Raccoon Brain

Raccoon Brain

I have created a new phrase to describe this widow journey, and that is “Raccoon Brain.”

Raccoon Brain Syndrome

When you go chasing all kinds of shiny objects with an intense fascination, only to get distracted by the very next shiny object and forget the first one.


To be fair, I’ve always had a little bit of Raccoon Brain Syndrome. So did Tim. We both were pretty good at getting super excited about one hobby only before jumping off to the next one before we really did anything with hobby 1. He was worse than me. At one point, he owned seven different instruments and didn’t play any of them particularly well. When he died, he left me four instruments of which I’m keeping two.

Anyway, since he died the RBS has taken on some new forms. One is what I call the “interruption of severe thinking.”

For example, say I’m walking around Target doing some shopping or picking up dog food. I’m thinking in a spiral loop; How did this all really happen to me? I can’t believe this is my life now. What gives life meaning when one’s life meaning is only to be stripped away? OOO PROSECCO IS ON SALE!

That happens a lot.

I didn’t realize it at first, but RBS has manifested itself with a wide variety of life decisions. I get fixated on one plan for a week or so. I do lots of research about it, obsesses over it a little bit and get super into the idea. Then some time passes and I think to myself, “Well that was a very bad plan afterall.”


These shiny objects may or may not include the following:

  • Buying a weanling
  • Opening up an Etsy shop
  • Leasing a 3′ hunter
  • Buying a large, cheap house in the suburbs
  • Adopting a cat
  • Quitting my job to get an MFA
  • Taking a cross country road trip
  • Buying a trendy condo downtown
  • Moving to North Carolina
  • Not moving to North Carolina

I could go on, but you get the idea.


The sad thing is, it actually took me several of these “great ideas” before I realized what I was doing. I would chat with my friends in an oh so excited way about the thing of the week, and they would just patiently listen like “Oh yes. Right. Good idea. Wow, you sure are a mentally stable person right now…”

Some of my “ideas” are better than others. While I’ve completely nixed some off the list above, others I have put into the “Hmmm” column. The “Hmmm” column is for things that might be a really good life choice, but are not allowed to happen until six months to a year from now. In other words, I don’t trust myself to make any major life choices.


They tell you that in the “practical widow guides” on grief and loss. No choices the first year. They say don’t sell your house (Fail), don’t move (fail), don’t even change your hair color (haven’t failed… yet). There’s got to be some truth to that advice, so when I’m in a particularly tedious meeting I think to myself, “Hey self – maybe not the best idea to rage quit your job today.”

Deep down, I know that I’m chasing these grandeur plans because I’m hoping something will stick and make me happy. That hasn’t happened, but chasing my new life plan in this RBS way gives me something to be distracted right now at the very least.

Perhaps I’ll even share one of those distractions with y’all tomorrow! Perhaps 🙂

34 thoughts on “Raccoon Brain

  1. Are you saying there’s something wrong with getting distracted and excited about prosecco being on sale? Because if so, I’m not sure we can be friends…

      1. You need one of those mailboxes etc boxes where people can send you stuff because my raccoon brain was just like “ooh! She likes prosecco! Let’s send her some prosecco” 😛

  2. I’m sorry but this entire post makes me LOL, only because my mom got attacked by a raccoon. Long story short her and my dad went to the Gulf Shores for a beach trip shortly after a major hurricane a few years ago. All the animals down there were disrupted and in chaos. A raccoon approached my moms car at the beach house, and she wasn’t paying attention and it grabbed her leg and bit and clawed her multiple times, because she was carrying pizza boxes. The doctor said he most likely attacked her because he smelled the food and he was disoriented and displaced from the hurricane and was hungry. Mom was fine thankfully, and had to endure the series of rabies shots!! 🙁

  3. The Narnia meme is hilarious.
    I do the same thing. I have a closet full of scrapbooking stuff, knitting needles, etc. Love hobbies but they just don’t stick.
    Some of those are good ideas. A road trip would be fun… come on up and visit Canada.

  4. I’m not sure if it’s any consolation… but this is mostly how I operate. And I haven’t had any major trauma lately. So… while maybe a little annoying, you can live a meaningful life while suffering with RBS.

  5. I certainly hope the Etsy shop contains coloring books and happens! The weanling thing…that’s not as advisable. Much easier to get rid of said Etsy shop if it doesn’t interest you. You could get stuck with a weanling. 😉

  6. You didn’t spend enough of the post discussing the most crucial questions to come to light upon these revelations:
    But what are we going to name the cat? Do think we can teach it to ride Pascale/a roomba? How to make cat wand toys out of Horse Show Ribbons you really never cared all that much for?

  7. I know no other life than the one I’ve lived with my raccoon brain …. I like all of your ideas and Texas State has a great MFA program if you’re going for writing…. Oh wait, maybe don’t get a cat. That’s seems a bit rash.

    1. Well, you can’t buy wine at Target in my state, but I know in some areas of the US you can buy beer and wine at various grocery stores and others. But I got lost at ‘prosecco’….I don’t get out much. Now it’s on my list of things to try. 🙂 [ Thanks Lauren!]

  8. I think I am a lifelong sufferer of RBS… ! Ah! Probably wise to wait on big decisions. But I think some wild small decisions are fun – like a new hair-do or a wacky piece of art/furniture. Hair grows and you can sell weird stuff later.

  9. Love the analogy and all the pics haha. Sometimes getting a little fantastical and whimsical in our thinking is kinda its own reward … Tho quite a few things on your list look pretty awesome all the same!

  10. Not the same, but sort of the same, I thought I had my life planned out with B so my job and where I live was all just fine. And now I’m just saying yes to everything and traveling a lot and considering MANY crazy ideas. But who’s to say one of them wouldn’t turn out well? I do think it is a chance to rethink your life and make some wild changes, but I also agree that it’s good to give yourself time to process before you make them so you don’t regret them.

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