Thursday, May 22, 2008

The return of my brain

My brain, in its most extreme moments, exists in one of two states. On the negative side is what I call the "brain in a blender" sensation. I feel as though someone has scooped out my gray matter, chucked it in a blender, and hit pulse. The end result is a brain that feels incredibly full, but not in an organized way. Rather, it is a homogeneous mush of unprocessed information that takes me hours, if not days, to unpack. In the end, much of what I possess once I've filtered through isn't useful, interesting, or important, but I don't find that out until I process what everyone has chucked in the blender. I get this feeling most often after a round of meetings at work, or a mad ten minutes of frantic emails and phone calls. It is incredibly reactive, incredibly disorienting, and incredibly mind-numbing.

On the positive side is what I call the "surface tension" state. My brain is like the surface of a calm pond; seemingly smooth and undisturbed on the surface, but teeming with life and ideas under the surface. If I gently prod the water with my finger, I can feel the fullness of my creativity and knowledge ready to be accessed under the ripples. I get this feeling most often when I'm working on something complex, creative, challenging, and personally interesting, like writing an article or working on my thesis. It is incredibly fulfilling, incredibly freeing, and incredibly mind-expanding.

Right now, I'm living my life in the world of blender brain. There is so much going on: our launch at work is only a week and a bit away, and there is still so much to do; our website is due to go live in early June, and after the fiasco that was the originally planning and execution of it, there is a ton of troubleshooting to do; the biggest conference of the year is happening in New Brunswick, and I have to make sure that everything goes smoothly for our rep; there is a whole week of events surrounding the launch party that I have to make sure everyone is organized for; we have to pick the music, vows, readings, and order of service for the wedding, print and mail the invitations; and what with Nanny's birthday, Diane visiting from Australia, and Hayley staying here when she can't get a ride to work (did I tell you that my sister is working with me now?), I've got something with family at least four nights in the next week. When all of that isn't going on, my brain shuts down to try to recuperate. Not cool. I have only time to react, and no time to be thoughtful, creative, or proactive.

Tonight, however, I was still so revved from work (didn't get home until after 6:00), I decided that I needed to keep going and do something productive with my energy. I've started editing the fourth chapter of my thesis to turn into an article for eventual publication, hopefully. And reading my thesis and beginning my first tentative steps towards turning a chapter into an article, I've realized just how dangerous blender brain is.

I'm sitting here reading through my thesis thinking to myself "where the hell did this go?" There are many parts of my thesis where I'm thinking to myself, "I wrote this? Really?" In the world of blender brain, the grace of the words that I wrote while living in surface tension world during my MA seem incomprehensible. I can't believe that I wrote what I wrote, and that it is a good as it is. It's not perfect, and it never will be, but I love it all the same, and it is good, solid, interesting, mind-expanding writing.

Which is why I am more convinced, now than ever, that going back to school in September is 100% the right decision for me. I want to live in surface tension world forever. I want my brain to be challenged, to grow, to always be coming up with new ideas and new words, and new plans. I don't want to only react. I want to have time to sit and think, to come up with ideas, to craft an argument, to debate and share, to analyze and elaborate.

Starting tonight, over the next three months, I am going to work to counteract blender brain and get myself ready to live in the world of academia once more. I know that it will take me at least until November to get back to where I was in July: maybe even longer. But get there I will, and it will be worth it. I can't wait! The first step is to keep working on my article, and hone it into something that will wow the literary journals that I submit it to. The next step is to revamp my SSHRC applications so that next year, I not only get a SSHRC, I get a CGS scholarship. During the first two steps, I'll also be working my way through my reading list for September and my reading list for my comprehensive exams in 2010, which I've already started. So many people think that I'm nut for loving this stuff, but I completely do. My brain is ready for a good feeding, and that it is going to get. Hooray for the return of my brain!


Mar said...

Check out the link over my name!
lol this pic works well for my brain these days.... 3.5 instructional weeks until exams.... w00t!