Friday, March 21, 2008

They say I don't pay attention but I said "No, no, no!"

I have a dear friend I'll call "K" who is a 50-something physician and mother to two teenage boys. Ever busy, K nonetheless prides herself on being hip and keeping up with the latest music and fashion. K recently discovered Amy Winehouse, a young "white soul" singer from England with a smash album, Back to Black, with one of K's favorite songs - Rehab , with the chorus "They said I had to go to rehab but I said no, no no."

The other day K dashed into Borders to buy Winehouse's latest CD, on her way to an hour's drive on the freeway. She went to the Amy Winehouse section, grabbed a CD that listed Rehab as its first song, got on the freeway and popped her CD into her car player. She heard the familiar Rehab introduction and waited eagerly to sing at the top of her lungs. And waited. And waited for words that never came. That's when K looked more closely at her CD and realized she had bought the "Smooth Jazz Tribute to Amy Winehouse." Words - not gonna happen.

K told me this story and played her CD for me. True disclosure: I am not a smooth jazz affection ado. After I stopped doubling over in laughter, our conversation went like this: "I can't believe they put the Smooth Jazz tribute CD in the Amy Winehouse section not the jazz section." "Yes, that is like putting the 'Kidz Bop sings the Beatles CD' in the Beatles section not the children's section." "I should go back to borders and tell them that, but I'm too embarrassed." "Don't be embarrassed, just do it." "But, really, I can't believe they put it in the Amy Winehouse section."

K is like most of us, too busy doing too many things to pay full attention to one thing at a time. We get embarrassed and hesitate to share our goofs with those outside our close circle, which is why I suspect this kind of thing happens to folks in midlife more than we know. My suspicions are confirmed by Chathryn Jakobson Ramin, author of Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife. This fascinating book, written in a fun-to-read style, explores the role of neurology, biology and stress in midlife forgetfulness and diminished attention. The book details the author's various interventions to combat her own "spaciness" and offers suggestions for improving your memory and focus. Ramin also takes a riveting and at times hearbreaking look at the factors that can contribute to Alzheimer's, along with current research aimed at warding off its effects.
Cathryn Jakobson Ramin's web site has some good information on midlife memory and attentionissues, including quizzes on how your particular brain works. This ABC News link has a chapter excerpt. I've listed an Amazon link for the book in my sidebar. If you don't have time to read, it is available as an audio book. For locals, you can try to find it at the Camas Public Library, where I got my copy. Now, if I can just remember to return it.....


hana said...

May I say, you're remarkably brave! If you're looking for new friends, and somewhere where you can enjoy the thrills of life, do join us! We're a bunch of middle-aged women who do all sorts of eclectic stuff at You can simply relax, have fun and contribute some of your laughter! You won't regret it!

Carol Solow Freedman said...


Thanks for telling me about the womenetcetera site; it looks great. I'm not quite 50 - can I still contribute?