Sometimes, being a brainiac is awful. For starters, is a little bit of mental peace and quiet too much to ask for? Instead, I’m plagued by what a former teacher called “monkey mind”—the chattering just doesn’t stop. And on the rare occasions it does, it’s replaced with a godawful buzzing sound that makes me want to jab a fork in my ear—it’s the mental equivalent of white noise.
This constant mental chatter remains internal most of the time—but when I am in a sufficiently sleep-deprived state, the brain-to-mouth filter goes splat against the wall and everyone around me is treated to 50 – 80% of the thoughts in my head. For some reason, my friends are equal parts amused, scandalized, and concerned when this takes place. They seem shocked at the entirely random things that skitter through my head, as well as amused that I am spouting random (and apparently hysterically funny) epithets in between the giggles and bouncing that are also typical of that sleep-deprived state. The gigglefits and bouncing seem to be responsible for the concern. I once had an acquaintance in high school turn to my girlfriend and say “Fix her!” the first time I showed up to school sleep-deprived. (My then-girlfriend, in case you were wondering, replied with “What makes you think I know how to fix this?”)
There’s also the fact that a brain like mine requires a lot of attention. Like a hyper child, if my brain isn’t exercised, I can’t sleep. I have to read or write or otherwise critically engage my brain if I want to be able to sleep ever. My brain even requires this on sick days, when all I want to do is lie on the couch and watch TV in a state of quasi-consciousness. (Hell, I read 2 ½ novels during the week I was in the hospital.)
And, well, not to sound like I belong in a psych ward, but . . . there are voices inside my head. Most of them are my own, but some of them belong to the characters I write. They whisper their secrets and fears and complaints about their lives and why I’m reading “that fucking textbook” instead of writing about them. (Obviously, they are narcissistic little buggers.) The voices that are mine? I like to think of them as The Mes. There’s the Me that is optimistic, with boundless faith that everything will be OK; there’s the Me that is vicious and nasty and insecure, who criticizes Actual Me mercilessly; there is the cynical Me, who is disenchanted with the world and everything in it; and then there is the creative Me and the academic Me, who are not wholly at odds but generally speaking don’t get along so well. There are others, but I think you get the idea. (And, just because I don’t want any of you calling the men with the white coats, I am not certifiably crazy. I had myself checked. ) So, with all these voices talking and whispering and sometimes shouting over each other, it sometimes feels like the voices in my head are staging a mutiny, and I would very much like some knockout gas to shut them up because [fill in the blank] requires my attention right now.
And a vivid imagination means equally vivid nightmares. As wonderful as my imagination is when engineering or tackling writing projects, the horrors it can concoct when I’m asleep and defenseless are terrifying. Seriously—I’ve had nights where, after a run of nightmares, I don’t want to sleep.
Of course, with a brain like mine, I am also prone to staring off into seeming-nothingness for long periods of time. I’ve been told that this is creepy. Honestly, though, I’m just off in my own world—lost in memories, perhaps, or ideas for fiction/poetry, trying to mentally construct/organize my day, remembering stories that I’ve read/watched, contemplating music, or simply musing.
In short, my brain is labyrinthian, wonderful, spontaneous, loud, cluttered, and occasionally frustrates the hell out of me. I suspect that it is a little (or a lot) unique, but I’m also willing to bet (and I’m not the gambling kind) that some things are a lot more normal than other people want to admit.
But, when you do, know that you are welcome to come and join my little island of crazy. There’s a small group of us here, but we’re pretty fucking awesome.
I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.