Where Things Are

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Unfortunately, that’s because things have been worse, not better. After six weeks of being pretty functional, I am now up to five weeks of bad and worsening brain fog. For the last two it’s been pretty incapacitating.

I am on sabbatical, so for a while this was easier to manage than it would have been otherwise; I didn’t have to figure out how to somehow limp my way through classes. But about a week and a half ago things came to a head. I had to cancel a couple of talks at the last minute because I simply couldn’t make sense even of a talk I had already written out. I could read it aloud, but there was no way I was going to be able to answer questions about it.

This was really, really, hard to do. I hate not following through on commitments. But it also made me realize I needed to clear the decks for a little while. With a book coming out, I had a bunch of talks scheduled. So I cancelled a podcast, two more upcoming talks, and a month-long (work) trip to Paris in April.

So the deck is clear for this week, at least. I have an away message on my (alarming backlog of) email. I’m not facing the immediate stress of having to pretend like I can string together coherent thoughts and wondering how obvious it is that I can’t. Or the exhausting effort of working extremely hard to fight through the fog to accomplish very basic tasks.

I’m trying to figure out how to accomplish some limited amount without significantly upping the stress level, which seems to make things worse. And to manage the present without closing too many doors for the future. And, of course, to pursue the medical question of why this is happening and how to make it better. Writing about it is hard when things aren’t great and I don’t really feel like being all that public. But it has also been really helpful in navigating back to reengagement with intellectual life. So I’m testing the waters, as I muddle my way through this dark period.

(P.S. Several folks have reached out to check in, which I appreciate although I have not been great with responding lately. Hopefully, I will reply eventually.)

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