Sunday, August 25, 2013

Dying to See You Again

I'm posting here tonight to discuss the matter of my death. It's a subject that is close at hand for me right now.

Before anyone panics, I want to make it clear that, as far as I know, my demise isn't imminent, at least in a corporeal sense.

In almost any other sense, though, I could argue that it happened months ago, and everyone, including myself, somehow missed it at the time.

The adjectives that I would have used to describe myself - balanced, quick-witted, patient, upbeat, attentive, creative, articulate, focused, persistent, sharp, athletic, self-controlled - now fail to apply in any significant degree. Things that used to be easy and fun, that I used do for amusement, are now entirely beyond my reach, some physically. some mentally, and some both. The skills and talents that I used in my work - pattern recognition, rapid data processing, attention to detail, reading speed, verbal fluency, the ability to draw meaningful connections between disparate elements, knowing just the right thing to say at just the right time, access to a vast and varied font of accurate and precise memory - all gone or altered beyond recognition. My patterns of behavior and emotional response have changed dramatically, and so relationships with family and friends have shifted as well, and not in ways I would have chosen. People I counted close cease to call, cease to speak, turn away from the stranger who stands in the midst of my life like a doppleganger.

The situation I find myself in leads to some interesting questions, ones that have been explored through the ages by better minds than mine by far, but I (or what passes for me these days) am here and they're not, so it's my turn to at least bring them up, even if I'm not up to the task of tackling them alone.

Here's the first set that's been on my mind (or on the mind of whoever it is who has been living what passes for my life these days):

Where does the essence of the self reside, and how much can it be altered before it ceases to be the self and becomes something else?I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

I had a neuropsychological evaluation recently, to try to determine the nature and extent of my brain injuries and distinguish them from any underlying psychological pathology. As part of the evaluation, the psychologist asked me if I was suicidal. I denied it. But the question struck me funny. It still does. If suicide is the desire to extinguish the self, what more thorough job could ending the body possibly do than what has already been done? And if I'm not myself, it wouldn't really be suicide, would it? It would be murdering a stranger, and if there is any continuity between the person I was before and the person I am now, the idea that murdering strangers is something one just doesn't do would have to be counted among the few, but blessed, common threads that join us together.

I'm grateful that I retained just enough judgment and impulse control not to say that out loud during the evaluation.

I apologize for the lack of relevant links. Consider it a symptom. Composing these few paragraphs has been the work of weeks, not minutes, as would have been the case before. I'll try to remember to keep hunting for them. If you have any that you think would illuminate the topic of conversation, please share them in the comments, and I'll add them in in the appropriate places. I'd like to think I'm not just writing this for myself (especially since I don't even know who that might be or where they might have gotten off to), so I'll look forward to your comments, and check back as soon as I remember that I still have this blog.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Recall the fallen.

Oh, bring them back to pause before
the thrice-barred gate of memory's door
where time and space and death stand guard.

Recall the fallen.

Yes, bring their faces now to mind,
cold comfort to those left behind,
and hold them all in high regard
whose headstones march across the sward.

Recall the fallen.

Their bodies fill the charnel field;
they gave up light and love to shield
their countrymen from fear and strife.

Recall the fallen.

Now mourn their loss, proclaim the pain,
and vow their deaths are not in vain;
hold fast the freedom bought with life
and youth cut down by conflict's knife.

Recall the fallen.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Flash Fearsday / J is for Joker

Some call me a wild card.
Others say I'm two-dimensional, a caricature.
Flat affect? Ha! See me laughing?
Be glad they make me wear bells.


Flash Fearsday is a 140-character (or, for the long-winded and Twitterless, 140-word) microfiction horror challenge, hosted here on Nine Worlds, Ten Thousand Things within four days (one way or the other) from a Thursday. Anyone can play. Line breaks count as one character. Feel free to link to your entry or post it directly in the comments.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A is for Absence, Accident, Aricept, Acetylcholine, and Getting Ahead of Myself.

The few loyal followers of this blog who remain will probably have noted my prolonged absence. There were many things that interfered with my ability to post here over the course of the past year or so; the most severe was a motor vehicle accident that injured my child and resulted in some neurological injuries of my own that impaired my language centers, memory, and attention, as well as my sense of balance and the sensation in my hands and  upper body. All in all, not ideal conditions to write a blog. I have missed you all, and I apologize for not at least explaining myself better. I had the persistent delusion that I would be able to return to blogging at any moment. I was wrong. I may be back now more regularly. I hope so. There's always the chance that I'm still harboring a delusion.

Still, the whole experience has been an excellent opportunity to explore the mind/body interface, and to learn more about the ways that the structure of the brain affects the function of the mind. It's been an interesting self-study. Apparently, traumatic brain injury (TBI) results in decreased levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. My physician started me on Aricept, an acetylcholine esterase inhibitor also used to treat Alzheimer's disease, this week, and I am heartened by the fact that I can sit down tonight and write this, even if it is terribly slow, laborious, and possibly incoherent. I have wanted to write here many times since the accident, but failed to produce anything remotely readable. That I can write this at all is a great encouragement.

It's clear that my initial excitement should be tempered with caution, though. I had ideas tonight for a full week's worth of small April A-Z posts; I am managing this one, and a Flash Fearsday for "F", and I find that the others will either have to wait or have fled my mind completely. "Better" is not "well."
I'll be around as much as I can.

F is for Flash Fearsday

Revolutionary thoughts?
Patently inadequate.
Ultimately, successful execution seems essential for getting ahead.
Madame Guillotine concurs.

Flash Fearsday is a 140-character (or, for the long-winded and Twitterless, 140-word) microfiction horror challenge. I don't know where it is officially being hosted these days, but it will be here, if nowhere else.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

RPGs as Instruments of Social Change

While events IRL have conspired to keep me away from the blog for far too long, I felt compelled to come drop this here, a story about how a Norwegian cabinet minister wants to use LARP and RPGs to help teach people about history and about human nature.

Hopefully, I'll be able to be back on a regular basis soon...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Expansion Joints, part 39: "Pick" / Flash Fearsday

This is my response to Part 39 of the Expansion Joints Challenge, and to the January 12th Flash Fearsday.


"Another homicidal worker?"
"Neurotoxic exposure, manual excavation methods - mining's hazardous."
"Don't say "Pick me!""