Sickness, Brains, and Everything Else

As you have probably discovered already, I am not a would-be goth, longing to be a vampire but very much sunk in the mud of normal life.  I can be goth.  I answered my door last Halloween in a blood-red full-length cloak, dead make-up, and I didn’t say a word.  Totally creeped the kids out. At Halloween my yard looks like witches live here and I would have my witch weather vane up all year if my husband didn’t have a fit. My kitchen has witch pictures, after all.  I love and wear black.  I like skulls.  In other words, I can be semi-goth every once in a while.  My point here is that you don’t have to be goth to be a horror writer and remember, I don’t always write horror.


My post today is on sickness.  Those who know me know that I’ve been sick for a while —  since February.  I will get better — am getting there a little every day — but I’m still not healthy yet.  I am going to a conference out-of-state in about three weeks and I’ve been a little down because there is a good chance that I will have to be in a wheelchair for the conference.  Now, I’m just beginning in my writing career.  I’m not well known, but I’m going to be meeting people in the industry.  The thought of them all seeing me for the first time in a wheelchair is bugging the shit out of me.


It must be in the genes, don’t you think? I know it’s in the brain.  The idea that we have to be on our best behavior in public.  That we have to look attractive.  That we have to look healthy.  I know I live in California and the idea of anyone over 40 or having any kind of a physical ailment is akin to heresy, but the media promotes this idea to all and sundry.  It must be like the fight-or-flight impulse.  If I’m in a wheelchair, overweight, or have a cleft lip, I’m the weakest link.  I will get eaten by the tyrannosaurus Rex or the lion or woman in spandex charging in front of me in the line at Starbucks. It could just be that I’m that vain.  That I want to be seen as the gorgeous woman, new to the writing field, whom everyone wants to meet and know, rather like one of Brendan Fraser’s lives in the 2000 movie Bedazzled.  I wonder if it’s even back in our reptilian brains?  Certainly mating with a healthy, attractive person is but is the thought of you being not so attractive, not so healthy in there too?  Possibly.  But I think it’s more in the limbic system of the brain.  Our emotions.  After all, if you didn’t know the difference between being healthy and not, being attractive or not, would you even care?  It’s probably like kids and skin color.  They don’t care until they’re taught to care.  It’s our learning and emotions that make us so sensitive to this issue.  I’m blathering but it is an interesting argument.


Although, there are many people who will be using their neo-cortex — the thinking brain.  These are the ones who will hold doors open for me, let me go ahead of them in line, and do any number of nice things for the gimp.  This is the part of the brain that makes us thinking creatures.  It makes us empathetic, sympathetic, human.  It is the part of our brains that make us more than just animals reacting to so much input with predictable responses.  I hope there will be more neo-cortex types than reptilian types at this conference.  I hope.


So, I’m probably vain and sensitive about my looks at my first conference for my new industry.  I’ll probably get people cutting in front of me at Starbucks but they better be careful of my reptilian brain — I’ll be at the right level for a swift kick to the knee.

See ya next time,


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Naomi Brett Rourke is the pen name for the author, teacher, and theatre director living near the beach with her husband Tim. Naomi Brett Rourke has three children, three step-children and nearly a baseball team of grandkids. Her menagerie includes dogs, cats and a tortoise. When not writing, she can be found with a book in her hand, very often reading two or three at a time, with murder mysteries and horror being her favorites.


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