PO Box 26632 / Richmond VA 23261-6632
Ya know I’m a real piece of work. For as long as I can remember now I’ve been complaining, bitching and moaning about the heat. I got to my wits end over it. And it was so hot and so dry for so long, I was doing rain dances at I watched the parched earth get scorced and the garden shrivel up no matter how much I watered it. But then overnight that sweatshirt I was longingly starting at a few months back is on, and I’ve got a chill. The overcast day has a drizzle that has left everything feeling damp. I have a chill in my bones that reminds me that even with dreamed about high temperatures in the 60s, I’m going to stay chilly for days to come. And the days are getting shorter too. When it’s dark at 7:00 I end up in a funk. I can literally feel myself crash, like when the coffee wears off, only in this case I crash so hard that I can not get my momentum to continue on whatever I was working on before it got dark. And on a cold, wet overcast day it’s dark by 6pm. I know the cycles and rhythms of the year and I know what to expect, but that doesn’t stop the blues from coming.
For the last few weeks of September I’ve been feeling the most intense lack of motivation. It’s been kind of confusing to me actually. There was no overt change in the weather, it was still plenty warm, dry and sunny. In fact it was those perfect days I dream of, when it’s comfortable. Not hot, not cold, but rather an exhilarating change can be felt. A cooler air one day, and then a warmer one the next. One day you feel the hint of autumn, and then you almost curse the lingering summer heat the South holds onto. But as the humidity calms down and the dog days of Augusts oppressive heat are in the past, these are normally the days when I get an extra spring in my step. I get super motivated and inspired and I want to be active and doing things that I had been putting off not too long before. So it was confusing to me that I found myself more tired than normal, barely able to get out of bed. And once I did, it would take me 2 hours of coffee drinking and slow stretching to feel like I was a human possibly capbable of interacting in the world. In my mind I still felt exhausted from the heat and punk chaos of the summer, but in reality that was weeks, or months behind me and it made no sense to still feel like I was recovering. But it felt like recovering, and I didn’t go out much, or do much of anything outside of my immediate routine. No shows, no events, no socializing. I didn’t want it, in fact I craved the solitude. The exhaustion was strange, as was the almost depressed feeling I had of the solitude and relatively free schedule I had. I looked forward to a weekend where nothing was going on and I had nowhere to be. But as with all routine patterns, much as I crave inactivity, it also brings me down. Even if I need it, even if sitting all day reading a book, or sleeping half the day away after a 60+ hour work week, it doesn’t feel right. I don’t take the necessary pleasure in the break or respite. Instead I start to feel the blues.
As I lamented to a few people who I talked to in that time who would ask, I would say, “well I’m fine, everything is great, but I am intensely unmotivated, all I want to do is sleep or read.” And they would tell me that it sounded like I was preparing to hibernate. True enough, I do it every year. But September is always a confusing month cause how can I be preparing to hibernate (or rather acting like I’m already hibernating) when it’s amazing outside and I’m supposed to me inspired and active? But we don’t always have control over how our brains react. I can also in hindsight tell that following all of the extreme weather and dismal destruction in the Gulf from the hurricanes really took a mental toll on me. My cathartic emotions were drained. Much like when I got wrapped up in the post 9-11 coverage, or the initial 24-hour cable news coverage of the Iraq war, or the post election depression I felt into, when it’s happening I can’t help but pay attention. I have an emotional investment that I don’t even realize, due to empathy, sympathy, anger or frustration. And I think in the case of the storms, it was even more so, cause I’m a weather geek. I always obsessively follow the weather, and I get excited and monitor storms on a regular basis. The fact that this huge hurricane was headed for New Orleans kept me on a tight watch, and I felt more connected to this knowing a lot people there and relating to the impact of uncontrollable mother nature. It’s not like a war your government wages that you disagree with, and get angry about. You can not get mad at a storm, you can’t go to war over a storm. You can prepare for it, but ultimately we have no control over it. Those first few days were intense as there was virtually no news coming out of New Orleans. No one knew anything and I could tell by the way that the media was not talking about it, that it was going to be bad. Erik & I both had a gut instict that it was going to be worse than anyone could imagine. Well in hindsight, it makes a lot of sense to me why I have felt this strange emotional void for the past month, and why I’ve been more exhausted than normal and drained. But it’s funny how I can ignore the circumstances that I’m in the midst of. It reminds me of earlier this year when I had these insanely tight muscles in my neck, the kind that make it almost impossible to even move your head. I actually got kind of freaked out about it, cause it was a different sort of pain that I’d ever experienced before, right at the basse of my skull it felt like I had dagger shoved into my head. I called my friend Carol, who has studied massage therapy and is familiar with my abnormal knots of stress, and described it to her and asked her what she thought. What I described of course was a really intense knot where all the mucles in my back and neck connect. I got to explaining to her how for the past several weeks I had been on this non-ending cycle of working 12 hour days, then driving out of town for punk shows, sleeping in the back of my Jeep, driving back home and straight back to another 12 hour shift. Of course as I explained it, and I know she’s on the other side of the phone with mouth agape and a knowing motherly look on her face, I am realizing that I am explaining exactly why I have this monstrous knot of tight muscles in my head. I’ve living an insanely fast life and I’m not taking care of myself, at least I’m not taking break to even recognize that I’m not eating, or sleeping, or resting properly. But I love those moments of inertia. I live for them. I hate the crash, and I don’t want to pay the price for the chaos. I do not like to rest. I never have. I still fight bedtime, like a small whiny child. I hate going to sleep. Problem is, once I am asleep, I never want to get up. It is yet another one of those strange vicious cycles that I have come to accept is me.
So those tight stress mucles in my head are back, and this time I can not blame it on all night drives to Pennsylvania to rock out to bands. It feels like I’ve been doing nothing of late, though of course there is no such thing as doing nothing in my life. I am always on the go, but sadly I think this time around the knotted muscles are more from my job and working too hard there, than for anything fun, crazy or zany. And those night long Law and Order marathons that I get sucked into watching on TV, probably really are necessary mind-numbing vacations from myself that I not only deserve, but need. But it feels like I am wasting time when I give in and let my guard down, and there is nothing I hate more than wasting time. So how do I get motivated, when I’m exhausted and want only to sleep? How do I do reviews when it’s the last thing on earth I want to think about? I push myself through, and then a day like today comes when it’s cold and dreary, wet and dismal and Erik is away on tour and I am forced to get myself out of bed and cook my own dinner, and I can finally see the patterns and understand the cycles of the seasons still have me in their grip. And that the insanity of the world, the corruption of the government, the fury of mother nature, and the out of control feeling that we’re all on a crash course rollercoaster ride that is going off track is so intense that I now have to do what I have always done and recognize it and let it inspire me to push through it, rather than let it fester inside me and eat me alive. It’s time to get out of my house and get moving again. But I can’t trade in my overly emotional sensitivity for anything, because it is me. And I can’t shirk off the effects of the seasons, even with meds, because the nature rhythm of the earth needs to be felt. Ultimately I have to ride it out, and get through it, because just as there will be another devastating storm, the sun will come back out and the rebuilding will commence. Like so many of us, I fight my own daily battles with myself. I push myself and fight with myself when I don’t measure up to my own expectations. But I also have come to accept this horrible thing that is happening to me called age. I can’t quite carry on the way I once could. A 3 day drunken punk fest bender, with disturbed nights of sleep on a floor take a toll on me and it does take much longer to recover than it did 10 years ago. One night of drinking and I feel it the next day. A 50 hour work week, and I want to have a day off to do not much of anything sometimes, even though on those days when I give in to the rest I feel horrible doing so, I know if I don’t I will crash even harder. I forget to take care of myself sometimes while I worry about everyone else. My neck is fucking killing me, my joints and muscles hurt on a regular basis, but it is not going to stop me from rockin’ out. And I think that now I have accepted that the seasons are changing, and I pick up that sweatshirt I not so long ago was longing for, and I get the long pants out of the closet, and thrown an extra blanket on the bed, and rediscover drinking hot herbal teas, I can then let myself read another good book about Eastern Europe and simply enjoy that despite all my bitching and complaining, I’ve got it pretty good.