Herbietown - Sometimes My Brain Attacks Me

Sometimes My Brain Attacks Me

Sometimes my brain goes rogue and attacks me.

Like a robot trying to break a code, it is methodical and relentless. Waves of ruthless self-criticism invade my consciousness, exploiting every weakness and breaking down every defense. It never shuts down. It’s like the bad guy in Terminator 2 unleashed inside my head.

It’s hard to overstate how difficult it is to defend against these attacks, because they come from inside my own brain and they leave no room for anything else. Every waking thought is pure rage, directed inward, at a thousand miles an hour, on fire.

Meditation can help.

I sit on the floor in our guest bedroom, legs crossed, hands upturned on my lap. I close my eyes and force myself to smile, like a little Buddha statue. It’s completely ridiculous and I laugh at myself every time, but it reminds me that life is amusing and play is good.

I try to listen to my thoughts as if they were someone else’s, observing them in a detached way before releasing them. I focus on my breathing. The point is to shut down the planning, scheming parts of the brain and to exist entirely in the delicious infinite present moment.

Alas, I am a bad meditator.

It goes something like this:

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … Breathe out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

ok, focus on the breathing

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … Breathe out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

just breathe in and out, there is nothing else

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … Breathe out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

sit up straight

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … Breathe out 1, 2, 3, 4,

my back hurts.

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … Breathe out 1, 2, 3, 4,

yeah, probably because you haven’t meditated in weeks.

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … Breathe out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

i haven’t gone to the gym in a while either. god, i never stick with anything.

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … Breathe out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

my whole life I’ve never stuck with anything. didn’t your stepmother tell you that once? maybe if I did, maybe I’d actually be a successful writer right now

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

like stephen king.

Breathe in 1, 2, 3,

jesus, not this again, just breathe. there it is, the “i wish i was stephen king” meme, look at it, laugh at it, let it go

Breathe in 1, 2,

stephen king has talent, you don’t. you’re not talented. you’re worthless.

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4,

maybe if i just tried

Breathe out 1, 2, 3, 4,

yes but how, with $800,000 in debt? did stephen king have $800,000 in debt when he started writing? no he did not.

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Breathe out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

and here’s the “woe is me and my $800,000 of debt” meme. look at it, laugh at it, let it go.

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

ha ha, whatever. ok, but as soon as i pay that off, i’ll find a way to live simply and just write.

oh god, now your favorite memes are mating with each other…

you really are an asshole, aren’t you. stephen king worked multiple shitty jobs and lived in armpit maine when he sold his first short story. he had been writing them for years. you’re a spoiled sheltered pretender with no talent. and your lack of gratitude is like shitting all over everyone that helped you get where you are

you like the idea of being a writer, you don’t actually want to be a writer. a true artist would have just done it by now. you’re not an artist, you’re a coward. the worst kind of coward. [the “coward” meme!] how does your family put up with you? you have an amazing job and you just whine all day about wanting to be a writer. yet you’re too scared to actually write anything.

except in college when you wrote about bullfights in spain. i bet that professor laughed his ass off when he read those stories. i bet he sat around with his friends and a case of beer and just laughed. a rich kid goes to spain and sits in cafes and watches bullfights and then comes home and writes stories in short declarative sentences. i think i’m going to puke.
Just turn it off. Turn it off! Jesus!

just breathe

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

or maybe I was smart, because being a writer is miserable when you have no talent and I had the foresight to see that i had no talent, and so i found a career that lets me be close to what i love and make some money, too.

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … Breathe out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

that’s just something cowards say, you coward

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … Breathe out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

but if everyone followed their passion, the country would fall apart. no one wakes up in the morning and says I want to be a toilet bowl cleaner. but we need toilet bowls cleaned. maybe we’re not all supposed to follow our passions. someone needs to think about how to make money, to make sure things are running. otherwise the indians and the chinese will overtake us and the whole system will collapse and my mom’s 401k will be worthless and we’ll have to buy guns and spam

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

and armed militias like in alongside night…ok, ok, ok, ok, just stop it

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

but seriously, the country would actually fall apart if we all followed our passions. at least not without some mechanism for discovering and promoting and rewarding the truly talented. or maybe college is that system and i missed my chance because i didn’t care about grades

lets face it, you never really fit in. you’re just a scrawny kid with bony fingers who gives awkward high fives. if fist bumps came along sooner you might have had a chance. in high school you had to tell yourself “here comes the captain of the cross country team” just to work up the courage to walk into the student lounge. what a loser. or that time you almost sang that Violent Femmes song add it up in front of the entire class during assembly, thank god it ran over and you didn’t have to do it.

maybe i didn’t reach my potential because my early childhood education was poor, because my parents chose to live in a town with subpar schools and so i couldn’t truly leverage the amazing schools they later sent me to. or maybe they were too busy getting divorced to pay any attention to me. how is it that my kindergarten teacher was the one that discovered i was color blind? is that even true you melodramatic asshole, they gave you everything and you piss all over it

it’s always someone else isn’t it, maybe you should have taken writing more seriously in college instead of jacking around with that pack of monkeys. but those artist kids were self-righteous blowhards who didn’t know how to have fun. true. should i have gone to a different college? no you loved it there. did i? maybe if someone had encouraged me, yeah maybe if i could have stuck with something long enough for people to know what to encourage me in.

did i really have a lot of career opportunities? how did my parents let me work at wendy’s in high school? wendy’s? really? wasn’t there something else i could have done that would have opened my eyes to all the opportunities out there? yeah but look what you carved out for yourself, you’re in an amazing spot, yes but i’m not stephen king, no, no you are not, you most certainly are not, is there still time, yes there is still time, if you were good at something


Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … Breathe out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

i am so worthless

Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,… Breathe out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

did my phone just vibrate? or did i imagine it? i can never tell if my phone is really vibrating. I’d hate to interrupt this peaceful serenity. ha ha, yet another thing I failed at. why can’t i just focus on breathing for 10 freaking minutes? Just breathe, in and out, just focus on this glorious present moment.

Breathe in 1, 2,

what if I just checked it quickly? it could be something important.


  • I almost sang this Violent Femmes song in front of my entire class in high school. I was literally standing backstage with my guitar and a microphone, waiting for the announcements to end. They ran over time, and I was delayed until the next assembly. But I was ready to sing it. You really need to watch this video and imagine me singing this song in front of a large room of people. Every time I hear this song, I blush. Anyway, I lost my nerve and ended up playing a song I wrote called “College”. I didn’t sing.

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