The time is 00:46 Monday when I begin to write this. Lying in bed I felt a need to say something before this night was over. I can't quite say what the feeling was, not can I describe it more than that, I just knew that I needed to write something quickly before it left, before I left it.
This is not a complete account of my life, nor should it be, I'll leave that for somebody else to worry about. This is strictly my look back at what I though my life has been for the past couple of years. If you don't understand then maybe you didn't care to understand, but more likely than not it's because I failed to describe adequately the emotions and stresses I have been going through over this time.
Two and a half years ago the morning air drifts through the bedroom window and draws itself over me like a blanket. It's soft touch and cooling sensation allow me to go to sleep for just a few moments longer. There is always a need to get up early and be prompt, but today I finally felt a need to get those few extra moments of sleep. The joys of sleep always boggled my mind before; I could swear that sleep was an evil ploy to prevent us from actually accomplishing great things in our limited lifetime, but as the toils wore on it was a refuge from the days at hand.
The chilled air got a little too cold to sleep and I am forced to pull myself out of the bed and start to fulfill the daily routine. Go to the washroom and turn on the shower, while waiting for the shower to get to that perfect temperature I try to get the knots out of my hair -- apparently the sandman likes to tie things. The showers always tend to be quick, never wanting to stay long enough to adjust to the warm feeling of water running over my body and gently putting me back to sleep.
Continuing from the shower comes the standard dry cereal with milk. It's never a chore to pull out the box of Shreddies, some milk, and the sugar and have a breakfast. Although the time involved to make something real, just as simple as toast, or even an omelette, is minimal there is always something telling me the time just isn't there. Maybe that has to do with the urge to continually read this infernal newspaper that appears at my door ever since I agreed to start receiving it for free. Additionally since they have my account number and never actually collect money at the door it's difficult to request to not receive the paper anymore. Oh well, who knew I could eventually got caught up in the saga of Doonsbury.
Tossing the bowl and spoon into the sink is quite a satisfying ritual, much to the surprise of myself still. The feeling that you are telling the sink, the bowl, and especially the spoon, that you are finished and off to do better things, while they sit there and do nothing all day long. But in the end they get the last laugh, for they allow the food to crust on and then hold it tightly while you struggle to appease them by lathering them with soapy water. All shiny and clean in the end they stare out of the cupboard so proudly as if to patronize you. Quick to laugh the dishes are foolish for I quickly close the door and they're in the dark.
The ritual would never quite be complete without that trip back to the washroom to brush my teeth and my hair. Damn, I'm out of toothpaste this morning. I'm never afraid of this situation however because I know at sometime in the past I purchased the lifetime supply of Crest from Costco and it resides in my apartment somewhere. What really intrigues me today is that I find it in a matter of seconds, possibly I've caught the gnomes on a bad day, or maybe they expected me to squeeze a few more uses out of the old tube of toothpaste.
It is likely intentional on my part that the gnomes tend to be falling behind sometimes. It should be everybody's duty to mess with the minds of these little minions that seek to destroy every man, woman, and child on the face of the planet. These little beggars are more caught up in ritual than we are, so when you break that ritual you break them. Never be too cocky though, for they learn quickly, and when they get you back they get you back good. Sometime I'll come home and every one of my CDs will have been meticulously removed from the case and hidden in the apartment somewhere.
Enough about the gnomes though, I think that we'll eventually be friends and get along. It's time to leave the apartment and get on with the day at hand.
Sometime in the past I was attending some sort of school, and my friends tell me that I still am. However I seem to have forgotten where that place is and just continue to head downtown to do some real work. Yes, jumping on public transit is the best way to start a day. There are hundreds upon hundres of people that use it everyday, and everybody always looks like they have something to say, and yet nobody ever says anything. Leave it to the old people to ruin this ritual we so greatly adore.
Sitting quietly in my chair I continue to stare at the beautiful woman sitting across from, who being a female and having those secret rules is not allowed to let me catch her staring back at me. Then some old guy sitting beside me brings up the weather and how nice it is. You have to appreciate how these people generally have an interest in something so, well, mundane. Yet maybe they are hiding some vital piece of knowledge from us that could really help our lives.
Upon reaching a certain age the other seniors in this world must pull you aside and start telling you secrets. Every old person knows this is true, but if confronted with it they will firmly deny it, that must be rule number one, deny everything. Somewhere along the process of learning the old people secrets they somehow manage how to forget to speak with people of the younger generations and start speaking entirely in coded messages. One wonders how they ever manage to organize bingo outtings when all they ever talk about is the weather. I tested this theory and started listening very carefully to what every old person has to say about the weather. In the end I've concluded that there is no secret language and they're all puppets controlled by the grand senior. I guess it's better in the end, since I'm not sure I really care to know what they have to think about the prime minister or television these days.
But then they go and talk about the weather on public transit. Inevitably it forces the rest of us, the four, sitting in that pair of benches to say something, otherwise we'd feel guilty about not talking to the old guy. Something comes out of my mouth about the weather, I have no idea what I'm saying which tends to indicate it's from a standard set of responses I've created over the years to deal with innane conversation. Then the woman I've been looking at blurts out another one of the standard responses. No surprise to me except that she was looking at me while she said it.
I couldn't just here and not respond to that so I force another inappropriate response. Just before she can say something probably as stupid as I have just said the old guy finishes the conversation with a "yup, sure is." Nothing ends a conversation better than that, and as an added bonus the one who says it gets the final word. Unless you're from the south and can in good conscience actually use the response "it sure is indeed" then you are pretty much stuck for any response to this content-less comment about the weather that you didn't really care about in the first place. However now the old guy is smiling, as though he's finished his assigned task from the puppet master for today.
Thanks to the wonders of unspoken law it's impossible to restart a conversation on public transit once it's been ended. The fear I think is that you may actually get to know the person sitting across from you, and you know ahead of time that you already know too much about too many people. So the awkwardness continues until most of you get off, okay, fine, the awkwardness continues until this woman I keep staring at gets off the train. As she does I can hear her breath of relief coincide with mine, we've both managed not to blurt out anything stupid.
One more stop down the route and I step off into the great unknown. Okay, by now I fully know what I am stepping out into, but it takes a sense of adventure to prevent it from getting boring every day. Actually now I have to walk back a couple of blocks. I got off a station later so I wouldn't have to get off at the stop where the woman got off, we know what kind of continued awkwardness that would have created. So in a sense today I am stepping into the great unknown.
As per usual I arrive at work before anybody else is there. The front desk security gladly lets into the back of the building where our office is, it took him a while to get used to me being here, but he's fine with it now. I unlock the front door and make my way further into the office to where my sub-office resides. Then it's off to a rather uneventful day of software development -- which breaks down to about 10% of actual work, 10% bathroom breaks, 20% lunch, 40% talking to coworker, and 20% trying to figure out what I do during the day. As a programmer I'd never be able to justify doing that during the day, so I petitioned to become the project leader officially and was then allowed to do even less work during the day.
The work day nears its end and I run from the office like a wildman precisely at the click of my watch hitting 17:00. Okay, I'm exagerating, and being that I have a digital watch there likely isn't any audible ticking. Nope, I just pack up slowly and make my way out of the back door of the office and back towards the public transit system.
At the end of the day public transit degrades to nothing more than a bunch of cattle cars shipping the cows from place to place. Everybody is too tired to talk, as am I. Yet the moment we step off the train at our destination we have that sudden rejuvination process, life has been given back to us to go out and do something for the six or so hours that remain in the real day. If somebody could find a way to simulate that stepping off the train experience off work during the day they'd be the saviour of all managers everywhere, providing of course they aren't lynched by the people before that.
Going home I decide to tackle the dishes a day earlier than anticipated, this time I get a leg up on both the gnomes and the dishes. There is no food irreversibly attached to the plates and all of the spoons are still conveniently inside the sink (as opposed to on the floor in somewhere by the TV). And just to piss the dishes off even more I'm going to let them drip dry rather than feel the soft caress of a dish towel.
Almost forgetting about my ansering machine I decide I should check the messages that are on them. This first one is quite interesting, apparently this school place is having some sort of test tomorrow and they require my pressence, so my friend says diligantly into the answering machine. I quickly erase the message before I have to get to the apart about them studying later and knowing if I'd care to join them.
The second message today is quite promising. Some guy is willing to give me money to program something for him. I take down the number but don't call him back right away, leaving them hanging for a while tends to make them appreciate you more. He'll call back tomorrow if he's serious about it.
I decide to logon on now and check out my email. I get about 4 or 5 messages every day and this day is the average. Each piece of mail deserves a response and I gladly give them a response, all the while reminding them to check out my excellent web pages.
Eventually I figure I should grab some food and then sit down and enjoy watching TV for the rest of the evening. I grab a frying pan and throw some chicken and veggies into it. Letting it cook for a while I then transfer it to a plate and carry it, along with some milk, into the next room where I click on the TV and enjoy my favorites shows; watching TV every night causes me to have a huge number of favorite must see programs.
The night draws closer and it's time to head off to that place I call a bedroom. I throw my clothes into the hamper and then slide underneath the covers and let myself drift away into the sandman's realm once again.
I wake up in the morning to the regular routine. Stepping out the door with my briefcase in hand a strange realization comes over me. I should be going to this school place to answer questions today. Looking at my watch I realize that I have plenty of time to get there, since I wake up so early to go to work. However I need quite a bit of time to find the test essentials such as pencils and erasers. Surprisingly I find everything I need rather quickly, including the calculator, this instills fear in me, what they hell are those damn gnomes planning.
Tossing my briefcase back on the floor I head out the door, this time on my way to that institute of higher learning. The path to this place seems quite foreign to me, it's somewhat of a mystical journey that I take every so often. Eventually I make it to the room where my testing shall commence. In the halls I see plenty of people that I should probably recognize, I know this because they keep addressing me by name saying hello. I of course say hello in response and occasionally I get a name with a face, but I don't really care.
The grand overseer of testing opens the temple doors and lets us insider to take our places. Hey, I wonder if this it the grand senior puppet master. I could ask him but that would be inappropriate and he'd probably not take kindly to it.
Finding my seat I fumble out of my wallet proper identification to show that yes indeed I'm the idiot paying lots of money to take these silly tests. The test comes by and I finish it in what I'm sure is record time. I have to wait around to finish the formalities of giving my autograph but then I'm out of there.
I run back home, grab my briefcase and head off to another day of work.
The days continue on as such for many months. Nothing too eventful happens in this time. Every so often I find myself at that school place and nearing the time of heavy testing I find myself there more often, not necessarily to learn more, but because chances are there'll be plenty of people around sick of studying and wanting to go get a beer, hmmm beer.
I can give this place credit for forming my true love of beer. This is really due to the on campus bars having really crappy beer yet somehow the atmosphere forces one to drink it. so a group of my friends start getting together every friday at a pub downtown to drink and recap what happened during the week, and what is to happen in the upcoming weeks. The pub is the kind of place where everybody knows your name, unfortunately that name isn't my real name, nonetheless they recognize us.
Having plenty of free time my obsession with my web pages begins to grow to the point where I manage to spend hundreds of dollars every month on CDs. It's started to work out alright however since people have just started sending the CDs for free. It appears as long as I continue to review them nicely they keep sending them. But trying to be objective there are times where I eventually upset those individual who sent me the CD.
One such individual, of which their singing style and name would not adequately indentify them to be male or female, complained that I didn't really know anything about music. At least I think that is what she was saying, for the first three pieces of email we exchaning I was just trying to figure out whether it was a guy or a girl. Being an excellent person for being able to say things without actually saying anything I was able to continue talking to her for about a week until she got totally pissed off and stopped talking to me. In some sort of attempt to get back at me she went off and formed friendships, and gave awards to (how significant they were!), other people who are in a sense competing with me on the net.
It really didn't bother me, and I'm probably hallucinating about this evil plot she had. I get along quite well with the other people on the net that have web sites that are dedicate to the same form of music that I've come to love. Indeed we even started forming small alliances and grouping together, until the point when I realized they are all apatheitc and/or lazy and not worth my effort. So I continued to push forward what my web site could be and became the forefather of it's kind on the net -- subsequently causing many others to improve their pages and countless others to start springing up from nowhere.
At some point my web pages grew up into a grand fascination about having the best there is to offer. They became a solid goal of mine, one that would later have to be put on the back burner for a while.
Going to work on day I sit down and notice it's that woman sitting across from me. She isn't dressed up as nicely as she was the time before; this time she's actually more alluring because she seems more like a person like me rather than just another person going downtown.
Both being late getting to work we had no other company in the pair of seats, a situation that inevitable leads to some sort of conversation. So we started talking, and in a strange change of character I let her dominate the conversation and I said very little other than the small acknowledgements, at least until she ran out of things to say. But more about what she actually had to say.
She works downtown as an accountant or financial person of some kind in some company that she never bothered saying the name of -- or quite possibly she did say it and I really didn't care at the time. She was tired of doing the same old ritual every day and wanted to do something different for a change. Lucky for her an opportunity with some group came, a drama group of sorts I believe, that would allow her to travel overseas for three years. Sometime at that point in the conversation we entered a tunnel and the noise made it difficult to hear what she was saying so I missed a somewhat vital portion of the conversation. Anyways I made do and discovered her name was January, I always love names that aren't that standard book selected name.
Anyways the story from there is really irrelevant to what I have to say, although I will say that I wish I'd seen more of her than I did.
A full year or so managed to pass by without a hitch, everything was going great and things just kept getting better. But then something started to happen that started to change everything. There is no one incident that can pinpoint down what happened, and indeed there isn't really any way to describe what happened, everything continued to go as normal, things even kept getting better, but I just started to notice a few more bad things happen.
The school place through a nasty course at me that required that I actually make myself known to them in a group situation on a regular basis. I thought it was a total waste of time, and it was, but unfortunately the group wouldn't be happy to give me a good mark unless I showed up to their silly little meetings. I shouldn't say their silly meetings, they were intelligent enough to realize, at least some of them, that it was all stupid and they're just playing the game to get their mark and begone.
For the four month duration of this course I felt tired and unwilling to go to any of the classes or attend school at all. All I could think about was taking that last test and getting the hell away from the place. It was really to the point where I absolutely hated going to the place.
At one point I made the dreadful mistake of expressing my opinion with our TA and the instructor of the class. They were none too impressed and tried to penalize me for it by giving my group more marks -- it's a tough one to explain but that is in essence what actually happened, it makes me laugh, so anyway you look at it I won. An additional conflict with the TA was resolved rather easily and quickly, and I'm quite sure somebody told him to just let it go and give me the marks.
So that was school, I don't really care to say too much more about since I survived it. The fact that it still sits in the future is something I can put away in the closet for now.
Back a few months from the end of school I was at the point of pushing web pages to a new level.
I have all sorts of CDs and demos coming in and have many contacts with industry people and various people on the net. I spend my weekends trying to keep the pages up to date and then spend those weeknights approaching the publishing of a new issue doing the reviews of all the music that's been sent to me over the past fews months.
Every issue I'd managed to get a variety of interviews and profiles done, but it was beginning to take more and more time to complete. The weekends started to grow shorter and more pressure was on me, mainly from myself, to put out better and better issues every time the two month marker came around.
I receive all sorts of praise and compliments from readers and industry types on the magazine. I love getting the positive mail, and at the same time I don't ignore the negative mail, some of the insults we get are just too cool to pass by; they inevetibly become useful at a later date.
There isn't too much to say here because everything is going great and couldn't possibly get any better.
Now work started getting better as well. They told me that I get to have more people on the development team. Naturally I chose some friends, not because they were friends but because they were the only people I knew with a reasonable level of ability that were available for work. I got new equipment at work and plenty of new software, they even gave us a nice office all to ourselves.
Unfortunately delays prevented us from moving into our office and various problems arose which caused us to fall behind on the development schedule. It was alright in the end because I'd knew I'd more than likely be able to make up for the lost time by working longer hours.
Here's the catch though, my web pages required longer hours, and work required longer hours. That meant only one thing, my other hobbies would have to suffer. So everything gets put on hold until this product is finished and I can get some free time again.
The days drag on and I'm now positive I've overestimate my ability to cope with the situation. The web pages are suffering greatly now from my lack of attention to them, and my physical condition has greatly weakened -- not helped by the sudden resurgence of the disease I thought had long since stopped bothering me.
I go to to work in the mornings and immediately start to type away at the computer. I don't attempt to make conversation with any of my coworkers, go figure, they aren't even here this damn early anyways. Being in a different room means I can pretty much avoid everybody for most of the day, and they understand that they aren't too bother me anyways since we have a product that needs to be developed.
The stress and fatigue continue to mount as I continue to work ridiculous hours and devote a huge amount of time to the effort. Then suddenly....
It's time to go back quite a few months again. I can realize that my time will slowly begin to diminish, thus I try to set in place some rituals that will guarantee me the time that I need to have a break and take a rest. Every weekend I'm required to go into the foresaken wilderness long distances and then try to find my way back. That is nothing major, it's just physical excercise.
More importantly I need a way to relax and regroup my thoughts. I suddenly being listening to a huge variety of music quite distant from what I try to focus on in my web pages, but never forgetting the purpose of my web pages I leave them in tact. The CD player now plays every single second that I am in my apartment, whether I be sleeping, awake, in the shower, or whatever, there is some sort of music being generated from my bedroom.
The playing of music eases the tension and provides for a much more relaxing sleep. The variety of dreams induced by the odd array of music provides for a continued interesting experience every night that I actually look forward to at times.
At about the same time I continued to look for spiritual answers. Reading various things about other religions I realized that none of them were really for me, so being a creative person I just set out to make my own. The results are very questionable, fortunately they give me something to have faith in, yet unfortunately they only reaffirm values that cause me to work even harder.
We can slowly fast forward here, so to speak. Eventually the music playing at night stops working, it no longer has any effect. So to spare my CD player the agony of continued playing I turn it off. That is when the nightmares started to come. I can't explain what these nightmares were, or what they were trying to say. They weren't the classical bad dreams about monsters, these are frightening visions of the very near future and possible scenarios in my life to come.
So it all starts to topple, yet the vision remains.
The hours at work continue to get longer until the point where I only go home to delete the messages on my machine, have a shower and change clothes -- if I even do that. I never really noticed that other people began to notice the change in who I am. I suppose I'm now more irratable, yet I tend to try and be nicer than ever, a guise that now I realize they notice I'm feeling bad, has somehow started to work.
The recurrence of my asthma hasn't really helped the situation. I feel very sick physically and it is very difficult to even walk to the train in the morning, fortunately that passes in a matter of a couple weeks, but it told me something, something I have chosen to ignore.
The nightmares are gone now, in their place is a messy apartment with dishes stacked and clothes strewn everywhere; the place hasn't been cleaned in almost a month. At least one of the weekly rituals with friends has come to an abrupt end and it doesn't look like it'll start again anytime soon, but that's alright, it gives me more time to develop that product at work.
The web pages have shifted control to another individual so that I can ensure that regardless of what I'm feeling like once this is able I'll know they continue to exist in the manner that I hoped they would.
Fine, back to finishing the product, it's almost done now I can tell.
I haven't slept for several days now, in succession of a couple to three weeks of only a few hours sleep every couple of days. The finishing of the product is no longer in my hands and I am happy to have that done. The web pages are doing exceptionally well thanks to the help of a friend. And I'm doing quite well around except for one problem, I'm very very tired.
Not requesting, but simply stating, that I'll be taking two weeks of holidays around the product's release date I go home. Nobody will attempt to bother me for two weeks since I said I'd be out of town and unreachable.
I unlock the door to my apartment and toss all my crap on the floor, including my clothes, and head straight to my very comfortable bed.
I'm just about to fall asleep when the phone rings. I let the ansering machine take it. The message is from work saying that they need some work done for a client and they're going to have to interrupt my holidays. Another message comes through from a friend saying I have some stuff to finish off for school.
I realize that it can't end now, and tears form in my eyes and drop to the pillow beneath me. Of all the weird things I've discovered in my religion I've found at least one ability that should come in handy now... but before I do that I must get my thoughts to words, the ones you are reading right now.
[Anticipated Two Weeks Later]
Apparently the people at work found somebody else to do the job for them, realizing that I'd probably already taken off for holidays. That school place was happy to fail me from the class, as it appears I missed a very important test. In any case everybody was content to leave me be for a couple of weeks totally alone in my apartment...
[Anticipated About A Week Later]
Three police officers are wandering about my apartment trying to figure out the mysterious circumstances surrounding my death. They are able to find numerous drugs that would be capable of putting me under, but they are all generally filled as though no significant dosage had been taken from them. My lifeless body lies very solemly on the bed with a big smile on my face.
One officer plays the messages on my answering machine. The first one about work goes by and he notes nothing special. The second one goes by but it's an angle they've already looked at.
A third message comes out of the machine, "Hello, I hope I have the right number... this is January, we met on the train a few years ago..."
Epilogue: If it's not about the story then I don't want to hear about it... if it's about the bad grammar, spelling, etc... then I don't care, the idea is there and that's all that matters...