Confessions of a Double D

Posted On: 01.25.10

dot bra

Calm down. Hear me out.

Confession #1: I’m not a Double D. Just a Single D. But that is neither here nor there.

Confession #2: This post is not about cup size. This post is about something entirely different. And far less sexy.

Confession #3: This post is about details. And, yes, I gave it this title and posted a come-hither picture of a lavender bra to get you to read it. One day I might have enough confidence in myself and in my words and won’t feel compelled to play these gimmicky games.

So, details? Yes, details. Sorry to disappoint. I know you were momentarily excited that your stodgy Professor of Insecurities was about to lighten up and get raunchy. For now, I will leave it to my cherished colleagues to talk about the sexy stuff and existential cleavage. One day I might join them in pondering these goodies. But today is not that day. Today I have a confession to make. Another one.

I am a Double D. A Detail Delinquent.

My mind, my good mind, is sturdy in spots. It spins stories. It crafts characters. It is the architect of deep questions and daring metaphors. But in other spots, my mind is mesh. Full of tiny holes through which things – details – slip like sand. No, not every detail is lost. Freakishly, I am able to recall nuances of memories, of essays I wrote in high school, questions from the New York State Bar Exam. My mind has a capacity for certain details. But not for other ones. Like the ones that are important. Like the ones that pepper my days. Like the ones that actually affect me and my life and my family.

Witness this weekend. It was a good weekend. Full of reminders of my fallibility. A slice of my life as a Double D.

FRIDAY. On Friday afternoon, I had two fellow Preschool mothers over for a play date. The kids frolicked while we moms chatted. At one point, the other moms started talking about next year’s tuition deposit that was due a week ago.

At first, I nodded. Played along. But then I indulged in a question. “Wait, when was that due?”

“A week or so ago. They say they cannot guarantee our children a place in the school unless that deadline was met.”

“Oh, I see,” I said. Playing it cool. And then excused myself and hopped up and jogged to my laptop and fired off an apologetic email to the appropriate person at Preschool. I told her that we love the school! That I am a flake! That I miss deadlines all the time! Within minutes, I received a sympathetic note back assuring me that everything would be fine. That Toddler would not be booted from her beloved school because of my utter ineptitude.

SATURDAY MORNING. On Saturday morning, I was struck by a wave of guilt about my persistent case of Pathetiquette. I told Husband that I was on a mission to knock out all thank-you notes from Christmas and Toddler’s third birthday! Husband encouraged this odd and very unlike-me surge of enthusiasm. He helped by printing gift lists we had been organized enough to keep. (Go us!) I fetched stacks of stationery. And got to work. I made it through the Christmas thank-yous and then moved on to the birthday ones. I took a quick look at the list. There were only seven names. Now, several families did not attend Toddler’s party after my sinister swine confession, but many more than seven did. Husband assured me that there were at least twenty kids at the party.

Hmmm.

And then I remembered something. Toddler had opened only a few of her gifts the night of her party (seven) and the rest over the following days. And I had been diligent enough to record her gifts in my phone. But then? I lost my phone.

And so. I sat there mining my memory, trying to remember what particular kids had given Toddler for her birthday and I had zero clue. I know there were books and babies and tea sets and I remember her glee when opening these items, but the rest is fuzzy. My brain was utterly devoid of details. And so I wrote some variation of the following note over and over.

Kid,

Thanks so much for the great birthday gift. My delinquent mother lost her phone wherein she recorded many of my gifts, so I’m not sure what exactly you gave me, just that I love it! Please forgive my mom. She tries!

Love, Toddler & Fam

It was an honest note. Toddler did love each and every one of the gifts she received. And I am delinquent when it comes to many things. Like the start time for the first day of school. Like important birthdays. Like the details of my days. And I do try. Hard. Maybe not hard enough? (What is hard enough?)

After seeking forgiveness from fellow parents, I decided to the unthinkable: forgive myself. Something which I am not very good at doing. But, again, I tried.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON. On Saturday afternoon, the four of us went to a wonderful birthday party for Toddler’s good friend. There was live music and lively company. Kids ran wild and exasperated parents ran after them, splashing tired smiles. There were cupcakes and canapes. I had bits and pieces of conversations with good friends. One friend pinned me with a simple question, “Hey, are you coming next weekend?”

I looked at her, blankly no doubt. “Next weekend…” And then it came back to me. Her daughter’s party. “Yes, the party! Of course! I am so sorry I didn’t let you know. I am not good at these things.”

She smiled and rocked her tiny new son. “No worries,” she said.

And I smiled too. But behind that smile, there were worries. Plenty of them. Behind my well-practiced grin, things were decidedly more complicated. Behind that easy-breezy facade, my mind, my good mind, the mind I cherish and curse, chided me for failing. Yet again. The fog of forgiveness lifted revealing insecurity and imperfection and guilt.

And then we went home. To the safety of our chaos. We wrangled the girls toward bed. We read books about little bears and sang made-up songs. We picked PJs.

SUNDAY. On Sunday morning, as the girls played on the carpet, Husband and I surrendered to the couch. I snuggled up into his arm and we talked. About breeds of detail. Species of disappointment. Levels of delinquency.

As is par for the course, Husband said something simple and sage. And sweet. He said that he thinks different kinds of people have different capacities for detail. That creative people probably have less room for logistical and practical bits, but that accountants and others whose livelihood is hinged on particulars are probably very good with these things.

I am creative, I told myself as fibers of forgiveness floated about once more.

And then my mind went rogue. I thought of Dad. How we girls used to mock him for having his head in the clouds. For being a bit absent. A bit out to lunch. For being able to retain lush details about his favorite philosophers, but unable to remember many details, important everyday details, like the names of our friends, or the times of his meetings.

Dad was a Double D too. Maybe, just maybe, it’s genetic.

I think of this now and smile. Because I loved Dad deeply. Even his cosmological cloudiness. Even his meandering ways.

I think of this and worry. Because I want to be focused. And here. And on top of all the little things, the important things, that make up life. My life. Their life. Our life. Life.

______________________________

What size is your BRA (Basic Retention Ability)? AA (Absolutely Always remember details) or DD (Detail Delinquent like me) or somewhere in between? Do you think that we can get better about these things or do you think our minds have a certain predetermined or acquired capacity to retain only certain kinds of information? If you believe that we can alter our BRA size, our ability to retain, how exactly do we do this? (Please don’t tell me to write things down. I do write things down. And then I don’t read them!)

(If you would prefer to talk about actual boobs and bra size, go ahead. That would be fun too.)

***I’m thrilled to announce that Debra Schubert was the winner of the advance copy of LIFE AFTER YES. Congrats, Debra!***

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35 Comments for: "Confessions of a Double D"
  1. I am usually an A but I have stunning moments of DD-ness, like the whole leaving the car running on the street thing. Somehow these make them more scary to me, since they are unusual. And they always surprise other people, who expect me to be AA all the time. I remember one day when my best friend from college was quite annoyed at me because I had failed to remind her of another friend’s birthday. Of course I had forgotten as well. But I realized then that my AA-ness had become literally an infrastructure that others relied on. Troubling.

  2. Most people would say I am an AA but I would say a B is closer to the truth. I am definitely becoming more DD. I use to run a tight ship, never miss a deadline, a detail. Now, with fewer kids and schedules to track, I am looser and less likely to know.

    Recently, as I said in the comments on Deena’s blog about a mental junk drawer – http://deenakwennig.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/mental-junk-drawers-and-failing-at-filing-correctly – I lost the details of a conversation I thought was between friends. Turns out it wasn’t and when questioned about it, I didn’t have the details. Ooops! Except I should have as it has cost me – emotionally – dearly.

    If you find a way to improve, short of a computer file for everything we say and do, please let me know.

  3. Writing things down is the solution for me – but it’s the solution to a different problem. I remember everything. Not always at the right time to be useful, mind you, but if I don’t make notes then there’s so much “remembering” in my head that I struggle to concentrate on anything (and, worse, can’t sleep). So I write things down, and that gives me permission to forget them, so long as I remember to read the lists. And I remember to read them, because that’s who I am.

    My husband is the opposite. I do much of his remembering and list-making for him… but that probably doesn’t help you either.

    I’m sorry I don’t have anything more useful to offer up!

  4. I am a AA all the way – but that is only because I rely (reliably) on a complex scaffold of lists and calendars. I write everything down and then consult my lists religiously.

    Naturally I think I probably fall somewhere in between an A and a D. Does that mean I’ve had some sort of cosmetic reduction procedure? Ahh, the metaphors…

    When I do forget something I find it very hard to forgive myself. (I still haven’t recovered from a time last summer when I realized I didn’t have my wallet when I got to the checkout line at the grocery store) Like Lindsey said, my Type-A AA-ness becomes a safety net for others – so much so that I think it is one of the defining features of my personality – and one that risks pushing me from dependability into rigidity.

  5. Mo

    Oh I’m pretty much an AA, or even an AA+. And as for my bra size…well…I’m not going to tell you that.

  6. you have certainly touched me this morning… i am a D… i (when i remember) use my google calendar and allow it to send me reminders – but they are usually on the day of the event… i have to remember a lot of medical appts for my kids – i do pretty well with that… but i get very overwhelmed by all of the dates, papers, etc in the rest of life… i have 3 kids and one is about to graduate high school… it seems there is always something to remember… i have ideas in my head for the next resin or etching project i want to try, and i am very good about keeping that journal… i like what you wrote about your dad… we are all different… and i am glad that your husband was so supportive, that is wonderful… don’t beat yourself up… you put a ton of great vibe out there…

  7. Ann

    Love your thank you note! If I received one of those, I would get a huge kick out of it! I’m somewhere between a DD and a DDDDD. I haven’t had a cell phone for a month because I couldn’t find the charger or the car charger. I finally found the car charger (technically, hubby found it), plugged in my phone only to discover the phone in my purse is my husband’s old phone with no contract. So, I am still phoneless. I left my driver’s licence on the copy machine at work on Friday and got a nice email from the person who found it and returned it to my office. I splurged and got my daughter a nicer-than-usual birthday gift this year, only to discover a few days later that I had already bought her a gift a month ago. I could go on and on. I have zero BRA.

  8. Haha, when I first read the title I thought “Damnit, Aiden scooped me again!” because I just jotted down the other day an idea for an upcoming post – the disadvantages of having bb’s – big boobs!

    But then I read on. Please don’t be so hard on yourself! I am SUPER detail-oriented and used to get VERY annoyed with people who aren’t. But once I started writing I’ve definitely let some details slip through the cracks….like forgetting a distant, former co-worker friend, had already told me she was pregnant and I congratulated her for it already (who forgets news like that?). No one is perfect.

    The only thing I CAN suggest is keep your phone near you at all times and use whatever function you can to write things down (Notepad, task list, if you have an iPhone I recommend Task Pro), and just getting in the habit of writing down every stray thought that comes into your head. And get in the habit of checking it at least once a day. I use it to write down blog post ideas, things to pick up next time I go grocery shopping, reminders to RSVP to things. It’s very helpful!

  9. Oh.My.Goodness.
    I am laughing so hard it hurts!
    My BRA size and my bra size are the same! Who knew?
    As a creative myself I agree that there are details that I just don’t have space for in my brain. As my kids say at dinner…”My carrot ‘room’ is full, mommmy. But my ice cream ‘room’ has a lot of space left!” I believe my brain is like that too. I can remember all sorts of dinghy details but not the ones that are most important (or at least to some). So I come across as scattered. And my notes upon notes are threatening to bury me in to-do lists that never seem accomplished (ever had a moment of “Who wrote that sticky note?”…hilarious, let me tell you!). I am right there with you, Aidan. And I suspect that the way we are inundated by things these days (did our parents really have as much to remember as we do now?) is contributing. Thanks for the chuckle and the insight today. Thanks for sharing your inspiration. Enjoy the day! Erin

  10. Details as in appointments and important events? I have to write them down or they’re out of mind as soon as I walk away.

    Now if we’re talking details about a person in general. I don’t miss a beat. I see the way your forehead crinkles in worry, or your eyes light up when a certain subject is broached. I can tell if your a hand talker, a mumbler, insecure, outgoing, or distant personality. I tend to notice everything around, between and beneath a person. Was I always this way. No. It’s amazing how much detail we leave to our hearing and how much we miss with our eyes. But once you take away sound, the eyes come alive and see EVERYTHING.

    So in my case depends on what kind of details. I like the subliminal ones, they are a writers heart. (Hugs)Indigo

  11. I find it so interesting that many of us seem to evolve in our attention to detail. Some of us find it waning when children come into our lives, others find it waxing with parenthood out of sheer necessity.

    I fall somewhere in the middle. Most people in my life would say I’m an AA. But since the birth of my son I’ve watched myself slip a bit. And that’s fine with me because it just means that my divided attention is weighted more heavily on him than my calendar, which is as it should be.

  12. doccarrie

    Just a note about the phone…It seems that you are a blackberry girl but I know this from experience…
    With an iphone and a .mac account ALL information in your phone syncs wirelessly and losing a device does not result in loss of ANY information. Including gift lists. Priceless for mommies with too much on their minds.

  13. I am a size EE. Everything Evaporates.

  14. Had to comment because this is SO me, starting with the D cup to being a metaphorical double D. I have a photographic memory for facts, faces, names, and phone numbers. Even license plates. But last week I got the preschool tuition email (overdue). I forget to RSVP and forget doctor’s appointments and to pay bills and even my own (not my clients’!) tax filing deadlines. Now I am just going to blame it on secretly being creative. Hurrah for creative double D’s!

  15. I must be a DD, too, and I’m not talking about my chest size!!! I love the thank you notes, priceless!

  16. I’m totally a Detail Delinquent hence my compulsive need to update and check my family’s Google calendar which is color-coded and backed up every day to Mozy. And I have Toodle-Do for tasks which synchs with To-Do on my iPhone. If I lose my phone or laptop, I’m sunk. It’s the only way I know what to do and where to be.

  17. I am somewhere in between the two, I am good at remembering birthdays and other important dates, but I am terribly absent minded when it comes to things like remembering where I put my keys, or paying a bill on time.

  18. Hysterical! (And I adore the Toddler Tell-All note. Brilliant.)

    My BRA is DD.
    And my BRA is DD.

    You figure it out. No doubt compensation in the mysterious universe for being vertically challenged (and one of the reasons I continue to seek out a lower gravity planet).

    How else could I fit cutlery, makeup, and salt and pepper shakers in my cleavage? (And, be ever-ready for assistance sifting through all that’s deserted my memory.)

    Besides, memory is overrated. Laughter is better. And I’m sure your note made every recipient smile, at the very least.

  19. Generally speaking, I’m good with details. Mostly because I’m an obsessive list maker. But there are exceptions. I’m not accusing you of the same, but when I start slipping details, I often believe it’s because I have too much going on. I’m also someone who often has their head in the clouds, but I’m also incredibly grounded. So when I lose details, I believe I’ve lost a little of my grounded-ness…and then i start looking at my life, and its current level of chaos. Usually….there’s a correlation.

  20. But if you weren’t a DD you might be too preoccupied and stunted by the minutia of life to enjoy the larger, grander, more sweeping moments!

    I vacillate between the two extremes and even though I beat myself up when I am on the DD end of the rack, I think I enjoy life more when I am on that side.

  21. I can completely relate! I blame it on having more kids than I can handle (tho’ evidence of my DD status cropped up w/ #1 Son, so maybe the absentmindedness was always there, lurking under the facade of dont-have-that-many-responsibilities competence.)

  22. i think i am an “I” for inept.

    and my bra size is a sports bra, medium.

  23. I am a DD for sure. I think you said it so well. Even if you do write things down, you will forget to look at them!

    I have had many exasperated attempts at changing my wayward habits. Most things work for a little bit, until the next day. Right now, google calendar is working for me! (Maybe this will last longer than a week?)

  24. Without a doubt, I am a DD. I blame it on my bartending days…I used up that part of my brain that wants to retain details for other people’s drink orders. Saw me through university though…but I digress (there I go again, dammit)

    In my coaching work, I used to get REALLY concerned that I’d forget details of my clients’ stories so I wrote EVERYTHING that my clients would say. Along the way, I realized what a disservice I was doing. Getting too hung up on the details meant that I was missing out on the essence. There’s a truth in that for life too. If I find out what it is, you’ll be the first to know.

  25. It depends on the day… there are days where I’m a A, but then the next I’m a little fogged over, or feeling extra creative and free spirited, and then I’m a DD.
    Since having kids it’s been a struggle to keep somewhere in the middle. Seriously. I don’t know what they did to me, but they did something 😉

  26. I hope you don’t mind this post inspired me to write one of my own on details. I’ve linked from my place to yours. (Hugs)Indigo

  27. Thought my DD had everything to do with my DD cup size. I am shocked to hear they are unrelated. I can’t blame my overstimulated, lack of clarity, head in the clouds attitude on my boobs anymore? What will I do? What will I do?

  28. Anne Shirley

    Aidan, this post really got to me. Just when I was feeling completely overwhelmed and very much like a failure, you let me know I’m not alone! You wouldn’t believe what a stupid day I’ve had (stupid refers to self as well as day). Thanks for cheering me up!

  29. Niki

    I am a little bit of both ends of the spectrum, but I don’t think I fall in the middle. As weird as that sounds. I am super AA when it comes to certain things, and then a little DD when it comes to others. I had a brain injury about 11 years ago that affected my short term memory, so I HAVE to write everything down. And then look at my planners (yes, I have more than one, I also have more than one phone schedule/calendar). And look at them again. And make lists. And make more lists. I pay attention to my lists, when I remember to bring them places with me. I pay attention to what’s in my planner, when I remember to look at it. Uh so I have a memory problem. 🙂 Luckily, I know my weaknesses, so I take a legal pad with me everywhere at work and write everything down. And I take at least one planner and phone with me everywhere so I can input everything somewhere. It’s annoying and it’s not glamorous, but for the most part it gets things done.

  30. I was AA before kids. DD just after kids. And now I’m sliding back towards AA – thank goodness! Because I’m too OCD to wallow in DD for long.

  31. I have two different BRA sizes. At work, I am AA, totally flattened by detail, detail, detail.

    At home, I am DD, completely inflated with things like wet baby kisses, last-minute homework assignements, cookies, romance novels, writing, getting side-tracked going through my hope chest, impromptu nail painting and snowflake-cutting….

    I do have huge boobs, too.

  32. I’m an A cup with a D brain, a sad, sad state of affairs. My brain chugs along, kind of knows what it’s doing and then it slows down, snoozes, and has to be kick started.

    With my work I’m great, right on top of everything, but with the kid stuff and with things about which I’m unfamiliar (signing up for high school?) that’s it – there’s a lot of paperwork being filled out at the last second.

  33. Aidan,
    It is your admittance of these flaws and failures that makes you most real. It is truly awful of me to say that I am happy for your DD status. Why? Because it helps me to know that it happens to all of us. That we can still survive this way. That we are not alone in this.

    And the reasoning about the creative mind? I love this. I will think of it often, I’m sure, next time it is ME wondering what the heck that mother is referring to when she says, “Are you coming next weekend?”

    Cheers!

  34. Pingback: Date with my Daughter | ivy league insecurities

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