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October 26th, 2022

The Empty Zone Beyond Time

I was unemployed for an extended period of time back in the early 1980s and I remember how badly that mucked with my wake/sleep patterns. There was probably a marginal case of depression along with it that kept me from being more energetic about finding work. I did manage some odds and ends…usually Manpower type temp work for a day or so. But mostly I just sat in my room listening to music or reading. And smoking pot. All night long.

By day, if I was awake, which usually I wasn’t until mid-afternoon, I would take long winding walks around my neighborhood, or along the railroad tracks. Then it was back into my room, door closed, to smoke some pot and zone out with some music or a book. Oddly, or not given we were Baptists, mom was actually very very glad it wasn’t alcohol and said nothing about the pot. On my walks I’d often smoke a cigar because even then I didn’t want cigar smoke in the house. I knew mom would have a fit about tobacco. This was before I had my first computer.

I remember how it distressed mom to see me so aimless and sad all the time, but from my own point of view I don’t think I’ve ever been down in that dark pit so deep since. I’d broken up badly with Strike Two (he’s straight so it wasn’t his fault), and I was thinking that this was going to be my life now (romance wise it was…but that’s not what I’m thinking about now. Or the pot). It was my first extended period of time where the clock didn’t matter. And it royally screwed up my sleep/wake patterns.

I can see it happening again. The difference now though is I am at least as active as I was when I had a full time job. I’m not just sitting around the house listening to music, and last California visit I discovered, to my regret, that pot does unpleasant things to my head now so I can’t indulge like I was hoping to after retirement. Maybe it’s, as they say, the stuff is stronger now. Or it’s I’m old and my brain is full enough of a lifetime of art kid strangeness to take in any more strange. Or both. Maybe. I’ve read my Don Juan. I know what you have to do when the ally turns on you. I think I’m finally past that ingrained Baptist fear of things that make you feel good, but not so post Baptist that I can’t grimly accept the pleasures of the past are no longer mine. Life, veil of tears, and all that. Dust we were and dust we shall be…so on and so forth. Just leave it alone.

Now it’s I go to bed super early, like 7 or 8, wake around midnight, do housework, laundry, dishes, work on a project, blog, whatever, until sleep beckons around 4 or 5, then wake up again around 10 and lay in bed reading social media until nearly 11. I was taking stock and thinking that I’m not living a full day when I realized that, well, yes I am, just in random fragments.

It’s just…spooky…how it’s beginning to feel like that time back in the early 1980s when I was unemployed for like…a couple years I think it was. This was also when I stopped doing art. Somehow I roused myself out of it. I think it was I got hooked on the personal computer. When I saw my first one it grabbed my attention somehow and then I had something for my brain to engage with, that didn’t have to touch my feelings. First it was I wanted to tune in to those mysterious shortwave teletype signals. That segued into online computer bulletin boards and my first real connection with the gay community. And from there I learned programming, networking, got work, built up a resume…

You’d have had to see that kid back in the 1980s all alone nights in his room zoned out without any prospects at all to appreciate how different his life became. And how spooky it feels now, to experience that same mucking up of my sleep/wake patterns I did back then. Good thing having a house is like having a second job.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Empty Zone Beyond Time

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