Above is a picture of a Ditto Machine (courtesy of Grange Park Schools photo albums).
That mere machine pictured above is a symbol of existential angst to me this evening. Why? Well, we had this conversation at work today...
I was sitting outside with the guys, having a smoke (yes, dreadful habit, I know, I know). One of the young men was spray painting a parking curb in preparation for a new stencil job. The toxic scent of spray paint wafted our way, and the young man sitting across the picnic table from me allowed as to how he loved
that smell, and how some friends thought he was weird because he liked it, and liked the smell of gasoline.
I chimed in that I, too, had always loved the smell; it was like Magic Markers or dittos fresh off the press.
This youngster looked at me blankly.
I said, "Ditto machines? You know? Cheap copiers for school systems? Blue ink that smelled just like that when the sheets came off the drum?"
Then he said, apologetically, "Well, I'm only 21--what's a 'ditto machine'?"
Just shoot me now.
The other cause of my EA is this article from MSNBC
, entitled "Some 'senior moments' could be Alzheimer's". Oh, joy. Meant to reassure people (I think), this article merely struck terror into me. They have a list of the symptoms of "Normal aging memory changes" versus "symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease"...and on many of them, I really couldn't tell the difference.
Ever since my biochemistry started changing, about five or six years ago, there has been one particular change that has truly bothered me: my memory. In particular, my memory of words
. I find myself constantly having normal, everyday words slip away from me while in the middle of conversation, so that I find myself either pausing and following an explicit chain of word associations to locate the one word I am searching for, or else I find myself using the totally wrong word and having to recall it--like an email message that is misdirected.
Like saying, "Go put your clothes in the laundry basket in the kitchen", when we all know the laundry basket is in the OmegaParents' bedroom. Or "Go put it in the closet", when I mean, "go put it on the kitchen counter".
The searching-for-a-word aspect is so frequent that the dotter nonchalantly fills in my blanks, she is so used to it.
GreatGrandma is 102 years old. She didn't start having problems with her memory until a few years ago, and she still plays Scrabble and wins. OmegaGranny is 79; her memory is still pretty damned sharp. I find myself grasping for hope that I will follow in my maternal family's genetic footsteps.
In the meantime, there is the knowledge that a key, essential ingredient of school days for me and my peers is a distant, dusty relic to the school children of today. OmegaDotter will remember faded cheap photocopies, rather than racing to the admin office to be the first to get a limp, still damp, ditto copy from the pile to hold it to her face and inhale the (no doubt toxic) fumes.