I don’t sleep a whole bunch anymore. Four to five hours a night, most of the time. Jen goes to bed quite a bit earlier than I. This means I usually get a good couple, to a few hours on my own, before going to bed. Of course, I’ve always been a late nighter. It used to be that I would stay up until three AM or so, wake up around noonish, and do it all again the next day. The hours between eleven and three in the morning were my most productive hours! The best practice and writing sessions would come out of those hours. I loved it.
Two big differences, these days, partially caused by the MS and it’s medications. I can no longer sleep in, and I am no longer productive at those times.
The first one is annoying. No matter what time I lay my head down for the night, I now wake up between four and five most days. Sleeping in, these days, is seven or eight in the morning. I haven’t used an alarm clock in years……….honestly! Years! That is a bit of a silver lining to the situation. Unfortunately, though, I’d love to be able to sleep in for real, again. Alas, at the age of forty eight, (As of the new year, I can now say I will turn fifty next year……..weird.) if I happen to stay up until three or four in the morning, sure enough, I’m wide awake by seven or eight. Ouch. Almost useless the rest of the day………scratch that. Not almost. Needless to say, that causes my recovery time to be extended. So, that means for the next few days, I am less than me. Trust me, I understand that is the way it is as you get older, but it’s happening at a faster rate and at an earlier age than it should be.
The other is more than annoying. It’s frustrating, disappointing, depressing (for me), and quite simply, shitty. I used to write during those hours…..only those hours. It worked out well. I could go to work in the day, and work on my passions at night. Perfect. Well, not anymore. As I type this now, it’s nine in the morning. A time of day I almost never saw during my twenties and early thirties, unless I had still been up, of course. Today, I’ve been up since four thirty. Tonight, I will still be up until around midnight or so, but the big difference is I no longer have the desire, capacity, or attention span during that time, to be productive. I sit in my recliner, flipping through shows or videos on the T.V., while I scan the internet on my tablet for stuff I can complain about on Facebook. (That’s everyone’s reason for surfing the internet, right?) Ooooooooh, and boy do I.
My wife has been telling me, for several years already, that I am turning into the “GET OFF MY LAWN!” grumpy old man far too soon. I’m not sure if it’s the disease/meds changing me, or the simple fact that most of my life I always said things/did things trying to please others, and I’m just done with that, now. I no longer hold my tongue when I disagree or am angered by outside influence. I simply speak my mind, now. If what I say sounds harsh or insensitive to someone, that someone would be horrified by what I don’t say!
I think the people who are most surprised by my change, are some of the people I grew up with/went to school with. Back in those days, I rarely stood up for myself. I rarely fought back, (I was 4-10 and weighed 74 lbs on the day I walked into high school as a freshman, so I really didn’t have much to fight back with anyhoo.) I am no longer that scared, submissive kid that I was. I can understand how surprising it could be for those home town folks who used to tell racist jokes, call me racist names, and intimidate me with physical violence. It’s a bit of a shock, I imagine.
Years ago, after my best friend’s wedding reception, a group of us went to our old late night hang out, Ziggies. It’s a great, old fashioned diner style eatery. Gravy fries, double breaded cheeseburgers, and chicken fried steak are just some of the staples at Ziggies. Great fare for a late night meal.
We got our table and sat down. Shortly after we ordered, at the table next to us, a guy that used to be a complete ass to me in school recognized me and wanted to say ‘Hi”. Now, I have had other experiences meeting up with people who treated me like crap in high school, and have been pleasantly surprised by the fact that they grew up and realized they were dicks in high school, and have apologized to me. This was not the case with this guy. The same demeaning, racist bullshit he thought was funny, started spewing out of his rat hole mouth. I’m sure he expected the same reaction out of me that he used to. Well, he was no longer dealing with ‘little David Downs’, he was saying this shit to ‘Doc Downs, world traveler’! I simply put my finger up as a ‘okay, just stop for a second’, which he did. I then said two words to him before I turned around and sat down with my (also a little shocked) friends. The two words?
I said nothing else to him. I didn’t raise my voice, or make a big deal about it. I said it in a very conversational tone, which I think held more of a punch, because it told him I didn’t give a crap about his….I was going to say opinion, but really, I didn’t give a crap about him I wasn’t there for him. I was there for my friends. He apparently got the message, because although he was sitting directly behind me at the next table, I didn’t hear one damn word out of his mouth for the rest of the time he was there. Not even to the people he was with. Not that I was intentionally listening. He simply has a very particular tone and volume level to his voice that is easily heard and recognized. Not a peep out of him.
So, I had already started heading down that road long before the MS, but the MS is definitely adding to my state of mind/opinion that I don’t have to deal with crap I don’t feel like dealing with. Sure, it may come off sounding very GET OFF MY LAWNish, but screw it. I’m tired, in pain, rather confused at times, I walk with a cane (of which can be used as a capable weapon), and the career for which I worked my entire life is over. I think I have every right to be a grumpy, young old man. So, yeah…….
GET OFF MY LAWN!!
Well that’s it for my rant in this installment. I’ll see you next time, if we don’t drown with all this rain. Until then……..get off my lawn. 😉