One of my personal dreams is to find a way to live with a bare minimum of sleep and allocate those “bonus” hours to more interesting or productive endeavors. What I learned from last night’s bout with a quick moving stomach bug is that whatever the right amount of sleep is for me, it’s more than two hours. I know this because that’s exactly the amount I got – although in fairness it was split with 30 minutes at the beginning of the night and then a follow-on 90 minutes tagged right at the end.
Spending the largest part of the small hours of the morning alternating between too hot, too cold, and trips down the hall to tend other business I was at least able to do a little reading and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, which was well and good until my eyes stopped focusing around 3AM. After that it was treating the TV like a radio and trying to summon sleep through willpower and determination.
Whatever it was that beat the literal shit out of me last night seems to have passed as quickly as it arrived. That, at least, is a mercy. As much as I resent the necessity of laying down and shutting off my brain for a few hours every night it’s safe to say that I’ll personally be hoping that tonight is at least closer to the norm than yesterday’s improvised two hour plan because that clearly isn’t going to be the wave of my future… although by lunch time today even the dullest meetings were just a little bit funny and that’s probably worth something.
1. Breakfast options. I already get up between 4:30 and 5:00 most mornings. Although it’s the most likely real solution to this issue, I don’t want to get up earlier and cook a meal. Still, I’d really like a breakfast option that wasn’t an egg on a English muffin or similar concoction wrapped in paper and passed out a window for people who are up and out before the crack of dawn and don’t laze away the morning before showing up at the office around 9:00.
2. Not asking how high. Jumping on command is all well and good. It’s sometimes a necessary evil, but honest to God, not knowing how high, or which direction, or for how long you’re supposed to do it just leads to and exhausted jumper who’s engaged in a whole lot of activity without much to show for it when the poor bastard finally falls over.
3. Know what you want. I’d hate to even estimate how many times a day someone asks me for something. I’m going to to my level best to deliver exactly what you ask for – unless whatever it was is patently stupid in which case I may ask for clarification or make an alternate recommendation. Still, if you insist, I will cheerfully deliver the product as requested. Here’s the thing, though… If what you ask for and what I deliver turns out to be not what you actually wanted, well, I’m sorry but I’m not feeling any guilt about it.
Standing in the pre-dawn darkness, the first words I muttered after rolling out of bed this morning were, “Oh Christ on a crutch… it’s only Wednesday.”
That should have given me every indication of the kind of day it was going to be. But no, I opted not to listen to that small nagging voice that had already tried to warn me off. I press on with the morning routine – shower, coffee, feeding the menagerie, and trundling off to the office. I even had the audacity to enjoy the drive in, the humid air feeling brisk and refreshing once you got above a certain speed.
The wheels didn’t really come fully off the day until I’d already been at my desk for 45 minutes. I won’t get into specifics, but be assured it was all sideways and down hill from there. It was a day wholly given over to the anti-Midas touch – a skill that appears unbidden in my quiver from time to time and enables everything I touch to turn directly to shit.
Tomorrow has got to be better if just because there are only a few ways in which it could be worse. Steer into the slide. Regain control. Navigate away from danger. That’s the plan. Either that or sitting at my desk sobbing quietly. Really, either one feels like a possibility.
There’s a scene from the movie We Were Soldiers that more or less sums up my feelings about people who are trying just a little too hard to start the day off on a positive note. In that scene, Sergeant Savage approaches Sergeant Major Plumley and idly offers, “Good morning, Sergeant Major.” Plumley, his face twisting into a sneer that only a proper Sergeant Major can achieve, responds “How do you know what kind of god damn day it is?”
I think of that scene every single time I walk into the office and someone offers up a “good morning.” I haven’t even sat down at my desk, haven’t looked at the overnight emails, haven’t even gulped down the first part of a cup of coffee yet and here’s someone making a wild-eyed speculation about how the next eight hours will go. I usually mumble something about it being too early to tell and try to move on with the day without further comment.
I suppose there have to be people who climb out of their beds and expect nothing but good to happen that day. They cheerfully embrace it with both arms and bright eyes. Me? I’d rather let the day play out a bit before deciding if there should be a “good morning” greeting invoked. I’d far rather be greeted with an abrupt “’morning,” a form of greeting that acknowledges that it is, in fact, a new day while leaving open the possibility that it could be a complete shitshow long before the close of business.
Sure, “good morning” is usually just an offhand generic greeting, but I fear such pernicious positivity sets a bar that most days just won’t manage to climb across.
I have a morning routine. I don’t know that anyone reading this will be surprised by that factoid. Once the morning necessities are taken care of (and while my heathen animals stay comfortable in bed) the dogs go out. Then we come in and the dogs get fed and watered. Then I turn on the sunlamps and feed and water the tortoise. Then I circle back to the bathroom and put out fresh water for the cat (He gets fed at night because he seems to sleep more readily on a full stomach). Usually the cat follows me around through this entire routine. Today he didn’t. I didn’t think much of it until I noticed he wasn’t in his usual spot underfoot while I was fixing my coffee. Then I backtracked. He wasn’t scrounging for dropped dog food. He wasn’t curled up on a favored chair in the living room or sprawled across my bed.
Where he was, however, was stretched out happily in the middle of my indoor tortoise habitat, enjoying the sun lamps, and thoroughly annoying the resident tortoise. Of course that’s where my daily routine came off the rails… because now I have to close off the office, which means moving the 8-foot long, dirt-filled container holding the tortoise, because when I built it in place needing to close off the room wasn’t a consideration. After some effort, a dolly and managing not to spill the entire set up onto the floor, I was able to move it far enough to swing the door closed. The doors don’t so much lock as they “catch” closed using a tab, but I judged them secure enough that a small cat poking at the bottom of them wouldn’t be an issue.
Finally, desperately behind schedule, I was able to depart Fortress Jeff for my day job. Twenty minutes later, the alarm company calls to report “interior motion sensors are active”. I rolled the dice that finding a way to set off the motion sensors was the cat’s version of retribution for shutting him out of the office and I was not, in fact, being robbed blind only a few minutes after leaving for the day… and was proven right. Mercifully. But not before spending the entire day wondering if I shouldn’t have set a course for home at best possible speed and fearing what I’d find when I arrived.
Living with small creatures can be exhausting… and yeah, cats are jerks.
I’m what most people would consider an early riser. I’d be hard pressed to remember the last time I slept past 6:00. More often my days, even the ones at the end of the week, start no later than 5:30. Sometimes they start much earlier. It seems the years of well before dawn alarm ringing have exacted their penalty. I don’t mind it, though. I’ve gotten to like the early morning routine, the quiet, and general lack of people.
Much as it may sound it, this isn’t my ode to the morning. I like to think I’m more subtle than that. Instead, what I’m grappling with now is how it’s possible for me to claw out of bed at 5am on a typical Saturday, Sunday, or holiday Monday, hit the ground running, and keep myself mentally engaged until it’s time to turn the light off that night. I only wonder because on the usual weekday I spend most of that time feeling nearly comatose at worst and merely addled at best. The only discernible difference between those days and today are where I’m spending the hours.
There’s something telling about that. Now if I didn’t have a shit ton of bills to pay I could probably do something about it. The more likely course of action is that I’ll just go ahead and trudge through five days a week in a situationally induced torpor and feeling like a real person on the other days.
Over the last couple of days there’s been a rash of motorcycle and 4-wheeler thefts in the county. Asshat or asshats unknown have broken into a number of local sheds and garages to ply their trade. Knowing that it’s been a recent issue is probably the only reason I noticed the “young adult” pushing a dirt bike just off the side of one of my rural commuter route. I didn’t think anything of it at first, but the coffee kicked in and I realized that a teenager pushing a dirt bike around that section of road was, in fact, unusual by definition. In a year of making that drive at about the same time five days a week I’d never seen so much as a telltale trail into the woods where someone might be riding, let alone actually seen someone riding a bike or a quad.
So yeah, I started off the morning by putting in a call to the Sheriff’s office to file an unsolicited report of the location and description of the young white male of average height wearing a dark hoodie pushing what appeared to be a white dirt bike of unknown make. Maybe it was nothing. It was probably nothing. On the other hand, maybe I helped get some little shitbird caught and someone’s property returned.
I did ponder for a few seconds if I wanted to bother given the likelihood that it was some neighborhood kid and that even if it weren’t, but the time some deputy got a chance to drive through the area he’d as likely as not be long gone with the bike. Still, it was that nagging thought that if he’s one of the ones going into garages at night and stealing shit, I really want someone to catch up with him.
I got the chance to put “see something, say something” into practice today. It wasn’t exactly foiling the next big terror plot or anything, but I knew it felt just unusual enough that I’d be annoyed with myself all day long if I didn’t take the effort to make a simple phone call. At worst I inconvenienced a deputy and some kid had to answer a few questions. At best, someone in blue got another lead on tracking these creeps down.
I’m not at all sure why I’m bothering to write any of this down, let alone hit the publish button… but the up side is it saves you from reading another in a long line of gripes and complaints about the office. Maybe we should all be thankful that my path crossed a young man pushing a motorcycle this morning.