“The corpus callosum (from Latin: “tough body”), also known as the colossal commissure, is a wide, flat bundle of neural fibers beneath the cortex in the eutherian brain at the longitudinal fissure. It connects the left and right cerebral hemispheres and facilitates interhemispheric communication. It is the largest white matter structure in the brain, consisting of 200–250 million contralateral axonal projections.”
My corpus callosum is tired.
I spend most days in my left brain, crafting legal arguments, synthesizing them in writing, and employing logic: “If Mary has three red balls, Jane has two yellow balls, and Jim has two blue balls, then…?” Well, then Mary and Jane are having a better day than Jim, but you get the idea.
After doing that all day, I go home and it’s right brain time.* I flip the mother switch to “on”, and I start speaking, answering endless questions from my almost unfortunately intelligent preteen son: “How do men donate sperm, Mom? What happened at Chernobyl? Why does the government spy on people? Does the government spy on you when you’re donating sperm?” (Just kidding about that last one, but it wouldn’t surprise me.) One night a week, his father gets to field these questions, although my son advises me that he doesn’t ask his dad as many questions, which feels a little bit unfair.
Once dinner is over and I’ve told my son five times to Google the answers to at least a few of his questions (I regretted that tactic with the sperm thing), I crawl up the stairs to my sewing room, which I now insist on calling my studio since the launch of my microwave hot pad venture, and collapse dramatically on the floor. I am tired. The dog is concerned, and sniffs my hair repeatedly before lying down next to me. “Hi,” I say. If my feet are bare, he’ll start licking them. I used to think that was a salt thing, but Thomas will lick feet in any state — dry, clean and wet from the shower, gross from long-term encasement in hiking socks, whatever. For him it seems to be a way to offload exhaustion or anxiety, at least some of which he picks up from us. I deal with it, but I have a rule that he can’t lick between my toes. Ewww. His respect for this boundary is predictably spotty. Unsurprisingly, I usually tire of the foot-licking behavior before he does, and move my feet. Sometimes he follows them, reluctant to accept the removal of his footsicle. This motivates me to get off the floor and into the chair, where I start working on whatever fabric project is in process.
This feels better, but switching between the mythical brain hemispheres is taxing, and sometimes takes awhile. There are times when legal work is sparse, and I live gloriously — if impecuniously — in my right brain world full time. But then the coffers get dangerously low, and I’m relieved to see the left brain work again. We do have a plan to edge me ever more into the right brain world, but plans take time. And get derailed. And have to be re-railed. It’s life.
Adding to my sense of survival mode is that we’ve been a one-car family now for several weeks due to a string of events too boring to relate here. (After all, once your standards were elevated by my account of the dog’s foot fetish, it would be a disappointment to delve into this aspect of the story.) Suffice it to say that sharing a vehicle with someone who works all over the city tends to put a strain on things. We haven’t lost it with each other quite yet, but it’s reminded both of us how essential individual independence is to the fluidity of our relationship.
When I go into survival mode, my immediate reflex is always to withdraw into myself, put my head down, and get through the basics of existence. I do this for several days, holing up like a ground squirrel, until something in me awakens to the possibility of writing it down, and thereby re-entering the world. It’s how I am, and how I deal with life. Holing up is a healing space, a space to accommodate whatever is pressing at the time. It’s the place where understanding is found.
But then it’s time to peek my head over the edge and check things out.
*Actually, this is all metaphorical. Wikipedia also tells me that broad generalizations about right vs. left brain processes are not “supported by studies on lateralization”, and “the extent of any modularity, or specialization of brain function by area, remains under investigation.”