December 2, 2016 scottcjones 7Comments

It’s winter here, albeit a mercifully mild winter so far. I put on a jacket yesterday, then walked out of the house—right out the front door—without realizing that I’d left a pot of soup simmering on the stove.

My girlfriend noticed the simmering soup. She shut it off and told me about it when I returned.

My response was this: “Really? I did that?” I was surprised, of course, and embarrassed. And I was stubbornly skeptical, too. Even though I knew she was telling me the truth.

My brain is soft and cloudy now. What parts were damaged, and what parts still work, is ambiguous—and will always be ambiguous, thanks to the limited science we have on brains. During my brain’s softest, cloudiest moments, when something vaguely dangerous happens (like leaving soup simmering on the stove), doom settles in, wraps its arms around me, whispers in my ear, This is only the beginning. This is only going to get worse.

I lost my cellphone in San Francisco in 2015. (Note: Losing your cellphone is the technological equivalent of losing your own butthole. You didn’t love it—you didn’t hate it, either—but you can’t really live without it.)

I lost a Visa card in San Francisco in 2016. (Note: San Francisco is the place I go to lose things, apparently.) I remember putting the Visa card in a place that was somewhat odd—so odd, I recall thinking, that I was certain I’d never forget it was there. Turned out to be “so odd” that I couldn’t remember putting it there at all. I never found it. I left the Visa account open for a few days after that, to see if any mysterious charges appeared. If it was stolen, then at least I’d know what happened to it; I’d have resolution. No charges ever appeared. I eventually closed it down.

Did the same exact thing with a coffee grinder when I moved to Toronto. I had a plastic bit that was essential to the grinder’s operation. Like the Visa card, I put the plastic bit in a spot that was odd and (so I thought) unforgettable when I was packing. Again, the spot was so odd that I forgot where I’d goddamn put it.

I spent my first weeks in Toronto searching for the plastic bit. I couldn’t make coffee without it. I contacted the grinder company, to see if I could purchase a new plastic bit, without having to purchase a new grinder entirely. (It’s a fancy grinder, and I was hoping I wouldn’t have to buy a new one.) While waiting for the grinder company to get back to me, I got a text from my girlfriend. “Is this what you’re looking for?” the text said. Included was a photo she’d taken, moments ago, of what she’d found. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was, indeed, the bit I was looking for. “I found it on the floor of the closet,” she texted. How the plastic bit had traveled from Vancouver to the spot on the floor of her closet in Toronto continues to baffle me.

She offered an explanation: “Maybe it fell out of one of your jacket pockets?” she wrote.

She’s probably right; that’s probably what happened. But part of me wondered, half seriously, if tiny gremlins follow me around all the time. The gremlins move very quickly, so fast that I can’t see them. They take my things—Visa cards, cellphones, plastic bits essential to coffee grinders—and hide them on me.

The gremlins have glowing red eyes. They enjoy watching me suffer. They enjoy watching me scratch my head as I wonder if I’m slowly losing my grip on reality.

7 thoughts on “Tiny gremlins

  1. When you consider all of the the cognitive functions you could have had impacted, short term memory isn’t the worst.

    Yes, you might burn the house down for a minor oversight. Which really isn’t existentially terrifying but rather just plain old vanilla terrifying.

    At worst, you could have it so bad that you would say hi to someone passing by and offer them something and as the person walks away stop them say hi and offer them something (a lady working at Superstore once did that to me… at first I laughed, then looked her in the eyes and became serious and said “no thank you” once again).

    In short, you clearly still have your marbles (the ones that really matter) and what you went through isn’t degenerative. In fact, it slowly improves as your brain reconfigures how its supposed to process data (neuroplasticity).

    Then, eventually, ordinary aging will kick in and like a wave to a sandcastle undo all of that hard work. But don’t worry about that you’ve got lots of time.

  2. Good point, Steven. I know people who were utterly devastated by their strokes. I can still function as a relatively normal person. Most of my damage is discreet.

    I know it could have been worse.

    And thanks for your poetic sandcastle-wave metaphor. That will probably haunt me forever. You bastard.

  3. Steve’s right, Scott – your brain function will improve. I’ve had two brain surgeries (first one to remove a malignant tumor, the second to repair the damage/mistakes the first surgeon made). Things were awful, but I’ve found, over the last few months (the last surgery was about 6 months ago now) that my mind is definitely improving!!

    Hang in there – things will get better!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I can tell that my brain is getting better in some ways. But there’s always this insecurity around my brain now. I constantly doubt its ability. I make jokes and excuses for it. But there’s real worry back there, too.

  4. I just have one question, did you go through all your Jacket pockets looking for that visa card? I would have after that.

    And I love the typo ” I couldn’t make coffee without it. I didn’t fine it.”
    Immediately I questioned…”wonder did he coarse it?”

    Great to see you are settling into Ontario Sir. Hoping you make an appearance on the Rocket and Rayguns this week.

    I miss your point of view!

    1. No idea what they are doing for the Rocket/Rayguns this year, Iaan. Thanks for your kind words, though. I miss my opinion, too. I enjoy games now, but only as a regular person. I try to keep my opinions to myself.

      I looked EVERYWHERE for the Visa. Nothing turned up.

      *And the typo has been fixed. Thanks for pointing it out.

  5. To clean my BBQ I once turned it on full blast “for a short time”, then forgot and took the family grocery shopping. Halfway through I remembered and the dread set in, in the middle of the store: “Is my house burning down?” (Thankfully no damage.)

    I can’t blame this on age: I was still in my 20s, when my sandcastle was as good as it was ever going to get! And it’s one of many, many examples since. I now set a timer to remind me to shut off the water while filling the pool (this year’s blunder). I repeat “Door, door, door” as a mantra when bringing in groceries to remind me to lock the car door (after several break-ins over the years). There are tricks to overcome forgetfulness.

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