Occasionally I have a brilliant idea. Very occasionally these days, honestly. And I tend to tell people about these great ideas and then never proceed to the doing part of the process. Apparently brains think that positive, encouraging reactions from other people and actual accomplishment are the same thing. Oh, you rascal and your dopamine. So wily. The problem with (sometimes) having excellent ideas is that I also have terrible ones, and often I can’t tell them apart. This is a constant source of confusion. My personal brain responds equally enthusiastically, regardless of the quality of whatever batshit thing just clanged through it. Like a fat kid who has no idea how awful Necco wafers are, but is still screaming happy to get a thing that is allegedly candy.
Sorry, fat kids, for using you in my insensitive analogy. But we all agree that Necco wafers are fucking gross. Even I wouldn’t eat them when I was a fat kid.
Hey, wait. I was a fat kid. I can make all the fat kid jokes I want.
I hereby retract my apology.
Anyway. Bad ideas. My brain doesn’t care if my ideas are bad, with the obvious exception of monkey behavior like sticking my hand in a fire or something. The initial rush, that moment of “hey! I thought of a thing!” seems to have no connection at all to the You’re a Bloody Moron center (pardon all my scientific jargon here, folks). I have to work out all those circuits later, on my own, with logic. It’s exhausting.
And having bad ideas really isn’t so bad on its own. What sucks, and I think it’s happening more and more just here lately, is the emotional rollercoaster of having what appears, on the surface, to be a fantastic idea, getting really stoked about it, only to be crushed later when I realize that it might have been the dumbest thought ever. For example, in my ongoing existential crisis, I have come to the conclusion that it would be best if I went ahead and applied to graduate school.
I have decided this about fifty times. And it’s not going to happen. Here’s why:
My Brain: Hey! Let’s go to grad school!
Me: We’ve talked about this. We don’t need to go to grad school.
Brain: Sure, yeah, but everything’s different now.
Me: It’s really not. We moved and we’re bored. That’s it.
Brain: Okay, but, literature is the only thing you’re good at and you’re not getting to exercise those skills. You should just go ahead and devote your life to academia because you’re going to fail at everything else you ever try.
Me: Little harsh there, buddy.
Brain: We could become a professor! Really make a difference in some kid’s life.
Me: Kids are idiots. And I can do that sort of thing, plus a lot of other cool shit, with a bookstore. It’s all part of the plan.
Brain: You know that it’s absurd to think that you can run a successful business in this economy, especially after ebooks. And god knows how this Amazon/Hachette thing is going to play out. You’re probably walking into a buzzsaw. Just give it up.
Me: I will not!
Brain: Even if you never use it, wouldn’t it be nice to say that you have a graduate degree?
Me: Not worth the money.
Brain: You could be Doctor Howe, and you could say “I teach. I’m a teacher.” It’s so noble.
Me: You’re not even listening to me, are you?
Brain: And your mom will be all proud and she can finally put another graduation photo on the wall, since you haven’t really done anything at all in a decade and you don’t have any kids yet to make her happy.
Uterus: Hey, you guys leave me out of this.
Me: But I have a whole plan…
Brain: And you won’t be that one friend everyone talks about like, “Oh, it’s such a shame. She had such potential. Didn’t she used to be a writer?”
Me: No one says that…
Brain: Sure they don’t. And wouldn’t it just be easier to go back to school? Rather than risk putting everything into a business that might close? Since, let’s face it, you don’t really have a backup plan for your life at all or any other goals to speak of or really any marketable skills and if this bookstore thing falls through you’ll be a broken, hollowed out shell of a person?
Me: Do we have any beer?
Brain: Let’s just look at programs in cities we could live in.
Me: Let’s drink eight beers first.
Me: But wait a second. I wasn’t even that great a student, and it’s been ten years since I was in school. I don’t know if academia is a good fit for us anymore. This doesn’t make any sense.
Brain: Oooh, look, this one has a philosophy of science fiction course.
Me: What? Really? That’s awesome. Huh.
Me: You seem to think this will fix all of our problems.
Brain: It will. I promise. You’ll see. You’re wasting your life out here in the sticks. Your precious youth.
Me: Oh, fuck off. This is one of those horrible ideas that looks like a good one on the outside. Why do I keep falling for that?
Brain: I don’t know. Surely you would have learned by now.
Me: Yeah, thanks.
Brain: Necco wafer?
Me: You’re a monster.
So, this happens like once or twice a week. I’m so sick of it. Beyond sick. It’s not always grad school. Sometimes it’s a teaching license or piano lessons or learning how to work on engines or going back on the psych meds or quitting my life to go live in London or squirting heroin into my eyeballs. The point is that I think of it, get excited about it, then talk myself down and get sad. I should just stick to the plan. The plan is solid. I never get sad when I think about the plan. Except for that whole failing miserably, empty husk thing. But that has to be a risk I’m willing to take.
It has to be.
It’ll be worth it to have tried.
Do I have a point with this post? I guess not, now that I’m in the thick of it. Follow your dreams something something blah blah blah. The pursuit of happiness is an inalienable American right schmoo schmoo merpy derp. I think I just wanted to write out that conversation with my brain. He’s a bitch and I’m tired of his nonsense. On the other hand, if I have any friends out there who are animators, I think Conversations with My Brain would make an excellent cartoon. Like the Awkward Yeti only drunker and angrier. We should do a thing.
What a great idea! Maybe! Let me think about it…