Tag Archives: memory

first impressions

I’ve got a business meeting this week with someone I’ve never met before but who could be hugely important, and yet again my social awkwardness has arrived to trip me up at the most inopportune time. I’ve spent years reading studies on human behavioural interaction to try and understand what seems to come naturally to other people, the kind of subconscious social cues that I feel I should have learnt by immersion rather than second hand.

I think it’s nerves more than anything make me second guess my behaviour now.

I remember being so conscious of everything I did or said when I had to talk to people in my teens – don’t fidget, don’t cross your arms, speak slowly and clearly, don’t avoid eye contact but don’t stare, mirror the person you’re speaking to but not too obviously, discuss the weather because it’s an inoffensive topic and not because you have any particular meteorological feelings, don’t tell people they’re stupid just because it takes them 3 times longer to reach your conclusion – but in the last few years much of that has become automatic.

I forget sometimes, when I’m around the people I’m used to, and then that uncertainty sneaks up on me out of nowhere. It can still sometimes seem like a lot all at once, trying to remember all the social cues as well as keeping up the flow of conversation. It’s become a lot easier to manage in recent years, and I think that is mainly down to my acceptance of it. With age comes perspective, and I realise now that stuttering through the odd sentence or forgetting the odd word or even having to explain something that seems remarkably simple to me (but not to the entire rest of the world, it seems) is not the disaster I once imagined.

That said, I have no idea how this meeting will go. It’s a genuine business meeting which is really important, so I have to make a good impression. I have to leave this man thinking that I’m capable, intelligent and responsible, and splitting my focus between explaining my business plan and remembering to make the appropriate amount of eye contact may be difficult.

This is why I hate first impressions – the physical image of a person will stay in your mind for years and could potentially taint your entire relationship. Not only that, but conversation in person is spontaneous. Emails, texts or even Facebook chat can offer a little time for contemplation, for the beloved edit and rewrite, but speaking is immediate. The words are out with little to no time for planning and if something goes wrong, the only option to correct the error is to continue talking. You must push the poor little conversational canary further into the condemned mineshaft of misunderstanding, at the same time hoping for the fresh air of mutual perspective while also dreading the moment the bird croaks on its own confusion and silence falls.

See what I mean? I could never have come up with that metaphor without time to think.



The Amazing Spider-Manicure

These are my actual nails at the moment, inspired in a moment of insomnia last night by vague memories of my brother’s comics when we were kids…

My So Called Life

Claire Danes & Jared Leto in "My So Called Life"

Admit it – when this show finished, isn’t this kind of how you hoped Angela Chase & Jordan Catalano would look 20 years on?

Claire Danes & Jared Leto at the Elle Style Awards 2010


The Book of Etiquette

Excerpts from “The Book of Etiquette” by Lady Troubridge.

(The version of this book sitting on my bookcase was published in 1958, looks like it’s been very well used and has the name of a convent school stamped inside the front cover.)

Children & Development

It is not enough to give children the material things in life…It is a part of the heavy responsibility of parents to lead the children in their charge into the paths of right thinking and right living, and the task should be a joyous one for every child born into the world has infinite possibilities and at its very worst the task is illuminated by a ray of hope. Even the ugly duckling became a swan.

Teaching by Example

The strongest force that effects the moulding of children’s character and deportment is the character and deportment of their parents. Young people cannot find the beautiful gift of good manners in some unknown place; whatever they do and say is an immitation of whatever they have heard their elders do and say. The whole life of a man or woman is coloured by the environment and atmosphere of his or her early childhood.

Difficult Children

To be weak and sentimental in your treatment of a child is unforgivable, but to show sympathy with and comprehension of his difficulties is your duty. Parents of “difficult” children should remember that all children of fine mental calibre and vivid imagination are “difficult”, but in the end may become finer men and women than those who are of a more stolid and straight-forward character.

The Development of Personality

Games, books, music, toys and friends all have their due effect on the moulding of the child’s character. Surround the child with beauty, good thought and joyousness, and throughout the years he lives in your care help him to develop all that is best in himself…Let him as far as possible use his own brains and follow the dictates of his own heart, for only by doing so can be rightly develop his personality.

“Always be a first rate version of yourself…”

“…instead of a second rate version of somebody else” – Judy Garland (lifted from the Suicide Girls Facebook feed)

I spent a long time dreading the moments when people would well-meaningly tell me, “Just be yourself.” I don’t have much of a memory which means I haven’t had much of a reference for how I’ve dealt with stressful or unusual situations in the past. For years, my main frame of reference was TV shows and movies (bad move) and then later, my mother’s behavioural psychology books. Over-thinking every move and every conversation does not make for an easy time, trust me.

Recently I’ve come to realise that maybe this whole “being yourself” deal really isn’t so bad. You have to make mistakes, you have to learn to deal with those mistakes, you have to make yourself vulnerable, but it’s not the end of the world if something goes wrong.

There’s huge potential for pain and humiliation in a worst case scenario, but that’s part of being a grown up – being able to make your own decisions and cause your own downfall, but also being responsible for all the amazing things that suddenly slap you in the face and say, “Hey! You’re life’s actually pretty cool right now.”


Weird, weird few months lately. Lots going on and it would be really easy to try and ignore it all, but I think it’s getting to that point when I have to do the grown-up thing and face up to some stuff. Not really loving the idea.

This is the kind of time when I hate having such a bad long-term memory. It’s pretty much my childhood & teen years that I can’t remember, which means it’s pretty much all my formative experiences that are missing. This doesn’t help when I have big scary, potentially life-changing decisions to make and essentially no previous experience to draw on. I don’t remember what the inside of my school looked like, I don’t remember the first time I had sex, I don’t remember what my last job interview was like, I don’t remember any of the American teen dramas I used to watch that I’m sure covered every kind of crisis at one time or another…

There’s always the option of channelling my frustration into artistic endeavours, but short of Jackson Pollock-ing the front garden from the living room window (I’m on the upper floor) I’m not sure how cathartic it would actually be.

In other, not unrelated, news I’d forgotten how comforting the smell of Jack Daniels is.

def: lethologica

From Wikipedia:

A psychological disorder that inhibits an individual’s ability to articulate his or her thoughts by temporarily forgetting key words, phrases or names in conversation. First identified by Carl Jung in 1913. Very prevalent today but highly variable in it’s severity.

So, there you go. It’s not just me being forgetful it’s a proper, you know… thing.