Monday, December 1, 2008

Getting a new gyrus every day

The saying goes "You get a new wrinkle in your brain every time you learn something new." This is not actually the truth (My apologies to those who, like me, cling to these commonly held fibs in the hopes of keeping small talk alive with factoids. Every time a one of these myths is eliminated by the cold light of actual knowledge a tiny part of my casual conversational ability evaporates.). While the wrinkle count is higher in creatures with a greater capacity to learn (like apes and humans) the count does not increase with new knowledge.

Ah, well. The metaphor is still decent. And if the metaphor can extend to "my brain got wrinkled like a wadded up shirt", more's the better.

So, someone wadded up the shirt of my cerebral cortex, threw it in the dryer and now it looks like hell. I shouldn't wear it out of the house, but it's the only one I have. Here are some of the wrinkles:

1. If you haven't been doing a lot of elective thinking in a while the mind tends to go haywire when you finally get the chance. Living out close to the 'burbs, I drive more frequently and the thinking one gets done in a car is different than the thinking one does on the EL. In a car, you there are motor function issues at work, possible life and death encounters. On the EL, you can stare off into the distance (or as far as the crumb covered lapel of another passenger). There is no larger responsibility.

When this happens, the brain can go off on its own - contemplate the day ahead, imagine conversations, speculate on where other people are going. I get most of my ideas on the EL.

But if you haven't been getting your normal allowance of elective thinking, the mind goes off on tirades. At least mine does. I was on the train the other day and every thought I began to toy around with ended with "What is our purpose n this planet? Is it just to eat and wander around through a haze of longings and frustrations, no one ever understanding us and hating them if they do? IS THIS IT? What are humans for? What the FUCK ARE WE DOING HERE ANYWAY? WE'RE ALL GOING TO WIND UP IN THE SAME PLACE, RIGHT?"

My big brain - the metabrain, my conscience - does not like this line of thinking. It's emmer effing depressing, is what it is. It's like saying that it's doesn't matter what food looks like, it's all going to wind up in the same place (meaning the stomach). This may be the truth, but I don't want to eat food that looks like Already Been Chewed chicken nuggets. I much prefer to have food that looks good to me. Enjoy eating it.

But my pea brain - the moron brain that can't shut itself up for two seconds - keeps heaping on the existential ABC McRibs it can. Like a child that wants attention.

And this is what happens when you don't do the amount of elective thinking you're used to.

I gotta ride the EL more.

2. Unsalted butter is generally higher in quality. It has to be. Without the salt it could taste crappy.

3. You may not believe this, but there is a quality difference in brands of jellied cranberry sauce. Every year when I bring out the ribbed maroon cylinder, quivering in the bowl, eyes roll and I'm made made fun of for my white trash offering. But I'll be durned if those same people don't at least have a helping.

I'm here to tell you now, next Thanksgiving - or this Christmas- when you are making your cranberry sauce purchase, get Ocean Spray. Don't get one of those no name brands, or the well meaning organic 365 stuff from Whole Foods. Get Ocean Spray.

That's the mistake I made this year. Rather than cranberry saucey, it just tasted ribbed, maroon and quivering.

4. Whole foods let you taste their wine for $10. We were shopping for Thanksgiving, and in the wine section there is a vending machine that holds a variety of wines for tasting. We purchased a Vino card and for $.75 to $1.25 a pop you can sample several whites and reds. Insert the card and press a button.

The machine pours like it's trying to get lucky and within a couple of tastes, I was accidentally wasted.

Try this if you want to liven up your trip to the market. For you, and for everyone else.

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