Sunday, June 22nd, 2008
These days, all I want to talk about and/or write about is the brain. It’s really interesting to me! And it makes me think that I probably made the right decision to enroll in this psychology class, and that makes me happy.
When our house settles it makes these loud clicking noises which I normally sleep through, or else I don’t hear them from my bedroom. But last night for some reason I slept on the pullout couch in our living room. I heard the clicking lightly weaving in and out of my dreams for a few moments, unconscious that it was the house settling or anything else, and then suddenly my brain interpretted those noises as someone trying to take the locks off of our front door, to break into our apartment and do me harm. Instantly I was wide awake, my heart was racing, and my breath quickened. And do you know what was my very next thought (while I was still very afraid for my safety)? I thought, “Sympathetic Nervous System!” which is the nervous system that produces the biological responses to potential danger known as our fight or flight response. Anyway, in my confused but alert state it took some time to assure myself that the noises were simply part of the building (and meanwhile I experienced the “Waiting for the other shoe to drop” phenomenon I had only just learned about that morning while reading Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers at the library… would the prowler just break through the front door already, so I can either fall back to sleep or be killed??) Anyway, I mostly just found it amusing that my first response was to recall a bit of brain anatomy, as if I were being tested on this information even while I slept, even on the brink of a terrible event.
And with that, I’m going to try to stop writing too much more about psychology, partly because I am far from an expert, and partly because it’s not quite under the umbrella of the topical goals of this blog (art, creativity, faith, and various acceptable tangents). But then again, this is the most recent direction my life has taken, and the handy thing about psychology (versus chemistry or calculus) is that it is very relevant to those other things. All of these things that fascinate me take place right there in that gross, squishy, and marvelous organ. I can’t wait to learn about the psychology of faith and religious belief. Or about the ideation process. About taste and preference and opinion and all of that. About emotion! So here, let me take this paragraph and do a 180 and say that you probably will have to read a bit more about the subject here. Or maybe you’ll enjoy that, depending on your brain.
Monday, June 16th, 2008
After a post like yesterday’s, it’s only fair that I take my only ten minutes of free time today and share the good news, that in fact I still have free internet! Frinternet, I’d like to call it. Frinternet for all, I say!
This morning I ironed my shirt but I only got some of the wrinkles out. Maybe this had something to do with my method, using a partially heated iron on my kitchen counter, for lack of an ironing board. Do I approach all tasks in my life with such haphazard laziness? (There is, of course, a more colorful term for this.) I still haven’t mailed in my ponytail that I am supposedly donating. I open my mail weeks after I receive it. I can’t stop drinking soda.
Oh, but I’m not worried about those things.
Today in class we watched this talk by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor who is a neuro-scientist and also a stroke survivor. You’ve probably seen her on Oprah or other such inspirational venues. In the video she describes with fascinating detail the process that she went through as she realized that she was having a stroke, oscillating between a state of blissful detachment and frustrated logic due to damage in her left brain. As she was on the edge of consciousness before going into operation, Dr. Jill had the awareness that she would either live or die, and she surrendered herself to that. When she woke up she realized that she was alive, and also came to believe that by allowing ourselves to become intimately familiar with both our right and left brains we are able to experience Nirvana while living (at least that’s how I interpreted her statements, I could be horribly butchering them). Now it’s interesting to hear a left-brained woman who has lost some control of her left-brain to say this. But what about a right-brained woman such as myself? Will I find “Nirvana” by embracing my logical and mathematical side? Will I feel freedom by increasing the structure and rigidity of thought in my life?
Maybe one day, will I take the logical step to purchase an ironing board and allot adequate time for ironing my clothes? Will I order my days’ activities to minimize idle time and become more efficient in all things, including hair donation? Will I be able to face temptation and addiction in the face and say, “My left brain tells me that soda is bad for me in a variety of ways, so I refuse to put it into my body”? I don’t know if I would call those things freeing, but it could certainly lead to some positive life changes.
My left brain is telling me to wrap this up so I can get to bed. Then my right brain has some dreaming to do!
Sunday, June 15th, 2008
Thank heavens for friends with internet! After a blissful year of borrowing (leeching?) an available wireless connection, the internet rug has, for the past four days, been pulled out from under me. This won’t affect my writing patterns here any more than my already busy schedule does (did I mention I’m a student again?) but it does leave me feeling a little bit isolated. Probably it’s a good thing, though. One less distraction, and if it really is morally questionable to connect to an unprotected wireless signal that I’m not paying for, then it’s one less temptation in my life.
Back to me being a student again, let me say, it’s wild. Not in the freshman-year-party-like-you-don’t-have-a-sense-of-decensy type of wild, but in the brain expansion and attention challenging type of wild. I’m in an intro to psych class which means a lot of technical and biological information in a short amount of time. It means memorization and, as our professor reminds us, a lot of hard work. During one of our classes last week we were going through some particularly agonizing worksheets and I was actually holding my cranium in my hands. “My head hurts,” I told our professor, to which she responded, “That’s because your brain is growing.”
Can you believe that? My brain is growing again! It’s wild. Science has never been a close friend of mine, but it’s really been managing to fascinate me (when it’s not overwhelming me). School is cool, man. Brains!