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My Messy Thoughts

 

It’s so hard for me to corral my thoughts, sometimes. It feels like I’m picking up shards of glass from the floor and trying to piece them back together again. I can recall, or at least summarize, what someone else has said to me, but my own words dissipate into the air much more quickly. Most of the time, I feel like my memories pop up out of order, but if I can write each thought down when it comes to me, and finish the thought three days later when my brain finally gives me the last few words, I can edit it all into a coherent whole and seem like I know what the hell I’m talking about.

I watched two medical dramas on TV, recently, that made plot points out of people whose hearts were on the wrong side of their bodies. And I thought, huh, consider how many things we assume have to be a certain way, like, the heart has to be on the left, and yet, it doesn’t have to be that way, it just happens to be on the left, and all of our assumptions ensue from there. A lot of brain research has been done to try and locate the specific areas of the brain that control different kinds of thoughts. But what if it’s different in each brain? What if we organize the furniture of our brains as differently as we organize the furniture in our homes?

I have different types of bookcases scattered in different rooms. I have hard copies of every writing project in process (there are a lot of them), because when they are only on the computer, I forget that they exist. I have a particular antipathy towards closed drawers, so I tend to keep everything on open shelves, when possible, because it’s too easy to hide things from myself.

Cricket’s mind is a series of hot buttons. Grandma! Food! Shoes! Mailman! Leash! I picture these areas in her brain lighting up in bright red, and it takes a long time to return to a calm pink color. And when any of the bright red areas are lit up, no other thought is possible. It’s only when her brain is cool and calm that she can use her significant intelligence to manipulate her people again. She has set patterns to follow for how to wake up Grandma (bark, scratch, cry, bite ankles), or how to remind me that it’s time for treats (stare at bag of treats, stare at me, stare at bag of treats, crawl under couch and stare at me with disappointed puppy face). And she has incredible long term memory for faces, and smells, and wrongs done to her.

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Cricket, working her magic on Grandma.

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Cricket, putting on her disappointed puppy face.

I like to watch the way Butterfly sets out her kibble on the floor. She places one piece in front of the bathroom door. She radiates kibble out from her food bowl in a messy half-moon. She sets out five or six pieces of kibble on the rug in the living room, like a set of jacks she’s getting ready to scoop up with her paw. Each kibble gesture represents part of the way her brain is set up. She likes to leave kibble, and unfinished chewies, scattered around the apartment, just in case. “Just in case,” is a big theme for her. When we go out for a short walk, she has to have a snack first, and during, and after, just in case. I can relate to this.

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Some just-in-case kibble.

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“Mommy, I’ll trade you this sock for a chicken treat.”

I struggle to make the world stand still long enough so I can see it clearly, or see it the same way two times in a row, so maybe all of my obsessive writing is my version of “just in case.” My brain feels like a kaleidoscope at times: chock full of pieces of things all moving around and refusing to organize themselves into single whole. But it can still be beautiful, in its pieces, and being able to see things in new configurations all the time allows me to see more complexity in how each part of me relates to every other part.

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“Do you know what Mommy is talking about?”

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“Us!”

 

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

75 responses »

  1. What a delight to read, Rachel.

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  2. Does Cricket not eat Butterfly’s kibble when she puts it out like that?

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  3. Lovely read, Rachel!
    Our Chicki has set ways of doing things, too. She always wakes us up by walking on top of us. She won’t eat her dinner until she’s given a piece of treat, and once she’s eaten, she *has* so have three pieces as a reward. She’s trained us well. 🙂

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  4. Our boys, Remy and Henry, both like the same food bowl. The “tainted” bowl can sit full for hours after they’ve cleaned out the other. They have to be really hungry to resort to eating from the bowl they don’t like. Both bowls are made of exactly the same material and are pretty much identical. Dogs, I’ve realized, are sometimes as strange as people!

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  5. I love Butterfly’s ‘just in case’ mode. I do that, too. When we go out, I have to run through the house and make sure it is in total order with dishes dried and put away, blinds pulled, lights on/off (as the case may be)…just in case. Makes sense to me! Such a great post, Rachel.

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  6. I really enjoy your writing! You have such an engaging way with words and I admire the way you bring your ideas full circle with your careful observations of Cricket and Butterfly.

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  7. Kibble on the floor has a life expectancy measured in microseconds. The other dog would snap it up.

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  8. I can totally relate to this Rachel. Sometimes it feels like the only time my thoughts make sense are when they’re written down. I really enjoyed this post! 🙂

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  9. Brilliant writing. It seems funny how sometimes a hodgepodge of writings sometimes falls together just so, and sometimes it lingers around trying to fit in somewhere it doesn’t quite belong. 🙂

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  10. Cricket and Butterfly are so funny! Maybe Butterfly deliberately leaves kibble all over the place just to annoy Cricket.

    I know what you mean about being unable to tie your thoughts down. If I don’t write my thoughts down when they are fresh, I’ll lose them and never find them again. Sometimes I’ll half-write a blog-post and three days later I’ll come back to it with a different perspective which gives me a better angle for the post, but if I hadn’t written the initial thoughts down when I had them, the whole post never materializes.

    I love your writing, so please keep writing your thoughts down too!

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    • Thank you! If it were Cricket leaving the kibble around, I’d say definitely, it’s to taunt her sister. But Butterfly is a bit oblivious to those kinds of machinations. She just really likes having kibble everywhere she goes. We had a doggy visitor one time who followed the kibble trail all around the apartment, and Butterfly didn’t mind sharing at all.

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  11. You make this sounds entertaining but it seems as if your experiences might be painful at times. Or at least disconcerting.

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  12. You know what? Kaleidoscope brains come up with really beautiful creations. Lovely post.

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  13. I so enjoy your posts Rachel. Great pictures of Cricket and Butterfly again.

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  14. A kaleidoscopic mind is a joyful thing. It’s great to be alive! Pip and the boys

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  15. That’s a superb portrait of Grandma

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  16. I totally relate! A friend once said his mind was like the jumble of fishing line in the tackle box….that was a perfect illustration for what’s in my head. I love the way you make the jumble sound beautiful instead…a kaleidoscope! And as always, love the photos.

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  17. I can certainly identify with a messy brain, there are days when I feel discombobulated within my head and finding words just to speak with can be a challenge lol 😀

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  18. I totally understand kaleidoscope brain syndrome! My Spot takes food out of the bowl and has to eat on her plate = the rug. So funny to watch her so Butterfly has company in her behaviors lol.

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  19. Hello Rachel,

    Would like to nominate The Cricket Pages for the Versatile Blogger Award:

    https://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com/

    Please let me know whether you want to accept it – and feel free to delete this comment. I tried to email you, but my message probably got a bit chewed on and since it did not taste like the usual treat, dumped into the spam folder….

    Kind greetings,
    Sylvia

    Reply
    • Thank you! I’m sorry the email didn’t come through. I’m honored that you thought of me for this award, and I will definitely check out my fellow honorees, but I don’t tend to do the whole award thing myself.

      Reply
  20. This is a beautiful read, Rachel … And I totally get where you’re coming from. (Love your dogs!) 🙂

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  21. You write so well, it is a joy to read your blog. You make me think, cry, and laugh, in the same read. From shards of glass to half moons of kibble. Thanks

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  22. I enjoyed reading this. The “just-in-case” is a great concept. Maybe all of us have a little of that in us.

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  23. having little doggies
    living with me,
    i can relate 🙂

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  24. Your thoughts don’t seem messy to me at all – you always write so eloquently, and you make it look effortless.

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  25. Butterfly has some lessons for all of us with her kibble: plan ahead as much as you can, but then take life as it comes.

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  26. I beg to differ, Rachel – not messy at all – entirely & wonderfully creative! Dogs are eternal optimists – even though you probably either never did before or did it only one time years ago, maybe you’ll finally trade the sock for the treat?!

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  27. I am glad to hear that I am not the only one who has to have things around her and visible. My sense of “organization” – especially when it came to drafts of term papers -used to land me in hot water at school.

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  28. For someone who has issues to put thoughts together you write a lot better post, than I ever could 🙂

    Love, Health and Wealth
    Alex Moses
    https://alifeanswer.com/

    Reply
  29. Great post. My thoughts do something similar but it’s usually when I’m driving and can’t write them down. By the time I arrive at my destination, they’re usually gone forever. I tried keeping a little tape recorder, but now I have to transcribe all the random recorded thoughts, and I can’t tell you how many times I went to use the recorder and the battery was dead! BTW, I especially loved the photo of Grandma and Cricket!

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  30. love the portrait of grandma- and can relate to this post so well. Love your writing

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  31. Great post that I can relate to. I was told once that I had a brain like a library – a badly arranged library. Always like your photographs.

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  32. I can relate to your post Rachel! Incomplete draft ends up being two different posts. I do that with my poems too! 😀
    And our Lab is so calm when his food is eaten by his Godfather stray dog. It’s like he invites him and turns around, facing elsewhere so that the stray can eat his food. It’s so adorable. Even they understand sharing, which is hardly understood by the world of humans!

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  33. Good for you shedding light on why dogs leave kibble lying around. Photo with grandma is priceless. I like the sock for chicken barter too.

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  34. A marvelous read, Rachel. I love my grammy too, so enjoyed reading about yours! Sweet!

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  35. I get wanting printed out copies of your writing. I’m so discombolulated with overwhelming paper that I can hardly find a thing. Gotta get a plan.

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  36. You have such a wonderful way of writing. Embrace the kaleidoscope! And you know me, I’ll send hugs for Cricket and Butterfly, too!

    Reply

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