Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Sleep Ritual

Thirty minutes after I've ingested the carefully sliced fourth of my prescribed sleep aid, the second plug is inserted into my ear and the din of buses and drunks evacuates to a comforting whoooosh...Then, when finally all I can hear is the plastic grinding of my teeth against my bite guard, I find the void in which sleep comes easiest to me. (During the summer months, the hum of my window unit supplies noise of sufficient whiteness and I sleep without plugs.)

Despite what the nature of this forum might suggest, in the past I have been reticent towards disclosure of the contents of my sleep ritual. After one such rare reporting, a friend once suggested that I would be difficult person to have casual sex with. A chill of recognition, chasing a pang of betrayal, rushed up my spine at this insight. I managed to avoid confronting the absurd complexity of my sleeping habits then only by breaking the ritual down into its component parts and rationalizing them each in piecemeal fashion, thereby extracting the immediacy from the recognition:

I am an auditory person (some people are). I am an anxious person (well, this is an explodable concept in itself, so combustible in fact that it scarcely generates a need for further rationalization). I have fought the onset of sleep since I was a child, and it is entirely possible it is a battle I am not intended to win without help in this lifetime, and where does that leave me in any respect, if untreated? I grind my teeth while I sleep (having a two-pronged effect, insofar as the discomfort of the bite guard initially prompted a further need for sleep medication and the recognition that I might actually be doing irreparable harm to my teeth while sleeping certainly did nothing to ease my passage into slumber).

Now I am older (and my liver is even older, through the filtration of these remedies--self-prescribed and otherwise), and, given the undeniable force of the overall recognition, I have begun to revisit the finer points of my sleep ritual. Oddly enough, it was the proximity entailed by a long term relationship that compelled this reevaluation.

I mediate my difficulties with sleep through medication. (This is a confession and beyond whatever defensiveness discussion of my sleep habits provoke, I am committed to full disclosure in this forum.) Thus, I admit to having yielded over certain major functions of my humanity to technology--although to my mind not unlike yielding the parenting of a difficult child to television (and what could be more natural...). Yet having long since accepted that I fit the conditions of generalized anxiety disorder, further that I am an intensely neurotic person, even further that this neuroses has in no way furthered my livelihood or made me more successful or desirable in any way...I still feel that I should be capable of and ready for casual sex. Casual sex is an embedded quality of Man and I resemble him in many ways.

Anyway, with whatever ease and with whatever difference between my ease of sleep and that of others' (specifically unmedicated sleepers in the presumptive majority), I awake frequently during the night and often feel tired throughout the day and sometimes wonder whether my lack of sleep has prevented full actualization of my potential as a person. This is a fancy of mine, which I admit I cannot fully invest myself in (because I recognize that whatever character defines my state of rest is inextricably linked to my overall character given its longstanding presence), but still I wonder if the ideal path for me is an unmediated, yet trouble-free sleep ritual...

[At the present time he has no intention of altering any one of the component parts of his sleep ritual. February, 2009]

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fun With Nausea

It is a curious feeling to maintain a love for this world while every instance in which its reality becomes apparent induces nausea.

I have a hangover.

That said, I find it's easier to write in the grips of a hangover. And this I say while typing on a laptop precariously perched on the floor, at the edge of an air mattress where moments before I arose confused in a friend's kitchen. And now I type while having to take frequent, intermittent breaks to writhe into a position comfortable enough to predict whether a trip to the bathroom will in the next few moments be required.

A hangover supplies the rare condition in which minds are allowed to race freely--albeit anxiously from both withdrawals and lack of sleep, without the inhibiting influence of the frontal lobe. The point being that despite its obvious unpleasantness, it has its uses.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Subway

"I spend most of my time not dying. That's what living is for." - from "Fog" by Frederick Seidel

(From the look of the jacket cover, he's in his mid-sixties--a lot older than me. Despite this, I see no conflict in identifying with him...)

I woke up this morning with a sore throat and the simultaneous determination to poke at it with the elongated cotton swabs that I picked up at the Polish apothecary on my block. This is the same pharmacy where they once sold me two Benzedrine inhalers at once without batting an eye, but now--after purchasing the swabs at the same time as a pill slicer--regard me cautiously, I'm assuming, as a deviant medical fetishist. (It is they who refer to themselves as an apothecary, by the way, rather than me attempting to apply medieval polish [paw-lish] to the tone this post.) I've found that three times out of five I can battle back the onset of a sore throat by jabbing the swab at the pouches near my tonsils to see if I can dislodge the smelly chunks of white blood cell-covered food particles that get sometimes stuck there, piling up and causing problems. (I eat very fast and I have large, open, cavernous tonsils, so I am especially afflicted with--what I assume to be--this common condition.) I admit that I find this activity pleasurable when it bears [fruit] in the same way that I used to (and still do occasionally) enjoy popping zits, when I don't make a big mess of it. This current activity has actually all but taken the place of former, which I think is a healthier and less public form of purgation; a sign I'm growing up maybe.

Unfortunately, the same foresight that prompted me to grant myself thirty minutes of extra sleep this morning prevented me from performing either this operation or the nettypot (nose kettle) evacuation that also sometimes helps--especially in conjunction with the tonsil jabbing, so I was forced to commence my commute knowing I had taken no progressive steps towards forestalling the onset of a potentially involved illness (because a sore throat can indicate anything!). This condition in turn led me towards the obsessive recounting of the various individuals I have encountered over the past four or five days of viral gestation who I know could be responsible for passing their germs onto me. In this respect, there are several social situations that I regard to be unquantifiable for the multitude of individuals of unknown health status present, like large social gatherings, the city pool or the subway, or any time I'm at the library where I work (where I am ever beset), that I am--for the most part, of necessity--able to move past. Nonetheless, there are a few suspects, who will be the subject of my anonymous rage as this sickness progresses, who will remain nameless.

It is this bemused state that prevented me from noticing the woman attending to her bestrollered child more quickly. As I could not see into the stroller from where I was sitting, what I did observe was a scene bearing striking visual resemblance to the teaser pram shot from Rosemary's Baby, which I submit was only slightly less horrifying to me. At the point at which I encountered the pair, the mother was engaged with offering a pacifier to her frustrated child, who--based on both the form of his or her frustration and the strength of his or her arm (which I would thereafter be granted opportunity to measure), I took to be about one year old; preverbal and terribly frustrated by it. Each time the pacifier was offered it would be quickly refused and would seconds later sail into the air and end up on the floor of the car (this was the G-train--notoriously filthy even by MTA standards). Alarmingly, instead of removing the pacifier from service in accordance with her child's wishes, the woman would retrieve the pacifier from the floor, insert it into her own mouth, give it a few brief sucks and then return it to the mouth of her sputtering toddler--presumably to enlist her saliva with the task of disinfection, which, needless to say, I do not feel that it was up to. This act, in which mother and child operated a circuit whose sole purpose seemed to be the removal of filth from the floor of the train, repeated itself over and over as I looked on disgusted until finally I deboarded at the next stop.