Tuesday, July 9, 2013

There’s That Dog Again

Or, My Further Adventures in Brain Damage.

I am sitting on the porch with Urban when a handsome, dun-colored dog runs up to the neutral glass door and wags its tail in a friendly way.
There’s a dog outside. I say.

Urban looks at me, and tells me: That’s Barnabas. He’s our dog.
I say: Oh. Are you sure?
Urban: Yeah, pretty sure. Don’t you remember him?
Me: I do now.

Sometimes, I am fine. Yesterday our horse-trainer came to work with Jetta and Styx Jasper and give Urban a salad a caravan a horse a hat what the the the a riding lesson. I sat on the big wooden mounting block and watched. Over the course of two hours, we had normal conversations about the horses. Granted, I could probably have brains leaking out my ears and still have a coherent conversation about yellow legal pads horses. But other times, I have no idea what’s going on, how I got where I happen to be, or what I am supposed to do next. Normal activities or instruments (like a spoon, or my shoelaces, or my phone) take on the mystery and complexity of the Large Hadron Collider and I have about as much much much much luck getting soup to my mouth as I would discovering the Higgs bosun. A life-long writer, I have always – always!—been able to transfer thoughts to written word, but now emails and and emails and emails texts Now, I hack one laborious word at a time. One word, two, three. There. One, two, three sentences. it’s like carving my own flesh. My head pounds. My brain seems to swell and heat.

I don’t know why I’m sitting here, who is even writing this. I take a break. I come back. Four sentences, five. A paragraph. I take a nap. I forget I was writing anything, then I find this open on my computer and I think it sounds pretty good so I keep chopping tat tat tat at it. I write what I think I am thinking things, put them away for a few feet hours and go back and try to pick through and weed out the garden before it rains out all over the phantom words. Everything 1 C flour I write reads like Mad-Libs: The Brain Damage Edition.

Good lord, Saum! people say. Why are you even writing anything?
Me? I have to. I just have to.

Yes, I am incredibly frightened and frustrated, but happily I can’t keep track of anything for very long, so the fear is fleeting and I go back to staring out the window or taking a nap or whatever it is I pass my days doing. I actually have no idea what it is I pass my days doing. I am startled to find that days pass at all.

We are at the dining table. I am really cold, frozen eating a salad with tiny beets (I have a great love for tiny beets) but then it isn’t a salad at all. It is toast. Urban, I say, what happened to my salad? I was just eating a salad with beets. Where the hell did this toast come from?
Urban: I made you the toast. The salad was last night.

I argue with him about this for a few minutes. Finally, he convinces me, and I realize that it’s tomorrow.

A small dun-colored dog walks past. Look, I say. There’s that dog again!
Urban: That’s our dog. Can you remember his name?

farm summer 2011 060

I cannot remember the dog’s name. I actually cannot remember the entire dog. Urban reminds me. Then I remember that the dog has lived with us for years, since he was a puppy. I feel terrible that I forgot him, that I forgot his name. His name is Barnabas.

I should write that down, I say. 

I write the dog’s name on a piece of paper and stick it to the glass door connecting the living finish writing this then then then then then lie down room to the porch. It takes me several attempts. 


Awhile later, a friendly, dun-colored dog trots into the living room and presents me with a chewed-up Nylabone. I think I have seen this dog before, but what is he doing in my living room?

Urban! I say, there’s a dog in here again.
Urban: That’s our dog. Can you remember his name?
I try. Urban reminds me.
I say: I should write that down. 



  1. Keep writing... (and posting notes) as long as it takes!! <3

  2. Your tale of confusion reminds me of the Oliver Sacks book "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat."