To stave off the madness…

I learned something new today. Well, it wasn’t really new, but it’s something I had completely forgotten. It seems if you play really pretty bad music from the early 1990s at as high a level as your radio will manage, and keep just the right pace to maintain a healthy dose of highway noise, you can reach a kind of nirvana. Just before your ears start bleeding there will be such a clash of sound flooding into your head that it will push out every other coherent though. More importantly it will silence, at least temporarily, that part of your brain that keeps telling you to cash it all in, sell it all off, drive to nowhere, get a shit job that requires no skill or independent though, and spend the rest of your days reading every book in the public library of whatever small town you end up in.

The only side effect is a blinding headache and inability to hear anything below a dull roar. Whatever it takes to stave off the madness one more day, I suppose.e

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Brain fog. Perhaps worse than actually being sick is the pharmacologically induced brain fog that comes from trying to stave off the more obnoxious effects of the human condition. It makes everything happen just a little bit slower and makes it well near impossible to craft well formed and coherent sentences. Don’t even ask how badly it tends to mangle spelling and grammar usage, which isn’t a particularly strength of mine to begin with. Despite the annoyance, I’ve got a few more days of self medicating left before letting the stuff work its way out of my system. Until then I’ll continue to be the poster boy for short attention spans.

2. Two months. We’re still two months from the 2016 presidential election. I usually like this stuff, but I think at this point I’d rather take a jackhammer to the side of the head than listen to another day of the back and forth.

3. Afternoon television. It’s something I only notice the once a year or so that I find myself home and otherwise unengaged between the hours of noon and 4:00 pm, but there really is absolutely nothing on television on a typical weekday afternoon. Which makes perfect sense when you consider that most of the people who have jobs to earn disposable income are at their jobs earning disposable income instead of home watching television. Still, I’d like to note how wonderful it is to live in an age of Netflix and Amazon Prime. They saved me from endless hours of crap programming on the networks and cable providers this week.

Hard versus stupid…

I don’t mind working hard. The powers that be are paying good money to rent my brain for 8 hours a day and I’ve got no compunction about whoring myself out like that. When push comes to shove I’d much rather be doing hard work with my brain than hard work with my back. The brain seems less likely to give out at an inopportune time and leave me lying flat on the floor or chewing muscle relaxers like candy corn.

Although I don’t mind working hard, I hate the living hell out of working stupid. I hate reworking the same ground two or three times and changing every happy to a glad. That’s not hard work. That’s not focusing on content or intent. That’s focusing on the style over the substance and the fact that anyone has time for that in this business should tell you a lot about how their time is being spent. I don’t mind if they want to waste their time turning the latest memo into the great American novel, but I’d appreciate it if they didn’t try dragging me along into their own personal hell. I’ve got worries enough of my own without keeping track of who likes one space after a period and who likes two.

The things we choose to focus on tells a lot about the kind of person we are when we shed the artificial constructs of rank or grade. It tells me everything I need to know about who “gets it” and who is way the hell out in the tall grass. Other people might not notice details like that, but I do. The Lord might tell us not to judge, but I think in this case He would make an exception.

What does the trick…

This is the first night in a long time I’ve sat down at the blinking cursor and really didn’t feel like writing. Not here. Not any any of the other ongoing projects. Not in a comments section. Not anywhere. Whatever spark drives that compulsion of mine to cover a blank space with small black symbols is well out this evening… so if anything you read hear feels at all forced, it absolutely is, so you’ve got a good sense of things.

There are no particularly tragic circumstances behind the scenes. The office is settling in to its newest flavor of ridiculous. The air conditioner isn’t broken and the summer routine is in full swing. It seems possible that good things are happening on one or two other fronts as well, so it’s far from the worst of times.

Despite that, I’m just a certain kind of deep down bone tired tonight. If the beginning half of the week is any indication it’s not the kind of tired I can solve by allowing for more than my usual five or six solid hours of sleep. It’s the type I feel when I need to just turn my brain off for a while. Even though the sure fire cure is a few days laid up somewhere with palm trees and a rum economy, summer is slipping away without a vacation plan in sight, so I’ll just have to do my best to treat the ailment as best I can with small doses.

I know from experience that in a few days this too shall pass and in the meantime the only thing for it is to slug through to the other side. It’s not the elegant solution I usually like to find, but it does the trick.

The wee small hours of the morning, or Fueling the beast…

Something strange happened in the wee small hours of the morning today. Just after 2AM I found myself inexplicably awake, in the company of the whirr of the overhead fan and two snoring dogs. It was as peaceful a nighttime scene as one could hope to find, but my subconscious was clearly in an uproar, awake, and was rather insistent that we were going to be awake for a while.

I’m used to having ideas for the blog come at me before drifting off to sleep or maybe as I’m waking up. I make a habit of catching those ideas on my phone’s note pad. It’s jammed full of half formed ideas and concepts I may or may not ever get around to dealing with. Mostly those come in the form of a sentence or phrase I can use later, but last night came at me in a torrent of words. Judging by a daylight look, the grammar, punctuation, stray words, and general tone I can say that my subconscious isn’t much for exerting editorial control on the fly. In a few places things are so jumbled that awake me can’t even deciphered what asleep me might have been going after. Most of the rest, though, is clear enough in its intent.

It seems my subconscious wanted to wait until the dead of night to walk me through the outline of what I’ll only call the most dark, disturbingly introspective assessments of self I’ve ever experienced. I don’t suppose it should be surprising that such a thing would find outlet as one of my old fashioned blog outlines. It’s the method I use most often to give complex ideas form and structure before going on to put them down in the more narrative long form.

What I was left with early this morning was a laundry list of a sort. A list of the accumulated slights, grudges, broken hearts, and disappointments. A list of the battles lost, and lost causes yet to come, and standing stubborn against the running tide. A list of the moments of vanity, and pride, and ego stretching out further than grasp. A list of the times I’ve retreated behind my own battlements, inside myself, and what that’s cost me.

It was an all access pass to the oddities of mind that drive the fusion reactor deep at my core, that piles action upon action, cycle upon cycle, loss upon loss, victory upon victory and the hundred different dreams and fears that make me and that make me question who “me” really is at the heart of things. Is there more? Is this enough?

I’m left today finding the whole thing exhilarating, unsettling, fascinating, and horrifying in turn. Maybe that’s what it’s supposed to feel like when we get an unexpected look at what fuels the beast within… or maybe it’s just a sign of my impending mid-life crisis. If that’s the case, leaving off the heavy handedness and filling my dreams with visions of a new Corvette would have been message enough.

My lying eyes…

As much as I’m a fan of crowing my successes, I’m not shy about calling my failures into account either. In this case, it’s a failure of whatever part of my brain is in charge of understanding spatial relationships. I just spent half an hour looking at a piece of the sidewalk that I was absolutely convinced was angled the wrong way (i.e. draining back towards the door). I wouldn’t quite say I obsessed on it, but I may have stomped around the yard checking it from all angles and becoming more and more convinced that it just wasn’t right.

I would have gone to bed tonight ready to pick a fight with the contractor tomorrow if I hadn’t remembered that I have a perfectly good level sitting out in the garage that would tell the real story. I’m glad my brain can be counted on for at least that much, because my eyes obviously lie. It may be ever so slightly sloped, but the walk does, in fact, drain the way it’s supposed to.

The stone edging and grass seed come in tomorrow and then all we need is a bit of rain to see if the effort and expense were worth it in the end. Despite my lying eyes, I think we’d be hard pressed to have made anything worse. Intellectually I’m sure we’ve made things much better. But I’ll feel better about the whole thing when I see it work… and once I’ve got more grass than dirt in the back yard.

So apparently it’s not a stroke…

Not long after lunch this afternoon my left eye twitched once and then felt like someone was jamming an ice pick into the socket. My first thought, after the initial WTF, was “Wow, this is how it’s going to end for me… Stroking out at my desk after being utterly overwhelmed by stupid.”

Thirty seconds pass and the pain lets up enough to be mostly a roaring headache situated just behind my left eye… annoying but not debilitating. Since there was no face drooping and no obvious slurring, I went on about my business.

It wasn’t until around 2:00, when I reached for a long empty mug of coffee that reality dawned. I wasn’t about to stroke out at all. I was unintentionally coming down from a years long caffeine high and my brain was rebelling against it. I couldn’t tell you the last time I got so busy that I didn’t reach for a refill until almost the end of the day. It could easily be half a decade or more. After all but mainlining three cups, the pain in the ol’ brain box settled out from a dull roar to nothing at all by the end of tour.

Consider it lesson learned. Now that I know the unfortunate results of under caffeinating, I’ll never, ever let it happen again.