Day 83

Every so often, Dana will ask me why I prefer to keep the bedroom door closed while I’m in it, whether or not I am sleeping.

Having never really reflected on that particular quirk, my response is just typically, “Because I do.”

Waking up at 2am after a late night nap, I had the motivation to put away some laundry. After a bathroom pitstop, I passed by the Cowboy Room where Dana was sleeping, turned off the light, and went back into the bedroom where I immediately closed the door before turning on the light… so as not to wake Dana by a sudden shift of environment that she may have subconsciously noticed a few feet away. Of course, knowing Dana, that wouldn’t have made the slightest difference, but a subtle shift of a light turning on where there wasn’t one before could be enough to wake me, so, y’know, just being considerate.

Aha! Then I remembered laying on the couch in the living room a few days ago while reading a book. I don’t typically like being in a room where the windows are open, but there’s something comfortable about the sun shining in while I’m reading. That probably stems from when I was younger and tended to read in the “sunroom” of the house I grew up in.

The “sunroom” was off to the left of the front door and jutted out just a wee bit of the rectangular footprint of that bungalow. It had windowed french doors separating it from the living room and main thoroughfare of the house. Shutters lined the little bit of the east wall where the room jutted out of the footprint, south, and west walls of the room. It let it a lot of sun.

 

The room didn’t house all that much. A closet where my mother kept some of her clothes, a couch, the stereo system and a bookshelf of record albums. Many Saturday afternoons and Sundays I lounged in that room reading. Sometimes on the couch. Sometimes against the couch. Sometimes on the floor.

 

I could close the doors to be sequestered away but not disconnected (because of the windowed French doors) from whatever my parents were doing, and the ample sunlight gave the room a “clean” feeling. At times it was also the only room in the house that was air conditioned, so that might have made a difference too.

 

That brings me back to laying on the couch of my current living room with the sun shining in. It didn’t quite feel right. When I reflected about why that might be (besides the obvious differences of age and co-habitants), I realized it was the open floor plan of this house I’m living in.

 

I moved into this house when I was 21. I moved out when I was almost 29. I somewhat moved back in when I was 41 and completely back in at 43. In all that time I never really liked this house. It’s not that it’s a bad house. I just liked the arrangement I had at the previous house between the ages of 20 and 21. So, part of the dislike comes from the unwanted change over twenty years ago. The other part is the open floor plan. I’ve never really been able to put my finger on why an open floor plan bothers me, but I think I’ve come to understand it better in the past week.

 

Micro-environments. I like rooms that can be a different environment both decoratively and fundamentally. An open floor plan doesn’t allow for that as well. The environment of the kitchen seeps into the family room. There’s no change of temperature or air quality between the living room, dining area, kitchen, hallway, or family room. The smells aren’t different. The ambient sound is similar.

 

For a person who experiences most of the world from inside his head, reading a book is not incredibly different whether I’m in living room or kitchen. The ambient distractions are the same. That’s why I like rooms. Simply shutting a door can create a completely different environment from one that is just on the other side.

 

I suppose that’s why I prefer to have the door shut in the bedroom. It’s a place I can create a micro-environment that is slightly different from the rest of the house.

3:07am

Seventh and Seventy

My sleep schedule is so out of whack, that even I am not understanding it. So last night I took an Ambien at about 10:30pm to see if I could jolt myself into some sort of pattern. 

What that really means is that I’m not sure I’m going to remember writing this entry, but something is brewing in my perception about the meaning of life. 

Recently I’ve been dreaming about grandparents. The dreams themselves drift away on gossamer leaves quickly, so the content of the dreams is unimportant. 

I have many theories about the purpose of dreams. The prevailing theory is that dreams are our mind’s way of organizing thoughts, feelings, and memories into associations. Dreams can be analyzed to the extent of identifying worries past or present, and situating them in our imagined and actual experiences to help resolve brain aches.

That’s the logical theory; however, I do also believe that I’ve had dreams of premonition. None that I’ve been able to use, but a certain moment will occur, and I’ll think to myself, “I dreamed of this before.” There’s never any context of the situation. The first time it happened I was playing pool at Parkside’s Union. I was blasted by deja vu, and remembered a dream I had. Whether or not I actually did dream that moment is impossible to prove. Maybe it was just my brain trying to rationalize deja vu. Maybe in the organization of thought, feelings, and memories, by brain produced an image of a likely occurrence. Not as an immutable Destiny, just as a given the inputted parameters, there is a high probability of experiencing a moment like: whatever. 

That’s the thing: the moments aren’t all that special, nor can I put a time table on when I had previously dreamed the event… within the previous week? month? year? Who knows. 

One theory about dreams that I was exposed to in my early twenties is that everyone in a dream is just an aspect of yourself. If you dream about your father, for example, you have to think about the qualities you associate with your father. It is those qualities within yourself that are being reconciled in those dream processes. 

Just for a moment I’d like to admit a desire to believe in the Supernatural: ghosts and gods, prophecies and fate, untarnished good fighting creatures of evil with holy words and silver swords. 

These recent dreams of my grandparents, though somewhat of a reprieve from the visits from my parents, have been on my gnawing at me in an effort to put those visions into some usable prospective. 

I’d like to cherish the concept that the spirits of my ancestors have come to guide me, give advice, keep me connected to my blood family. Unfortunately, the contrarian nature of looking at things from multiple angles prevents me from making this fantasy one of my truths. 

And that’s when it occurred to me that maybe this time I could accept that supernatural aspect at face value… somewhat. 

When I was 13 or 14 my dad made me sit down in the kitchen nook of our house on 42nd Avenue. It was a weird occasion. My father wasn’t in the habit of spending time talking with me unless he was either a) relentlessly teasing me, b) yelling at me for some reason or other, or c) yelling at me to behave in a way to prevent myself of getting yelled at in the future.

This wasn’t like any of those times. It was a fatherly moment disguised as a lecture. 

He took out a sheet of paper and drew a dot in the lower left corner. “This is your great-grandchildren grandfather. He was a peasant in Lithuania.” He drew another dot to the right of that dot and a little higher. “This is your great-grandfather. He left Lithuania and worked in the Chicago stockyards.  (The Marcinkus name is in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle — how cool is that?)  

Another dot again to the right and a bit higher. “Your grandfather was a mechanic at American motors. He became a skilled laborer.” The next dot again to the right and higher. “This is me. I graduated college and became a teacher.” 

He connected on the dots to show the inclining line of… success? When he reached his dot, he continued the upward slope but dotted to show the future. 

“So you see, you need to take the next step up. You need to do better than me.”

I was immediatly hit with two thoughts: 1) No shit, that’s just common sense, and 2) The way we’re living is pretty decent, I’m not struggling to get out of a life of eating dirt, or coming home bloody and smelling of death. I’m not on a path to slave between whistle blows. Being a teacher is a pretty good way of making a living (although at that time, it was pretty certain I’d be doing something with computers.) 

The lesson stuck with me. When I became a teacher, I read Huck Finn more times than I’d care to count. Every stinking time I got to the section of Pap Finn berating Huck for putting airs on a trying to be better than him, I had warmth in my heart for my father. I guess generational improvements of the life condition aren’t common sense. 

For awhile, I was bummed that my dot really wasn’t moving any higher than my father’s. But I think it was in terms of defining myself by all of my actions, not just my career. When I became department chair, I put that “failure” aside, my dot had moved up ever so slightly. 

Back to those dreams about my grandparents. In context, dreaming about them makes a little more sense. 

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks largely in leisure. I’m under the perceptual impression that no less than 95% of my life can be viewed as one of leisure. Even if I’m doing something that smacks of work, it’s because that’s what I’ll feel like doing at that moment. The other 5% are just chores: sweeping the floors, picking up dog shit, fixing things that broke. 

It’s very hard accepting this without some amount of guilt or “should be.” 

The grandparents in that dream may simply represent those dots on that chart my father drew so long ago. Each dot striving to make a better life for himself, his family, and his children. 

It begs a question. 

Where does a life of leisure fall on the y-axis of my father’s chart? I assume it’d be pretty high on the scale… higher than a president? Is the y-factor associated with success as measured by wealth? 

I am the legacy of my grandparents. And when these questions confound me, I think they’re visiting my dreams to remind me the effort that they put in to have a better future. I see their apparitions giving their blessing on how I’m choosing to live, and if I do it right, be able to give my children the means to make their dot higher than mine. 

But how? 

5:29am

72

At this point I’m feeling fairly settled. Other than some theoretically short-term cash flow issues, the only thing that’s been bugging me has been getting used to the void of things to be bugged about. 

Dana has been back at Horlick this week, which has left me falling into the routine of a lack of routine. In the meekness, humblest way possible, I’m rather enjoying things right now. 

I’ve been spending time reading… currently on a second novel (Seveneves by Neal Stephenson) in as many weeks. I’ve painted some miniatures, fired some glass, did some minor house chores, and started walking in the treadmill. The days are flying by. And, for the first time in a long time, I’m starting to yearn for some social connections. 

Unfortunately the heat has been oppressive, and I seem to have cycled into my pattern of needing a nap every five to six hours. Combined, that makes actually doing something social a tad difficult. 

But, I’m going to give it until October. If I build up to exercising an hour a day, let the heat dissipate, and get past the short term cash issues, and still feel tired every four to six hours, I’ll focus on what I need to do to boost my energy levels. 

For now, I’m just going to follow my bliss: sleep when I feel like it, eat when it’s convenient, do what I’m motivated to do, and cherish these moments. 

I know my solitary, homebound enjoyments aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. Some may think I’m just wasting time. Maybe sometimes even I think that way too. But, if time flies when you’re having fun, well, shit, I’m having a blast. 

8:15pm

Sixty days

My intentions of a post per day may be officially classified as something I haven’t followed through upon. There’s only so many times I’m enthralled writing some variation of: organized, watched some TV, did some hobbies, played some video games. 

Since I last updated, the living/dining room area has been tamed. After two years it is no longer a staging area. That feels good. 

What’s really on my mind right now is sleep. This is the time of year that I normally start to gear up for the start of school by being thankful that I don’t quite have to get into the sleep routine, but start stressing about forced bedtime and morning alarms. 

Other than about an hour nap between 9:30am and 10:30am, I’ve been awake for the past twenty-sixish hours. And, despite a half bottle of rum consumed at a his & hers bridal shower, a few sleeping pills, and an alprazolam I’m still not quite ready to hit the sack. 

Staying up this long isn’t a rare instance, nor is it usual. It happens, and is balancing a recent 18 hour sleep/5 hour wake/9 hour sleep occurrence. 

I do not endorse this type of inconsistent sleep pattern with no set number of hours I’ll be awake or asleep. It wreaks havoc on productive and social intentions. I’m used to it though. It has been like this for most of my life. 

At the age of twelve, I strive to stay up until past midnight to listen to and record Dr. Demento shows. In high school, I spent many hours at Big Boy playing pinochle and drinking coffee, tossing and turning until 3am, sleeping in classes and napping after school. 

In my mid twenties, I worked third shift on a seven day on, three day off, seven day on, four day off rotation. 

While teaching, I needed rituals for both going to bed and waking up to force my body to adhere to a work schedule that conflicted with my natural rhythm. 

I envy Dana’s ability to lay down and be in slumberland within ten minutes. For me that only happens occasionally — even then, the sun is usually shining when I shut my eyes. 

What triggers these overly long and short periods? Today it was the previously mentioned bridal shower. The anticipation of leaving by noon had be tossing and turning staring about 2am.

Ten hours is plenty of time to get a full night’s rest, but I wasn’t tired enough to sleep, so I read. Then it was 4:00am. Attempting to force myself to sleep was a futile task. At 5:00am, I started to play the, “I can still get seven hours of sleep… I can function with six hours. Four hours should be time to get in a full sleep cycle, etc.” When 9:30 rolled around, I was finally tired enough to drift away a bit from conscious shores. 

I remained suficiently tired through 4:00pm, although I could indulge in a decent sleep. After 4:00pm that feeling fluttered away. 

So here I am at 1:00am again. Tired again. Looking forward to sleep. Thankful that unlike previous years the beginning of August non-traditional sleep pattern need not cause me to dwell on the immenent effort I would have to apply in order to get to sleep at a “normal” time in just a few weeks. 

When I finish writing this, I get to sleep for as long as I feel like it. After I wake up, I can stay awake for as long as I will. That ability alone prevents any remorse about not being a teacher this year (ever again). 

I would explore if the happiness I am currently experiencing is due to that knowledge, the half bottle of rum, or a sincere enjoyment of spending time with Dana’s family today. Being aware that it is most likely some combination of those three is good enough for me right now because I’m pretty sure I’m going to fall asleep shortly since I’m dozing off while writing this. 

Instead I will simply salute and enjoy this bliss. 

1:31am