Thursday, July 08, 2010

How my brain ties events together

I missed the very last final exam of my college career.

Isn't that every college student's nightmare? You cram all night, then arrive at the exam hall at the testing hour to find it deserted? But, I didn't wake up in a sweat, screaming; it actually happened.

The fact that I missed the event has everything to do with how I schedule things, with my particular way of stringing my plans to each other. I might loosely pin an event to a Thursday, but it also is stuck to other events, like "after I pick up the dry cleaning" or "before my dance class." Sometimes I might say "tomorrow" to someone, actually meaning "the next time I see you."

What happened on the day of my "Literature of the 1600s, The Awesome and the Sublime" (a class that I adored!) exam was several weeks in the making. I knew the day and time of the exam, of course, and along the way, my parents told me that they were arriving that same morning to pack up and drive me home after graduation. So, in my head, I roped those two events together tightly: i.e. my-exam-is-on-the-same-day-my-parents-arrive. However, in the weeks before said day, while I was in the midst of the other exams and projects and papers leading up to the final days of my senior year, my parents switched their arrival date. To the next day.

Can you understand what happened? I didn't see the repercussions, I just stormed ahead, with my little threads of planned events all strung together, bobbing along ahead of me, without looking at a calendar. My parents arrived. At 3 p.m. that day, I went to the exam hall. All that late afternoon, I attempted to get in touch with my professor and finally found her home number in the white pages. She and I were both distraught about my absence at the final until I remembered that I had taken her class—which was far, far outside my major—pass/fail. Her response, "Pass/Fail? Oh, OH! OF COURSE you passed!!" If I had taken the class and exam with standard grading, I would have had an A. I graduated, with one credit to spare.

This anecdote is an illustration of how I process schedules to this day. Yesterday, for example. I had a full schedule at work, and was planning to meet friends at the end of the day. The happy hour was cancelled, but I had strung the rest of my day to that event. Forging ahead, I decided to cut that thread, and tie on my usual Wednesday plan: go to the gym. I also had to collect Rosie and take her to a recently rescheduled swim lesson immediately after my gym session. Knot.

What did I forget? I had invited my dear husband, Monkeyrotica, to the happy hour and had arranged for my mom to watch the kids while we socialized. He and my mom bumped into each other at kid-pickup, while I was at a secure gov't customer meeting with my phone off. Hilarity (and many apologies) ensued.

Is this peculiar to anyone else? Is it a symptom of a right-brain thinker? Or am I unique?


  1. Your dad was disappointed that the kids did not come over after 6 p.m. Rosie hugged me and told me-- after I will go to your house. I had Dash's robot friend in the car ready to greet him. No biggie. I just hung out with Rosie until dance class. Mrs. H never noticed that the article in the Mt Vernon Gazette said-- girls, girls ... She was happy the recital was in the gazette. Maybe you shd make a sticky note to yourself and put it in your purse.

  2. Holy crappola. I think if I had missed something as important as an exam with this method I would have made sure to change it. You need an electronic organizer to keep track of your appointments and remind you when something's coming up. Take advantage of the technology is my motto


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