Hey, Stacy Keibler – I Call Dibs on Your Brain

I’m in awe of Stacy Keibler. Rather than curl up in the time-honored, traditional post-breakup fetal position, George Clooney’s ex-girlfriend has been making the rounds of entertainment news shows, charming reporters with quotes like, “I’m someone that’s always lived the present moment. I always look at the positive on everything.”

Photo via flickr.com

Photo via flickr.com

Whaaaaat? Long legs, two years with George Clooney AND a brain that focuses on the positive? A genetic trifecta! So not fair.

Others can envy her long limbs and romantic conquests, I covet her positive brain. Where do I get one?

Who do I have to f* - I mean - What do I have to do to get a brain like Keibler's?

What do I have to do to get a brain like Keibler’s?

For nearly half my life I’ve worked to transform my negativity-seeking brain into a affirmation-infused positive one. Although I was dropped on my head a number of times as a child, I’m not convinced that accounts for the way my brain processes life, especially incoming information.

Perhaps something more sinister is at work. Undiagnosed brain tumor? Incompetent therapist? Not enough sex? You decide:

A recent conversation with my husband:

Me:  Honey, I’m not sure I like these white jeans on me. What do you think?

Him:  They look good, but, you know, they’re white jeans. I don’t think anyone looks great in white jeans. I like blue jeans better.

What a normal brain hears:  Don’t love them. Blue jeans are more my thing.

What my brain hears:  Whoa, when did you gain all that weight? Don’t you dare wear those jeans out of this house! 

A recent email exchange with a magazine editor:

Her:  Thanks for submitting.  Please review the attached editorial calendar and let me know where to place your essay for consideration.  

What a normal brain hears:   Your essay caught my eye, but I’m not sure where it fits in. Here’s our editorial calendar. Keep trying.

What My Brain Hears:  Listen, loser, get your head out of your a** and read our editorial calendar. Don’t bother me again til you do.

A recent interaction with my 21-year-old niece:

Her:  I love your blog, Auntie. I read everything you write. I’ve also been enjoying reading your friend’s blog. I read more parenting blogs than any other non-mom on the planet!

What a normal brain hears:  I love you Auntie, and I like keeping in touch with you through your blog!

What my brain hears:  Your writing is ok, Auntie, but your friend’s writing – wow! She’s amazingly talented!

If only negative thinking were a marketable skill. (Then I could afford the lobotomy that’s medically indicated.)

At times, I can laugh at how determined my brain is to find something negative in everyday interactions, no matter how neutral or innocuous. Other times, I need to be talked off the ledge by my über supportive friends (and one professional therapist who, thanks to my brain’s shenanigans, can afford long vacations in La Jolla. Maybe with Stacy Keibler).

Until brain transplants are perfected, I appear to be stuck with the one I have. But I’m ready for a change. Maybe Stacy Keibler can be my new therapist?

Rote Route

I drive the same route to and from our daughters’ school at least twice a day. Five right turns, four left; eight traffic lights, five stop signs each way, plus a brief salute to the policeman directing traffic at Jefferson and Van Buren. I can drive the route in my sleep and given my affinity for multitasking, likely have. This route is as ingrained in my memory as my daily brush and floss routine; the auto pilot of my mind. As of this writing, mental cruise control is neither illegal nor regulated. But perhaps it should be.

While driving home this morning, I witnessed a horrifying car accident. The black sedan in front of me changed lanes and collided with a white delivery van. The force of the impact sheared the front end off of the sedan and flipped the van onto its passenger side with awe-inspiring ease.

Minus a camera and a beaming director screaming “cut,” the scene was movie perfect. Miraculously, the two drivers and their passengers exited the cars unaided, visibly shaken but moving all their limbs. Several drivers from nearby cars and a group of young pedestrians ran over to check on the victims. Someone called 911.

I joined the group of good samaritans and offered my assistance, consisting of a gaping mouth and careful avoidance of the fluids leaking from the sedan’s engine. Within minutes, the police arrived and began directing traffic. I returned to my car and joined the procession of other cars inching away from the scene.

Although I was driving mere feet behind the black sedan, I can’t describe exactly what I witnessed. I can replay the moment of impact in my head in dramatic, slow motion detail, but can’t visualize what happened in the moments before the accident.

I wasn’t talking on my cell phone (though I often do) or texting while I drive (which I don’t) or even picking Raisin Bran detritus out of my teeth. Instead I was mentally plotting the myriad tasks I wanted to accomplish today, down to the phone calls to return and the ingredients needed for a cheesecake I’m baking for my husband’s birthday. My driving was on auto-pilot; my mind everywhere except in the moment.

The sound of screeching tires and crunching metal broke my reverie. If it hadn’t, today would be like any other day, and I wouldn’t remember a single detail about my drive home. I don’t need drugs or alcohol or texting to impair my driving. The scattered daily machinations of my brain impair me enough to be a danger to myself and others.

I’m sure I’m not alone. With our busy lives and multitasking superpowers, I’m confident many of us aren’t as present as we could be while operating heavy machinery. Our brains are racing down the German autobahn while our bodies are stuck in rush hour traffic.

This auto pilot mode scares me, especially when we’re transporting precious cargo, but also in more mundane ways.

When I’m wielding a sharp knife to chop vegetables later today, I’ll likely be thinking about the dress I keep forgetting to return to Bluefly. When I’m playing my requisite seven minutes of Barbies this afternoon with my daughters, I’ll likely be thinking about all the Yeah Write posts I could be catching up on. Harmless? Perhaps. But I’d like the ability to be where my body is and take in what’s offered in the moment. For someone who hates to be left out of anything, I may be missing out on a boatload of joy. At the very least I’m at risk of losing my fingertips to a merciless Ginsu knife.

I guarantee that for the next day or so I’ll be more present while I’m driving, forcing extraneous thoughts from my monkey mind. I also guarantee that before long, I’ll slip back into my auto-pilot pattern. Perhaps the next generation of auto safety features can address this issue. I’m thinking a haunting, disembodied voice that periodically reminds me to pay attention and zaps me with an electric current would work well.

The best I can promise is that today I’ll be grateful for all the times I’ve driven safely and pray my guardian angels keep up the good work. However, if you see me on the road, please consider honking or throwing a rock at my window – anything to jolt me back to my life.

Linking up again with the supportive community of bloggers who write and the writers who blog over at Yeah Write. Click on the badge to read some great writing and come back on Thursday to vote for your favorites. And be sure to say Happy Birthday to Flood!