The past few days have been busy and rewarding. All weekend with my youngest, though Saturday he spent a good deal of at an indoor skateboarding park about a half hour away.
Driving there and back again (did it a few times in recent weeks), the return trip after dark, on a relatively busy highway without getting too anxious at entrances and exits or dealing with some traffic (moments of super attention and no radio to distract me) felt almost "normal"—as did going to the mall fifteen minutes away where he and I used gift cards from Christmas we hadn't cashed in yet (I couldn't handle a mall or dealing with books back then).
I picked up a couple of all-prose books because since I started reading the new Thelonious Monk bio I've gotten more and more into the old rhythms of reading and am almost as voracious about it as ever (and picked up books recommended by others in recent months that I had no interest in until now (like my old friend Tom Wilson's pitch for Patti Smith's JUST KIDS (and the new bio of Nina Simone) and Terence Winch's for David Lehman's A FINE ROMANCE, etc.))).
While there and searching for non-bank-breaking pair of new sneakers for my little guy (who goes through them in a matter of weeks, not months, because of the rigors of skate boarding) we stopped to watch a pretty big gathering of young Chinese-Americans in various Chinese costumes playing Chinese music and coming together in small groups to dance or put on large dragon heads and tails and do that Chinese New Years celebration winding movement through the center of the mall.
I thought how cool that when I was a kid there was only one or two Chinese families in our area and now there are tons of Asians of all kinds everywhere in this part of Jersey. There were probably a couple of hundred at this event in a mall that was fairly run down when we moved here but since has gone through some improvements and then more recently vast emptiness when the Great Recession hit but seems to be coming back to life these days.
On the radio coming back from the gym yesterday, where I have gotten back to my pre-brain surgery routine, I caught a bit of an NPR live program from Manhattan that had Ethan Hawke and a couple of actors from the Sam Sheperd play he's directing in the city and was struck and delighted by how incredibly intelligent and articulate he is (I met him on the set of WHITE FANG back when he was still a teenager and was impressed then more with myself I suspect than him, though I liked him immediately and we had great discussions about poetry and discovered I dated one of his aunts in high school!).
I notice how people speak (and write) these days, in ways I didn't used to. I pay so much more close attention to the details and the simplest of elements that go into speech and writing. Maybe because for weeks and even months after the operation I couldn't (like not being able to watch John Stewart back then because of the layers of irony and subtleties etc. and now not being able to watch the idiotic disregard for what words mean and how they come together to build more complex meanings in the simplistic illogical nonsense (literally: non-sense) of the right (like excerpts of Glen Beck's completely incomprehensible—in terms of the actual language and how he used it—gibberish at the recent so-called "conservative" gathering in DC etc.).
So with my reading and driving skills having returned (though changed, so maybe it's more like transformed into something new but almost equal to what I was capable of before the op), and my appreciation of the simplest things (like how well some people can express their thoughts and feelings and taste and opinions), and now writing becoming less difficult just in recent days (less "typos" if I'm not tired, but continued deliberateness in my less rapid typing and more varied choice of words since there continue to be gaps in what I can call up in the moment so have to reach for less frequently, if-at-all used terms in the past but still in my vocabulary) I feel enormously grateful for how well my brain has dealt with being incapacitated (and messed with).
The ultimate outcome so far is so positive, even including the changes that seem more permanent (like the lack of my old compulsion to make lists, or my return to home cooked meals (not just microwaved or prepackaged) so much so I bought a new stove-top, wok-like, iron frying pan and me and my little guy have been having my own version (after my older kids or friend Sue etc. have shown me the basics again) diced potatoes or whole asparagus or spinach or yams sauteed in olive oil etc.
Not bad for going into my fourth month of recovery from having part of my brain removed.