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Earning My Wings, Meeting Ruby


I stepped away from my blog for a while to try and figure out what the heck I was gonna do with it. Just recently, though, I made a big decision that I hope will make a change in my life in the coming year(s). I’m learning a programming language. And if you couldn’t guess, Ruby is my language of choice. I dabbled in Java for about two weeks, but the learning curve was just too steep for me. I did some research on the Team Treehouse website, which I had chosen as my source of learning coding. Ruby just seemed to feel a bit more welcoming. As an aside, I have no affiliation with Team Treehouse, but I highly recommend it if you are wanting to learn coding. My experience has been nothing but positive.

So that decision brings me to today. I’ve been in the Ruby course track for about a month. I’m enjoying myself and loving the feeling of challenging my brain again. Ah, the brain. Having been out of any sort of regimented learning environment for many years, I’ve not had the chance to see just how much longer it takes for something new to sink through my thick skull. The key for me has been repetition. Sure, there’s variation thrown in for good measure, but lots of repetition. It’s eye-opening how slowly my brain is to accepting new information. Persistence will pay off.

It’s good to be learning again. As strange as it sounds, the elementary coding I’m doing is (mostly) relaxing. Slap on the headphones, block out the rest of the world, and practice. If you’re seeing this post and have a comment or story about learning a programming language for the first time, or learning anything that really challenged you, drop a comment. I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks for dropping in!

I’m Not Lost. Where’s The Map?

“Nobody is just one person, she had learned.” – from Gail Godwin’s “Dream Children”


So, I’m a pretty easy-going guy. That’s what I’d tell you at a party and we were making small talk. “Things roll off my back when they don’t go my way, I don’t let things get to me.” And that’s how I come off, too. All smiles, all laughs. I think the kids these days would call it “chill.” Catch me sober in the light of day and ask me anything specific about myself, though, and you will hear stammering, see fidgeting and I will give you absolutely no eye contact. I’m not languishing when I tell you this. It’s just the truth that my mouth doesn’t like telling, so my body does it instead.


I’ve always been this way to some degree, but it’s sort of taken center stage as I’ve progressed into my forties. Who said this was the time of life where I was supposed to stop giving a fuck? I’d like to hang out with them and ask them about their philosophy of life and why they’re so goddamn confident. My three best friends are Lexapro, Klonopin, and the doctor that prescribes them to me every ninety days. Like the old American Express traveler’s checks slogan, I don’t leave home without them. They help, yet they don’t. Anyone who’s had to take such things will tell you that it’s done wonders for them. And in a way, it’s done wonders for me. The things that used to make me angry or frustrated still have their same effect, but I sort of.. forget about it after a few minutes. So instead of a cross-country plane ride where there’s an escalation, a long plateau (hours or days), and an eventual landing, it’s more of a roller coaster ride that lasts 12-16 hours. Every. Single. Day.


Now I’ll tell you a little secret. I know exactly what causes my frustrations every single day. It’s not a boss, it’s not a commute, it’s not even barely living paycheck to paycheck. I could deal with all of this if it was part of fulfilling some sort of life goal or dream of a lifetime.  My frustration comes from unwittingly taking the path of my parents, whom I love and miss so very much. They both had jobs with the state that were pretty dismal, but the ultimate goal was to just get through it and retire in thirty years. Growing up in a small town and having everything I had going for me, I thought I’d get out into the world and do something different with my life. Something exciting. Something I’d love and tell friends about with pride and a big white smile. Well, that didn’t quite happen.Actually, it didn’t happen at all. No “quite” about it.

This may not make for a good blog post, but I am coercing myself into writing these things because they need to be said. The brain is a master of protecting a person from the situation they’re in by going into auto-pilot. Days and people are just bushes and fence posts whisking by as you look out the window of a speeding car that you aren’t even driving anymore. The passenger seat can be so much more comfortable, even though it makes the ride much more maddening. So, this is just a bit of a coming-to-terms with myself and where I am. This entire post is incredibly uncomfortable to write. I hate talking about myself. I constantly feel I have nothing interesting to contribute. I have nothing interesting at all. Except my cats. Now, they’re awesome. I suppose I’m writing this just to get it out of the back of my brain, and maybe someone will read it and know they’re not alone if they’re feeling the same way I do.

Re-evaluation and changing can happen at any age, but it always takes exactly as much time as it wants to happen. The theme of change and breaking old habits and re-evaluating life choices and “how the fuck am I gonna do that” figure prominently in my head these days. The clock and the calendar aren’t waiting for me. It’s time to move. Nobody is just one person. Nobody has to be just one person. I just have to find those other people in my head so we can have a town hall meeting.

Okay, that’s enough for now. Incidentally, the link in the quote at the top of this post takes you to one of my absolute favorite stories from one of my favorite authors. If you choose to read it, I hope you enjoy it.


Finding a Voice in My Crowd



I started this blog with one main purpose – to find my voice. The image above is a pretty great representation of my brain over the course of any given day. Add in the fact that I’ve elevated the ability to look right at the tangle in my head, and completely ignore it, to an art form. Sure, I’ve kept a journal off and on over the years, never really thinking about what i was saying. Journaling, for me, has always been more a place to vent my frustrations, talk about my general desires and fears, and otherwise blather until I’m too sleepy to keep going. Not once have I ever considered construction or detail when sitting down to write. In essence, anything I’ve ever written was more of a place to unload the mental mess that I walk through every day with my blinders in place.


As I do so often with anything I’m not sure how to do, i turned to the internet. If there is ever a site that a person attempting to learn to write should support, I’d say it’s the New York Times. I’ll throw a link right here. The link leads to a New York Times piece that lists literally hundreds of writing prompts that run a very nice range of topics. Need help with inspiration for the act of writing itself? Search no more. I had to digest this list in pieces over a few days. There’s a lot of commentary packed into this page. As you make your way down this incredible list and collection of writers’ commentary, you’ll notice links to other pages inside the NY Times site that lead to several other great resources and exercises to help anyone get on the path to finding their inner voice and how to develop it. Incidentally, I am in no way affiliated with the New York Times. In this day and age, it counts to just throw that out there for consideration.


It’s my hope that working through these exercises will help me untangle the yarn tangle in my head, even if it takes years to do so. Practice, practice, practice. Right? I figured I’d use this post to share this treasure trove of writing goodies with anyone who may happen across this blog post. Writing a narrative of any sort is something I’ve never done, and I am sure I will write some stinkers along the way. Telling a story or expressing an opinion after decades of turning a blind eye to the world around me is something I feel is so important to everyone, whether one is writing everything down or sharing it with a friend or loved one.


My goal is to post twice every week. It might end up being once, but i’m being ambitious at the start. Finding an opinion on something and being able to turn it into something coherent will be a challenge. I’ve done my best to not have an opinion for years. That in itself is something I will definitely explore to some degree. At any rate, I wish you well and will post again soon.



A Brief Introduction


As with any first meeting, I feel I should introduce myself. My name is Nelson, and this is my blog Brain Fossil. You might be asking yourself “What the hell kind of name is “Brain Fossil?” Honestly, even I initially thought it was weird. In a nutshell, I have a terrible memory. When I’m trying to remember something that’s really got my brain stuck, I call it “trying to dig up a brain fossil.” So basically brain fossils are thoughts, memories, or other things from today or yesterday or last year. At least one thing that happens today will ultimately become tomorrow’s brain fossil. So there you have it.  Continue reading A Brief Introduction