2.13.2015

Brain Freeze

‘Heard you have cold weather coming your way?’ my mother said from the other end of a phone that was overlooking a Florida beach on a 74 degree day. (Granted, it has been “cold” where she is too, cold for this time of year, and the nights do dip down into the 50’s, poor mama).

And what she heard was true. We are about to get our coldest days of this year, barely above zero with a wind a chill making it feel far worse, right smack during my family’s annual ski trip.

But for the past couple weeks here in Jersey we’ve been buried in snow and ice, averaging temps of 27 Fahrenheit, with a fair amount of days below 20. There is caution tape across our porch to keep our postman from cracking his skull delivering our junk mail, and the FedEx guy just throws packages halfway up the yard. Yesterday, my car slid down our frozen driveway and almost hit a tree, and my kids had to pretend their sneakers were ice skates just to walk through the schoolyard, where there were more asses dropping to the ground than in a rap video.
So my response to my mother was, ’Eh. It won’t be that bad.’

It’s like my mind has become hardwired to believe: What’s 10 or 20 degrees less? Really, what is the difference? It’s already been so effin cold.

And it’s not like my butt has been stuck inside, unable to get out or go anywhere. Oh no. I married a man who loves pushing limits, thinks a little fresh air will do you good and all that jazz. We’ve been skiing, sledding, shoveling our neighbors out and all that other stuff that makes you indoor loving folks want to give families like us the middle finger.

But even still my brain feels like it’s buried way down below the piles of ice and snow, frozen into a block of unthawable blankness.

I have been digging deep, trying to chip away at the numbness so I could write a blog post, but my friends, I’ve been coming up empty. There’s nothing scarier in the world (at least, my world) than a writer who has nothing to say. Every time I try to think of what to write or where to start, I find it more enticing to curl by the fire with a fresh bowl of popcorn, bingeing on early seasons of Scandal.

It would be so cool if my brain could just shut off completely, permitting me to enjoy the downtime and ride that couch for all it is worth, instead of sending a steady stream of pings from the polar ice caps of Mars, just enough to let me know that it’s still out there and needs saving. Nothing ruins a perfectly good hibernation worse than Guilt.

Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.

And it’s not like I haven’t been working. I’ve spent the last two months locked in a room, chained to a computer revising my second book. But I’m editing so it requires less brain and more gut than writing something new. And the cumulative effects of this, coupled with one helluva winter, have left me much like Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining. Remember? He was a writer trapped in a snowstorm who descends into madness. And goes on to kill his wife and son.

I’m not there yet with the acts of murder, but I can finally admit that in addition to my major brain freeze, I’m also suffering from a bad case of burnout. When fire meets ice in outer space, the result is a lot of dust.

Yet, like our medical system in present day America, once you name the disease, you can begin to prescribe a cure.

So what is the magic pill, the thing that got my fingers typing again? 

Just that. I started typing again. I showed up and said, Fuck it, let’s see what happens. And here I am 668 words later on my first day back. This may not my best post ever, but, hey, at least it is something.

Turns out, the best cure for brain freeze, or any freeze, is simply getting warmed up.

“Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun's love
In the spring becomes the rose”

Stay warm everyone. Stay warm.

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