Monday, August 29, 2011

lassoing the brain

Modified version of diagram by

On one hand, there is a clear boundary between the brain and the body. Reach into a cracked-open skull, peel away its linings and you can pluck a brain right out of a head. And in school diagrams, it’s clear where the brain stops and the body begins. The brain is the worm-like ball of pink, sometimes with a tiny tail at the bottom, sometimes not, floating in the middle of the head. So in one sense, yes, in a diagram-sense, there is a clear boundary between the brain and the body, but that boundary is an illusion. Of all the human organs, the brain is the most difficult to contain.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

okra flower

photo: jetheriot

book signing

Thursday, August 25, 2011

ten things i learned painting a large branch

photo: jetheriot

1. Even gray comes in shades of gray. A shade of gray can seem neutral on a swatch or looking down into an open can of paint, but when an entire wall has been painted, and especially when that wall is in a room carpeted with a different shade of gray, the hue of the paint is all too obvious and can take on unflattering tones of blue or yellow unexpectedly.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

baby doll face hand

photo: jetheriot

rocking horse head

photo: jetheriot

The nine-inch-long wooden dowel still stuck through the plastic head-carcass can be slid back and forth about an inch in either direction, prevented from falling out by some hidden internal mechanism.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

candlelight and panties

photo: jetheriot

Monday, August 15, 2011

the joyfulness of being

photo: jetheriot

I sit down and pray for the daylight to be the color it already is.
I write the word CLARITY on a small yellow sticker and post it in the middle of my mind.

I do this over and over.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

dot-to-dot oak branch

photo: jetheriot

Back when I still did dot-to-dots, I would connect the dots very straightforwardly, all sharp angles, no tasteful rounding of the contours. It never dawned on me that there could be another point to the exercise besides robotically tracing a path from the first dot to the second dot to the third dot, et cetera, in order to “discover” the answer to the puzzle. I say “discover” because you can usually tell what the answer is before you’ve made your first pencil mark. I remember one dot-to-dot in particular. A pair of googly eyes way up high on the top of the page, already filled in, floated above a long neck-shaped pattern of dots which led to a larger cluster of dots sprouting four skinny legs near the bottom of the page. It wasn’t a stretch of the imagination to guess what animal it was. Turning a thinly disguised dotted giraffe into – you guessed it – a giraffe: where was the drama in that? I traced my giraffe with all the shapeliness of a mathematical calculation. I remember the teacher’s aide laughing as she showed it to the teacher. I remember feeling ashamed. It was second grade, the same year I lost half of a hippopotamus-shaped eraser up my nose never to be seen again. I think it was the head-half.

the brush

THE FEW MINUTES you spend each day moving a toothbrush against your teeth and gums you’d probably rather spend doing something else, but you make it a priority, because if you didn’t, food particles would accumulate, carbohydrates would wear away your enamel, and eventually cavities would form, causing pain or loss of teeth. So you brush them every day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the opposite of stress ball

photo: jetheriot

You know those stress balls, those squishy, doughy toys that you hold in the palm of your hand and squeeze? The idea is that they’re helpful tools for relieving stress, that squeezing them repeatedly is calming. Problem is, they don’t work.

tanyard creek

photo: jeffrey wilkinson

Sunday, August 7, 2011

on medicating the injured brain

Phineas Gage
from the collection of Jack and Beverly Wilgus

The other day, a friend of mine who is also a doctor asked me a question that caught me by surprise. When I told him about my practice working with brain-injured people and the spectrum of neurologic and psychiatric symptoms they commonly exhibit, he asked me if I ever felt guilty medicating them. There were two questions he didn’t ask, but which were lurking just beneath the surface: “Isn’t it wrong to medicate someone when they don’t want to be medicated?” and “Isn’t it wrong to use medications that mess with a person’s mind?”

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


A ZEN ARTIST paints with a single stroke the wholeness of a circle, lifting his brush from the paper the moment the circles complete. He puts down his brush. He picks up a cup of tea.

Monday, August 1, 2011

lightning is bigger in texas

Driving from Houston to Catahoula a few years ago, I stopped for gas during one of those loud and scary thunderstorms you rarely see anymore. The sky was dark and darkened with rain. An aura of night had invaded the day. Out of this raucous gloom spread a radiant web of light, lavender electricity across the black fabric of the heavens, crinkling as it unfurled downward from the stormclouds it tinged rose. “Everything really is bigger in Texas,” I thought to myself, squeezing the trigger of the gas pump, “even lightning.”