A Large Build-up of Snot. An Unremarkable Brain.

I’ve been thinking about the MRI I’m getting. Will it reveal nasty thoughts - like setting fire to the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid so my child will look away from the computer screen? Or steal my great ideas - like Tupperware coffins? I’ve been trying not to conjure tumours. I’m told visualization is a powerful thing.

All this thinking too hard about my brain is making my brain hurt. And making my nose bleed – which never ever happens except when I have cancer in my face.

I've spent my entire adult life (when you have a co-dependent, attached-at-the-hip relationship with your parents, it’s not always easy to know when adult life begins, because you often let your parents define that for you, and it’s kind of a day to day thing where, on a Monday in 1980, you’re an adult so you can figure out how to get home from the mall by yourself and, on a Tuesday in 2013, you’re a kid again getting in trouble for having a door knob that jiggles, which is none of their business because you don’t live with them and haven’t for decades...) I've spent my entire adult life concerned with how I was using, or misusing, my brain.

My theme song, I Should Be Doing Something Artistic and Remarkable, is a lament for decades spent not being a writer, but talking about being a writer. When, in the past, I did some small remarkable thing, it would trigger my lack of remarkability obsession.

I wanna write. I wanna  use my brain. I wanna. I wanna.  I wanna.

Three years ago I quit my secure, long-term government policy job to shut up about wanting to be a writer, and get down to being a writer. That left me floating in the crowded, low-pay no-pay space of Notice Me.

Then this cancer thing happened. Now, it’s all I can think about or write about. People start whispering about silver linings. I’m thinking, maybe bronze, maybe tin.

The to-be-read pile of books by my bed serves no purpose. I want to tell the troubled main character of my novel-in-progress to get her shit together. Some of us have real problems. I can read the Last Olympian out loud. I’m grateful for the length of a Jezebel article. And Rob Ford, the mayor of this great city, bless his fucking cracked-out ass, has gone out of his way to provide me with no end of consumable sound and Twitter bites. So much pleasure, so much indignation, with so little attention required.   

I’m looking for clues that something’s wrong with my brain. Laughing my head off all the way through Steve Martin’s Pink Panther might be one. Or not.

My friend Monica sent me a long description of what to expect from an MRI. She told me the new mass was probably in my maxillary sinus. (She’s an osteo. She knows these things.)

“I'm sure they didn’t include the possibility that it’s a large build up of snot. That doesn't look compelling enough on paper.” 

A large build up of snot. I love that possibility. And while the idea of a biopsy to find a large build up of snot seems like overkill, radiating it seems worse.

There was something so grounding in Monica’s description of the MRI process. The earplugs, and knee bolster to stabilize the back. I am not claustrophobic, but I am a bit agoraphobic.  I’m happy I’ll be alone in the tube.

She told me that if my eyes are open, I can look down my nose and see the technicians watching the monitors from behind the glass wall. But it's uncomfortable to keep your eyes like that. I immediately test looking down my nose. It hurts. I’ll close my eyes. Monica's the second person to say she fell asleep despite all the noise and repeated statements, that could be brainwashing slogans.

I always wanted to be known for a remarkable brain. Monica assures me the best outcome of the MRI is unremarkable. “It's sort of a backhanded insult disguised as good news," she says. “I will, of course, be hoping that your brain is unremarkable.”

For once, so will I. 

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