Forgetfulness sign of brain overload

By Helena Rodriguez: Local columnist

What kind of a child forgets their own parents’ wedding anniversary? A self-centered, ungrateful, spoiled brat, right? Or in my case, a normally organized and occasionally thoughtful daughter suffering from brain overload.

Yes, I’m guilty as charged. Line me up before the firing squad. But I have a perfectly justifiable defense. Brain overload. Not Alzheimer’s. Not old age. I’m not even 40 yet. It was a severe case of brain overload.

I was caught up in a project that apparently used up all of the memory space in my brain. I wish I had an “empty trash” button I could click inside of my brain or a file I could access to increase the number of megabytes in my RAM space, which by the way, stands for Random Access Memory. But of course, it would know which random memories you need to access for each particular situation.

My mom and dad celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary on Monday, a significant event in my life, because, well, I wouldn’t be here today had this union never taken place. But I was completely oblivious to this significant occasion because I was wrapped up in my own world. I hadn’t bothered to look at the calendar on that particular day and was busy preparing for a presentation for my class the next day.

After I finished, I was helping my daughter Laura with her English homework, and then my cell phone rang about 8:30 p.m. It was Dad.

“Did you forget something today?” Dad calmly asked.

I immediately felt a sense of panic as thoughts started racing through my mind. I couldn’t think of anything. “What was I supposed to do?” I hesitantly asked.
“Do you remember what today is?” Dad pressed on.

And I’m thinking in my mind, “It’s Monday!” But then it finally registers in my head, “Oh my God, today’s your anniversary! I can’t believe I completely forgot!”

Dad laughed it off, but I felt awful. I knew why Dad called. He must have been worried because normally I’m the one reminding my sisters about these special occasions. I’m the one asking what we’re going to do to mark the event, but this time, I completely spaced out.

“All of the girls called today,” Dad said, referring to my four sisters. “Even Uncle Billy called,” Dad said.

That last one really made me feel bad. Even Uncle Billy, who lives in Dallas, remembered.

So after apologizing profoundly, I wished Mom and Dad a happy anniversary and Mom asks, “So what were you busy doing?”

I tell her about my class presentation and about how I was helping Laura with her essay. Lame excuses. Then I start thinking about how I’ve been so absent-minded lately, usually about little things. I’ll ask Laura if she has homework or money for lunch and she’ll answer. But sometimes, not even a minute later, I’ll ask her again, and Laura, in her teenage, eye-rolling kind of way, will snap, “Mom, you just asked me that!”

So then I have this internal conversation with myself, “I’m not losing my mind. It’s not Alzheimer’s. It’s brain overload!”

I’ve been studying for my comprehensive and oral exams in November, a final requirement to complete my master of arts degree, and I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do with my life after that: Apply to a Ph.D. program in communication, find a job, get another master’s in English, write a book, join the circus, shoot myself …

Is this a good reason to forget your parents’ anniversary though. No … unless you’re suffering from brain overload. Here are some warning messages that may blink in front of your eyes: Not enough memory to access this Web site, preparing to shut down, check batteries, access to this area has been denied, a password is required to enter this secure area, call your service provider, add more memory, this page is temporarily down or under construction, check back later.

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: