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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Riding A Runaway Train

I am the conductor of a runaway train. And I use the word conductor loosely. The runaway train I am referring to is my itty-bitty brain. I have written in the past about how I have an ongoing problem with the connection between my brain and my mouth. It has caused me embarrassment on numerous occasions, as well as the potential to get me into trouble. The connection problem I refer to is sort of a lag. I guess a good way to describe it is to compare it to a movie that was filmed in, say, Japanese, and then given a voiceover treatment in English. So you're stuck watching a film while your ears hear something and your eyes get a completely different message. This is a variation of the situation with my brain and mouth. While my mouth is still trying to talk about tasty cupcakes, my brain has moved on to the movie I watched on tv last week. So I end up saying something really bizarre, like the cupcakes were chocolate with buttercream frosting and sprinkled with Ben Hur.  Actually, that is not a real example, but a dramatization for entertainment purposes. You get the picture.

I have had this runaway brain-train problem for as long as I can remember, and it has more symptoms than just the mouth flying without a pilot. There's the related symptom of thinking ahead about what you are going to say during a conversation, and then getting totally derailed. You are having a chat with a friend, maybe telling her about something that you did during your favorite vacation. As you are telling her about accidentally ending up in the red-light district in New York City, you're thinking that you just can't forget to tell her about having dinner in a beautiful restaurant in Central Park. Suddenly the engine goes on overload. You forget what you were going to say about the restaurant. You forget the sentence that you were right in the middle of saying. Heck, you can't even remember the subject of the conversation. Talking comes to an abrupt and uncomfortable halt. You hope that your friend doesn't judge you when you say, "Okay, I just drew a total blank. What was I talking about?" Chug along, train.

For me, one of the most irritating parts of being the conductor of this erratic train has to do with being unable to shut down the motor. Even as a kid, I was a natural-born worrier. Well, that's probably not true. My life gave me plenty of reasons to worry, and lots of opportunities to practice. I have made a great deal of progress in this regard. Sometimes I am actually able to say, and believe, that what will happen will happen. But if worrying was an art form and I let myself go unchecked, I could be the Monet or Van Gogh or Picasso or Michelangelo of worrying. Not that those are bragging rights. 

The other part of not being able to shut down has to do with sleep problems. I find myself tired and sleepy and lay down, ready for a restful night's sleep. And my brain the train goes into high gear. At the same time that I'm thinking about how exhausted I am, my train is speeding away from Sleepytime Station. I start to wonder if my library has an e-book version of some book that I want to read. Should I get up and look it up, or wait until morning? Will I remember it in the morning? Maybe I should get up and just write myself a note so that I don't forget. But if I want to write it down, I'll have to go into the living room to get the notepad out of my purse. If I do that, I might as well just look it up online right now. Oh, to heck with it, I'll remember it again sometime. Oh! Did I remember to pay the cable and the phone bill? I guess I can just check it tomorrow. I'll remember. But what if tomorrow it's one day late? I really can't afford to pay a late fee. No way am I going to pay something for nothing. Okay, you get the idea. 

Several years ago, Trent and I got mp3 players that came with a one-month free trial of an online audiobook service. I wasn't terribly eager to try it, but what the heck. I fell in love with it. It had been so long since anyone read me a story! But that wasn't the best part. Listening to books was like switching my train to a slower track. While I was hearing the story I was distracted from all of the thoughts that could have been racing through my brain. I could set the timer on my player and manage to fall blissfully asleep. It was heavenly. 

My doctor found out a few months ago during a casual conversation that I have been doing this, and told me I had to stop. It isn't good for me. It is not conducive to sleep. So I didn't take my player to Florida when we went there in January. All of that recreation we were enjoying left me pretty tired, so I did get some good nights of sleep. When we came home, I told Trent I wasn't going to listen at bedtime any more. And I found myself still awake at two a.m. and three a.m. and on one horrendously restless night, at half past five. But I just couldn't give up until Trent said, "Honey, just listen to a book so we can both get some sleep, please." So, like an addict who has fallen off the wagon, I'm back on the audiobooks. But it's so much nicer than trying to ride a runaway train.