Deeply Shallow

There’s nothing more annoying to me than someone who is intentionally ignorant or oblivious. Especially when that person thinks it’s amusing or charming. You were given a brain. Use it.

At this particular time in our nation’s history, as the bumper sticker says, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Yeah, I know. Outrage is no fun at all. It’s exhausting, to be honest. It is understandable that you need to take a break from the news now and again. But to intentionally block it out as a matter of course, all while sitting on your hands and doing nothing, is unconscionable.

For God’s sake, vote. And take the time to educate yourself before doing so. If you don’t vote in 2018 and then complain about your healthcare being taken from you, I reserve the right to personally slap the white off your teeth.

I know it’s tempting, and rather comforting, to just tiptoe through the tulips while humming quietly to yourself, but while you are doing that, important things are happening all around you. And a lot of it, lately, is a threat to those very tulips that you’re treading upon.

Don’t brag about your ignorance. It’s not a good look. And it’s actually becoming a hazard to the health and safety of everyone on this planet.

Wake up.

tulips

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Becoming Forgetful

When I was young and I’d hear an older person say they were getting old and forgetful, I used to smile and say I couldn’t wait to have that excuse for my absentmindedness. I’ve always been easily distracted. Flaky, even.

But now I’m starting to get it. As I age, it’s getting much, much worse. And that’s terrifying. It is no fun, no fun at all, to know you can no longer rely on your own brain. Especially when you live alone.

Today I accidentally left my to-do list at home, and I’m a bit freaked out. I’m fairly certain that I’m forgetting to do something that’s time-sensitive and important, but for the life of me, I can’t recall what it is. That’s a helpless feeling. I don’t like it. That’s why I created the to-do list in the first place.

And I’m starting to forget words. I know what I want to say conceptually. It’s on the tip of my tongue. I just can’t always verbalize it. “Please pass me the… the… you know. That thing.”

Do you have any idea how scary it is for a writer not to be able to come up with a word? And since I’m not currently in a nice comfortable relationship where the other person can finish my sentences for me, odds are that the person I’m talking to doesn’t know what thing I’m referring to.

The older I get, the more I feel like I’m traveling in a land where I don’t speak the language and I don’t have a map or an itinerary. And while I do love to travel, I love to be able to communicate even more. This is a confusing place. I’d like to go home now.

Forgetful

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Alien Hand Syndrome

I caught the tail end of an NPR story during my commute. It was about Alien Hand Syndrome, and it sent me scampering off to Google, because stuff like that fascinates me. Imagine having a body part with a mind of its own. (Okay guys, get your mind out of the gutter.)

First of all, lest you panic, this syndrome is very rare. There have been less than 100 cases documented. And thank goodness for that, because it sounds like a living hell.

It usually crops up in individuals with epilepsy so severe that they have to have their left and right brains surgically separated in order to stop the constant seizures. Needless to say, there are bound to be side effects when you take such extreme measures.

As most of us know, the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and vice versa. The left side also is the verbal side. So when you separate the brain in two in this manner, you are leaving the right side of the brain and the left side of the body with no way to communicate, and no way to express themselves logically. Apparently that pisses them off, and the left hand, in particular, tends to act out.

People with this syndrome are often unaware of what their left hand is up to, and it’s often up to no good. There have been stories of people being beaten by their own hand, or choked, or stabbed. The left hand will sometimes try to steer their cars off the road. Or your right hand turns the page of a book you are enjoying, and your left hand decides to tear all the pages out. Or “you” want to get dressed, and “it” wants to get you naked in public. How mortifying!

For some reason this reminded me of the Cymothoa Exigua, which is a parasite that causes the tongues of fishes to atrophy, and then pretends to be that fish’s tongue for the rest of its life, robbing it of nutrition. That something like that even exists freaks me out. I think it’s the lack of control over your own body that does it for me. And it makes me wonder what is actually going on inside our skulls. And not in a good way.

Take a quick inventory. If all your body parts belong to you and cooperate, give thanks to the universe.

Cymothoa Exigua says hello.

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If Our Thoughts Were on Intercom

As I was walking around doing routine maintenance on my drawbridge today, I decided to keep track of the things that were going through my head.

  • The song Cover of The Rolling Stone by Dr. Hook.

  • The idea for this blog entry.

  • I should have worn a jacket. I was wishful springing.

  • Wow, he was good looking.

  • He’s also young enough to be my son. Get a grip.

  • People don’t say hello in this town.

  • Let’s try not to get mowed down in the crosswalk for a change.

  • Traffic in this town is out of control.

  • A conversation I had with a friend recently in which I laughed inappropriately. I really need to learn to control myself. But I’m laughing even now, just thinking about it.

  • I wonder if I’ll ever be able to buy a house here.

  • I miss my dog. He’s probably home playing poker or something.

  • Hostile work environments.

  • Did I remember to bring my lunch?

  • Outstanding stuff on my to-do list that I know I’ll never do.

Basically, if my brain were on an intercom, it would be spouting trivia that no one would really care to hear. But lest you act all superior, that’s most likely the case with you, too. Can you imagine walking down a crowded sidewalk, having to listen to the minutiae of everyone’s daily life? It would be maddening.

It would also force us to be honest. That would be interesting. And potentially dangerous. Because while those shorts don’t make you look fat, c’mon. Plaid is soooooo 1972.

intercom

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Homunculus II

Now, doesn’t that sound like the name of a really bad horror movie sequel? Au contraire. Yesterday I wrote about the 16th century concept that a man’s sperm consisted of microscopic fully-formed humans. Called a homunculus, one of these little guys was said to get planted inside the woman, where it would grow.

Okay, that’s weird enough, but when reading up on the subject, I came across something even more bizarre. As scientists began to figure out that some parts of the human body have more motor control and/or more sensation than others, and those parts of the body are controlled  by various parts of the brain, they drew a representation of how the human body figures in the brain, and since it was a fully formed (albeit very warped) human body within the body, they remembered the story of the homunculus, and decided to name their concept the Cortical Homunculus. They drew it like so.

1.images_brain_map_final_MotorSensoryCortex-L

And then, someone got the bright idea, based on this information, to draw what a body would look like to our brain, based on the values imposed upon it by our motor cortex and our sensory cortex, and this is what they came up with.

2.images_Cortex_Man_topographical_map_brain_Motor_sensory

Now, if that doesn’t freak you out, nothing will. I for one now feel as if my brain isn’t me, and I can’t relate to it at all. I think I need a hug.

Self-Deprecation — Your Brain Hears You

I have this theory. There’s a part of your brain that takes in what you hear and assumes it to be fact. My theory is that that goes double for what it hears coming out of your own mouth. Sure, what you say is generated by your brain, but the choice to actually say it is kind of a form of validation. In other words, if you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

For some reason many of us think it’s charming to be self-deprecating. But I’m telling you, your brain hears you when you put yourself down. You might be laughing as you say, “I’m so stupid,” or “Women are just not into me,” but a little part of your head is just hearing the words and taking them in as reality. In the long run, that is going to hurt you.

We are often more cruel to ourselves than we would ever be to others. That’s not funny. That’s not charming. It’s just wrong. Self-abuse is still abuse. Why don’t you deserve as much courtesy and kindness as you would afford a loved one, a guest, or a stranger in distress? You can, should, and MUST become your own cheerleader!

That’s my theory for the day.

self-deprecating

My Brain on Cruise Control

With an 8 hour drive ahead of me from Seattle, Washington to Missoula, Montana, I wondered what my brain would do with all that “down time”. So I decided to take a digital recorder with me and whenever I started to think about a new subject, I’d take note. I have no idea whether I’m typical or completely out there on the lunatic fringe, but I thought it would be an interesting little experiment. So what follows is a look into my idle brain.

In between long periods where my mind seemed to simply hum along with the sound of my tires, I recorded these thoughts:

  • Did I leave burners on? I’m sure I checked… But did I?
  • Have I forgotten anything?
  • I hope my dog Devo doesn’t pee in the car.
  • I wonder if I’m passing Bill Gates on the highway?
  • It’s so nice to see something different for a change.
  • Why is my GPS not speaking to me?
  • Raining so hard I can’t see out the window. Wish I could afford a car with a working defogger.
  • Devo insisted I stop to let him pee less than a half hour down the road. I suppose it would be worse with small children.
  • After listening to an NPR story, I need to add The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat to my “must read” list, which is becoming so long that I fear I’ll never catch up.
  • My windshield wipers refuse to turn off. Great.
  • Do dogs’ ears pop when we come down from the mountains like mine do?
  • Devo is sitting beside me. He’s my best friend. Blue is sound asleep in the back.
  • Heading into Big Sky country. I can breathe again. I never realize I’m not breathing until I start breathing again.
  • Drove for 2 hours before I remembered I have cruise control. It’s not something I can use in the gridlock of Seattle.
  • I wonder what farming life is like? Lonely. Fulfilling. Hard.
  • I took this same route in reverse a year ago when I drove across country from Florida. I was so different then. What a year it has been.
  • Lots of talk about the forest fires on the radio. A sign outside of someone’s house: “Firefighters, it’s only a house. Take care of yourselves.”
  • Ideas for blog entries.
  • After seeing an out of date billboard on the subject: There’s a TESTICLE festival? Seriously?
  • You know you’re in trouble when the only radio stations you can get are gospel and traditional Mexican folk music. Radio is now off.
  • I begin humming “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson. Over and over and over and over…
[Image credit: larryrebich.com]
[Image credit: larryrebich.com]