"These are not cockroaches," I say to myself as I'm moving a semi-crunchy chewed ball of oats around in my mouth. My tongue clears the front of my gums like a windshield wiper and adds the collection to the oat ball being worked on over in the left side of my mouth. Crunch. "That's not a bug. It's oats."
"Seriously? Cockroaches? Come on. I'm trying to eat here." I chastise my brain, because it's the one that pops thoughts like this into my awareness. I can't tell it not to do something, or it just does it more. More cockroaches. Louder cockroaches. I try ignoring it like a bratty child.
"Your hair's rolling up like a curtain. Fwop-fwop-fwop-fwop!" Now, that's kind of funny. And I can eat to that. I imagine my curtain hair spooling up to the top of my head. "Neck sweater." Yes, brain. I agree. A neck sweater would be nice. "Made of lard." Um. Well, that doesn't seem very practical. But, have it your way. "And make soap from it." Now, you got that from Fight Club, which you were just talking about today. "Meatball sobbing. Man boobs." More Fight Club. I'm not impressed. "Helena Bonham Carter." Now you're just naming actor-"Johnny Depp." And he wasn't even in Fight Club.
At any given moment, I can hear my brain-talk. "Crab it, maestro!" Most of it makes little sense to me, "Shine it, boys! Mail it right to your momma!" And some of it makes me laugh.
When I was in art school, I was among other brain-talk people. People's brain-talk thoughts were splattered across canvasses and molded into clay and slowly becoming clear while bathing in chemicals and getting tickled by tongs. Brain-talk was encouraged, if not understood, even if the dialects were different.
"Fifi put sixteen eggs in the green drain. Oh, you green drain!"
Then, I graduated. I borrowed a suit from my mom because, as I understood it, retail managers didn't wear art school clothes. I bought a pair of pantyhose from Walgreen's and set out to be the best damn seller of wicker and wax that I could possibly be.
And my brain-talk followed me, as noted by the time I told a customer (while helping her with some mini salt and pepper shakers), "I'm just a sucker for anything miniature!" I'm not. I'm not even sure what that means. But I said it. "Miniature cow plows in the candy corn pasture, Grandma!" is what I did not say. But I was thinking it. Or something like it. Brain-talk never reveals itself with a single thought.
Hark. Listen closely. Lend me your ear. Do you have a moment?
I stuffed cotton in my brain. In all of the empty spaces in which the thoughts which aren't already attached to something float. Here's where I stuffed the cotton. I shook my head to the left. I shook it to the right.
I could not hear the brain-talk.
And this is how I worked for several years, tying papasans to the roofs of cars and wrapping scented candles in tissue. I could not hear the brain-talk while saying, "You're a wonderful person, but you're really not working out here. Good luck to you," or "We have a lot of very qualified applicants. I'll be in touch." Luck be a lady. Workin' hard for the money. Tuh-tuh-tuh-tuh-tuh-tuh touch me. Creature of the night!
Then I left. I left to teach. Kindergarten: gold tooth I wanna be a rapper my daddy sells crack p is for pimps if you wanna know if a gun is real pick it up and do this bang! bang! bang! uhn! she just doodied I got to use it the teacher pooped in the closet? really please. someone help these kids. honey how did you get those marks on your arm your mom what? pinched you? oh my god they are all over your body let's go see the nurse no sweetie I'm taking your bag of sugar because it's not a healthy snack it's okay they aren't saying anything mean about me stop crying it's okay honey, I AM white it's okay.
There was no space in my head for the brain-talk. The cotton was pulled out and the day's events were packed in so tightly that many days I couldn't retrieve the thoughts that said, "Eat." Or "Breathe." Or "Everything is alright."
Three years and goodbye, Latray. Goodbye Sheron. Goodbye and yes I'm leaving you like everyone else has it's just that I can't breathe and my heart is so heavy I drag it around like an albatross and your crack-smokin', prostitutin' parents I can forgive but not those who are supposed to be providing a safe place for you and lending their office out so that you can get whooped with a belt by your auntie while I'm teaching across the hall and SNAP! and SNAP! and SNAP! and SNAP! and Ms Bow-wuh, why you be cryin'?
And I left you because it was inevitable.
And the brain-talk is quiet now so I can sit with that last sentence and see it for what it is. And the brain-talk wants to make sure I see it.
And this is when I realize my brain-talk serves to perhaps busy myself when the thought of what is or what has been is more painful than a dozen jellyfish attached to my ceiling, falling to the floor with a thwap! as they dry up. Thwap!
And I see them.
Thwap! And one hits my head. I flip it over and notice a tiny face inside where its belly would be. (Do jelly fish have bellies?) and I see it wink at me.
Oh, jellyfish. You little flirt.