Friday, February 5, 2010


So much progress in so many ways.

I've been reading a thick book of prose, a few pages or more a night before bed (the Thelonious Monk bio).

Still only writing the blog and some e mails, no real return to writing anything more lengthy, but have been able to do some minor editing on early chapters of my giant endless memoir.

Back at the gym a few times a week doing my old workout routine.

So basically seeming to others pretty much my old self in many ways. But also not.

I feel changed, and not just spiritually or experientially more evolved etc. but literally like a different man. Because my thinking and the ways I articulate it are different. Not entirely. Not even mostly. But enough for me to notice and observe it as it's happening and think, hmmmm, that's a little different.

When I'm at a loss for words, or my brain turns entirely off on wherever I was going or the word I was trying to remember or use, I go blank and there's a pause, not something I used to have a lot if at all in my conversations or monologues.

When I just can't think of the word I mean and I substitute another I end up sounding different, using words I might not have chosen to use before, and the same with my writing these posts or even comments. I hear or read myself speaking or writing and think, hmmmm, that's not the way I would have put that before but it sounds kind of interesting, interestingly different and yet still me.

The compulsion to make lists in my head all the time especially when falling asleep still hasn't returned (you may have noticed) and the sound the shower makes when the water goes over the spot where the titanium plate I still find new and odd and interesting. I still get a little more tired than I used to before the operation.

But my delight in books is back and I notice some differences in that as well. Yesterday I picked up Beckett's THE COMPLETE SHORT PROSE and opened to "Texts For Nothing" number 3 and began reading. Beckett is one of my favorite writers, someone I read and reread with great delight and intense interest most of my adult life until a few years ago. And then, suddenly, I began to find his writing almost tedious. At least the prose. Maybe not so much tedious as turgid.

[See, like the use of "turgid" there. Not exactly a term you would think of in relation to Beckett's writing. If anything, he's the opposite. But I couldn't think of the word I meant and "turgid" does seem to apply to the quality I was trying to describe in terms of what I was feeling his writing had become in my mind pre-operation...]

I lost interest in reading him, unlike my other favorites. I could pick up and reread any passage in any of their books and instantly find a kind of comfort and inspiration still. But that hadn't been the case with Beckett for a few years. Then yesterday when I began reading "Texts For Nothing 3" the words popped out like they did the first time I read his prose and I felt like I was in the presence of this character who was as familiar as my Irish peasant grandfather, but also writing that was as original and brilliant and coherent and subversive and effective as any I've ever read.

Man it made me happy. It was like falling in love with an old flame you hadn't known you still felt that way about. Just a total charge. And I read every word of that section with delight and enormous satisfaction as I felt like my brain got every nuance and tic and underlying significance of the word play and layered meanings.

But other events of recent days taxed my brain in its attempt to analyze something that happened and make a decision about how to deal with it in ways that might effect my little guy and others in lasting ways. Fortunately when I felt I had exhausted every angle and still couldn't make a decision and just wanted to put my brain to sleep because it felt so tired of THINKING, I remembered to ask for guidance and just then the phone rang and the solution was given to me.

Anyway, I could go on, obviously, but suffice it to say I am so much better, or my brain is, but also—maybe not so much but definitely—different.


-K- said...

"Anyway, I could go on, obviously, but suffice it to say I am so much better, or my brain is, but also—maybe not so much but definitely—different. "

This sentence, to me, has a very Samuel Beckett feel to it. (Which means I enjoyed it a great deal.)

Elisabeth said...

It seems to me you're doing well, but the way you feel inside might well be quite different from how it looks to me, a stranger.

What do the ones who know you well say? Do they notice the changes that you notice so clearly?

I wonder whether some of what you are experiencing isn't rather like having a hole in your tooth. From the mirror it looks tiny but worry at it with your tongue and it feels huge.

That's not to underestimate the depth of changes you must experience. I'm just asking about the distance between your internal perceptions and the perceptions of those external to you.