VSEPR: Valence Shell Electron something something. Position? Pairing? I spent over an hour today trying to remember what VSEPR stood for, and I was a little embarrassed to come up so blank on something that I'd spent practically an entire semester of college studying. All that time, and now I can't tell you a thing about it, muchless what the letters stand for.

I have books full of medical information that is entirely lost to me. I was looking through a neuroanatomy text, thinking to myself that only a few years ago, I probably knew as much about the rubrospinal tract as any neuroscience grad student. Now, I don't know what it connects, and even less of a clue about what it does.

There are 16th century Chinese painters, eons of Japanese history, quantum mechanics and thermodynamics, linear algebra, linguistics, all these myriad pieces of information that are entirely lost to me, things I once knew so well. And even more frustrating is having to be reminded of things constantly. I need to cheat all the time with katakana. I keep a Korean dictionary on my coffee table. I need to be reminded every single time about what is the infield fly rule.

And what I've retained is entirely trivial sometimes. I remember that the capital of Burkina Faso (a small, land-locked West African nation), is Ouagadougou. I remember that the Battle of Antietam is the single bloodiest day in the history of the United States. I remember that it is known as the Battle of Sharpsburg in the South because the South liked to name battles after local towns and cities, while the North usually named battles for local creeks, rivers, and bodies of water.

There are times that I mourn all this lost information. I think about how sad it is that it's gone. There are things that have pushed this knowledge out, but it's not a replacement. It's not equivalent. Calculating PORT scores doesn't equal Kano Masanobu's paintings for the Ashikaga shoguns. Knowing the etiology of Diabetes Mellitus type 2 isn't the same as the Schrödinger equation.

But it's nice to realize that there are some precious things that I've held onto, like being able to escort a lady or a very basic waltz. I actually know the difference between a teaspoon and a dessert spoon. There are little things like this that bring a smile to my face, more so than VSEPR (I got it! Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion! It's a theory for predicting the geometry of bonding configurations for non-metals by estimating the repulsive forces of the valence shell electrons.) ever did.

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