Chapter Two - Why isn't the coffee working?
I'm awake. Technically. I think that's what it's called. I haven't really slept. As a result my mind is either dysfunctional or filled with questions of little to no import.
Was that the third or the second coffee?
What's the best way of sorting out my phone? Do I want another coffee? How did it become afternoon?
...Should I be writing this? Do I want coffee? Is it possible to have a planet made completely of water?
Head tilted forward, eyes softly closing.
I can feel the warmth of the day. In my slumber I cast open my eyes just far enough to see the time and the last of the early sun streaming through cracks in the closed curtains before it passes overhead. 12:44pm. It takes a split second to register. I don't know if this is a failure at parsing or in storage and retrieval. I'm not even sure why the time is particularly relevant. Society has built in to me a response that says I should be up and functional by 9am.
I do the quick bit of mental mathematics required to take account of my late chronotype and approximate it as about 8am in my personal timezone. My lack of function starts to make logical sense. I've been up since 6am after several nights deprived of sleep. This is why the coffee isn't working. This is why my brain refuses to focus on anything with any substance.
I swear someone has implanted lead weights along the length of my arms while I drifted back and forth across the edge of conciousness. That would explain the pain as well as the perceived weight. My mind tries to apply Occam's razor. It fails of course, logic isn't working right now. That bit of my brain is still asleep.
My eyes drift back to their closed position and I spend the wasted time trying to get my breathing under control. There's no counting, no holding of breath, just a transfer of control to the less autonomous part of my breathing system. The autonomous part is doing a bang-on evolutionary-defined job of trying to prepare me for fight or flight. The biggest threat in my presence being the multitude of harmless house spiders that share a Georgian property such as mine. I can't begrudge their living here rent free – they keep the flies and other bugs down. How to describe my house – Mostly Harmless.
I'm trying to make an assault on the tasks I need to try and focus on today. My brain is at least now registering that there is a world. The thought of interacting with it causes a wave of nausea to flow through me. Internally I have collapsed again, mimicking my outward physical appearance. I scream at myself, "Just one thing!" More gently I explain, "You just need to find one thing." A moment passes and my brain relaxes enough to latch on to what I'm trying to tell it. Focus on one thing.
Half an hour has passed. What remained of the coffee is gone.
Is more coffee an excuse? Is it a genuine attempt to wake up and be functional? I don't know anymore.
Turning, to get up out of my chair, I feel as if someone has punched me in the gut. A small moth decides to land on me. It makes me even more aware that I'm sitting in twilight in the middle of the day. Moths would probably like my house if it wasn't for the spiders. The spiders no doubt like that the moths explore my house. A side effect of my living more at night than in the day.
Bracing myself I go to stand, it doesn't happen. The pain in my arms increases. My legs scream out "we're not ready". I breathe a few more times. I try to relax my stomach muscles. I mentally log five minutes passing. It could be two it could be ten. I'm going to ignore time now, time is not helping. Breathe, relax, take control. This is your body and you still have control over it.
I wait to, metaphorically and literally, gather the strength to push past this small but impeding barrier. I'm up. I'm standing.
The tension in my muscles forces me to stretch my whole body to free them up for further movement. I gape a yawn that would consume a planet. But I'm up. I'm standing. I can feel my legs trembling beneath me. I'm pretty sure they will hold but still I take the first few tentative steps slowly to make sure. I can now hand back some of the control to autonomous systems. Somehow this allows my brain to find and select the "just one thing". Yesterday I sorted washing into piles, I can put one of those piles in the washing machine.
The washing machine burbles into life with a jingle that the Windows XP team or Nokia would be proud of. I find myself nostalgic for the clunk, click, and whirr of the previous machine that my lodger overloaded. The perky, intelligent, machine — after some brief juggling of the clothing and analysis — tells me this 1 load will be finished in 2 hours and 44 minutes. The numerical coincidence is not lost on me.
I have a conversation with my brain. Finding that we both remember that the morning bathroom ritual has already been performed as the first attempt at waking up today, we both agree that getting dressed is probably a good next step. This can be dangerous though. Twice this week the effort involved has resulted in us passing out. Neither of us really wants that. I have a third person relationship with my brain. I decide one thing, it decides another. This doesn't help when it comes to planning anything that involves interaction with other people.
My brain starts ticking off all the things I'm not going to do today. It then swears at me for not doing them even though I haven't started not doing them. I try to negotiate with it. I put forward the argument that I did a thing and doing that thing has left me exhausted. We agree I'll get dressed and see how it goes. Tears start rolling down my face. This has nothing to do with emotion – it's a simple physical reaction to their being so tired. I'm forcing them open and they are not happy about this. This is their way of complaining.
I'm half logging how I feel so I can write some of this up later. I don't need to keep an accurate record because I've got a daily existence of memories to fall back on. I'm still not sure why I've started to write or what I'm going to write. If I ever publish this, I'm expecting any critical reviews to contain a school teacher quote – "lacks direction". Maybe that should be the title or subtitle. Head them off at the pass, beat them at their own game, and a slew of other clichés. Well fuck you, critic who lives in my head and resembles no person living or dead – this book isn't for you it's for me. It's a self indulgent exposition of an imaginary person that shares some similarities to me. Much the same as all my creative output. I make it for me and I publish it on the off-chance that it might make someone else think, or be happier than they would otherwise be.