Thursday, February 5, 2009

Upon Closer Inspection :: Part 1

0625. I'm awake. My alarm doesn't go off till 0630, but I'm awake nevertheless. It's not full consciousness that I'm experiencing, just that fuzzy kind that's capable pretty much only of bemoaning the fact that it is stirring and not sleeping, slowly being pulled towards the day. The scattered remnants of the previous night's dreams are still drifting through my head. I'm a dreamer, yes. I don't normally remember my dreams but in the first few minutes of waking life I can still feel their impressions. These impressions will have mostly vanished by the time I'm dressed, fed, and out the door but for now they are there. If a dream has been particularly vivid, I might dwell on it for a moment or two. What makes one dream more vivid or memorable than another is a mystery, I suppose. Like take this one from last night. I dreamed about Aliens. Yup, the movie Aliens. This confuses me because I haven't watched any of those movies in a long while and I can identify no real reason why, seemingly for no reason, I would dream about it. As I lay puzzling about it, perfunctorily waiting for the alarm to sound (I on principle refuse to get up before 0630 even if I'm awake), I notice that I can't recall any of the dream's details. It's like knowing the title of movie but now knowing what happens in it: I know I had the dream but don't know what it was about. Was I Sigourney Weaver (this has happened before - this isn't the first time I've dreamt of Aliens); did the alien kill anyone; was it Aliens canon or an apocryphal tale? Why I remember it at all, why it didn't just roll back down into whatever subconscious vault it broke lose from, is a mystery to me. But it's one I'm not terribly concerned with solving at the moment. At the moment, I'm trying to figure out the best way to avoid 0630. Or, time manipulation options notwithstanding, how to avoid the implications of 0630. I do this everyday. Everyday I'm faced with 0630 and everyday I attempt to negotiate with it. Am I sick? No, not today. Is there any reasonable reason to stay in bed? Doesn't look like it. Can I quit my job? Yes, but I probably shouldn't. 0630 is drawing closer. I roll over, turning my back to the clock in one last, petulant effort to deny the reality before me. I'm warm, snug, but can't quite convince myself that I'm actually ignoring the clock. I'm sadly aware that I must soon face the cold. My house isn't heated by conventional methods, you see, but by a wood-burning furnace, which means that the house is only heated as long as someone is tending the fire, or is awake to start one for that matter. So it's always cold in the morning, which doesn't make 0630 any more appealing. Nevertheless, temperature and clocks and dreams aside, I'm milking every last damn second out of my time in bed.

0630. Negotiations have failed. I must rise. It's cold.

0640. Breakfast. Breakfast usually consists of a bowl of porridge and a ciabatta bun (it's a triangular piece of bread, not quite white, not quite brown, but hefty and filling and good with peanut butter and syrup (a condiment combo I've been eating since I starting eating solid food and still loving very much, thank you) and chicken, jam and cheese and just about anything you'd want, really). Some days I have cereal. I'm particularly partial to Golden Grahams. But since I started working again, and since the time between breakfast and lunch is considerable, I find cereal to be not quite enough, so porridge it is. After breakfast, I prepare my lunch bag, usually another ciabatta bun (today it's a turkey and cheese sandwich), some fruit, yogurt, pudding, and really whatever's at hand. I then grab my coffee and sit down in front of my computer for 10-15 minutes.

0713. I'm out the door. I'm now fully awake - and if I wasn't, the blast of the cold Saskatchewan morning ensures that I am. I drive to work with my brother and father, who I work with. I'm a big guy, but I usually take the back seat in my brother's car, which means that I have to squeeze my way past the folding front seat. Getting in is a pain in the ass but once in it's comfortable enough. In the front, my knees brace uncomfortably against the dash and I can't move my legs at all, one of the only physical sensations that actually has the potential to throw me into a semi-panicked state (for the same reason I can't sleep in a sleeping bag, which is something I discovered my first year as a camp counselor, after the first week of which I switched, with great relief, back to a sheet and blanket, making the rare "sleep out" nights rather interesting), but in the back the padded seat gently presses against them and I'm fine. I'm not one to indulge psychological myth interpretation, finding them too reductive and rather domineering, but, wrapped in winter wear, a scarf secured around my head so that my breath is warm and wet against my face, me folded into the back seat so precisely that a seat belt feels redundant, I'm aware that there may be something vaguely uterine going on here. I've actually thought about this, on the way to work. I haven't thought about it much, or bothered to parse what it means about me, it just crosses my mind every once in a while, more in an ironic and detached way than any other. Anyway. Once we are all in and underway, there is no conversation, just silence. It's the same during breakfast, actually. A few mumbled details about the coming day may escape, but that's about it. The silence isn't awkward or weird but the silence of people who for the most part get along well, already spend their days together, and have nothing much to say at the moment. Wait, that's not right. There may be no conversation in the car, but there sure isn't silence. There's my brother's car. It's nothing special, as far as cars go. It's a Cavalier ('99, I think) but he's done... something to it. We live a few kilometers out of a small town, but people in the small town can hear it. It's a muffler thing; he's very fond of it. But so, in the back of this small car, sitting above what could be the province's loudest after-market muffler for all I know, moving through the dark winter morning along with all the other unfortunate cars carrying people to work, I'm content. It's not a long drive, only about 15 minutes. The shop that we work in is only one town over, so there really is no commute to speak of. The day is going to be long. All the days are long now. But, at the moment, I'm not at work and I'm enjoying these last work-less moments.

0728. We arrive at work and I once again am forced to wrestle with the front seat. It's an inelegant sight. The shop is visible from the highway and I imagine motorists seeing me - legs twisting for footing, the car more birthing me than admitting me - and chuckling at my expense. The thought is more of a reflex than anything else. I've never really being laughed at that I recall but I've imagined through much of my life that someone, somewhere is laughing at me. It's a symptom of being too self-aware, and not the good kind of self-aware. Most of the time, these sorts of thoughts don't even register on a conscious lever but rather manifest as sort of mental tics, like someone (okay, me) constantly pulling at their shirt in an effort not to let it bunch up or tighten in a way that highlights one's (mine) unflattering figure. And so I'm finally out, and I tug at my jacket to get it back into place, that smirking seat having tried, since it couldn't hold me, to at least strip me. I walk into the shop, in which hangs that strange silence that's only found in those places normally cacophonous and aurally dangerous. It's the same kind of silence heard in schools after school and in churches during weekdays, the silence that shouldn't be. In minutes, it will be overwhelmed by a rush of engulfing noise, noise not only heard but felt, sound that moves through as well as around you. I stow my lunch in the small lunch room, and grab my gear. Someone, me or my brother or my father, turns on the dust collector, a sort of vacuum nervous system with arms and tentacles stretching throughout the shop - there is a second in which you can hear the metallic scraping as the motor spins up, the mechanical equivalent of taking a deep breath, and then a whooshing roar, a sort of sonic wave that sweeps through and takes hold of the shop, and the day has begun.

1 comment:

Nevis said...

What a beautiful post. Your writing is so elegant.

And I know EXACTLY what you mean about getting in and out of 2-door car backseats. I usually make a joke to cover this feeling. And about subconsicously tugging shirts like a tic over stomach in some some sort of...desire to have it lay in a flattering way.