29 September 2005

Days when the brain's wired differently

There was a big weather shift overnight. Yesterday it was autumn warm, sunny, and clear; today it's overcast, windy, and pouring. The power has flickered a couple times, and it seems my brain has done the same.

Today is one of those days when people keep asking you stupid questions when you've already stated everything you knew very clearly (which makes the redundant follow-ups all the more annoying). Unfortunately those people were my parents at lunch.

I was telling my Dad the latest news from the movers. Two days ago, she'd emailed that my stuff was actually being picked up yesterday (as opposed to last Friday as she'd previously said) and tentatively, it would be delivered tomorrow. The update today said it'll be delivered out of an office closer to here on the last day of the delivery spread next week. They'll call the day before to confirm. It was a brief email, and I'd conveyed all there was to convey, but Dad asked something that I'd just explained.

Mom told me not to be "testy" after I snapped at him. Strangely, being told not to be testy never has a calming effect on me. I looked out the window at the rain and remembered another day a weather shift had disturbed my interactions.

I was shooting a film at a grass airstrip in Panacea, Florida. There had been a few minor hiccups the first few days of production, but the shoot soon fell into a pleasant groove. The director and I were friends with an easy shorthand communication until one morning there was nothing we agreed on. Even when we were trying to convey the same idea, we'd do it so differently we'd misunderstand each other and get further frustrated. The whole crew was tolerating us well but starting to get grumpy. Everything felt wrong about the place.

And then the wind changed. It's not the type of thing I'd generally notice, but after several days on a small airstrip watching the windsocks, I'd become attuned to it.

"Did you feel that?" the director asked.

For the first time all day, I knew just what he was talking about. "Yeah, the wind changed," I replied.

"Yeah. That was weird."

The spell was broken and though we didn't understand it, we felt free of it. We were ourselves again, our shorthand restored, and our crew in good spirits.

As I watched the rain, I conceded to myself that I had been testy to my Dad, so I took a deep breath, and then answered his question evenly, and explained that I had no further information on the topic.

Less than five minutes elapsed before I was annoyed again and further getting on Mom's nerves. I made a comment about not wanting to live amidst ignorant hicks which had a specific context in my mind relating to conversations from yesterday that was clearly missed. Her response was palpable; I felt her energy shift even though I wasn't looking at her directly and knew exactly what she was about to say.

"That'd be better than living by a bunch of snobby bitches," she snapped.

She meant that I was a snobby bitch, but because I'd anticipated her retort, I was completely unmoved by it. What did move me was another stupid misunderstanding two minutes later.

"I'm sorry," Mom said forcefully as she picked up her bowl and left the table. She wasn't apologizing to me, she was apologizing for the fact she couldn't put up with me anymore. I didn't mind. This response was vastly preferable to unintentionally making her cry; if her brain had been in a different place today, that could easily have been the result. I finished the conversation with Dad; he's got a pretty thick skin and isn't fazed by much. Recognizing some mischief in the weather, I felt reassured: it will change and the spell will be broken.

Even as I wrote this last paragraph, the rain stopped and the sun started to break through; I'm feeling better already.

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