Though the dawn may be coming soon

29 09 2013

Second-sleep dreams are nightmares.

It is entirely possible, of course, that my main sleep dreams are nightmares as well, but when I’ve been woken from an unbroken sleep, it’s usually out of dreams or nothing at all.

Sometimes there are nightmares, but these are “classic” nightmares, vivid and sharp-edges and with a storyline all their own. They can be terrifying, so much so the nightmares themselves wake me up, but they are clearly of the sleep-world, not that of the world awake.

Second-sleep dreams, though, they’re something else. Fuzzy and shot through with bits from real life, they are all anxiety, shifting and off-kilter. I don’t know if it’s because, in that second sleep, I don’t go fully under, such that the gears of the REM sleep slip and freeze up and tear, pinning me into a narrative which is neither fully here nor there.

These dreams tend to be of two types: One, I’m moving, and haven’t packed or haven’t ordered the truck, and possibly in the midst of this I think, Why am I moving? I don’t want to leave. The plot of the second type varies considerably (yesterday morning, I was in a high school classroom, and then at a party in the home of a bad ex-boss, and then it was as if I lived there and needed to pack to leave and, oh, yes, at some point I was naked, although a kind man—rabbi? priest?—tactfully turned away as I slid on a shirt), but at some point in the dream I am unable to see clearly and/or to walk without falling over. I keep rubbing my eyes, but everything is blurry or sliced into mis-aligned ribbons, a discombobulation magnified by a dizziness which sends me sideways. (Other, less-common recurring types: at the airport without a ticket/passport/luggage/time; having to take an exam after not attending class the entire semester; om stage and not knowing how to play my instrument/my lines/what play I’m in.)

Unpleasant, all around.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I tend to see dreams as a kind of venting off of whatever is going on in my life, perhaps mingled with bits from movies or t.v. (e.g., zombie nightmares); these second-sleep dreams, coming after a near-complete night’s sleep, seem to pull even more from immediate events. I had had a conversation about that bad boss, for example, on Friday, so her commandeering a portion of that dread-narrative is unsurprising.

Still, there are certain, ah, recurring themes in these second-sleep dreams. One concerns how well I fit into my life: Am I settled here? Can I make my life here, or will at some point will I have to go? Is there anyplace for me? The second is a kind of panic of loss of sight, of sense: I know I can see; why can’t I see? If I could just. . . get clear. And of the minor type dreams: timing and forgetting and performance. Anxieties, all.

I doubt I am unique in either the peculiarity of second-sleep dreams  or these anxieties, though I’d guess that the moving and blurred eyes bits are culled from my life: I have moved a lot, and I have problems with my eyes. A pianist or surgeon’s hands may go numb, a mechanic might forget how this moves with that, a father’s son might disappear, the ad exec’s computer crashes before the presentation—all what we rely upon and worry over refracted through a broken unconsciousness.

Snap that thin thread

29 03 2013

I used to be so good.

Not my character or morals, no: I used to be so good about staying on top of things.

“Things”, y’know, basic life-things. Bills, paperwork, returning calls—all of those miscellaneous and mostly mindless tasks which are a price of living in society.

Then, at some point, I wasn’t.

Don’t know exactly when it happened—I recall even well into my depressive cups I managed to deal with insurance and student loans and whatnot—but at some point I just gave up. It’s not that I suddenly stopped taking care of these tasks, but that I lost the sense that it made sense to stay ahead of them.

No, wait, that’s not right: I never lost the sense that it made sense. No, what I lost was. . . the will? the habit? of proper task management. It’s as if once that rubber band snapped, I no longer knew how to keep my shit together, and was reduced to denial, dread, and oh-shit last-minute scatter-shot toss-offs.

I get it done, but in the worst way possible.

This is no way to be an adult human being. It’d be one thing if the whirlwind approach didn’t bother me, but those small to-dos just grow and grow and grow in the middle of my chest* until they crack my ribs and leave me panting for air. I am so anxious about dealing with the things when they’re small that I can’t deal with them until they’re big, at which point my sleep is punctured and concentration swiss-cheesed.

You’d think that knowing how badly I react to stretching a task out I’d hop to it immediately, but it’s almost as if the anticipation of the late-anxiety rebounds backwards into a show-stopping early anxiety—which, because it’s early, I’m able to suppress, albeit with ever-decreasing success. By the end, the stress of the task is magnified by the looming deadline, and I’m left, well, sleep-deprived and wild-eyed.

No, it’s not everything: the more routine the task, the more habitual my response, but even there, I’m not as automatic as I used to be. I know what I have to do, but that knowledge is only sketchily linked to the doing.

And that, frankly, sucks. I know that there are things from the past which are gone, gone, gone daddy gone, but it would nice if I could get this particular mojo back.


*Yes, I finally did that thing. Not at the actual last-minute, but damned close.

You’re going to carry that weight

15 03 2013

I dunnae understannit.

A month or so ago I was feeling fine—no anxiety, no dread—even though I knew I needed to pick up more work.

And then I picked up more work, so: mo’ better good!

But in the last coupla’ weeks, I’ve had this tight weight pressing down upon and squeezing my sternum.

That’s not what I don’t get: I know exactly why my torso is collapsing, as well as how to heave that ho offa me.

No, what I don’t get is why I don’t do what I need to do. It ain’t much—a bit of paperwork, an e-mail, maybe a phone call—but I don’t do it. Fifteen, thirty minutes, and I’m done. But I don’t do it.

I don’t do it.


And I’ve fucked up so many times in my life

28 05 2012

Is May over yet?

I know: May only leads to June, which leads to July, a month during which I gradually lose my mind until I end up in August hating everything.

Still: May has been a month of half-thought unwritten blog posts, grading, problems with grading, problems with my printer, problems with my computer, and, most importantly, the last month of a job which had me skittering around trying to find my balance.

I never did find it, which is why it was my last month.

C. asked if I still felt bad about quitting, and, yeah, I do. I wonder if I tried hard enough to make it work, if I wasn’t looking to get out long before I actually got out. Did I fuck up—that is the question.

Alas, it’s not a question to which there is any ready answer; more to the point, I don’t know that I could answer the question.

This is how I am able to get off the Neuroses Tilt-A-Whirl: If you can’t know it, let it go. Let it go.

You may have noticed that I repeatedly have to remind myself to Let It Go—which repetition means that I am not so good at Letting It Go—but such reminders do actually work to [warning! metaphor switch ahead!] loosen my fingers from their death-grip on What If? I may manually have to pry each digit from the What If? using various devices (including, most usefully, the This-Is-Out-Of-Your-Hands multi-tool, with, among others, its You-Can’t-Know-It lever), but I am able, finally, to pull my hand away.

Sure, my fingers may wander back over the What If? or Why Did I [Not] Do That?, but a deep breath and a reminder is usually enough for me to set the regret back down and sigh, Let It Go.

Anyway, this was not a big regret, just the most current one. It might stick around for awhile, might recur at odd points far into the future (I still occasionally think about the fan I couldn’t fit into my car when I left Minneapolis and had to leave behind), but it will shrink, and will lose its stickiness.

In the meantime, I’ll remember how much better I feel now that I quit, and remember that fuck-up or not, I’m glad to be done.

Don’t know why I said goodbye, I say hello

7 05 2012

So it’s been awhile.

There was grading and headaches and a cold and the second job and a shitty mood and oh oh oh so much anxiety about. . . grading and headaches and a cold and the second job and a shitty mood. . . and you can see where this goes.

I was twisting the screw of the vice grips.

C. helped me untwist it and, without a recap of that conversation in which I went over and over what was wrong I can tell you that she said, patiently and firmly and repeatedly: You have to quit that job.

And so I quit that job—well, put in my notice; I’m done at the end of May.

It took almost two days after for me to unwind, for my chest to stopped feeling squeezed and for me to take a breath without having to remind myself to breathe.

It was the right decision, although I feel badly about it; I feel badly about it, although it was the right decision.

It just wasn’t the right job.

Gotta have money

17 04 2012

I lied. I’m sorry.

I said I was going to put up a new post soon, and while I did compose any number of posts in my head, the words never made the trip from me noggin to the page.

It’s money’s fault.

Last year, as I mentioned once or twenty times, was a rough one for me, financially. I don’t particularly want to get into the details, but things got. . . bad.

Things are better now, which is why I’m able to write this (I find it much easier to write about bad things when using the past tense). Still, there are certain hangovers and shit left to deal with.

(Said shit won’t be discussed until after it’s been dealt with: past tense, remember.)

Anyway, one non-tangential thing to deal with was taxes. Given how low my income was last year, and thus how high the chances were that I would get back rather than pay, it shouldn’t have been a big deal to have taken care of them earlier.

I did not. I finished my taxes two and a-half hours ago. I’m getting money back.

So what does all of this have to do with me being a liar? (Oh, stop with the obvious joke about filing taxes.)Because while my brain and chest were filled with all of this built-up stress about money, I couldn’t quite find the levers with which to release the words from me noggin.

Given the hangover and shit (which I have been evading, ignoring, and otherwise repressing) and the attendant anxiety, it might still be a bit before I can free my mind.

One dread down, two to go.

Where is the tenderness

28 11 2011

I felt such longing.

What to do with such a feeling, especially since it had been so long since I longed for anything? And why the longing, especially in response to the last, short scene of an uneven television show?

Perhaps it was the tenderness of the moment, made all the more poignant by the unexpectedness of it all.

I don’t expect tenderness, don’t expect longing.

No, I have been frozen in fear of my financial burdens, overcome with debts I cannot and am not paying, triaging my money for rent, first, and everything else, second. My two temporary jobs ease me somewhat, but I can’t remember the last time I felt anything other than anxiety.

So this longing, this unexpected desire for, I don’t know, unexpected tenderness, was all the sweeter for revealing that there is still something more to me, something more to this life.

Welcome to the working week

31 07 2011

So I finally got some work. A real job.

Or real-ish job. I’m not sure.

A guy I know got me a job in shipping/receiving on a construction site. I’m fine, more than fine, with that: I’m old school enough to thrill to the sheer bluntness, there-ness, of steel and concrete. I’ve never wanted to be an engineer, but I am fascinated how to make something appear where there was nothing, before.

So the work is real.

And I’ve worked receiving previously, so while I don’t know the specific procedures of this work site, I at least have a grasp of the general process.

Still, there are bits about this offer that are sketchy. I don’t want to go into precisely, but let’s just say I’m a bit skeptical about the promises made.

This skepticism was small, at first; hell, at first I was thrilled at the prospect of replenishing my drought-ridden bank account. But since then my questions have multiplied, and I’m not at all sure I’m going to get good answers to them.

My reaction then swung from thrill to terror: What the hell am I getting myself into? Is the job (i.e., the conditions under which I’d do the work) even real?

I’ve since calmed myself by saying, Well, I’ll find out. I’m slated to start tomorrow, so tomorrow or by the end of the week, I should have some sense of what’s happening. If it’s solid, I’ll stick with it; if not, I won’t.

It sounds dumb, but I really did need to remind myself that this job offer isn’t a prison term: I get to say, No, this isn’t for me.

Once I remembered that I have that option, I was able to shrink my outsized suspicions—this all happened so, even too, quickly and informally—to a reasonable skepticism. Now, instead of being either thrilled or terrified, I am merely uncertain.

I don’t particularly like uncertainty when it comes to the requirements of a job, but, again, I remembered that I am always uncertain when I start something new. I am good at ending, but not so good at beginning.

That’s how it is; that’s how it always is.

So I have questions about this job, some of which I  might not have about other jobs which have been offered after a more considered process, others which attend any new venture. Instead of assuming the answers, however, I’ll show up and find out for real.

That’s how it is; that’s how it always is.

Tomorrow you just don’t know

3 07 2011

Betwixt and between, once again.

My second summer session course was cancelled, which is officially Very Bad News: I need the money. But I’m also unofficially fine with this (even though I need the money).

I don’t understand my moods. Okay, yes, I get the anxiety about money and the omnipresent dread of my own existence blah blah, but calmness amidst this apparent calamity? Dunna understand, at all.

Perhaps the calm is due to some clearing out of things in my apartment, trying to create more space in my space, and the general satisfaction of wanting to change something and actually being able to do so.

Perhaps it’s knowing that I can earn some of that necessary money through Mechanical Turk. No, it’s not a career and nothing I’d want to do long-term, but it’s an alternative to sitting on my ass waiting for someone to call for an interview.

Perhaps it’s that I had a few things on my mind which have been sorted, at least for the time being. Instead of that head-space being invaded by the always-voracious anxiety, in this instance it’s simply allowed me to breathe.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve started writing—really writing—again. I think that bike ride with C. I mentioned a few posts ago really did signal a shift, which is a hell of a pleasant surprise.

Or perhaps I’m simply in massive denial, and once this delusion fades I’ll be filled with all my usual vexations and perplexations. Could be; probably.

But in the meantime I’m going to go with this.

In the meantime. . .

3 02 2011

Hell of a week.

I went from chest-cracking anxiety over finances and work to chest-thrumming over-work.

More later, but, you know, LOLcats in the meantime.

(And welcome back, dmf!)


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