i can still recite ‘jabberwocky’ on cue

15 Mar

I have a strange habit of trying to memorize books as I read them.

This stems from being a child with bad vision under the constant belief that I would go blind.  The blindness was never really a solid threat, but with the amount of optometrist appointments I went to and the promise of eye surgery hanging over my head, I had kind of a skewed perception on the matter.

Also, I had to wear an eyepatch when I was a kid.  Any kid who wears an eyepatch is going to develop some sort of neuroses.  This is documented scientific fact.

And so, believing that someday I would go blind, I took it upon myself to memorize as many delicious, beautiful books as possible.  This way, once I couldn’t read any more (I never really considered braille or books on tape) I would be able to tell myself my favorite stories, again and again, exactly how they had been.  I’ve continued this habit my entire life.  It does not mean I have improved my ability to remember anything.  It just means I have a lot of useless sentences plowing around my brain.

This habit isn’t distracting when I read young adult fantasy novels or cheesy mystery stories.  I don’t really notice it when I read fluffy sentimental fiction or stuffy memoirs.  This week, however, I’m reading Crime and Punishment, and with the sheer amount of words Dostoyevsky uses, my mind has become so cluttered with translated Russian that I can no longer remember my license plate number, my mother’s maiden name, or any math whatsoever.  Pretty soon when somebody asks me to pass the salt I’ll scream awkwardly, “ON AN EXCEPTIONALLY HOT EVENING EARLY IN JULY A YOUNG MAN CAME OUT OF THE GARRET IN WHICH HE LODGED IN S. PLACE AND WALKED SLOWLY, AS THOUGH IN HESITATION, TOWARDS K. BRIDGE.”

Either that, or I’ll just froth at the mouth a bit.

It’s good to read classic literature again, but I won’t cry when I go back to sassy murder mysteries.


Posted by on March 15, 2009 in Life


Tags: , , ,

14 responses to “i can still recite ‘jabberwocky’ on cue

  1. Brittney

    March 15, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Awww, that’s so cute! And also sad. Hey, at least you’re not reciting things in old english? I’m still tempted to FULLY SOUND OUT all of my vowels and add unneccesary “e”s at the end of wordes.

    Are you reading Crime & Punishment for class? I thought you LOVED Dostoyevsky!

    • saturdayjane

      March 15, 2009 at 6:07 pm

      I’m actually just reading it for fun. And I DO love Dostoyevsky! Last time I intently read one of his books, though, I didn’t have to concentrate on much else. Now I’m trying to read Dostoyevksy AND go to classes AND work on my thesis, and trying to transition between the three makes my brain go poof. 😉

  2. Laura

    March 15, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Speaking of sassy mysteries, we should bring the James Bond books on spring break to read in the car. HILARITY.

    • saturdayjane

      March 16, 2009 at 12:06 am

      I like this plan. This is a good plan.

  3. Krista

    March 15, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Haha, this is awesome. I was wondering why that book was sitting out. And it explains why you always remember random quotes from things that I would never ever remember. Kudos to you.

    • saturdayjane

      March 16, 2009 at 12:08 am

      I promise, they’re the only thing I’m good at remembering. 🙂

  4. lisa

    March 15, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    This post actually made me LOL. Then I asked my Russian friend if he could read Russian, to see if a sentence like that would be equally wordy in the original language. He hasn’t answered yet, but then again he’s probably pretty fed up with me after re-designing my blog banner. 😛

    • saturdayjane

      March 16, 2009 at 12:22 am

      Oh, I would be interested to see if the translation has anything to do with it! You should let me know what your friend says.

      I’m glad I made you laugh! 😀

  5. Sal

    March 16, 2009 at 3:26 am

    Doesn’t that just get you? How your brain prioritizes knowledge, not based on its practicality but on … well, factors that we may never identify? I mean seriously. I can recite entire scenes from “Finding Nemo,” but can’t for the life of me remember how to drive stick. Flippin’ brain.

    Additionally, I have memorized the first portion of “The Jabberwocky” because someone once informed me that “slithy toves” translates as “smooth, active badgers.” I have a badger tattooed on my back, so this is very dear to me.

    How long did you wear the eyepatch, lady?

    • saturdayjane

      March 16, 2009 at 3:36 am

      A badger? How charming! My last name comes from the English slang for ‘field full of badgers’ so I’m down with anything involving my fuzzy, grouchy kin. 🙂 Also, if you ever LEARNED to drive stick, then you’ve totally one-upped me there.

      I honestly am not sure entirely how long I had to wear the eyepatch. I should do an entire post about it once I remind myself of some of the key details from my folks, but I believe it was more than a year, for six hours a day at a time. One of my eyes was just fine, and the other was incredibly weak, so I needed to patch the good eye to prevent the other from getting lazy. 🙂

  6. sarah

    March 16, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    that is an awesome habit, if only because it means that you will always be able to quote things and sound educated. i wish wish wish i was able to do something like that. i cannot memorize any books, or even bits of books.

    • saturdayjane

      March 16, 2009 at 3:39 pm

      I never said I was GOOD at it. 🙂 Mostly I just get words and fragments. You know when you have a song stuck in your head, but you only know one line? It’s more like that than anything else. 😉

  7. amanda

    March 17, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    That fourth paragraph — the one about you memorising your favourite stories so you can tell them to yourself again and again — is the most beautiful and heartbreaking thing I’ve read. Such a sweet idea.

    • saturdayjane

      March 17, 2009 at 10:14 pm

      Aw, thank you! I never thought of it as beautiful and heartbreaking! I guess it is, a bit, a kid trying to remember all this stuff for when she loses it. 🙂



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