A Prairie Homo Companion: Prairie Homo Brain Freeze

A Prairie Homo Companion is a regular column that celebrates the Canadian prairies, canola fields and big skies, and the paradoxes of being a fine-ass lady prairie homo.

Header by Rory Midhani

I have a confession to make. It’s about brain freeze — it’s happening to me. No, I’m not talking about the headache you get when you speed-eat an ice cream cone or down a glass of cold water. I’m also not describing some side-effect of the prairie climate.  This is a more intellectual kind of brain freeze; but wait — scratch that; I’m just trying to sound intellectual by writing words like intellectual, when in reality, today I am anything but. That’s right — the part of my brain that generates ideas is unfortunately frozen. This isn’t the first time in my life I’ve experienced brain freeze — unfortunately my grey matter has also been subject to the condition at the most inopportune moments, like when writing exams, on the first page of a ten-page paper, or when processing feelings in a relationship. The problem with brain freeze is that it’s very hard to use as an excuse. See, when you’ve lost your voice and you’re green in the face, you can call in sick to work, outings, your relationship. No decent human wants to discuss how it seems you love your dog more than you love them when you have a nose acting like a faucet and a thin line of phlegm hanging from your mouth. You can get an extension on a paper. You can call in sick to work.

via http://www.shutterstock.com

via http://www.shutterstock.com

Brain freeze, however, is different. On mornings/afternoons/whole days/weeks when my brain is frozen still, shut, solid,  I can’t just avoid my responsibilities by sending out an email or phone call and saying, “Hey Editors! Hey Boss! You know that thing called thinking? Well it’s funny – HAHAHA – I haven’t been that great at it lately so I’m just going to sit in bed in my snowmen briefs (THEY ARE THE CUTEST!!) and eat chocolate while watching Bomb Girls ALL DAY. Okay? I’ll let you know when my brain feels like doin’ it’s thang again. XOXO.” Life doesn’t work that way. Maybe it should, but honestly, who am I to say? Like I explained, I’m kinda slow this week.

Sometimes it’s 2 a.m., I’m awake, the stars are beautiful, I’m beautiful, you’re beautiful, and I’m so inspired thinking about everything from the shapes the dust makes when I sweep it into a pile to all the lovely homos sleeping comfortably in their beds, in their prairie homo houses and apartments under the big, prairie sky. The sky. It’s so beautiful. Have I mentioned how beautiful it is? I sit in my bed and instead of sleeping I make lists about all the ways in which I love the sky. I pull out my journal from under my bed and think how happy I am to be writing for Autostraddle, and how I have all these ideas for A Prairie Homo Companion. The column can go on forever and ever. The sky is beautiful – did I mention that? Fields of wheat are inspirational. I come up with a thousand and one metaphors for the flat land, and I think of all the awesome prairie people I know who are doing amazing things. Anything could happen, like the Ellie Goulding song.

Floating in ideas via http://www.shutterstock.com

Floating in ideas
via http://www.shutterstock.com

You might think I’m completely weird (because I am) but I have this theory that the best ideas come out to play between midnight and 3 a.m. [Note: I am writing this piece at a much more respectable hour; hence the lack of ideas]. See, when everyone is sleeping, sexing, or drunk, ideas are free to just exist and pass through you without worrying that they’ll be poked, prodded, debated, discussed, rejected, thrown in the waste basket, deleted, and broken up. It’s a hard-knock like for a good idea in this great big corporate, analytical, patriarchal world of ours. If I were an idea, I’d probably mostly come out at night as well. Trouble is, guess what? I’m not an idea. Not even close. That’s kind of the problem here. That’s why I’m stuck referencing Ellie Goulding and Orphan Annie while writing this embarrassing post on not having any ideas on the world’s most popular independent site for news, entertainment, and girl-on-girl culture.

At times I woke up and try to find my journal of ideas in the mess of papers and books under my bed, but it’s never there when I need it most, which isn’t surprising. It’s not the first time I’ve lost a journal. My diary full of thoughts on writing, sex, Stonehenge, the Eiffel tower, the scarcity of peanut butter in Europe is…somewhere in Europe; I don’t know. Maybe if I had it with me I’d adapt an entry about homesickness into a deep, beautiful, emotional Prairie Homo piece. But it’s lost, like my brain seems to be right now, and I realize that’s not the best simile, but you have to forgive me because I’m suffering from brain freeze. I’ve written the most brilliant ideas on sticky notes, pieces of toilet paper, my hand, but here’s a life lesson for you: EVERYTHING IS TEMPORARY. Sticky notes get accidentally thrown out, toilet paper gets flushed, my hands get washed. It’s comforting to think of little parts of my ideas running down the drain, swirling in the toilet, being picked up by the garbage truck. Though I wish they were here with me, I hope they have adventures in the sewage and waste management systems.

For the past few days I’ve been at my Oma’s house, which means I’m in the country with…wait for it…dial-up-internet connection. The 90s IM’ed my Oma on MSN Messenger and tried to get their dial-up back but she didn’t reply because she still uses a typewriter. It’s true –well, okay, not the bit about the 90s calling, obviously, but she really does still use a typewriter because she thinks email is impersonal and rude.

via http://www.shutterstock.com

via http://www.shutterstock.com

Instead of doing Prairie Homo research via dial-up, today I went for a walk to the end of her country road and stared at a field of dead-looking cornstalks in the snow. I waited to be inspired by the colour (piss-yellow) of the corn under the blue of the sky. I waited to have deep thoughts about death, life, regeneration (you know, cause the corn’s dead but it’ll grow again and the snow will melt, blahblahblah) but nothing came to mind. So here I am, brain frozen, sitting in my Oma’s basement with nothing but her dial-up connection and my big, empty head. Don’t worry, though. My brain just needs some time. I’m sure it will soon experience brain thaw, and by next week will be bursting at the cells with the hottest ideas. You can come to me, ideas. My brain is currently a safe, happy, lesbian place filled with pictures of cute dogs and bois in underwear.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Malaika likes books, drinking tea, long conversations, dinner parties, making funny faces, bike rides, and dogs. Originally from Edmonton, she now lives in Montreal where she edits, runs, and writes about the Alberta Tar Sands for The Media Co-op. You can follow her on twitter @Malaika_Aleba.

Malaika has written 84 articles for us.


  1. Dude. I wish I could use the brain freeze excuse for my thesis this year. But also because my sleep schedule no longer allows for me to write from 12-5 am which seriously was an effective way for me to work. Fewer distractions that late at night.

  2. Man, I miss the days when I could just sit down and write without even thinking about it much. Two of the blogs I follow post a lot of advice from prominent writers who repeatedly say that when it comes to writing, you can’t sit around waiting for inspiration to strike you. You just have to sit down and sweat it out. Like exercising when you don’t feel like it. Sigh. That’s scary, though. What if it’s bad, you know?

  3. This is the biggest reason I would shake in fear from writing a regular column or something similar. You’re actually so brave, Malaika! Good luck conquering the dreaded brain freeze!

  4. It always makes me feel happy to see other people who refer their grandmother as Oma (well, technically, Oma was my great-grandmother, but it’s close enough)

Comments are closed.