2/18/2011

Jumbled Thoughts, Pinching Worries, and Failing Memories


My mind is a whirring jumble of thoughts, pinching worries that eat away at me, and an apparently failing memory. I'll start with the failing memory, as it, at least, is amusing in a terrifying "oh you might have more on your plate than you can handle" way.

I had two spectacular memory dumps this week, both on Tuesday. I posted the reading assignment on the American Lit blog on Friday, where I told the students I'd post some notes onto blackboard the next day and promptly forgot (so I guess, technically, that wasn't Tuesday),  and the students asked about it Tuesday. I had to look at the post and read it. While I clearly wrote I'd do that and I do remember putting the post up, I don't remember that portion. I suspect I changed my mind and decided to hand it out, and then promptly forgot the prior post, or that it never made it into long term memory in the first place. So, for me, it's as if it never happened.

Later Tuesday, when I was rushing through the other college campus on my way to my mailbox, I ran into a student from last semester. We struck up a conversation and I realized this morning that I completely mistook her for another student, so my part of it must have been extremely odd. Oops. At least I realized it this morning, right? Only two and a half days later.

I had expressed to her, though, that the semester had me a bit frazzled, and I suspect she walked out nodding her head, yup frazzled and then some. Sigh. While I can laugh at this and have been, it also adds to my jumbled thoughts and those pinching worries.

Memories are how we define who we are, where we've been. They are the sum of our experiences, and it is disconcerting when memory fails us. Even when we know how malleable it is, how fallible it is, what it takes to get into long term memory, all of the nice, sciency details, it still makes the heart ache, the chest constrict, the worries pinch at us. I don't mind feeling the fool overly much, and it's a running gag that the me today often wonders what the me last weekend was thinking as I devised assignments, lesson plans, power points.

I don't want to say I'm overwhelmed, because well, I don't think that's fair, and I think, to some degree that's a choice. I can handle this, so I'm not overwhelmed. I am, however, at capacity. I think that's safe to say. On a slow day, I'm going a million miles a minute; my obsessions  topics of interests teeter precariously on the bookcases, table, and floor, and in my mind, and there are a hundred things I want to read, to write about, to incorporate into my classes. On these busier days, I could almost believe I have attention deficit disorder as my thoughts are jumbled and trip over each other. It's a busy beehive in my mind, and I can get distracted with the mental imagery of my mind being a hive and bees busily buzzing and depositing pollen to honey combs, and I'm lost for a moment, grinning at the mental imagery.

My sleep, while so much better since choosing to cease one of my medications (my overall well-being, actually greatly improved through removing all medications but three), is also as busy as my waking hours. One morning this week, I awoke tired from having helped Brian Dunning collect soda cans (Sierra Mist to be precise) to raise money for his inFact video series. If that doesn't demonstrate the depth of my commitment to his work that it's entered my dreams, I don't know what does. I kidded with my students that Michael Shermer, random patterns, and picking up dead birds while screaming "it's not a cluster; there's no pattern!" can't be far behind in my dreams.

As if a faulty memory making me look frazzled and confused or at the very least dubious about what the me of last weekend thought would be grand to cover isn't bad enough, as if my beehive busy mind fancifully dreaming of helping skeptics carry forward their message of critical thinking and rational thought weren't enough, there are the worries that pinch at me, worries over my kids, how to handle Lily's increasing obsessive thoughts and anxiety, her hypersensitivity, Rosie's spaciness and recalcitrance, and the boy's ability to work both girls into screaming, crying messes over inconsequential matters. My chest tightens, my own anxiety increases, and I am left with a bundle of questions with no ready or easy answers, not when it comes to matters of teaching, of reaching my students, or of parenting, of safeguarding my children. I am left with probabilities and uncertainties, and I am reminded again of how hard it is to live in the midst of chaos and random patterns, and how comforting it must be to believe in absolutes and certainties. I can't trade the one for the other, as I would much rather see the world imperfectly but soundly than trade in fairy tales. But it is often a lonely road where the awareness that you just might be making a colossal mess of things despite your best intentions threatens to cripple you and leaves you tottering and looking longingly at other paths. Dr Phil asks, never realizing he proves his question wrong, do you want to be right or do you want to be happy, to which I must reply, both. Being right is being happy. Isn't that obvious? Isn't that part of the problem? Even if we're wrong, we think we're right and as long as we have that moral certainty that we're right and they're wrong, then we can be happy. 

Short of that, well, we're a mess of jumbled thoughts, pinching worries, and potentially failing memories that simply add to the depth of the first two. We are an endless loop of random patterns weaving our way through this world attempting to impose order through the careful collection of Sierra Mist cans.

8 comments:

Life in the House That Asperger Built said...

Just WOW. and (((hugs))) and I love you!

kathleen said...

HEE! I believe that all would be solved if hours were magically added to the day..Say you could have 48 hours..but somehow you could also mess with the time space continuum and make that 48 fit comfortably into the 24..do you see where I'm going with this. There would be more time to take the time. But seeing as that can't happen (yet) sometimes you have to step away from the chaos..make a list-organize the unorganized..stop. breathe..and decide what is most important. The rest falls into place eventually..Now I'm wondering if that made any sense..I'm half focusing on the beehive in my head..:) ((()))

KWombles said...

Thanks, Laura. It means a lot; I'm gonna come over and visit on your blog in a bit. I've been reading the posts in the email, but been discombobulated enough that I haven't logged in to comment.

Kathleen, buzzzzzzz. it's a better image than cobwebs and dusty cardboard boxes, I'm thinking. :-) If I had extra time in my time, I'd use the time, and be both Nataraja and Kali twirling together in a complicated ballet. Oooh, more mentail images. Heck, let's add Ganesh in to the dance, because if it were really me spinning in frenzied dance, I have a feeling it would look more like Ganesh minus the elephant head.

Stop. Breathe. Be. Hah, I need to work on those.

aspergirlmaybe said...

Ok, this is a not-totally random, but weird, comment that your post made me think of these two guys in college who collected Coke cans and put them up on their dorm room walls with that tacky stuff we all used liberally during that time period. They actually covered at least two walls and most of a third over the course of the semester.

Oh, and my CAPTCHA word was "catess"!

Diane said...

Wow, that was exhausting to read - I can't even imagine what it's like to live. Very glad you're getting better sleep. I found the dream you shared amusing.

Life generally finds ways to remind me that I'm are just one person and can only handle so much. I'm not a force of nature like you seem to be, but I definitely have my own range, and if I don't work within my capacity - which changes as I get older - I end up paying for it. Sometimes my body reminds me, and I end up dealing with an illness or an injury. Frequently it's my mind - losing thoughts or actual things, snapping over things that usually wouldn't be such a big deal, interrupted sleep, etc. My own personal experience is that when I don't pay attention to the smaller signals, bigger ones aren't far behind.

For what it's worth, realizing maybe I'm wrong about something - or at least not completely right:) - often precedes the experience of happiness for me. My thinking is often the only thing about a situation that I actually have the power to change, and once I do that, very often things get better. At the least, I feel better, because I become open to possibilities and new understanding. Life for me isn't so much about uncertainties as it is about my continually evolving understanding of What Is.

Does that make any sense? Even if it doesn't, I hope life starts coming together for you in whatever way brings you and your loved ones peace.

D. S. Walker said...

Kim,
The fact that you manage four children on the spectrum and your teaching career is enough to exhaust me. You however, do so much more than that, so give yourself a break for occasional mind slips. I think you just overloaded yourself.

I too am glad you are sleeping better. I find my mind lapses happen when I am sleep deprived. You are amazing and having dreams is a good thing as it means you are actually sleeping better.

KWombles said...

Apergirl maybe, I love the tangent and the capture.

Diane, it does make sense; I try to operate under a similar philosophy of changing my attitude when I can't change the situation. :-)

Uncertainties are okay; I can live with that, even when I don't like it; we have our ways of imposing order on chaos, even if it is to reframe our appreciation for chaos.

It's been a long semester already, and it caught up with my this week in a cold (which was bad enough Wednesday to stay home with the youngest who also was under the weather) and some existential angst coming to a metaphorical head when I woke up this morning and realized the student error. :-) Thanks for the well-wishes.

Sue, thanks. :-) hee, I've got to mess a little, and say Rick won't appreciate being lumped as a kid. I've only got the three kids! Sometimes, though, it does feel like four.

I've tried to give myself the day off from work, but since my mind keeps skittering to it, I suspect before too long I'll give in and dive into it, my way of making order of chaos and checking off things on my list. :-)

D. S. Walker said...

Oops to the four, but aren't all husbands big kids?