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All posts for the month July, 2015

Minding the gaps

Published July 30, 2015 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Also on the list of things that are a side effect of severe brain trauma (as opposed to the casual, lunch-time brain trauma) in addition to the not having a base line for reality and the glaring knowledge that your life span has been shortened by at least a decade because of said brain trauma is the fact that most things seem on the “This might as well happen” plane.

As I have mentioned, I have chronic insomnia. Sleeplessness compromies my kind nature, gentle spirit and cherub-like demeanor, so I have to lull my brain into complacency so it will let me get some rest.   I have tried hypnosis and subliminal music tapes, with the follwing result:

Brain lobe A (In a dreary voice)  : You have to get to sleep. Relax, listen to the soothing tone of the voice. You must sleep (repeats under B)

Brain lobe B (in the tone of small child): I don’t wanna,I don’t have to, I don’t have to because I don’t wanna (repeat relentlessly)

Brain lobe C (Booming ominously):How do you know the hypnotist isn’t some evil genius who is planning a world takeover by slipping suggestions into the sleep loop? You DON’T KNOW BECAUSE YOU ARE ASLEEP!

This little radio drama went on and on until I gave in and just took an Ambien.  I did discuss this with my neuroligist.  He said it sounded like I was in touch with My ID, Ego and Superego.  But he did not indicate if this is slowly going to make me lose my mind, or if I am some highly evolved mega-head, or if I should be at all concerned.

He just renewed my prescription.

I realize I bring a bit fo my own inherent madness into the whole mix.

It’s because I was read to as a child.

(It’s a blessing and a curse.)

Do you mind? Playing tricks on me?

Published July 29, 2015 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

And on to the next bit about the madness in my head.

In addition to the random weird crap that happens to me because, well, it’s me,  (a elephant once patted my car’s roof while I waited at a stop light.)  there’s a whole bunch of new and improved stuff going on there in the grey wrinklies.

Post brain trauma recovery and therapy is focused on two stages; 1) to get you out of critical care and back on your feet unncumberd by an IV wheelie or plastic wear attached to your plumbing and 2) get you as close back to the who you were befrore the brain fairy whonked you with her wand and excellent sense of timing.

Both of these things involve therapy and coaching by teams oddly humurless people.  Because there is a whole play about that process, I won’t bore you with those specifics. Physical therapy left me with better balance than I’ve ever had. My range of vision is better than most people on the road.

Now here’s where the story gets fun: All of the brain games I played; the diabolical monkey version of the tower of Hanoi (I wish I was kidding about that), the word scrambles, the processing speed exercises, all of those were required to get my synapses firing and perhaps rebuild some of the pathways that were destroyed when that three centimeter bleed wiped out approximately nine centimeters of brain matter.

With all of that work going on in my head, I have a difficult time sleeping. Plus I also have anxiety issues. (I was pretty high strung to begin with.)  The combination of those things creates some neuroses on their own.  My brain sometimes tells me things that are hard to ignore.

Anyone who has survived middle school knows to what cruel taunts I am referring. Hard to ignore, but not impossible.

And then there’s the other stuff. Like just plain being sad, like we all get, and a good cry usually helps, except I can’t. When I do cry like I want to (World’s worst sixties song.) I get a terrible headache and any brain trauma survivor knows that headaches will freak you out more than anything  Wes Craven can create.

Much of this brain power is created by evolution.

From the good people at Wikipedia:

Pareidolia (/pærɨˈdliə/ parr-i-doh-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon involving a stimulus (an image or a sound) wherein the mind perceives a familiar pattern where none actually exists.

Common examples are perceived images of animals, faces, or objects in cloud formations, the “man in the moon“, the “moon rabbit“, and hidden messages within recorded music played in reverse or at higher- or lower-than-normal speeds.

Pareidolia is the visual or auditory form of apophenia, which is the perception of patterns within random data. Combined with apophenia and hierophany (manifestation of the sacred), pareidolia may have helped ancient societies organize chaos and make the world intelligible.[1][2]

So it stands to reason that my brain is changing with all of the challenges I present to it. It’s concerning.

That’s why I’m medicated.

More to the story tomorrow.

Do you? Mind? ee

Published July 29, 2015 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Now that another brain day has come and gone and I am about one week away from official job panic, I am ready to start explaining/ prooving my theory that I may actually be in purgatory and have simply dragged all of the people I see and interact with into my very intricate levels of penance.

Part the first: I reference Vanni Fucci is alive and well and living in hell, the excellent short story by Dan Simmons

(http://whatcanimake.noip.me:8000/mike/secdir/books/scifi/pdf/Dan%20Simmons/Dan%20Simmons%20-%20Vanni%20Fucci%20is%20Well%20and%20Living%20in%20Hell.pdf)

In the story, Sr Fucci tells a televangelist and his audience that since Dante Aligheri was the first person to vividly describe hell, its levels and inhabitants, Hell then shaped itself into that form and creation.  Hell would thus remain that way until someone else re shaped it. Fucci has appeared to beg someone to take on this task so that he might have a chance of a slightl improved afterlife.

If you subscribe to that theory, that saying makes it so, and quite a few people bought into The Secret and the whole self actualization thing, so you know some of you do, then thinking it’s not such a stretch for my particular purgatory would involve a lot of this weird crap that keeps happening to me and around me.  My Amanda Friend says that she believes in the impossible because she is friends with me.  I am glad to have a friend when the universe so clearly has a particular delight in mocking me.

You might ask why would weird crap happening would be my kind of purgatory.

As I have said, I attended Catholic School from K-12, and while I would like to think it didn’t warp me too badly, we have all seen the tragic result of that.  I did get an excellent education. One of my favorite teachers, and one of the very first people I remember taking a specific delight in my intellectual curiousity, Sr. Collette Ross, explained one day that Hell wasn’t necessarily a place. Hell was never knowing all of the answers.  This always made sense to me because I can’t think of anything more crazy making than an eternity of unanswered questions.

For a while I kept a mental list of questions to ask the moment I reached the pearly gates. I can picture St Peter and the lads rolling their eyes as I approach and demanding that St. Paul take over because he’s so damn excited about writing letters, maybe he could sit down and listen to my insane  queries.

So that accounts for the why. Now for the how

Part the second:Mind the gaps, your brain will just fill them in.

This article in Cracked The Six Awful Realities of falling in and out of a coma does a thorough job of describing what the brain is up to while the rest of you heals.

(http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-1618-6-awful-realities-falling-into-and-out-of-coma.html)

If you have never been in a coma, it’s not quite the adventure to la la land that you think it might be. The article explains that once your brain has had that kind of trauma it is very hard to delineate when you actually woke up or when you just faded in and out.

In my own personal  coma (The new album by FallOut Boy!)  I had many varying levels of mindfulllness.

I will take a break right now, so that you can absorb some of the information in the links. The Cracked article is very interesting and you should definitely do yourself a favor and read the Dan Simmons story

 

Brains; they’re not just for zombies.

Published July 27, 2015 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Today is brain day 12.  That’s right, loyal fans, readers and well wishers (meaning you don’t wish me any specific harm).

If you want to do the catch up and review thing:http://www.ellesview.com/watch-your-head.html will take you to the dramatization of actual events.

So now that I am a whole seventh grader older, I’m pondering but not trying to think too hard. On the first year anniversary, I got a new tattoo and drank far too much for a stroke survivor. On the second year, my dad and I took a deli tray and drinks to the ER staff at San Juan regional medical center. The fifth year out, I had the “As good as it’s going to get” celebration.  The general rule is that five years post event is about how long it takes to recover as much as you’re going to. (I don’t know who or where these statistics came from; so few people , about 5%, survive this kind of brain trauma, so how do “they” know that’s as good as it’s going to get?

The tenth year I celebrated with my family and Actor Boy with a lot of steak. I was a bit grim because that was the year that EH was officially out of the house and shacked up with the AWT.

It was also grim because local actor and all around great guy, Ryan Roach, had also had a stroke. We were the same age. Ryan didn’t survive.

Last year I officially recieved the go ahead to work full-time. I went on a job interview the day after, so there was no carousing or general rowdiness.  I did not  get that job but went on to the fantastic adventure and learning experience that was my internship year.

Today it is twelve years.  My Amanda Friend took me to breakfast and then to see the Minion Movie.

Later on I will be going over to the Family Compound to pray a rosary of thanksgiving that I survived and also to bring some celebrating back to the house after so much grimness. (World’s Worst Dark Ale. )

We are going to have ice cream, petit fours and pink champagne.

I am also waiting to hear about a job.

I’m going to worry about that tomorrow.

Today is for fun and sparkly things.

Enjoy your brains!

It might look like crazy, but it’s possibly insane.

Published July 23, 2015 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I had a job interview today. I think it went well and I will know for sure tomorrow. The school looks great and it would be nice to get hired right away. I’m always a bit trepidatious when it comes to interviewing; I really try to not sound nuts, but sometims it just leaks through. Today I think only one or two things might be considered odd. Like when the principal asked me how I know my students enjoy my class, I told him what one of my students said last year, ” She’s the craziest person I’ve ever met. I love her class!” So I did come right out and say that a sixth grader thought I was nuts. That’s not too bad, right? So then the principal asked what would I do if the entire class seemed to be losing focus. I said, without missing a beat, “Polka Break.” A former colleague would come into my office, shriek, “Polka Break!” and then we would polka for a few moments. I went on to say that it didn’t have to be polka, it could be Panda Bear Madness Minute, or a Muppet Arm Workout. I, of course, demonstrated all of these. A little nutso, but not too bad. According to Cracked’s list of the 13 Most Insane Things happening right now, NASA’s New Horizon Spacecraft just did a fly by of Pluto. I think that’s a wee bit insane. Outer Space freaks me out. I watch a lot of crime drama and documentaries about unsolved mysteries but Aliens and space in general gives me the heebiest of jeebies. I think the space program is a direct result of unbridled hubris and our inability to stay out of things.  What changes could that space money have made right here on earth?Maybe provide food and safe drinking water for people without access to Brita Filters or Starbucks. Or how about basic hygiene products for the thousands of girls who miss school during what they call their “Week of Shame”? The list goes on and on. It sets my teeth on edge. Edgy teeth makes me think of my brother. (He has a habit of griding his teeth.) He has an interesting space program theory: The moon landing was real. The space walk on the dark side of the moon was also real and our astronauts were told by the dark side inhabitants that we need to stay on our own side if we know what’s good for us. And thus far we have. That makes so much sense it’s crazy. And we’re back.

Too Right, To write?

Published July 21, 2015 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I have spent the last few days reading and studying and taking practice tests.

I have now passed the test that I need to pass to take the other test I need to pass.

Think it out slowly; it will make sense.

The books I have been reading have been both thought provoking and daunting.

I started reading Finders Keepers by Stephen King.  I have a tendency to devour King’s books (and boy is he suprised!) and feel a bit lost when I have read it all up and there’s no more until he writes another.  Thus, I have been savoring the book.

The inciting incident in the book involves an esteemed author who keeps many, many journals containing works in progress.

This has inspired me to keep up with my journal and trying to poke my brain back into creativity. My brain does not like to be poked and keeps nudging me down to take a nap. But I have the journals and pens. So that’s a step.

The other book I zipped right through.

Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum.

This book was both disturbing and thought provoking.  It made me angry on the protagonist’s behalf and made me want to rescue all of the lost and forlorn. (Samantha has said a resounding Nyet to this idea.) I don’t want to give too much of the story away; you should by all means read it for yourself.  I’m sure the good people at your Public Library will help you with this.

The protagonist, Colby, binge eats to cope with bullying. Most of the bullying comes from her own family. Flannery O’Connor stated that “Anyone who survives childhood has enough information to last him the rest of his days.”  Colby knows more than she can possibly every need to know. Many of us childhood surviors have felt bullied and/or dealt with emotional strife by turning to drugs, alcohol or food. Colby is an everywoman or everyteen. It sickens me that she is bullied, degraded and downtrodden and her family not only refuse to defend her, they blame her for it.

This is exactly why this is an important book.

And it provoked me so much, I have been having a hard time writing about it.

And I know crazy

Published July 14, 2015 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I have a bad case of the f#$$k its.  I’m not surprised. I’ve gotten some challenging and disappointing news as of late and I am still rehabing my ankle from my Birthday mishap. Sometimes there are things that yank me out of my slug nest because  I know that someone, somewhere might be waiting to hear what I have to say about that topic.

Many people know that I find the Great Gatsby  insufferable. I am also not a big fan of Pride and Prejudice, mainly because I want to smack Darcy right in his smug face. I am just now finding my appreciation of Jane Eyre.  I am, however, a huge fan of Flannery O’Conor, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck and  Harper Lee.

Much of my appreciation of Harper Lee comes from her relationship with Truman Capote. (He inspired the character Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird.)

I am also a big fan of the friend who gave Harper Lee a year’s salary so she could focus on writing for that year. It was during that year that she wrote to Kill a Mockingbird.

People are now waiting with bated breath to read her second book, Go Set a Watchman, which is a sequel to her classic tome.

Those who have read enough to opine are getting all Annie Wilkes about the future of Atticus Finch.  (Also, her brother, Jem, has died but no one is really whipped up into a frenzy about THAT.)

Readers are offensensitive because it is revealed that Atticus Finch is a racist.

Really? An old man in the south in the 1950’s is a racist? That comes as a huge shock to me.

What I find interesting is that Harper Lee wrote this novel before she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.  What that means to me, who fancies herself a writer, is that Harper Lee created characters with rich, full lives and wrote their story as it was in a point in time. Then she went back 20 years in those character’s histories and wrote another. As I say over and over and over, characters are a summation of every thing that has ever happened to them in their whole lives.

I call this the Frozen Burrito Theory. Every bean in every burrito that a character has every eaten leads them to the momen in which they are seeing. If you unwrap every burrito, you find a million stories in each layer.  The layer that was To Kill a Mockingbird created the Atticus Finch that is in Go Set a Watchman. 

Stop getting all crazy, America.  It’s not Harper Lee’s Cocka-doody Fault that someone tipped your sacred cow.

That’s a lot of metaphor. (Sheep!)