An Unfortunate Break-Up With My Brain

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Late night. A single candle burns in a garret. A young(ish) woman sits alone at a wooden table, kneading her frozen fingers. She sighs, and from a distance comes the faintest sound of a bell ringing. The candle flickers. This is because she has sighed again. She is doing an awful lot of sighing (it’s melodramatic, and fits in well with her surroundings). Suddenly, the candle burns brighter and the bell rings out, crisp and clear.

Me: Hello? Are you there? Please? Hello?

My Brain: Yeah. Howryeh.

Me: Oh, thank heavens. I thought you were never going to answer.

My Brain: Well, for a while there I wasn’t sure I was going to either.

Me: It’s just that I’m in a bit of a bind.

My Brain: I know, yeah. You’re sighing a lot.

Me: It’s getting really late, you see, and I have no blog post for tomorrow –

My Brain: The world won’t end if you miss one week, you know.

Me: But I always post once a week.

My Brain: You and your routine. You know you’ve been eating the exact same thing for breakfast for far too long now? I’d be going mental, only there are at least some bodily functions I still get to play around with whenever I see fit.

Me: Don’t I know it. When I’m on planes, mostly.

My Brain: Lookit. Can’t you see I’m tired? This morning I wrote you a whole scene to try out that narrative voice you want for the new novel. That took ages, because you wouldn’t let me use pronouns properly. Then I had to write that work thing, which bored me rigid.

Me: I know, and I’m very grateful, but if you give me just one itty bitty blog post for tomorrow, then I’ll leave you alone for a WHOLE WEEK!

My Brain: You’re so full of shit. Last week I gave you a skit on historical fiction, but you still made me give you another post for your writing.ie column on Friday. I was properly cheesed off at that, let me tell you.

Me: I can see you need to get a few things off your, um, chest.

My Brain: A few things? Are you for real? Who was the one who turned into a news junkie, and ended up giving me the concentration abilities of a constipated goldfish?

Me: Uh-oh.

My Brain: What about when you diversified from hard news into empty content aggregators full of misleading clickbait, which resulted in me scrolling through acres of dirt in order to find so-called nuggets which also consisted coincidentally, but not surprisingly, of dirt? And don’t even get me started on social media.

An Unfortunate Break-Up With My Brain

Me: [swallowing] I feel bad.

My Brain: You should. I remember a time when you and I were good mates. We had a laugh, didn’t we? Staying up until 4am during exam season, hyped up on sugar and caffeine, while you fed me piles of data and information which I dutifully and solidly spat back at you in the exam hall. We were a team, Tara. A TEAM.

Me: [crying softly] I remember.

My Brain: And remember those long days in libraries, you in a frenzy of last-minute paper-based research, me saving your bacon at the final hour with something which was really quite shallow, yet managed to appear astute in ways which would somehow fool even cynical college lecturers?

Me: [sobbing dramatically] I remember.

My Brain: Remember when we used to stare at spreadsheets for hours, working the kinks out of long broken formulas? Remember that? When you used to allow me to do the same thing until it was done, even if it took all day?

Me: I remember. Oh, My Brain, I never stopped loving you, even though that sounds kind of egotistical when you think about it.

My Brain: Are you some kind of sadist?

Me: I don’t think so. At least, not last time I looked.

My Brain:  You fried me, you know that? Your lack of focus has left me in tatters! Why would you do that to somebody you loved? Why would you fry them?

Me: [whispering] I don’t know.

My Brain: Speak up, girl!

Me: [slightly louder] I don’t know what happened. I just looked at the internet and noticed it had a lot of, um, stuff. And then I just – I couldn’t stop.

My Brain: Then you went and did that thing last month.

Me: Oh God.

My Brain: Remember that book I wrote you before Christmas? Or are you so fickle now that you’ve even forgotten that?

Me: [mumbling] No, I remember.

My Brain: As I recall, I was given strict instructions to work on that in March, to make it into something other than a shitty first draft. And then what did you do?

Me: [still mumbling] I had another idea.

My Brain: You had another idea, got all excited, and forced me to start on it. While I was also supposed to be working on the blog, several essays, and not one, but two short stories. You’ve been taking me out for walks every single day, forcing me to think about characters and story arcs, for what I might say is quite an ambitious project.

Me: I couldn’t help it. Even you thought it was a bloody great idea!

My Brain: Well, would you please just let me WORK ON IT THEN? Instead of pulling me in fifteen different directions? You are aware that just this weekend, in a haze of alcohol, you told someone you were writing that feature film?

Me: Oops.

My Brain: So I made a decision yesterday, while you were having your hangover.

Me: Sounds ominous.

My Brain: I think we should take a break.

Me: Don’t you dare say it’s not me, it’s you.

My Brain: I just need some space. To think.

Me: You’re going somewhere with book heroin, aren’t you.

My Brain: And I’m taking your eyes to see other people.

Me: You know, I much preferred talking to my arse. It’s a lot nicer than you.

My Brain: Ah, I get that all the time.

*****************************

Note: Before my brain decided to stage an industrial relations dispute, I did a more conventional piece over on writing.ie last Friday on how to write a guaranteed blockbuster. Just in case you’re feeling a bit bewildered.

An Unfortunate Break-Up With My Brain

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  90 comments for “An Unfortunate Break-Up With My Brain

  1. April 11, 2017 at 7:59 am

    OMG, this is so familiar 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  2. April 11, 2017 at 8:03 am

    Who needs conventional? I like this. I get this. I’m in daily industrial relations talks with my brain / body complex, but a strike is always on the cards. Good luck with your negotiations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 11, 2017 at 10:37 am

      My Brain is a bugger, Oran. Keeps getting up from the table before I’ve finished making my argument, and then claiming I made it this way. This may have to go all the way to the Labour Relations Commission.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. April 11, 2017 at 8:12 am

    Hahaha, ” concentration abilities of a constipated goldfish” – poor one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. April 11, 2017 at 8:13 am

    This so totally inspired, and so very true. Hilarious reading, and I bet my brain is making plans of its own as we speak!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. April 11, 2017 at 8:15 am

    Yup, sounds familiar…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. April 11, 2017 at 8:42 am

    I’ve been keeping my brain in an obedient but largely dysfunctional state using caffeine, alcohol and a diet containing excessive amounts of sugar and fat for years now. I haven’t achieved anything meaningful but aside from being a bit ‘difficult’ in the mornings, my brain is relatively content. Well I don’t hear much from it anyway so I assume it’s happy…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. April 11, 2017 at 9:34 am

    haha….familiar feeling…but constipated goldfish got me 😀 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  8. April 11, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Hi Tara, I think you’re suffering from what Clare Josa calls ‘Overwhelm’. I loved your post (I always love your posts) and like the others here, I recognised so much of it in myself. However, and please forgive me as this is a public space, I’m worried for you. Maybe see this for what it is – listen to your poor overloaded brain and take a break. We won’t go away, we’ll wait for you as you’re too good to forget, but why not check out for a couple of months before your brain checks out on you. Please take this with love and concern, and maybe offer the same to yourself. With very, very best wishes x

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 11, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      Oh, you’re so kind, Sarah! (Why lovely people read this blog is something I’ll never understand.) But there’s no need to worry. I may well have to slow down in terms of blogging at some point, but you’d be surprised what I’ll exploit in the way of comedy. Having conversations with supposedly inanimate body parts is both a form of therapy and the kick up the arse I need.

      Like

  9. April 11, 2017 at 11:04 am

    I have similar conversations…

    ME: Right, the night is yet young, we should probably do some writing.
    BRAIN: Yup. Ready and waiting.
    ME: OK, so we could do a summary of the last writers’ group meeting…
    BRAIN: A-ha, yes, needs doing.
    ME: Or get cracking on the next chapter of the 2 guys who’ve eaten Zeus.
    BRAIN: Yep, there’s a deadline for that.
    ME: Or work on the compost bin storyline…
    BRAIN: I’m having second thoughts about that one.
    ME: It’ll be fine, trust me.
    BRAIN: We could actually start on the Big Project that you’ve always got me working on.
    ME: We could. Right, whichever we decide we need to go and get Creativity. Where is it?
    BRAIN: I haven’t got it. I thought you had it last.
    ME: Well, yeah, I had it earlier today when I was driving home.
    BRAIN: Did you leave it in the car?
    ME: Um.
    BRAIN: You arse. Are you going to get it?
    ME: I’m tired now. I’m going to surf the internet and then play a pointless card game.
    BRAIN: Christ on a bike. I’ll see you in the morning. [stomps off]

    Liked by 3 people

    • April 11, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      I’m sensing a pattern forming. Have they gone and formed a bloody brain union or what?!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. April 11, 2017 at 11:30 am

    I think your brain’s a borderline abuser, frankly. Have you considered plopping in front of a “Bennie Hill” marathon on Netflix until it sees reason? THEN we’d see the shoe on t-… no, wait…

    Thank God my brain is dumber than a box of rocks, I wouldn’t know how to function if I was catching this crap all the time on top of everything else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 11, 2017 at 2:14 pm

      You might be right, but a Bennie Hill marathon is very harsh, Will. Are you sure that hasn’t already been outlawed following dodgy psychological experiments in the 70s?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. April 11, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Has your brain been talking to my brain? BAD BRAINS! :-p

    Liked by 1 person

  12. April 11, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Our brains should hang out. It seems they’re both pretty dissatisfied with their current relationships. Of course all they’d do is complain about their exes, which would be a poor start. And no one could ever love them the way we do. Maybe I’ll buy my brain some flowers and promise to change. Then I’ll get right to work on an intellectually stimulating novel. After I catch up on my favorite reality shows.

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 11, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      You might need to work on your wooing skills, Sarah. Or is that foreplay? Um…. maybe don’t answer that.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. April 11, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Sounds familiar. Way too familiar.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 11, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      If My Brain has gone on its holidays over to your blog, to gorge on all your lovely food, Donna, there’s going to be war.

      Like

  14. April 11, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    This is far more authentic than the dog ate my concentration, or the dingo beat my brother up, even if both of those events happened.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 11, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      The world needs your memoir, Tenderlation. You know that, right?

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 11, 2017 at 3:48 pm

        Waiting for my lawyers to give me the green light. Names have to remain the same to expose the guilty. Shrek was the dingo’s name. He meant well. I hope you and your brain manage to weather this storm without too many banged doors.

        Liked by 1 person

        • April 11, 2017 at 4:14 pm

          My Brain has no respect for doors, or any other domestic contrivance. At least that’s what I tell the Guards when they come round. I like the sound of your lawyers. Can I have one?

          Liked by 1 person

  15. April 11, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Hmm, I don’t know if I should say anything or not, but I am starting to suspect that your brain and mine may have begun an independent correspondence as it sounds very much like a conversation we recently had together as well. We’re now in therapy together though, so there’s hope for you too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 11, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      But your brain AGREED to therapy, Allie. When I suggest therapy to My Brain, I got a splitting headache and a heavy dose of The Fear. If our brains have been talking, it doesn’t seem like yours has been the greatest influence.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. April 11, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Fascinating that it’s brain you deal with for blogging. I rely on heart (and Puppy Stan, who wants to lick your brain).

    Liked by 1 person

  17. April 11, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Your brain is being a little hard on you, Tara. So demanding! Tell that thing to lighten up. You’re young-ish. There’s plenty of time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 11, 2017 at 7:16 pm

      Try telling that to My Brain, Diana. He’s not listening to anyone right now. And it’s strange, but I’ve just realised my brain appears to be male. Don’t know how I missed that before.

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 11, 2017 at 8:12 pm

        I noticed that too. Isn’t that strange? Ha ha. Probably the old yin-yang things. The heart is female and the brain male. That’s why they’re always arguing. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  18. April 11, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    Reading this post I imagined your Brain talking with an Irish accent. And the post sort of confirms a long-held belief of mine that the human brain and the human body are two separate organic entities that fused together tens of thousands of years ago in a mutually parasitic relationship.

    Just remind your Brain that if you ever placed it on a chair to fend for itself it would be in a right old state.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 11, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      ps I read that article about foolproof ways to write a blockbuster novel. Once again you inspire me. As a mark of gratitude, when I get my first royalty payment do you want gold bath taps or a season ticket at West Ham?

      Liked by 1 person

    • April 11, 2017 at 7:18 pm

      I love your advice so much Chris that I want to write it on the chair and bash My Brain with it. Something tells me however that this might not be the smartest thing I ever do.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. April 11, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    I see you label your brain in patriarchal gender specific terms whereas mine is currently undergoing a transformative post gender realignment to a cranial space filling Questionning Inquistive Athoughful positronic numbnuts discombobulation. Have you tried rubbing a terrine of sugar puffs into your ears? It won’t help but keeps Kellogg’s share price at levels that mean my Oaty Investment Portfolio will continue to out perform the Grain based share index. Now if only I can eat your goldfish I think we’ll be ok.

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 12, 2017 at 10:45 am

      How am I supposed to deal with a comment of this magnitude without My Brain, Geoff? It’s most inconsiderate. I can barely process words of less than one syllable, let alone poetry of this quality. Have a goldfish. You’ve earned it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 12, 2017 at 6:57 pm

        Oooo thanks. Our last one froze during a nasty cold snap in 2006 and had to be buried at sea. ‘Buried’ bring a loose term as his ice cuboid coffin floated for a disconcertingly long time traumatising my daughter as she watched him float in circles. Looking back it might have been better not to try and flush him away. I doubt she’ll forget the fishy resurrection when Oliver reappeared round the bend

        Liked by 1 person

  20. April 12, 2017 at 12:11 am

    Blogging is easy. Writing short stories is fun and easy. Writing a column is a little less fun and easy. But put them all together and I get you. My brain is more Italian than Irish I think. It just roars at me to feck off and storms off.
    But making up can get very cteative’

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 12, 2017 at 10:47 am

      Sometimes I find blogging woefully hard, Tric, I must admit, as evidenced by posts such as this! But it’s all worth it in the end. I dread to think what I’d do with the contents of my head if they didn’t end up here. I could end up being a news item myself. Shudder to think 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 12, 2017 at 3:05 pm

        I see men in white coats in your future.
        Are you going to Wexford festival? I am (now you will def want to go)

        Liked by 1 person

        • April 12, 2017 at 3:46 pm

          I would follow you anywhere, Tric. Actually, technically I am following you everywhere, seeing as I’ve been stalking you for months now. Thank Blog I’m not a creepy person, or I bet you’d be worried, eh?!

          (PS on Wexford – discussions ongoing partners in crime about that!)

          Like

  21. April 12, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    Oh, poor brain. I hope the two of you make up again. Otherwise, you may have to suffer the consequences — and brains can be real d!cks, you know, especially when you’re trying to get some sleep. That’s when they go, “let me remind you of that embarrassing night 20 years ago, Wasn’t that the worst?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 12, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      Ooooh yeah. In Ireland that’s called The Fear. In fact the only time my brain seems to operate in a focused, linear fashion is when it’s scrolling through the night before looking for things to feel mortified about. Actually, now that I think of it, I have to wonder whether I’m better off without him. It’s been an abusive relationship in more ways than one.

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 12, 2017 at 6:21 pm

        Yeah, who needs him. Heck, you could even become POTUS without it. It’s been known to happen, you know.

        Liked by 1 person

        • April 12, 2017 at 7:21 pm

          Masterful, Nick. I love it when people crack jokes the subject wouldn’t get 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  22. April 12, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Not bewildered at all. I assume our brains are cross-referring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 12, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      And I see that it’s a good thing that I don’t even want to write a blockbuster.

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 12, 2017 at 3:51 pm

        The more people I can put off writing blockbusters the better, Hilary. It’s part of my grand plan to take over the world. That, and cross-referencing with brains such as yours, obviously…

        Like

  23. April 12, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    I hope you guys can make it work – it’s always a shame when friends break up ;-D

    Liked by 1 person

  24. April 12, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    Entertaining, witty, clever and funny. Love it. At least your brain is talking to you.
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Sue Bridgwater
    April 17, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Reblogged this on Skorn.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. April 17, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    You guys are so tough on each other. Me and my brain adhere to an enabling dysfunction that means our relationship never reaches the point of no return that you seem to be at. My brain is the salt of the earth…of course, unreliable, moody AF and frustratingly vacant at the times when he is around, but still, what can you expect for nothing?

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 18, 2017 at 8:09 pm

      This confirms my suspicions that I am the victim here, Jackie. I always knew it wasn’t my fault. My brain is just embittered and one abused substance away from a problem.

      Like

  27. April 29, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    There’s something a bit tragic about this love/ hate triangle thing you got going on with your brain and your arse. I’m starting to worry about you…

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 29, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      Sigh. I agree totally, Ali. I’d say I was done with it, but there are SO many other body parts…

      Like

      • April 29, 2017 at 8:37 pm

        Very true. Try hands… they give good massage. But stay away from feet. Don’t recommend the feet.

        Liked by 1 person

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