friday, April 01, 2005


Have you ever thought about how much valuable space is taken up in your brain by things you have memorized? Have you ever (recently) played a game of Mario Brothers only to realize you still remember where all of the stupid "hidden" brick-thingies are? Or the short cuts?

I was teaching complete and incomplete sentences back in the fall and trying to explain helping verbs to my kids, something they are no longer required to memorize, and I quickly rattled them off for the kids from my seventh grade memory: am is are was were be been being has have had do does did may might must shall should will would can could. Boy, were they impressed!

"Do it again!" they cheered. Being the Supreme Dork that I am, I proudly recited them again and was immediately spurred into another memorized memory.

"Want to hear the Declaration of Independence?" I geeked. The nodded enthusiastically as only fourth graders can. I really teach fourth grade because I can be nerdrocious and they still think I'm fabulous.

I took a breath, "We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers...." That's actually all I remember, but they didn't know the difference and they happily had me off track.

That's when I turbo-dweebed. In front of people. Thank goodness those people were only ten. "Listen to this! I had to learn this in college," I gushed.
"Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour
Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of engelond to caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke."

Now, let's be honest, I have no idea how to spell all those words, I had to go copy that off the Internet, but I really do still have it memorized. It was a ridiculous tradition at my college that you had to memorize that part of the prologue to the Canterbury Tales to pass British Authors, which we all did. I, unfortunately, had the professor who was actually British and expected perfect British intonation with our recitation. I got a C+ for my accent and an A for my memorization.

I can still tell you every phone number and address I have ever had (kind of a lot). I have all of my credit card and account numbers memorized. I won't even start on the massive volume of camp songs I could sing you. I have passwords and screennames out the ying yang stored up there.

So my point is this: imagine what my brain could really do if it wasn't clogged up with such random, memorized, useless information! I could solve all the world's problems! End hunger and strife! Stop violence and disease! Or at the very least I could remember what time my TV shows come on.

No comments: