Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dispatch from a Broken Brain

This past weekend, it was pointed out to me by some concerned citizens (beautiful and youthful concerned citizens, yes, hi ladies) that I have not issued any dispatches from the deep since July. There are several reasons for this, many of which have to do with the fact that the deep, inevitably, gets deeper and deeper, such that issuing anything besides farts or sighs gets more and more fraught with complications logistical, emotional, and digestive.

In a certain light, of course, you are never deeper down than in those early baby days, those strange dreamy months spent kneeling on the floor. (My rug, I remember, actually had blue smudges from months of being crawled upon by my be-jeaned knees.) But, from another perspective, it is in the end of the postpartum period and the putative return to real life* - mostly upright, mostly not carrying a baby, mostly speaking normal English to everyone in the house - that the rabbit hole truly opens up. Because you are suddenly expected, both by yourself and by everyone else around you, to act like a normal person. It is no longer acceptable for you to behave as though life should slow or stop just because you have a child. In the meantime, however, the child is doing his or her damnedest to slow or stop your life. I mean, as much as people talk about the newborn period being about loss of control, I have to tell you that you do not know what it means to be out of control of your life until you have a toddler.** It does not induce the desire to write poignant observations in a tastefully light-blue-and-cream blog*** as much as it induces catatonia.

Also, of course, the longer you do something, the more encumbered it gets. In the beginning, a thing is simple to do, and later, it is not. Such is the truth about everything in life, and blogs are no exception.

But really, these are small issues in comparison to Buffy. The real reason for my three-month communication freeze is Buffy.

Allow me to explain. In July, at the urging of concerned citizen LC, who I don't know whether to thank or punish, I began watching the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time. Now, I have been truly taken with TV shows before - Alias and Veronica Mars come to mind as having absorbed a great deal of my psychic energy. But NOTHING can compare to what Buffy did to me. For whatever reason, the show reached somewhere deep into my mind and sparked a hysterical intellectual brainstorm. For weeks, I vomited forth increasingly complex theories and ideas about superheroes, heroines, legends, horror, romance, archetypes, teleplays, screen plays, stage plays, fans, fandom, fanfiction, commercial television, pop culture, high culture, Romeo and Juliet, film noir, and on and on and on and on. Nothing in my brain or experience was left untouched: everything was re-oriented in the wake of Buffy, and I had to talk about every single one of these re-orientations until my throat was dry and my husband's eyes began rolling back in his head.

In addition to destabilizing me intellectually, the show also left me in ruins emotionally. I sobbed for literally hours over the horrifically star-crossed pairing of Buffy and Angel, completely unable to even rise from the couch after particularly tragic episodes. The emotional upheaval invaded every moment of my life. Sometimes, in the middle of perfectly innocuous conversations with my husband, I would suddenly gasp in pain.

"What's wrong?!"

"Oh...nothing...just...[sob sob]...I was thinking about Buffy."

I discussed the issue with my friend HA, who had also experienced Buffy upheaval. "Why?" I asked her, feeling desperate. "Why is it doing this to me?"

"Well," she said thoughtfully, "I think what happened is that it got at something in here," touching her forehead, "that was already a little broken."

And that is about the best explanation available: my brain was already a little broken, and Buffy broke it the rest of the way. In any case, broken-brained as I was, I yearned to put it all down on paper, to capture all that was wracking my brain and my heart. But the feelings were too strong, the thoughts too many and too inchoate. Write as I might, I got nowhere. And that is mostly why you heard nothing from me for three months. I tried and tried and got nowhere, and then fell out of the habit of trying.

I actually stopped watching Buffy in the middle of season 4, no longer able to deal with the continuous torture inflicted upon the characters by what must be an incredibly sadistic team of writers. For whatever reason, though, yesterday, flopped on the sofa suffering from an ailment that I will tell you about later, I decided that it was Buffy time again. I skipped the remainder of season 4 and went straight to season 5, hoping that things might get a little better. A quick glance at Wikipedia, though, tells me that my hopes are in vain: this season, the sadists are going to kill Buffy's mom, bring Angel back for a few terribly wrenching moments and send him away again, and make Spike fall in star-crossed love with Buffy. Horror. I watched the first episode anyway, though, and I think I will watch the second today. My brain is already broken, anyway - how much worse could it get? And you and I, we're back in touch again, so things couldn't possible go too wrong. Right? Right.

*I know that many people think of the postpartum period as being far shorter, like six months or maybe, at most, a year. But in my own experience - and this may because I continued to breastfeed for so long and/or because I never returned to full-time work and/or because "many people" are invariably full of shit and don't know what they're talking about - I did not stop feeling postpartum until around the two-year mark. By which I mean that it was not until about 24 months after I gave birth that I stopped feeling physically and psychologically defined by the fact that I had given birth in the near past.

**Or until you have my toddler. A doula colleague whose son is the same age as mine recently said, "I just love this age, don't you?" And watching her son sit through an hour-long grownup meeting peacefully scribbling in a notebook without making a peep, I concluded that I, too, love her son at this age.

***Jeez, are you so fucking bored of looking at this color scheme? Anyone out there up for designing something new?


Anonymous said...

Just glad to have you back.

Anonymous said...

welcome back, traveler. I missed hearing from you. :) LJ

Ankit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robin said...

this is your niece, robin, and yes, i'm bored with the creamy yellow! give us some dreamy blues or greens! still mellow, but less blah... lol! :)