“Could you stop singing, mom?” my kids would whine years ago as I carpooled them to their activities. “You’re ruining the song for me.” I reminded them that they never once lodged a complaint when I sang them to sleep when they were little, but I knew what they meant. I have a lousy voice–I get it. As the kids got older I sang only when I was alone: in the shower, on a run, alone in the car with the windows up.
But in the past few years, I started singing as a mnemonic device. Forget the string around the finger or the pad and paper, my voice became my most important memory tool. I’d head down to the basement, singing an invented tune I dubbed, “Bringing Up The Paper Plates.” I’d be in the shower and sing, “Pick up the script at CVS.” One day about a year ago I was in the car and remembered that I had neglected to make an important work phone call that I needed to make from my home office where the papers were.
“Julie, Julie, Julie,” I sang out loud on the way home, “Call Julie, Julie!” My “Call Julie” song morphed into “I’ve got to call Julie Mulie” to the tune of “Mellow Yellow.” And it worked. I walked into the house through the mudroom door singing the Julie song, and I reminded myself, “Got to call Julie now.” And then I walked by the washing machine and saw the wet laundry silently screaming to be moved to the dryer. “I’ll call Julie after I switch the laundry,” I thought, and I went about that task, humming to the tune of “Mellow Yellow.” I never did call Julie.
So, for about a year now, I have been searching for a new memory tool. I needed something that would always be by my side. Something that I could use when I think my most important thoughts–when I am behind the wheel of a car. Something that would be relentless until my task was completed. And I knew from talking to my friends that I was not alone–millions of people just like me needed help remembering why they went down the basement. In January, 2012, the “Today” show reported that mental capacity starts to diminish at the average age of 45. I wrote that down as soon as I heard it, and I’m glad I did.
But now I am a new person. I have a new lease on life. I have an iPhone 5. Imagine you, but with more memory. The analogy, SAT style is as follows:
GPS: Directionally Impaired :: iPhone5: Memory Impaired.
When I got my new iPhone, my son showed me the basics of Siri. “Mom, you’re going to love this,” he said, “it will help with everything.” And I do, and he was right. I haven’t forgotten anything in weeks.
I tested it out as I was driving:
“Siri, remind me when I get home to call Julie before doing anything else.” After a brief exchange with Siri, my reminder was set. Like magic, as I drove into my garage, Siri messaged: “Call Julie before doing anything else.” And the best part? Until I manually deleted it on my phone, that message stuck.
I tested it again. “Siri, at 2PM remind me to go down the basement to get paper plates.” Perfection. Over the next few days, I was a Siri addict, and she did not fail me–not once: “Siri, tomorrow at 11AM remind me to visit Bubbie”; “Siri, remind me to do my stretching exercises at 10PM”; “Siri, remind me to send Debby a check for the tickets Monday at 9AM.”
“Siri, remind me not to sing in public.”
“OK, I’ll remind you to ‘Not to sing in public’. When would you like to be re-mind-ed?”
“Every day at 8AM.”
“Ok, here is your reminder starting tomorrow at 8AM. Shall I create it?”
“Ok, I’ll start reminding you.”
“I love you, Siri.”
“That’s nice, can we get back to work now?”
Isn’t that the best? A memory device with a sense of humor!