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March 5, 2009

From their bumpers to your ears.

Two very different life messages, two very different cars:

(Antique-ish Mercedes that also had a sticker letting folks know it runs on soy fuel.)

(Huge white truck with camper top and an NRA license plate holder.)

I love looking at people's messages ... they don't have to pin their hearts on their sleeves, they can just put some stickers on their cars. It's very liberating. It's like reading the tarot cards of someone's personality through the sayings they select to represent them.

That last picture was taken yesterday, in the rain:


As I was sitting there, completely stopped in my Jeep with rain coming down lightly on the windshield, I remembered there used to be a time when I liked the rain. No, I loved the rain. Rain makes everything cozy and close, and your neighbors are quiet (for once) because they're indoors, too, shuttered inside with maybe a good book or a movie or nothing at all, just laying on the bed and listening to it rain.

But now when it rains I don't think any of those thoughts, I just groan and mentally calculate how many hours it will add to my commute that day, and try to decide if it's worth driving all the way out to the Metrolink station and taking the train or whether the drive to the station would negate any time savings and I'd be just as late sitting it out on the bus that leaks and never comes on time. That's what I think of when I look out in the morning and see it raining -- not appreciation for the weather (especially in a place like Los Angeles, where it only rains five or six days a year) but instead a deep visceral sigh of despair, because of the traffic.

- - -

So, something very weird happened to me over the weekend. It was late Saturday and I was watching Wag the Dog for the nine billionth time (it's one of my all-time favorite movies, I have it memorized, scary) and there's a scene where they're filming the news footage against a blue screen and I had a flash -- a tattered memory -- of me, many years ago, working as a Production Assistant for a day on a set with a blue screen.

And I was all foggy-brained. I could remember the blue screen studio, getting someone coffee, eating sandwiches in a hurry and the jeans I wore. But it was hazy, almost like remembering a dream. And I just sat there, struggling in my own head, because I couldn't remember if it had really happened or if I had dreamed it or seen it maybe in a movie. But it felt real, it felt like it had happened and I vaguely remember me being in L.A. for just a year or so and taking a one-day job as a P.A. when I was still working part-time at the Daily News.

And I sat there on my bed with this fragmented memory -- me! me who is able to remember details of conversations I had with people ten years ago down to the pause -- and I wondered if this was it. If this was the moment, then, when I officially began to go crazy. Swimming in the grey matter somewhere was this half-real, half-remembered day and I couldn't fully access it. I wondered if this was what it felt like to become untethered slowly, one day at a time 'til crazy. Maybe it was only weeks or months before I'd be taking direct orders from a Pepsi can and wearing my bra on my head.

On Monday I told this disturbing incident to my friend Corey, who assured me she had also started having little half-memory incidents like that just in the past few years and she said maybe it's just part of aging, and her theory is that your brain does start slowly degenerating at this age and maybe you sometimes catch on a thought just as your brain is throwing it out (as ya'll know, I love crazyass theories and this one sounded good to me so I agreed with it.)

Except I don't want my brain to turn to oatmeal! I don't want my brain to slowly shrivel and mold. My brain is really the only thing interesting about me. I'm not tall or skinny or pretty or musically talented or even a natural platinum blonde anymore. Sadly. But my brain has always been a good companion, and it's always come in handy when called upon to get me out of boring or tedious or deranged situations. (Not so much useful in awkward situations -- just yesterday morning the EVP of our division came into the kitchen as I was getting coffee and said, "Good morning! How are you today?" and I replied not with "Fine, thanks and you?" or even just "OK." No. No siree. My awesome degenerating brain said, "I'm fine except there are no paper towels. So I asked myself, 'What would Al Gore do?' and I decided he would use a coffee filter to dry his cup." And the EVP just smiled politely at me, the poor slow employee.) (Thanks, brain.)

When I realized that my brain was experiencing aging and moldyness, I did what anyone who is in danger of a rapidly degenerating brain would do and I googled "how to keep your brain healthy." According to the internet you can keep your brain alive with Sudoku (I'll pass) or crosswords or by playing a musical instrument or learning a new language or reading. And something I never heard of before, must be a Latin word ... "exercise." Not sure how it's pronounced.

Corey suggested we play Boggle to help my dying brain and I thought that was an EXCELLENT idea, as I have an almost-never-used Boggle game sitting at my house and it only takes three minutes with that little sand timer to play a game, which fits into my schedule. We played one game yesterday and she soundly kicked my ass, but I didn't mind since my brain is DYING and also I hadn't had my coffee yet. We're going to start playing Boggle at lunchtime every day to help resuscitate my soft pudding brain so I don't end up wearing my bra on my head and answering my shoe when the phone rings.

- -

Maybe my brain needs an oil change.

Posted by laurie at March 5, 2009 7:10 AM