This is My Brain Not on Drugs

I’m writing this in a coffee shop. It might not have been the best day to attempt writing in a public space. I knew that my senses were on an acute bender when I went to the Y to get a workout this morning.

I was overwhelmed by the musty smell that concrete buildings sometimes have on a rainy day. Then I had to switch treadmills because the manual button to change speeds (for interval running) wasn’t responsive enough. Then I noticed the seam of my sock was off and I could feel it with every foot strike. In front of me was the flapping, fleshy face of the president popping up on the nonstop TV screens. My treadmill started making a clickclickclick sound as I increased speed. The woman next to me was wearing some sort of musky perfume that made my stomach uneasy. Sensory overload.

There is, I suppose, a diagnosis that would roll up all my sensitivities into a nice neat package that could be ameloriated/dulled/cured by drugs/meditation/emotional eating. That I’m oversensitive to most drugs is not ironic – just a fact. When I got put under for an endoscopic invasion a few weeks ago, I awoke irritably to two women hollering in my face and shaking me to wake up. I did not want my nap, which was acanstockphoto2383460bout seven years overdue, interrupted. This caused some concern on their part. I want to yell “See, I told you!” in response to people who have suggested medication might not be a bad thing for me. They’ve also apparently never heard me wax on about how much I enjoyed Percocet – a brief time in my medical history when I loved everyone and everything right up to the moment the prescription ran out.

Acute senses are sometimes a curse. My family thinks so. Life would be slightly better for them if I didn’t enter every room with “What’s that smell?” People would appreciate it, too, if I remembered them by their names instead of their quirks, smells, lisps, twitches. I do my best not to call them by their idiosyncrasies. Because calling someone one-who-picks-at-their-teeth or the-guy-who-smells-of-mothballs is apparently bad form. This heightened awareness and observation isn’t just irritants. It’s lovely eye crinkles that deepen a laugh or smile. It’s the smell of lilacs floating across a yard. It’s the house not blowing up next to us, because I alert the gas company (true story). It’s also likely what makes me a better writer than I would otherwise be.

canstockphoto60321094Perhaps I’m at the point in life where rationalization seems a whole lot easier than making a change. I can smell leaves burning a mile away, while simultaneously noticing there are two different species of birds calling back and forth, and that the man going by on his bike, playing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” out of little speaker, is on his third pass (I ain’t converting, old man). I’ve finally rationalized that it is a gift, although there are days when I wonder how I function. But I do and I live on to write about the things that flood my brain.


canstockphoto33544039The media is framing the 2020 election already. Dinosaurs duking it out (and yes, the President is a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Come on, with those hands, it’s too easy). Biden is a Gallimimus (a dinosaur generically known as a “chicken mimic”). Initially I thought that the only thing that would make the race more exciting would be betting pools on who croaked first. But that wouldn’t be exciting. The runner-ups to the Shitty American contest would be Pence and Sanders. You’d have to go two teams deep to find an unfossilized politician with a slightly original idea who wasn’t handsy or repressed or spitting on himself when he spoke. This is going to be another long year/decade.


I’m all for authenticity and honesty. To a point. Lately I’ve seen conversations floating about the internet regarding how people wash in the shower. This is where I slam my laptop shut in disgust. For two reasons: 1) How you wash in the shower is not any of my damned business. 2) See number one. Most of the time people start these public conversations so they can feel some sense of superiority, goad others into defending themselves, or gain views for exaggerating minutiae into contagious attention. There are things worth talking about because they cause people shame or pain and being brought into the light of day serves to free them. Whether you wash your bits and pieces in a certain order or with a washcloth or loofah is not interesting or elucidating. It does say something about the person who starts that public conversation. I don’t know what, but I’m sure they’ll tell us.

It’s Not Joyce or David Foster Wallace, But Close

44161076I’ll fess up. I’m reading that damned Mueller Report. There are several factors complicating my reading sessions. It’s boring, I’m not a lawyer, and it is not going to change my mind about the current occupant in the White House. Still, I trudge on because neither a sycophantic Attorney General nor a befuddled media are going to “spin” it for me. I’ll see for myself what’s what – and still not know much more than I did before reading this Asshole Odyssey.

P.S. – Remember a while back when I wrote that post about not swearing? Yeah, it didn’t quite take.


I am persistent, but not great at most things in my life. This applies to writing, gardening, running, sleeping (not the no-brainer it used to be). I resist giving up in the face of imperfection. My garden is a rambling, disorganized experiment. I spend hours there, filthy from head to toe, and it still looks like the owners have been on vacation. For months. It’s right in our front yard, where everyone can see, including the man who keeps biking by and yelling at me that I need to mulch. Surprisingly, this is not the same man who bikes by playing hymns down our street. I do live in an interesting neighborhood.

canstockphoto3556994It occurred to me how important it is to love something you’re bad at. I love to run, but I’m not good at it. My face stays red for hours after. I look as graceful as a gazelle if a gazelle were 30 pounds overweight, had knock knees, and clutched its chest every half mile or so. Still, I do it, because it gives me a bizarre kind of joy. And bizarre joy is so much better than regular joy, because it’s all yours and completely inexplicable to others.

Have a Joyful Week!

22 thoughts on “This is My Brain Not on Drugs

  1. Love your post and I agree with your point about the shower, it’s non of are damned business. 🙂


  2. Ewww … thankfully the post about showering missed me. Then again, considering the kinds of selfies that circulate these days, I suppose we should all be grateful whoever it was just talked about it. Sorry, it’s ok, you can hate me for that.


    1. Yeah, thanks for that visual, Fransi! But you’re right. I am on a weight loss bender, so on occasion, I like looking at before and after pics to get inspired. I stopped doing that because too many people go the full Monty. It’s not inspiring at all to see people in their ratty old underwear in a dirty bedroom.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I refer to people by their habits, which I find very helpful when thinking about them but just a little judgy, which I’m trying desperately not to do, but yeah…..good post


    1. I always remind myself that I don’t want to be thought of as the “oversensitive one”, so names are good. I’ve been paying attention to this, because how I see people in life is often how I write characters in fiction. I don’t think it translates well on either end!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been saying that a lot lately, that attention to detail is a blessing and a curse. A curse for sleeping, focused reading or writing, sweaters on, or sweaters off as the temperature changes a fraction of a degree. Full moons are particularly bad for insomnia [yawn] and we had one a couple days ago.

    Being able to catch details, though, that others overlook, does have rewards. While mineral collecting, I’ve found rocks other’s have stepped over. While researching family history, I notice that the hat in one picture is the same as in another and suddenly connections are made.

    I can’t help thinking that the pair of bicyclers are twins, each with the same but different call. God, like mulch = salvation.

    BTW, LOL about the swearing. Another time. In another life, perhaps.


    1. Between massive hot flashes and heart palpitating anxiety for no reason, it’s a wonder I get any sleep at all. I’m spinning my hyper-awareness as a good thing for writing, even though it makes social situations much less enjoyable than they already are. I can focus when I need to, but it does explain why I find busy places so overwhelming.

      As for the cyclists, there is a pattern. I remember when I was first putting in the garden years ago, when a five-year-old sped past on his bike and yelled “Poopyhead!” at me. That I did not wing him with a rock or shove a tree branch into his spokes was a testament to my recognition that I was a grownup and he was not. This year, though, men on bikes are really ramping up their game.

      By the way, Maggie, I like your profile pic. It’s new to me, as I’ve been mostly absent from blogland and may have missed a blog transition or twenty.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m newly returned to blogging with the intention to start a new historical research-based blog, and possible book to go along with it. I thought I better up my game and loose the hat. Glad you like the pic. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am overly sensitive to smells, noises, etc. And I also swear a lot. They may or may not be connected. The sensitivity is generally only a problem when I’m inundated with noises, lights, etc, or when I have a migraine. The rest of the time, I just play the introvert card and get myself out of there.


  7. I love your style, but I have to say it must be exhausting to be you, cuz your insights are rocket fueled. I love reading as you reign the energy in to write so entertainingly.


    1. It is, indeed, often exhausting to be me – although I think being human is pretty tiring at times for most of us. But the alternative…this is what older people always say, but maybe the alternative to being human is not just being dead, but being a sloth or a cloud. Cloud sounds pretty good. Floating by, casually raining on other people’s parades. Yes, somebody needs their morning coffee.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. “And bizarre joy is so much better than regular joy, because it’s all yours and completely inexplicable to others.”

    I will be thinking about this all day. 🙂


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