New job + old job = tough week. I couldn’t do it, but I care.
(I started a new job this week. It’s co-founder at a startup. I’m still ghostwriting for some people & editing for others. The co-founder role is a full time gig. My former job is still a full time gig. Dear Lord [that’s you, Smidgen], How are we gonna get through this?)
(The ending “I couldn’t do it but I care” is intended as an allusion to the impossibility of stretching oneself until necessity and desire intersect. I’ve done things this week that I couldn’t have done. But must + want => can. So I do.)
A friend told me today about the Native American archetype of hekoya. He described it as, “When the crowd goes right, the hekoya goes left.”
: (Wikipedia’s further description: The heyókȟa is a kind of sacred clown… [that] symbolizes and portrays many aspects of the sacred beings… [their] satire presents important questions by fooling around. They ask difficult questions, and say things others are too afraid to say. Their behavior poses questions as do Zen koans. By reading between the lines, the audience is able to think about things not usually thought about, or to look at things in a different way.)
In the spirit of the hekoya, I shall now celebrate my oddness. Here are things that I did today [well, yesterday as of posting this] that are completely reasonable and yet most people might find odd. Go, verily, and lead a more satisfying life:
- Drove 4hrs with a dear friend who dropped me off and then immediately hightailed her way back, thinking little of the gift. (As she described it, “I have a lot of books [to listen to on the drive]”).
- Moved a bed into a closet and hung blackout curtains so I can sleep at my parents’ place in complete darkness.
- Bought a 65” flat-screen TV for my parents’ house, which I will only be in for ~2 months. (Gotta make your space your own!)
- Thought that buying a TV was weird (this thinking is perhaps more weirder than the buying… as I have never bought a TV. The only TV I have ever owned was an inherited little 15-inch doohickey installed by the guy who built out my camper van. (He used it, I assume, when he lived in the van. I used it a total of 3 times… ever… and it was… fine.).
Pics of my new closet-room:
Now go, my children, and be the hekoya you were always meant to be.*
*: Most of you were not meant to be hekoya. Tough titties. It’s fuckin’ great.
Start: Parked outside [redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana.
End: sleeping in [redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Wandered around New Orleans dressed in a couple’s costume: I was Draco Malfoy & Smidge was Dobby the House Elf.
- Drunk wandering is just as pointless as I remember. Trying to find that friend, avoiding places with covers, etc.
- Felt twice like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
- When [redacted] and I were playing connect 4 as the night was coming to a close.
- Wandering down Bourbon street sipping a delightfully fruity daiquiri.
- Talked through [redacted]’s life goals and how he should choose a career by ability, not passion.
- Did two [redacted].
- Phone with [redacted] to tell her I [redacted].
- People are the same everywhere. The difference is interests, topics, opportunities. Same people, tho.
- Sleep deprivation keeps people wired and happy.
- I don’t enjoy dressing up for Halloween. Too much effort, too little value.
- “I’m gonna be a cow.” -[redacted].
- “The first thing to attack in your enemy is their communications.” -[redacted].
- I like this quote for its wide-ranging reach. Whether playing chess or in war with a country, the first thing to destroy is their ability to think. You knock out that ability by knocking out communications—between them and another or within one, itself.
- Work for [redacted].
- Did [redacted]’s dishes. What a gift.
- [Redacted] with [redacted] feels oddly fractured again.
- Cooked a steak and sweet potatoes for [redacted] & me.
- Chicken tenders at dinner.
- Hanging with [redacted].
- Sleeping late.
You drove for 7 hours. Got gas twice. Called 9 friends. 498 miles down, 34 to go.
Yes, that few. Only 38 mins.
But you’re tired. It’s 11pm. Why rush?
Pull over. Crack the windows. Listen to Neil Young. Sleep a full night.
Enjoy a final stretch. Then, tomorrow, finish it.
I worried about permanent nerve damage for the first time today.
On Monday I underwent sleep apnea surgery. I wasn’t afraid. I trusted my surgeon.
I had my first post-op visit today. I’m healing a half-week ahead of schedule. My surgeon removed most of the rubber bands holding my jaw closed. He said my muscles were still too weak to hold my jaw in place. He showed me how to replace bands that snapped.
Two hours later, I moved a band to make my right and left sides symmetrical. My maxilla, lower lip, and parts of my chin went numb. I had recently regained feeling in these parts, having lost it after surgery. Losing it again concerned me. My speech deteriorated. I sweat in fear.
I sent a message to my surgeon. Those can take days to return. I called his office. They close at 5. I called a doctor I knew. She said permanent nerve damage can’t be done overnight.
I believe her. I still feel panicked. Each sensation in the chin prompts terror. Sure, they remind me I have sensation there, but they also feel like a stretched nerve. Worse, I still feel pain from the surgery and can’t separate the normal surgery pain from any pain I might have caused. My mind spins:
- Will a stretched nerve always regain sensation over time, just as happened in the days post-surgery?
- If properly-placed bands are holding my teeth in the right position, will I definitely be all right?
- How much leeway do I have in the band placement? (I.e. I am pulling my jaw forward slightly more than when I left the doctor’s office. Is that safe?)
- Did I cause myself permanent nerve damage?
I’ve never dealt with questions like this before. They terrify me.
On Monday I go in for Jaw Surgery. If I die, I want my tombstone to read, “Died doing what he loves.”
I’ve never seen a footnote on a tombstone. Nor ellipses. I’m updating the medium. The joke makes it more palatable.
I joke because I’m afraid. I’m afraid because it’s frightening. I’ve never been closer to death than I will be on Monday.
I’ve always mused on death. I wrote my first auto-obituary at 13. The same way some people use the largesse of space to decrease their anxiety; I use death to accept depression. When I wake up late enough that I feel grumpy, the phrase “death and taxes” echoes in my mind. It reminds me of two crucial elements – timeliness and humor. One makes today matter and the other makes life worth living.
I’m spending tomorrow and Sunday advising a local high school youth group, and Saturday with my dad. If I die, let it be known I went out doing what I loved.
 Self improvement.
At 9:11am, the morning’s not-funniest time, I slipped 50mg of caffeine past the tape on my mouth before crawling back into the safety of my dreams. Another hour-and-a-quarter passed before my bunkmate awoke, only after which did I first leave my bed. How much of this time was spent avoiding the world?
I’m coming off a cold. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been sleeping so much. I’ve also been emotionally exhausted, overcoming a childhood trauma and rebuilding after a breakup.
My bed is warm. My bed feels safe. In it, the world feels far away. My mind moseys, wisting aimlessly from place to place. I like that safety. I like that oblivion. I live for that vacuum between conscious and gone.
I struggled through five doctors over ten years before one correctly diagnosed me with obstructive sleep apnea.
It’s subjectively difficult to tell if something’s wrong with you because corroboration requires a doctor’s agreement. If they don’t see a problem, perhaps nothing’s wrong. Then again, perhaps they’re incompetent, or perhaps you didn’t communicate it clearly. Most doctors see a lot of patients, and communicating a subjective experience to a second party is very difficult. And even if you can’t get second-party confirmation, it’s still really your experience.
I pee frequently. Frequently enough that my friends comment on it. This causes me concern. I don’t know that there’s a problem, but I suspect something’s up. I could see a urologist, but that’s a minimum of two visits at inconvenient times to someone who I’ll probably conclude is incompetent.
Some doctors are great. Most are god-awful. It’s hard to know before seeing them. I’m delaying, which isn’t the logical choice, but it’s easier than calling medical offices. I’m solving my sleep now—one issue at a time. I hope I don’t come to regret waiting.
I h’ain’t been takin’ great care o’ myself.
I been a tired grump, drained sumthin awful.
I wanna finish mah work so i c’n relax
’n’ then begins th’ vay-kay-shun.
At sixteen, Julian could eat a whole pizza in one sitting. He’d be stuffed before downing those last few slices but finish anyway, because he hungered for achievement long after satisfying his hunger for pizza.
Yesterday, twenty-five-year-old Julian stayed awake for twenty-six hours. As he puts it, “one should spend times of plenty preparing for times of famine.” He calls it a “sleep fast” and planned to reach a whole day-and-a-half, but ended it early when he realized sleep fasts should be undertaken on days that don’t require driving.
Julian is most familiar with this style of self-disciplined self-deprivation from his multi-day foodless fasts, the longest totaling one hundred thirty-six hours (five-and-a-half days). He has completed a total of fifteen foodless fasts (each a minimum of three days long). There are known health benefits of foodless fasting. There are no known health benefits of sleep fasting, but he feels a calm sense of power for the following few days.
To cap off his sleep fast, Julian devoured a large $10 Costco pepperoni pizza. While you technically don’t have to be a member to eat at the food court, you certainly don’t have to be a member if you walk past the ID checkers when they’re not looking. If you employ this method, you also get to feel smug. There are no known health benefits of eating a whole large $10 Costco pepperoni pizza, but he did anyway. What a rebel.