243 Hours, 243 Words.

It is so fucking hot in my apartment, and I’m bad at taking time off, and both of these things are driving me nuts.

I broke loose from work two days ago, and rode that anxiety riddled energy of being up for 36 hours all the way to a cortado and home. When I woke up the next morning, on my first official day off in 21, I had that feeling that usually comes at the end of a long shift; like you’ve jumped off a fast moving train straight into a brick wall, and then spend a day or so shovelling all of the pieces of yourself back together into something that resembles a human being.

My fridge was as empty as it always was, and unless I felt like drinking some expired milk, it was essential that I make some kind of forced march to the grocery store to feed myself; last meal was an airport bagel almost 24 hours prior. The stroll there sounded like a slow death, and I was flush with images of myself passed out on a park bench, an unlit cigarette in my mouth and a small sign that said, “Please return to 1030 Cook St, I’m very tired.”

Instead of walking all that way and back, I booked a bus ticket to Nanaimo, and walked to the depot to hop a bus to a city full of food and family. The walk there was less than it would have been to go all the way to the grocery store and back. Besides, I didn’t even know what I wanted to eat. It was too hot in Victoria to eat, my apartment was too desolate to eat in, and the unwashed dishes I had left before I had gone to work stared me down like a mocking, un-climbable peak with salvation at the summit.

Between bus naps I read and tried to scrawl some thoughts about exhaustion into my notebook. My printing looked tired and slanted, and I came up with nothing that read like anything more than bullshit feel-bad-for-me statements.

I relaxed for a day in Nanaimo, I didn’t do anything except see people who loved me, and eat good food.

Then the itch came back. That loud sound in the back of my head that always seems to grab that feeling of, “you need to relax,” and drag into the street to beat it with rifle butts and drop lit matches onto it.

The itch is only scratched by the work. Not the 21-day shift I just finished in a labour intensive job in Northern Alberta, no, that was nothing but an excuse to ignore the itch for a short while. The itch is silenced by throwing myself into blank pages with the words I’ve had rattling around in my head clenched between my fists, the itch is only silenced by pouring over my work with a red pen; surgically slicing off every bit of bullshit I’ve left clinging to prose that should be perfect.

And it’s voice screams like airplanes crashing into bomb factories, bullets into glass houses, handfuls of change hurled into a wood chipper, a 90,000-watt amplifier playing the sound of a jackhammer, the sound of my brain matter sizzling like scraps of dead meat in a cast iron pan with every second I waste doing anything else but what I should be doing.

So now I sit in my apartment, facing down this word document, because I was unable to get back to my apartment and take a single day off within its walls. There were words to write and I am enslaved to write them whether or not I want to or not. I can’t understand the feeling and I can’t seem to fight it. No matter how much sweat clings to my shirt, no matter how much I want to play video games and watch movies and go for a walk and take care of myself, I just can’t seem to do anything without feeling that itch, which, like a broken record, repeats over and over, “you should be working right now.”

Trying to scratch the itch by telling it I’m tired, is futile.

A 243-hour work week means nothing, only the next 243 words does. No excuse works, and no soft cooing will silence this beast, as it only shuts the fuck up when it hears the scratch of the editing pen, and the hammering of fingers on keys.

But sometimes I’m just kind of tired, you know?




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