Monday, July 07, 2008

Monday Morning Aerobics for Gray Cells

Brain scientists say the secret of retaining memory, if I understand correctly, is to lay down deep paths in one's thick matter between the ears.

I'm trying to dig a deeper vein for two words I like and often can't remember for some reason.

Last week I couldn't think of the name for the red, orange, sometimes purplish flowers that spill over many walls and fences here in SoCal. All that kept coming to me was frangipani, a wonderful Polynesian word which is fun to say and anchored in my memory because, I suspect, it got anchored there during two very intense years of my life. Every time I asked my brain to locate the word for those flowers, it kept spitting back "frangipani, frangipani!" and I kept saying, NO, thanks for that word but that isn't it.

Finally, at an unguarded, relaxed moment the word I wanted popped out: bougainvillea! Whew. The same number of syllables as frangipani, but a different flora altogether. Bougainvillea! Above, courtesy of Google images, is the way they look on a veranda in Zimbabwe. There's a sweet word, by the way -- veranda. Sounds so peaceful and relaxing.

The second other word that often eludes me is the one for the chemical rush one gets out of, say, running a marathon, or, in my more geriatric life, getting to the local rib joint in time for the senior special. I think and think and think and finally, the word magically plops into consciousness: ENDORPHINS! Remembering this beneficent word gives me an endorphin rush. Now I'm ready to start my week, my personal lexicon spruced up. Bougainvillea, endorphins! Hooray!

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