My Brain–My Enemy

Triple DoorI’d like to state for the record: fucking brain.

I’d also like to warn you that this post goes to some dark places. But these are dark times, my pretties, and I’m not the boss of you.

In my 50 or so years on this little ball of mud, I’ve learned a couple of little brain management hacks. No caffeine after certain hours. Meditation. How to self-medicate responsibly. Discovering that I’ve got a genetic pre-disposition towards depression and can now look for signs. You know. Things like that.

But no plan survives contact with the enemy. Occasionally, shit happens.

Like, let’s say when I’ve had a really hard night of sleep, neglected to drink coffee until some time in the afternoon, and even at 4:30 PM am almost too tired to function so I make another cup of instant coffee. (Don’t judge me. Until I was 18 or so, most of the coffee I consumed came in an instant form. With powdered non-dairy creamer and Sweet & Low.)

And so it was I finally trundled off to bed last night around 11 or so, past my typical bedtime, tired enough to get what I thought was decent night of sleep.

Or so I thought. Fucking brains.

Stick a pin in that. We’ll come back to it. Indulge me for a pair of brief interludes.

We’ve been dealing with a bit of anxiety in our household for a while. More than usual. The cohort is a full-time student on a fixed income, racing to finish her degree next summer. I’ve been without a job for over a year now. Money is tight but we’ve made it work. Her senior cat is having prolonged respiratory issues and the vet hasn’t been able to do much to help, so that’s a frequent cause of stress. And then there’s the world we live in that… well… you see the news. It’s not good.

Yesterday we had one of our good, honest conversations about how hope is really hard to come by these days. I mean, there’s nothing for it but to keep trudging on, finding joy where we can. But not a day goes by where we aren’t afraid for what’s to come on a scale that’s so colossal it’s hard to comprehend. We feel powerless in the face of the doom. And we have a hard time understanding why everyone doesn’t feel this way. Maybe they do. But we had a moment where we blamed our brains for not being able to just let go and ignore the fact that the world is on fire. After all, there’s only so much art we can make to keep the darkness at bay.

But we’re not quitters. It’s just that some days, some moments, well, they’re harder than the rest.

We watched some Queer Eye in Japan until spirits were lifted and went about our day.

See. Tricks have been learned.

Interlude the second: I had an idea for a novel a few years ago. (I see your mocking “surprised” face back there, Karen. Shut the fuck up. Do you want to hear this story or not?) This book was going to be different for me. Non-genre. Literary. I had an outline and a chapter or two written. I had some passages I felt really strongly about.

It was going to be about something close to me. About changing cities, gentrification, the loss of third places, karaoke, hope, love, defiance, and resistance against unbeatable odds.

It should come as a surprise to no one that this novel idea went nowhere. I set it aside in favor of more pressing projects and never went back. It had been sparked largely by the loss of my favorite karaoke bar and a subsequent news story about a bar slated for closure where the patrons used squatters rights to keep the bar open in defiance of the landlord. And as time passed, I felt the loss less keenly.

We heal. We move on.

End interludes.

I woke up from a vivid dream around 4:30 or so this morning. If I hadn’t had to pee so badly, maybe I would have fallen back asleep and that would have been the end of it. But too much Gatorade before bed has consequences, apparently. And I couldn’t get portions of the dream out of my head.

Seems my subconscious had opened up my story notes drawer and found the idea for that unfinished novel. Quite against my will, my fucking brain started writing an opening monologue to run over a montage to start a movie.

You know. The movie I wasn’t fucking writing based on the novel I never fucking finished. So I picked up the notebook and pen I have next to my bed for just such an occasion and jotted it down.

I thought that was the end of it. But no. Brains suck. I turned the light back off, but it was too late. The story had kick-started the mental hamster wheel. I was awake.

Five hours of sleep is not ideal. But it will get me to this afternoon. And maybe after I’ve done enough writing and editing it will let me take a goddamned nap at least.

Oh, and that opening monologue? I may never write that goddamned movie, but at least I’ll have written this:

A lot of people have a story about the last stand of The Local. About hope and defiance. About greed, gentrification, music, love, changing neighborhoods, and how all the cool old places are being torn down to make shiny new ones. Stories about how one shitty dive bar decided they’d had enough and said ‘Not here. Not this time!” About how a bunch of misfits became a family. How a bunch of people with nothing left to lose stood up and pushed back against history, against investment capital, against the police. About how they lost and about what they won in the process.

A lot of people have a story about The Local.

This is mine.

I don’t know.

Maybe some day I’ll write that after all.

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