Tuesday, October 9, 2012

No intellect

Life is wierd on a lot of levels right now.  One of them is kind of a Catch-22.  When this all started, it occurred to me that I have six or eight months of time I can't spend doing many of the things I normally do, but I had a pretty wide range of things I would "take care of" during this down time.

You can laugh if you like, but the range went from figuring out what I am doing with my life, studying for and taking the GREs, and figuring out and applying to graduate school, to knitting all the holiday gifts.  Seriously, I can't seem to do either of these disparate things.  Even I am laughing at my audacity, thinking I could deal with graduate school.  I can't even choose a pattern to knit on which I think I can stay focused.

My brain has lost some basic focus during chemo, which I am aware happens.  This, I am told, is one of the cumulative effects, so it will get worse over the four or so months, and probably somewhat beyond that.  I was visiting with a friend yesterday, and we were acknowledging the temporary loss of my intellectual life.  Being on the school board, as exasperating as it could be, was an intellectual pursuit for which I had a great deal of passion.  Issues were mulled and debated, decisions were made, data were pored over.  I was going to continue studying Spanish this year, but low enrollment precluded the class happening.  Frankly, I don't really know whether I would have been capable of learning right now.  I think I would have audited and just got what I could.  I was also in the midst of job hunting.  My resume was reworked, prime, and ready to go.  I knew I did a good job on that because I had a call about a good, decent job at Columbia River Maritime Museum the afternoon before I started chemo.  Yes, I think I could work many of the days of the chemo cycle, but at that moment there was a lot of complete unknown, and I was not comfortable trying to secure new employment.

So, I am paused, as it were.  I do read.  I read the new Michael Chabon, and am in the middle of the new Junot Diaz.  I know that both are excellent, and I know my other brain would have been passionately engaged, but I did not get fully in.  Both feel a little hard right now, which makes a former bookseller feel a bit pathetic.  Even these are not, you know, that challenging; they are simply good, literary fiction, the stuff I love.  I have really been wanting to read Jeffrey Toobin's new book on the Supreme Court, but I am uncertain whether the focus is there.  I am a wierdo who LOVES Nina Totenburg reading Supreme Court transcripts on NPR.  I loved Toobin's book "The Nine," and actually found it, um... suspenseful in a Supreme Court geek sort of way.  But these days I don't think that is me.

This lack of the intellect required even to knit is temporary, I know, and is another item on the list of things I just need to accept.  At least I can swim.


  1. Put Toobin on hold until spring! Settle into some David Sedaris instead : ) The fog is mild for most--and temporary, and sometimes not there at all. Stephen Colbert has a new book coming out. Maybe listen to Jimmy Fallon's new album, Blow Your Pants Off. Hilarious...

  2. Hi,
    Even without full concentration, you write better than most. I keep wishing that you would write book reviews of what you are reading. For example, the new Chabon book. I never did make it through this book based in Sitka, but I wanted to. What would pull me through the new book?

    Then there are mysteries. My favorite series in years are those by Louise Penny about a French Canadian detective and a crazy village, mostly populated by English folk and artists and a poet with a duck. For this series, it helps to start at the beginning, Still Life.


  3. You are and were right about the Chabon book: You ARE right that it is hard to get fully into it, the writing is beautiful but overblown in a way that leads to confusion.. and you WERE right in what you told me earlier, that it gets better in the second half. Even without "lack of intellect," I'm thinking it's a tough read.

    I recently read The Marriage Plot that was much easier to follow and fantastic. Also loved Visit from the Goon Squad. Since you are much more of a reader than me, I'm guessing you've already devoured them, but if not, those I can recommend.

    Love you, Muffin