Tuesday, January 10, 2012


To take my brain’s temperature, as it were, I generally start the day trying my hand at some kind of puzzle, usually sudoku, because it’s quick and a pretty good indicator of where things stand. Previous Self--the phantom self that itches--could readily do even fairly difficult puzzles, though not the ones labeled ‘diabolical’ or its ilk. On days when even the easiest puzzles lead to trouble, I try to navigate around projects that require intricate thought because hard experience shows that work will mostly need to be redone at some point, and who needs that? For a while, thinking this was a self-defeating cycle, I stopped doing it. It wasn’t; it's a reasonably accurate indicator worth heeding.

Interestingly, there are some kinds of thinking that are almost never affected, the ones that involve tricky human/organizational problems. They seem engaging and the solutions that emerge are pretty consistent, no matter the outcome of the morning brain check. That they remain engaging when the puzzles come and go is somehow related to the root issues, it seems: on the long period where no puzzles of any sort were possible, it was as if they didn’t exist, as my eyes sort of glossed over them in the newspaper or wherever they appeared. It's like the comics, where I still cannot collide the words and pictures to interpret them. Michael still shows me ones he thinks are funny, and sometimes I get it, but my attention and interest are never drawn there without some external intervention. The puzzles draw my attention and I can (mostly) do them now. It’s all weird. The NYT has a story today about the strain on marriages after traumatic brain injury, and includes a couple where a brain tumor affected the husband's personality (not positively), so I approached my morning brain-check today with an extra dollop of gratitude. It’s all mysterious, and really, looking back at what it could have been, fairly miraculous.

I’m in the end game struggles of trying to figure out if this new book will work--or not--and revisiting all the self-doubt that goes with this phase. Another part of this phase, at least for me, is the strange phenomenon of waking up with lists of words that don’t appear in the manuscript. This happened the last time and it’s happening now, too. Here’s today’s list of words: asphalt, convertible, cupcake, arctic, bothersome, pestilential. It varies by day and I have no clue what this is about. It seems harmless enough, so mostly they appear and float on by. Sometimes, I try to make sentences that encompass all the words. Here’s today’s thought using them: if your cupcake is bothersome while driving the convertible, may the asphalt be smooth and may you not encounter anything pestilential; if you do, may the arctic winds solve the problem.

Or something. Back to book-wrestling.

p.s. has anyone mastered how blogger decides to format posts? I'd prefer a consistent size and font and spacing, and cannot figure out how to achieve that, in either the old or new structure. Frustrating! The font size that finally appears has no relation to what I choose and the spacing seems beyond my control. Insights welcome.

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