Before I do something important — like spend the rest of my afternoon working on PowerPoint slides, also known as, How the West Was Won — I need to clear my brain of brain junk.
Brain junk, like space junk, is the accumulation of slow-moving yet annoying objects that are always about to pop your helmet as you attempt to repair the foam so that you don’t burn your ass up during re-entry.
Brain junk are the floaters you see when you look at a whiteboard. You have worms in your eyes. Try to look at them and they disappear. Touch them lightly and let them dissolve, thanks, Pema.
The way of going about removing the space junk brain junk is by shaking out the rug. Mental vacuuming. The opposite, actually. It’s less a matter of cleaning and more a matter of saying, come and get me, thoughts. You put your big thought magnet out there and see what tiny metal filings come zipping out of drawers. ME ME ME ME!
You let all of the excuses arrive. The one about not having a desk. The one about HEY DIDN’T YOU POSSIBLY JUST QUI—? Shhh, you’ve seen the episode of Seinfeld. We all have.
You claim No Martyrs as your anthem but are acting just like one. Yes, you’re in this position because you made Decisions and these Decisions led you to this Place. You knew where you were going, don’t blame the GPS.
But you don’t want to do it.
It feels pointless.
And you’ve already visited your blogs, and done the laundry, and the dishes, and eaten peanut M&Ms, and taken a bath — a powerful brain junk clear-er, though only if you maximize the momentum gained through the inertia of getting dressed and clearly you have not — and you have even contemplated going in to the “office” as part of the ritual.
What we’re really talking about here is rituals.
But you’ve changed churches, and you’re not really sure if you’re a believer anymore.
And yet it’s your job to prep the church for tomorrow’s ceremony.
So you just kind of sort of have to pull it together and do it, especially before the Mad Men season premiere at 9pm ET.
I am thinking often of my grandfather. Who lived the last 30 years of his life — my entire life — with chronic lower back pain. A botched prostate surgery? No one ever really took the time to explain this to me. I remember stretchy white back braces with velcro, and another one that had some electric zappy things. Lumbar pillows. Heating pads. And, after awhile, though the pain did not go away, the desire to solve the problem faded. Self-medication by way of the bar, located in the living room.
I wonder if he ever took Ultracets? I took one a few minutes ago. Around my birthday last year, I started experiencing lower back pain. You may recall the delightfully quirky trips to the Duane Reade walk-in clinic, followed by a freak kidney stone diagnosis. (Yep, still there and not moving, knock on particle board.)
It was the doctor at the Duane Reade that gave me the prescription for the Ultracets. I filled it — a massive amount! — but was too afraid to take them for a few weeks. When the pain moved from 5 to 7, I spent an afternoon texting my sister in angst and finally took one as an “experiment.”
One Ultracet is approximately equal to taking 2 Alleves. With the added bonus of, quote, “a sense of wellbeing.” To which one may become addicted, if the drug warnings are to be believed.
I wouldn’t call it a sense of wellbeing as much as a sense of mild dissociation. You know the commercial for the depression drug that features an animated blue bathrobe following the protagonist around? And how, even after said protagonist pops the pill, the lonely bathrobe follows her around, but from a creepy, Boo Radley-level distance?
That’s what the Ultracet does. Without the feelings of braggadociousness that come from alcohol.
I was on a plane to San Francisco a few weeks ago. Middle seat. Crammed between 1000 engineers heading to an IT security conference. No internet. (“Sorry, the ports are all full.”) Pain at level 7. Ultracets gate-checked. Zone 4. The dreaded Zone 4.
And I had the back brace on, not the white stretchy velcro one but the expensive one that my chiropractor tricked Oxford Healthcare into giving to me for free.
Reader, I listened to a Pema Chodron audiobook.
You say you’re above the cliches. You honestly believe in your uniqueness. This isn’t your real life. This is somebody else’s life. You just accidentally put on someone else’s jeans. Whoops. The jeans are fine. You can wear them for awhile, why not, return to the dressing room at any time. It’s your choice.
You are living in a chick lit novel. Except it doesn’t feel like Bridget Jones’ Diary. It feels like Anita Brookner. Mixed with Douglas Coupland. Or something. Something serious. Thomas Bernhard. Coffee, wine, Ultracets, self-loathing, careers you don’t want. Chipping Pepto Bismol pink fingernail polish. The hotel wifi connection keeps dropping. Do you pay to upgrade? Do you have time for a 30-minute nap before your next coffee date? They just woke up in Australia. The emails are coming in.