Ask Ceil – @MindControl

Dear Ceil,

Why does my brain never seem to be playing for my team, and if it isn’t playing for my team, then whose team is it playing for? And can I charge them rent?

Nervous in New York

Dear Nervous,

The brain controls all kinds of things. Breathing, moving your limbs around, telling your skin that something is creepy and it’s time to give you goosebumps.

The only thing that the brain does not control is itself.

I found this out one night while, at 3am, I was watching some people make omelettes with this unbelievable, amazing, very small blender object. A voice—almost certainly coming from my eyes, and probably my ears—was saying, “Please, for the love of sanity, change the channel and go to sleep.” Know what my brain did? Just sat there. It had the ability to pick up my hand, get the remote and turn it off. But did it? No. No.

Just the other day, my stomach was telling me that I was hungry and was begging for some really good cooked food. Now my brain could have gotten up and made something, but it didn’t. It just sat there until my stomach was pleading with it, “Please, I’ll eat anything. Anything.” I could almost hear my brain laughing as it took my body to the pantry and pulled out a bag of corn chips. Jerk.

So I’ve been suspicious of my brain for a little while now. I’ve noticed that it likes to take over the command center at night, when it thinks the guards are a little off their game (which they are). It doesn’t like to go to sleep, it likes to eat cheese and crackers (with a little of that pinot noir that I’d been saving, but that it went and drank it anyway).

And when I’m deciding things it likes to take over. In front of a menu one night, clearly my stomach was telling me that I’ve had enough to eat, and just then I heard my brain make my mouth say, “I’ll have the New York Cheesecake and a cappuccino.” Some mornings my body says, “Please get out of bed and into the shower. I’d love to be clean.” But my brain just continues to sit there, picks up my droid and starts another game of Words With Friends. Completely uncalled for.

Maybe part of the problem is that, because the brain does most of the higher thinking, it thinks it pays the bills too. I just know it’s up there thinking, “Fine, let’s see you get a job without me. Let’s see you make money and move around and breathe and stuff.” I could. I know it. There’s got to be something physical and, you know, lobotomizing that I can do. Do they still need people to lick stamps? No?

So, your brain is playing for its own team. The bad news is, it’s naturally competitive and has very strong opinions. The good news for you? I don’t know. My brain is writing this article.


Dear Ceil,

I’m totally addicted to my BlackBerry, mostly thanks to my addiction to Twitter. How do I stop?

Spellbound in Sydney

Dear Spellbound,

Twitter is an object of sorcery, entrancing people with its letter counting and too-frequent updates. It’s too fast, it’s too short; it’s like a chihuahua. A dwarf chihuahua. A magical dwarf chihuahua.

And not only is it fast and short, but it allows people to finally communicate with their loved ones that they would never be able to otherwise. No, not dead people. Celebrities.

Have a thought for @TomHanks? Go ahead and send it. Will he read it? Maybe. You never know.

Want to tell Neil Patrick Harris what a fab job he did at the Tony Awards? Just tweet, “Hey, @ActuallyNPH, YOU ROCK!”

Want a VIP seat at the Hayden Planetarium? Tweet astrophysicist @NeilTyson and tell him to get his butt in gear.

Think they should change the colors in the wardrobe for that one actress in #WhiteCollar, no not the red head, the brunette. The other brunette. Tell showrunner @JeffEastin.

Tell @CharlieSheen that he is WINNING! Tell @ZachWeiner that you DO eat Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Tell @TheTweetOfGod to smite someone.

And the crazy, crazy part is, sometimes they tweet back. Just the other night I had a conversation with some TV writers about how drunk they usually are when they write the show. Very empowering.

If you really want to stop using Twitter, though, the only option is to tell the celebrities that you need more space, and that you have to start seeing other people. Then, you can finally get together with your real friends. On Facebook.


Ceil Kessler joined the circus when she was 10 years old. She has worked as the Dalai Lama’s (Twitter: @DalaiLama) head buffer, Kato Kaelin’s sock folder and Fran Drescher’s speech therapist. There are days she just likes to say “Fareed Zakaria”. She now consults on business intelligence software, markets and publishes the magazine “Business Perks”, runs the Laurel Highlands Vegetarian Society, and heads a team in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s “Walk for a Cure” on September 17th. To join or donate to Team Kessler, go to the Teams page  and find Team Kessler in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

If you have questions for Ceil, please send them along to questions@askceil.com, or you can use the Ask Ceil-o-matic form. You Twitter junkies can also follow her on Twitter @ceilck.

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2 thoughts on “Ask Ceil – @MindControl

  1. I tried to get Jeff Eastin to name a character after me…I think I got close on that one 🙂 But you’re wrong about not being able to communicate with dead people on Twitter. I know I saw Vincent Adler there the other day (what? what do you mean he’s not real? he has to be if he has a Twitter account!)…and so is Osama Bin Laden. I’m sure if I tried I’d find Elvis he’d be there, too! But the best part about Twitter is when they talk back!

    As for mind control…I’m sure my mind was telling me to go to bed before midnight every night but mostly my fingers don’t let me so I lose there too.

  2. Pingback: It Still Really Feels Like A Soul in Here | Perfect Whole

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