Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ten Percent Mental

Experts say that a woman’s brain shrinks during pregnancy by 10%. I don’t believe it. According to science theory, matter cannot be destroyed or created, only transformed…and to my way of thinking, grey matter is no different than any other matter for that matter.

But it is a convenient excuse.

So I am torn morally and mentally…I could wave off my shirking of intellectual responsibility for my own continued education based on hormones. I could rest on my dusty laurels of academic achievement by claiming to be intellectually incapable of managing. But pregnancy eventually ends. That means I’ll have to assume responsibility at some point for my own mental faculties faultiness.

The problem is, I’m a vain little thing. I dislike thinking that there is something I "can't" understand or master. I don't even like the word "Can't" in my vocabulary. And it isn't just a case of being unwilling to acknowledge the barriers of my own brain, it's with respect to the body as well. I have kick boxed at 8 months pregnant, just to show it was possible. Don’t ask me who I was showing, we all know it was me.

It’s a very simple case of pure self delusion. I dislike limitations on my intellect, talent and physical ability and seek actively to disprove them whenever they pop up. Once, I spent three days on a super hard Sudoku just because I wasn’t going to be defeated by a mental puzzle even if I had to Xerox it three times and start over to eventually get it right. I am annoyed whenever I fail to guess who done it in a mystery novel. My brain IQ may not be Mensa worthy, but my ego says it is, and that it’s just that I don’t test well.

So I don’t want to surrender even that 10% to pregnancy, no matter the facts. I have to own my sloth and slacker ways and keep trying to prove I could have been a mental contender. For example, I keep checking out Joyce’s Ulysses from the library, and trying to read it so I can then nail the book on a wall like a stuffed boar’s head trophy with the date it was successfully endured engraved on a brass plate. I never get very far before I have to return it. If I bought the damn thing, it would eliminate my exculpatory excuse for not finishing.

Every summer, I make great plans to learn Spanish and master American history the way my husband and son can recite it with love and accuracy, and settle for memorizing the list of presidents in chronological order, watching a few PBS historical documentaries and having suffered through two or three sides of a language tape, two Spanish, one French. (It’s all I could find in our collection of cassettes). Then I sniff out loud, mollifying my wounded self that is chaffing at all the work and my unwillingness to persist at the same time, “Well, I took Latin anyway, so it’s reasonable that I don’t know French or Spanish.” As if I could actually say anything in Latin.

And I eat smart food like blueberries and pomegranates and fish when it’s fresh. I read things that bore me and listen to classical music or jazz, straining in my disingenuousness to prove somehow, I’m urbane, sophisticated and elite intellectually, and not a mere suburban house mom. I want to be the kind of person who would get the jokes in the New Yorker so well, she never bothered to read them. “Too telling.” I’d sniff.

Oh. How I’d love to be able to know enough to be a snob about something; wine, politics, literature, baseball, music, art, anything at all. Someone who gets “it,” whatever “it” is.

In the meantime, I’m just assuming, whatever it is I haven’t learned or mastered, it’s because of that missing 10%.

To find the other ten percent, click on over to if you liked this post and give me a will molify my ego which clearly is in need of some serious praise, and if not, well, humility is good for the soul.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

well said. I'm not pregnant. I don't have an excuse ...but I'm missing far more than 10%.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!