What’s in Stewgad’s Brain – Or Today’s Mind Puppy

Spousal Unit and I sometimes play this fun game that capitalizes on the fact that I have an incredible memory for anything that is absolutely and utterly irrelevant. It goes like this: Spousal Unit- “Hey Stewgad, what is the name of that guy from the thing with that other guy who was also in that other thing.” Stewgad –“Tom Wopat.” Spousal Unit — “Yes! O.K. What was the band who sang that song that sounds like that other band?” Stewgad- “Depeche Mode?” Spousal Unit — “Um, no.” Stewgad — “Yaz?” Spousal Unit: “Yes!” It is a fun game for about 5 minutes in the middle of nowhere on a car trip when you’ve eaten all the chips, listened to all of the CDs at least twice, and are about 2 exits away from killing each other. I suppose it reveals more about how long we have been together than about anything else, but my point of telling you this story is that today’s post is mostly just the random crap that is in my brain. (As opposed to all of those other carefully crafted, brilliant thought-provoking essay pieces that I usually post. i.e. See this Tuesday’s post.)

(The phone rang just now and I stood firm in the face of tremendous pressure from a distant sounding phone solicitor and turned down a request that my money fund a wish for a dying child. Now I feel like a total ass. I mean, what kind of evil heartless nasty wench would not want to send some poor dying kid to Disney World, for chrissakes? The answer, clearly, is me. But, I’m pissed that adding our name to the Please Do Not Call Me with Requests for Money national list thingey last year seems to be wearing off. Maybe it was just a time-release capsule of privacy protection that had a shelf-life of 8 months, 2 days, and 16 minutes and our time is up or something.)

Anyway, Tuesday, I spent some time working on Chapter 1. But, it was hard. My brain just wasn’t there. A few years ago I read somewhere about someone who characterized meditation as “training the mind puppy.” That image really stuck with me, and was totally what I was grappling with on Tuesday. My brain was like a big, drooling, over-energetic puppy that would grab on to something for about 10 seconds, then drop it, run over to something else, then drop it too, and move on to yet another something. I would write a sentence, check my email, check bloglines, read a sentence or two in an article, search for another article, get a call number for a book, look back at the sentence I had been in the middle of writing, then write down an idea for my class, then read another sentence, then get up and walk around, then sit back down and start the whole thing all over again. All in about a minute. I was like a spastic labrador with ADD. It was really frustrating. At about 4 p.m. I gave up and walked home, and almost died of heatstroke.

Yesterday, I did some dishes, ran some errands, had some appointments, and had tea with a friend. This friend is moving into a very small place and was unloading some journals. I have a shiny new office with huge bookshelves that I’m terrified are going to be empty (which, in the academic world means that one’s brain is empty and that therefore one is not worthy of studying with, or granting tenure to), so she brought a bunch over for me. It was like Christmas. How sick is that?

Then, last night was our theater night. The play was kind of lame. Parts of it were really great, but other parts just didn’t work. It was the first time it had ever been performed, so they were clearly still working out the kinks. And you know, just once, I’d like to see a play that didn’t rely on that hackneyed chase thing where someone runs in from the wings supposedly running away from someone else, and then runs off into the opposite wings, and then the person who is chasing them runs on from the other side and across the stage, as if the stage was a huge distance. I’m not describing it well, but I’m sure you know what I mean. It did make me wonder, though, if watching this rough draft of a play was a lot like what my advisor experiences when he reads a rough draft of one of my chapters — kind of twitchy and uncomfortable, sad and embarrassed for the person, but seeing the good parts in the midst of the dross nonetheless.

We went for ice cream afterwards and the *(@$$&# ice cream company switched to the cheap-ass waxy not chocolate Hot Fudge AGAIN, after they tried it last year and it failed because it was totally foul and, hello, people could tell. Spousal Unit and I both left detailed comments about how stupid it is to go to all of the trouble of making homemade, local ice cream and then topping it with imitation barely flavored liquid flavoring sauce. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

Today, I’m cleaning out my study so that when I start teaching, I don’t still have stacks and stacks of mystery piles of paper everywhere. I must confess at this time thatI have a drawer in my desk that I haven’t opened in 4 years because it is so crammed full of papers. So far the funniest thing I’ve found was a cardboard box that I was storing random crap in that had a postmark on it from 1978. I’ve had that box since I was 7? What in the hell? But, mostly all I’m finding are scraps of thoughts that I wrote down on the back of something else because I thought maybe it would be brilliant, but probably isn’t but I’m afraid to throw away because what if it totally solves the problem of my whole dissertation? Hopefully, by the end of the day, I’ll have a tidy study so that I can start the year off fresh. Then, tomorrow, it is back to Chapter 1. I’m really keeping my fingers crossed that that darned hyperactive labrador of a brain will have settled down a bit and will be ready for some real work tomorrow.

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3 responses to “What’s in Stewgad’s Brain – Or Today’s Mind Puppy

  1. Oh my god! What a perfect description. I must be suffering from the same puppy-brained condition. Perhaps we’ve been wired since childhood to become less and less attentive as the school year approaches… sort of like a defense mechanism to the Taylorism that will soon befall us. Sigh. Can you tell I’m already mourning the end of summer?

  2. Love the puppy-brain image too. But I am sad to say that it congures up an image of my brain trying to work: An aging, arthritic, old lab with a fly on his ear, asleep under a tree. The only sign of life is that his tail occassionally twitches. Now my luck is that caffiene works pretty well on old labs — alot better than it does on hyper puppies.

  3. I love–and honked a laugh at–the image of you and SU writing “detailed comments” at the ice cream shop.

    I’m still smilin’ . . . .

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