When I was a kid (yes, I am actually starting out with New Jersey this time), we lived down the street from a dump. This is not as awful as it sounds. We were not rednecks. We did not live in some godforsaken beer-swilling rifle-cracking hog-grilling kind of place. No sir. We did not.
We lived in a respectable suburb smack dab triangulated between New York City and Newark, New Jersey, THE MOST POPULATED STRETCH OF LAND ON EARTH at the time, it seemed to me, and we had the BIGGEST MALL ON EARTH to prove it. Yes, we did, the Willowbrook Mall, built on land that once housed an amusement park, which somehow seemed appropriate to me.
Nevertheless, there was a dump up the street from us, on the land of a farm and nursery owned by the Pfitzenmayer family. They just let anybody who had anything to dump come and dump it. It was all very casual.
The nice thing about this was that the neighborhood kids—at least the ones that Mr. Pfitzenmayer approved of—could go rummage around the dump and find all kinds of neat stuff. We found old radios and magazines and dolls and just junk. Once we found $30, I think in the back of one of those radios.
Lately, my brain has been like that dump. I have been unearthing all kinds of neat stuff. No, not old radios and magazines, and certainly not dolls or $30. For one thing, as you might have been able to tell, it has been overwhelmed by details of my childhood. Vivid details of vignettes long forgotten have been sparking through my mind nonstop.
Just the other day, for instance, I remembered for the first time since the stroke a website I used to visit daily because I enjoyed it so much: Arts and Letters Daily. I recommend it if you want a good source to keep you up to date on the latest in all the arts journals we never get to read, the latest books we swear to buy, and the essays we wish we had thought to write ourselves. Plus it has an exhaustive list of columnists, online radio stations, newspapers, and so forth.
And then I had another brilliant find at the Brain Dump. This little gem is sure to come in handy for all of you folks who wear clothes, which I suspect is most of you, if I know my audience, which I suspect I do. Call me crazy, but for some reason I just picture most of you wearing clothes, and I really don’t think it has anything to do with me having brain damage. I think I would picture you that way whether or not I had had a stroke. Really. Not even kidding. Not even a little bit.
Maybe I should qualify this handy little tip a bit. Now those of you who know me can testify that I have an absolutely flat-as-a-pancake stomach. I mean, from my nose to my toes, it’s a straight vertical drop, 180 degrees, bombs away, look out mama, here comes trouble. Please keep that in mind as I describe the aforementioned gem in the followingmentioned explanation:
(But before we get to that—and you suspected this was coming when you saw the parentheses, didn’t you?—we must ponder the curious absence of the opposite of a word for “aforementioned,” which means CAUTION! ABSOLUTELY USELESS ETYMOLOGY LESSON AHEAD! which I have never done inside parentheses before, which shall, no doubt, present interesting punctuation issues. But in fact this turns out to be a decidedly uninteresting etymology lesson, since the proper opposite of “aforementioned” is simply “later,” yes, simply “later,” and now I’ve lost my place, oh well, let’s start a new sentence. And I am tempted to wipe out this etymology lesson entirely but I’ve tormented myself this far, and “aforementioned” is, I have found out, not even included in my copy of the Oxford English Dictionary except under “afore” [unfortunately, no more recent than 1987 but I am sure this was a word by then—and I told you we would get into some interesting punctuation issues, and Merriam-Webster confirms it was, by 1587], and now I’ve lost my place again. Oh, let’s give up. END USELESS ETYMOLOGY LESSON)
On to the followingmentioned explanation I promised a few breathless parenthetical breaths ago. Flat as pancake stomach, etc. The problem is holding up my pants. Or my shorts. Or my skirts. But I hardly ever wear skirts. I’m just not that kinda girl. And if I was, I would definitely want them to be held down.
No matter how tightly I cinch my belt or elastic, my pants have a southern mind of their own. Last week, I remembered my solution for this problem: tuck in my damn shirt. Waa-laa! Problem solved! After 18 months of pants-droopiness, I now am clam-happy. And as I’ve said before, light dawns on Marblehead. (I’m allowed to say that; I used to live there, and I’ve seen it happen.)
So that’s two very exciting finds at the Brain Dump in recent days. And then just yesterday I unearthed a third, this time from the computer pile, the long-neglected computer pile. I’d almost forgotten it was hiding there in the corner.
Now that I am no longer gainfully employed, CF and I have rearranged our house so that our computers are about six feet apart. Given my loss of software knowledge, this immediately put us at a disadvantage, networking-wise, because our cabling system was de-cabled. We would strangle each other trying to figure out cables, strangle each other trying to figure out Wi-Fi, or strangle each other paying someone to configure the whole thing. So for a couple of months, we have been emailing files back and forth six feet. Ridiculous, I know.
Then yesterday dawned light on the dump and the brain woke up again. I noticed a funny little item in my list of folders on my computer that seemed to be CF’s folder. I clicked on it, and what do you know, it was! I could copy a file directly from my computer to hers! Through the magic of my superior operating system I had complete access to her computer. At least I think that’s why. I’m not sure. I don’t understand these things anymore. Please don’t try to tell me why. Those brain cells are really gone forever. I think.
If they come back, I’ll let you know. I think.
Therefore, I am.