It was like this in Toronto yesterday.

Dear J–

When you look up ailments as often as I do, the checklist of confirming signs becomes a running tally of things to watch out for. After a while, they start blurring into one another. Everything is symptomatic. Luckily, regular exposure to the worrying pages of WebMD had made me immune to some of its threats; I visit them out of macabre interest rather than self-diagnosis now.  There is one symptom — a frequent appearance on the Internet —  that has always piqued my interest, though: “brain fog.”

What is a foggy mind? There is literally no way to ascertain its existence. The definitions offered on the Internet are abstract at best, and there is no way to test for it. The most I’ve come to approximating it is in pre-dawn hours, when I convince myself that I’m a morning person by brushing my teeth with my moisturizer. Its causes are abundant: they span from brain tumors to poor digestion, dehydration to electromagnetic pollution. Its treatments are, as you can imagine, equally uncertain.

I thought about this today, when – at the peak of my physical energy and water consumption – I found myself unable to do anything. I made three trips to the kitchen to get one glass. I changed tabs from gmail to open gmail. My brain cleared up momentarily, like blowing hard on frosted windowpanes, and I recalled this whole brain fog business. How unimaginatively impairing, really. I’d rather suffer something concrete.

I’ve been resenting this a lot because I have work to do — a ton of it. Approximately 18 and a half days ago I told myself that this year I’d be different. Harder on myself, because I never am enough. I have coached myself to develop tunnel vision and whittle away (or am attempting to) many of my superfluous interests. This year is all about good ideas and good work. I’ve been doing ok, developing discipline, all of those nice virtues I never had. I don’t really care for the rest. If only my brain could take a hint and clear up, out of respect.




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