In which I suffer from brain holes and wonder could that be a good thing

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, June 26, 2012 1:08 AM

I suffer from brain holes. That is, I appear to have something akin to open spaces within my gray matter that allows things to escape. This is not really an acute problem, but it has become rather chronic. I have something in my head and I’m all set to take care of it and then I forget what it is that I was doing. This happens frequently in the kitchen, when I’ve gone there to retrieve … something. It also happens when I pull up my email to send a note to … someone. Or when I know I have to take of … whatever. I stand there, a blank feel in my brain, a hole in my memory, and I start running through the steps that one often uses to remember just what the hell one was doing in the garage in the first place.

Oh. Right. We need a roll of paper towels.

I have a ‘to do’ list that I update daily. Once it gets nearly illegible, I start a new page in my notebook, carrying over the things that I still have to do and adding anything new that I have scratched onto a note. I have countless small pieces of paper on my desk, scattered in various locations but all within sight of the master list, all with small lists of their own. Email these people, send this file, write this story, call so and so. These tiny 'to dos' are similar to cheat sheets. These are the things I have to remember to get through today. Sometimes I manage to cross one thing off.

At the end of the week, I gather all of the little stray lists and compile them onto my big list so that I don’t forget to do something.

I still forget anyway.

An email will come through for a quick fix to something I’m working on. Something I should stop and do right then. But I don’t. And because I don’t write it down and because I have chronic brain holes, the fact that I need to make a tiny change to a web page falls out of my memory. I know not where it goes. It doesn’t seem to leave my body but perhaps that’s why I’m prone to sneezing. Sneezes expel the memories. And then they’re out there, in the atmosphere, never to be remembered again.

I have been known to suffer brain holes about really stupid things. Like when I was moving the car the other day and I had to turn it off. I sat there for a minute and couldn’t remember if I turn the key to the right or the left. That was a big hole. I often am writing away and suddenly have to stop in the middle of a sentence, in the middle of a thought because I’m not sure what the word is that I need. I can see it. I can even hear it being pronounced. Sounds like … And so I start to talk out loud. I throw words into the air as if I can actually see them and wait for the word that I need to suddenly go back in through the brain hole so I can remember it. It’s a bit like an inverse through the looking glass. Glass looking the through.

I am not concerned because I can remember that I have forgotten, and I think that's probably a good thing. I hope. 

My Aunt Beryl, who will be 93 in July, does not appear to suffer from the brain hole affliction. Truth be told she doesn’t seem to suffer from any afflictions at all, with the exception of a small bone density issue. She doesn’t have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. She doesn’t have arthritis, acid reflux, depression, or anything else that requires her to talk to her doctor about one of the many drugs being forever advertised on television. I believe she takes an over-the-counter calcium supplement with vitamin D. She can remember everything. She talks about trips she took to Pasadena in the 1940s as if they happened yesterday. She can remember what she had for dinner 25 years ago, and what everyone at the table was wearing. She’s never met an old film she couldn’t talk endlessly about. She knows about everything that’s happening right now, any place in the world. I doubt she’s ever even misplaced her car keys. I do not take after her.

I’ve been told that brain holes are a function of having too much stress in my life or too much stuff in my brain. In that way, they are much like swiss cheese. We all know that swiss cheese is full of holes and contrary to the old wives tale we’re often told as children, it is not because of mice. It’s actually because of bacteria that produces curds which are soaked inside the brine of cheese molds while the cheese is left to ripen. While that’s happening, another type of bacteria releases lactic acid. Then still another type of bacteria releases carbon dioxide because it is consuming the lactic acid. This forms bubbles or air pockets inside the cheese. Think of it as a cheese belch. Or worse, if you must.

I have a different theory. I think that swiss cheese has holes because otherwise its flavor would be overwhelming. It has holes in order to let just enough flavor escape to make the cheese a delicacy. When this theory is applied to brain holes, something similar happens. The sheer depth of my knowledge and the sheer wonder of my wit are simply too much for one brain to handle. Holes form in order for me to have the perfect flavor, to keep me honest and true and normal.

If my theory holds true, then having brain holes isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s simply a way to release the pressure of too much stuff.

Either that, or I’m left with a brain belch. So I’m thinking brain holes might be good after all. Now if I could just remember … 


live out loud

Comments (6) -

6/26/2012 9:26:13 AM #

I am currently "laughing out loud." This sounds so familiar to me. Next blog should be about the ever so present eye twitch that often goes hand in hand with brain holes.

Khris United States

6/26/2012 11:17:03 AM #

Love your brain hole theory. Mason exclaims his hard drive is full. I agree that we have too much on our plate, which is why I wake up in the middle of the night remembering.
Thanks for the ( too long in between ) phone date! Xoxo

Pam United States

6/26/2012 11:23:45 AM #

I actually called the Squire Squirrel (Don't ask me about how I got his cell phone number; long story there...) about this post and asked if he happened to notice whether or not you were connected to any long thin plastic tubes at the time you wrote it. He told me he couldn't say one way or the other as he had just found a small piece of swiss cheese and had taken the evening off to nibble away at it, holes notwithstanding.

"Shit!" I thought. Now I'll never know if my daughter's incessant sneezing means anything at all.

I'm so glad I have dog to return me back to reality and live in the moment. Do you need one, too?

Fred United States

6/26/2012 8:27:14 PM #

We call it " Sometimers" at work. It's mostly me that suffers from it. I do ask for help most of the time:

Me..." What was I going to do?, get?, look for?"

Coworker..." Ummmm..answer the phone?, get something from the lab?, turn off the autocl.."

Me... " Oh, ye ye ye ye  yeah!"

Dialogue with myself......' Jesus, really? For crying out loud can't you remember anything?..Oh, remember what Johnny says...hard drive full... God, am I gonna need medication for this? '

Love that you have the same symptoms...GREAT blog, I feel better....whew!

Larissa United States

6/27/2012 12:32:23 AM #

When I started my now famous (thanks to your lovely blog about it) 17 year journey to becoming a licensed therapist, I started at the beginning. I didn't have a bachelor's degree and so it was clear that this was going to take awhile. To get started, I trotted (well, I drove) to my local community college to enroll and they had the audacity to test me and decide that I did not, in fact, test into college level math. Can you believe that? So my first semester (an intensive summer one, at that) was Algebra I followed immediately by Algebra II... neither of which would count toward my degree, of course. They only counted toward getting me into the damn school!

Imagine the fun. 35 years old (remember, 17 years ago) and doing Algebra! But for the first time in my life I had a really great math professor. We had our 3 hour class every day, four days a week. At the end of each class he would dismiss us with a caveat: "As you walk to your car," he said, "hold old your head really straight so nothing falls out."

So my theory about your brain holes? You move your head too much!

Bobbi United States

6/27/2012 5:22:25 PM #

Thank you!! Here I've been thinking that my poor memory affliction must actually be oldtimers.

And speaking of Aunt Beryl - she's an anomaly. (It's not underlined, so it must be spelled rightjQuery15202912099016830325_1340858517387)

mom United States

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