New Thing #143: Forgetting Dates

May_23Today is May 23rd. I know there's something important about the date.

It could be that on May 23, 1999 I graduated Boston University.

It could be that on May 23, 2005 I graduated Lesley University as a graduate student.

It could be that one - or both - of those events happened on May 19th, and neither happened on this day.

But the reason I bring this up is that my mind used to be a steel trap for information like which day I graduated college.

Nowadays - it's more like one of those cartoon nets that catch lions, when they spring up into the treetops from the ground.

It has a lot of holes.

May 22nd is one of my favorite days: I have a friend who shares that birthday with his wife. They're the only people I know where that's the case - husband and wife sharing a birthday. (Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are the only other two I know of in this category. But I don't know them know them.)

Usually I'll shoot him a text early in the day to wish him a happy birthday. Yesterday? It wasn't until I saw a note on Facebook that I remembered.

And Facebook is part of the problem. It used to be that it was a mark of pride that I remembered birthdays. I think it's because growing up my mom always had people's birthdays on the calendar, and that's a practice I've continued into adulthood. But the problem with Facebook is that now, there's no reason to write down people's birthdays - it reminds you whenever someone's birthday happens. My own personal protest has been to ignore that tool - it's out of spite, I know that. And I've suffered because of it - because I'm caught in between new technology and an old school strategy that is failing me these days.

Because I don't think Facebook is entirely to blame. I think I'm storing more important information in my brain and trivia like dates are getting squeezed out. I still remember April 8th (Gary Carter's birthday), October 25th and 27th (Games 6 and 7 of the 1986 World Series), June 14th (Flag Day, and the day the Rangers won the Cup in 1994), and the birthdays of my wife and family. (My middle daughter is a little tricky. The doctors promised us as my wife labored that she would arrive on 9/18...but she just wouldn't come out and was actually born after midnight on 9/19. So I struggle to remember her actual day. It's not automatic, in other words.) So I remember those dates, but other dates are getting squeezed out by information about work, my daughters, and other things that are at the top of my priority list these days.

And, I hate to admit this - I'm getting older. Sometimes I feel it physically, but sometimes it manifests itself in other ways.

I was texting with a friend recently and we were both watching the Red Sox on TV. I asked him if he noticed that each year NESN's score bug in the top left corner of the screen gets harder and harder to read. Why are they making it smaller? I asked. He replied that it's possible it's poor design by them...but it's also more likely that our eyes are getting worse and worse as we get older.

And I sometimes think my memory is going the same way. And I pride myself on remembering. So I work hard to keep that brain of mine sharp. I do crosswords. I keep myself busy with trivial little things like '365 New Things In 2013.'

I bet you were worried if you logged on early this morning and saw there wasn't a New Thing waiting for you when you woke up. I do my best to have these written and ready to go the night before. Sometimes I just get too busy.

But there's no reason to worry all that much.

It's not like I forgot.