The Split Brain Phenomenon: On the Outside Looking In

I used to think only I experienced a split brain. Even in childhood, I always had the strange sensation of being on the outside looking in. I watched my peers and marveled at the ridiculous (to me) things they fought about, raged about, lost friends over. I always just figured I was an “old soul” type, plus being an introvert I did not usually place myself in the center of social angst.

But there is more to it than that, as I have found as I grew into adulthood. I have often felt like I am in two places at once—both experiencing my life and observing it. As an introspective type, this observing of my experiences often takes a two step form that most people are familiar with—something happens, and later on in a quiet moment, I examine it. But sometimes I have disconcerting moments where the two happen simultaneously.

For example, as my best friend was dying, I and my friends spent many emotional hours in the hospital. One night another friend and I fell into each others’ arms in a hallway and started sobbing. And my split brain says to me, “This would make a good story.” Seriously, brain? So now one part of my split brain is deeply grieving, while the other is arguing with itself over the inappropriateness of its intrusion.

I am aware that this “removed” feeling in the situation above could have been a defense mechanism against my grief, but that is only one instance where I had this occur. Many times I feel both inside and outside my life, like a bridge with an upper and lower deck—connecting to the same places, but taking different routes. Both observer and observed.

I have since found that other creative people experience a similar phenomenon. So maybe I’m not crazy—or maybe we all are. This ability to see the larger picture, to see beyond our own experiences even while having them is, I think, a part of what makes a creative brain what it is. We interpret as we experience, and are able to then lay that observation over the larger human experience and make it resonate with people.  Rather than being a disconnect, it is actually a unique connection between the intensely personal and the widely human.

It is often said that artists see things other people don’t. That they have vision. The split brain is part of that perspective. We are a conduit, able to extrapolate from our experience to that of others. Our job, our purpose, is to shine a light on the humanity in us all.

That moment of grief in the hospital hallway? That is a story played out in every hospital in every country in every language in the world. It is more than a good story—it is the human story.

And my split brain allows me to see both stories at once.

NJASL 2018

This past weekend I wrapped up my event schedule for 2018 with the New Jersey Association of School Librarians’ Conference. I was only able to be in the Authors’ Alley for one day of the three day conference, as usual, but I enjoy putting in an appearance.

Sunday was a misty day, not a great beach day. This was the first year the conference has been in December, so I got to see the conference center decked out for the holidays. Christmas is my favorite holiday, so I love the decorations (although nor before Thanksgiving, please!).

For the first time in my 4 years attending the conference, I was on the upper level of Authors’ Alley. It was a bit warm up there, so we propped open the door to the balcony to get the cool ocean breeze swirling in. We had a good view of the ocean from up there, when the fog lifted enough to see it. The waves were large and I could have watched, mesmerized, for hours.

NJASL holds a special place in my heart. It was the very first book event I did after my book The Witch of Zal came out in 2015. I was terrified, but my friend and tablemate Donna Galanti showed me the ropes. Plus, all the librarians are enthusiastic and interested, and that love of books is infectious. NJASL is one of my favorite events, and I hope to perhaps be on a panel next year to expand my experience there.

I have heard that the NJASL 2019 will be at a different location, so onward to new things for all of us! I will be back next year.

48 Years

Today my best friend Donna should have turned 48 years old…but she is forever 32. Cancer took her much too soon.

Donna was more of a sister than a friend, and I feel her loss keenly even after 16 years. There are many things I miss about her, of course, but for me what I always miss most is the laughter.

She could make me laugh until I cried like nobody else. And she did it on a regular basis.

These last few years have been rough for a number of reasons, the last few months especially. I could use her laughter right now.

So today I am missing my friend while remembering with gladness the 18 years of friendship we had.

I miss you, Donna. I miss the laughter.

I always think of her when I hear this song:

Thanksgiving 2019: My Thankful List

Today is Thanksgiving, and here in America we celebrate being thankful. It is so hard to see the good things in life sometimes, because human nature focuses on the bad. Our culture also encourages greed and envy, creating a selfishness that can make us forget to be grateful for what we do have. So today I am focusing the many good things in my life.

  1. I am thankful for my health and the health of my family.
  2. I am thankful for my husband’s return after almost 6 months away for work.
  3. I am thankful for a family that is warm and loving.
  4. I am thankful for having a strong house and enough to eat.
  5. I am thankful for the luxury of time to rest.

I am lucky. My family is healthy, we are all safe, we are all well-enough off that we have enough food to eat and healthy places to live. I am part of a family who is kind and generous and loving. I have work I enjoy, and hobbies that inspire me.

I have enough. And in this world right now, where so many people work themselves to the bone, where they live in fear for themselves or their loved ones, where they have to worry every day about food and safety, that is a tremendous amount to be thankful for.

I have enough.

And I am thankful.

South Jersey Writers Conference…and Snow

On Saturday, a group of writers got together for the 2nd Annual South Jersey Writers Conference. The original location was only about 5 minutes from my house, but then it got moved to a place 45 minutes away. But I went anyway because this is a great group of writers to hang out with and we always have a good time!

We kicked it off with a workshop by Laura Kaighn, then the keynote by K.A. Magrowski. We rounded out the day with two panels where we discussed everything from what/who inspired us to write what we write to marketing to process. As always, much learning was accompanied by much laughter.

photo by Kristin Battestella

Many thanks to Kristin Battestella for organizing the South Jersey Writers Conference, and to all the people who came by–including my cousin and his wife! A nice surprise.

 

 

The rest of this week was taken up in mopping my floors and steam cleaning my rugs. (I live such a wild life.) I gotta say, when you have a child in the house, it takes longer to clear out the room so you can do the rug than it actually takes to do the rug. Still, it was worth the effort.

Today, it’s snowing. Since I have nowhere to go, I am able to actually enjoy watching the snow fall, and take pleasure in the beauty.

Aftermath and South Jersey Writers Conference

It’s Thursday again, and the election is now in the rear view mirror. I did not win in my run for school board, but it was quite the experience. I now need to sleep for about a week to recover.

With the election past, I can now turn my attention forward. And I have something great to look forward to! On Saturday, I will be a panelist in the 2nd Annual South Jersey Writers Conference. This is a great group of people, many of whom I have been on panels or at events with before. The panels will be both informative and fun, so if you are in the area, some on down and check it out!

The Conference is from 10 AM – 3 PM at the Carnival of Collectables located at 368 Cross Keys Road in Sicklerville, NJ. $10 at the door entry. You can check out more details on the event page.

Hope to see some of you there! You can even join the authors for an a la carte dinner at a local restaurant afterward.

 

OMG, It’s Thursday!

So it’s Thursday. And there’s supposed to be a post. But there is no post because this week has been one thing after another, and I didn’t even realize it was Thursday until this morning!

Between several firestorms that popped up this week, and family obligations, and Halloween…well, it’s Thursday and there’s no post.

I never used to know what the kids meant when they said, “I can’t even.” But after this week…

I. Can’t. Even.

Next week I should be back on track.

I hope everyone enjoyed Halloween!

 

October’s Crazy Days

I don’t know why, but October is always a crazy month for me. Maybe it’s because I have 2 anniversaries, 2-3 birthday parties, Halloween, and the Halloween activities such as Trunk or Treat and school parties. The fact that is starts to get dark early and is often still barely dawn when I get up doesn’t help. Add to that the regular litany of extracurricular activities and housework, and it’s quite a load.

And then I decided to run for the local school board.

So now, in addition to the normal October madness, I am in the final two weeks of my campaign. Just the other day I spent 2 hours canvassing in my neighborhood to get the word out. 16,000 steps for the day. My legs still haven’t recovered.

All this is to say that I have not had time to think up a properly satisfying blog post for this week. So I am giving myself a break and just letting it go.

 

Indie Author Day 2018

Indie Author Day 2018On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending an Indie Author Day event in Sewell, NJ. Hosted in the Margaret Heggan Library and coordinated by author Laura Kaighn, it consisted of 2 author panels and some mix and mingle time.

I was on the first panel, Nonfiction and Children’s Books. Since I have a middle grade novel and a genealogy research book, it was a perfect fit. The other authors on the panel were: Laura J. Kaighn (moderator), Linda Silver, Jane Lueder, Kerry Gans, Karen Castaneda, and E.P. Bell.

The second panel was Genre and Adult Fiction, with panelists Brian McKinley (moderator), Laura J. Kaighn, William Gold, J. Lauryl Jennings, Kristin Battestella, and Loretta Wish.

When I first started doing this author thing, I was a scared-to-death introvert (now I am a scared-to-death introvert that hides it well). I took a class called Act Like A Writer taught by Jonathan Maberry and Keith Strunk, and one of the things we practiced was panels. I almost hyperventilated just on the mock panel!

Indie Author Day 2018Since then, being on panels has become one of my favorite things. I enjoy hearing the other authors’ experiences, and bouncing the conversation off their observations is fun. Every author’s journey is different, and I always learn something.

This was a wonderful Indie Author event. Not only were all the authors congenial and knowledgeable, but I got to meet one of my Facebook friends in real life when he stopped in!

This is the third year of Indie Author Day, and I hope to participate in many more.

Indie Author Day 2018

Book Events Past and Future

This is a “sandwich” week for me–the week in between two book events. Last Saturday was the Collingswood Book Festival, this coming Saturday is Indie Author Day at the Margaret Heggan Library in Sewell, NJ.

Book Events: Collingswood Book Festival

Collingswood, photo taken by my Young One

This was my 3rd year at Collingswood, and luckily the weather held out. No sun, but warm weather and therefore a good turnout. I had a pretty average sales day, but enjoyed talking to my fellow authors and the customers while watching the world go by from my (new) tent.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of my Collingswood experience this year was having my daughter with me. My child care plans fell through, so my Young One got up at 6 AM with me and soldiered through the long day until we got home at 5 PM. You never know the mood your 8-year-old will be in, but Young One faced the day with grace and good will. She helped me set up and break down, she chatted vivaciously with our neighbors, danced a lot when one vendor played music, and even got me a sale! I made sure she got a break, though, and we went to the LoompaLand children’s alley, where she got face paint and an appropriate tattoo.

Book Events: Collingswood

While barely recovered from Collingswood, I am preparing for Indie Author Day. I have spent the last 2 Indie Author Days at the Vineland Library, but this year Laura Kaighn invited me to join an event she is putting together at the Margaret Heggan Library. This is a panel event, and I will be on the 11:30 Non-fiction/Children’s Panel, then I get to relax and watch the second panel at 1:30, Genre/Adult Fiction. There will be time to mix and mingle and hopefully sell a few books. I am looking forward to it! If you are in the Sewell area, check it out–info is below.

Book Events: Indie Author Day 2018

And when both book events are finished, I can relax…for a week or two.

 

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