It’s a lot easier when you have the right tools

It was cold out, dry, sunny, the pavement white with salt and a bone chilling breeze.  I had the hood up and my tools next to me, my black skullcap on and my Massport hoodie zipped up.  I was taking the connections off the battery and taking the battery mount apart.  My fingers were going numb and turning black from the dirt and grime.  I got the battery out with ease and I was putting it down a thought and a vision eclipsed and with a flash of light it hit me.  As I was putting the heavy battery to the ground I said to myself “It is much easier when you have the right tools..” and as I was saying this I noticed the my right index finger was bleeding at the knuckle….all of a sudden I felt like my father.  I had to stop a moment, it became so surreal and the world around me ceased to exist and I was 14years old in my driveway again, forced to be helping my dad on a cold day as he worked and I bitched and moaned about being out there.  He was wearing Massport clothing, his hands dirty from the grime on the engine, his knuckles bleeding, but didn’t notice when it first happend because his fingers were numb.  I could feel the cold North Atlantic air in my lungs, the dryness of winter and the white asphalt of our driveway.   I could see the rotted out wood barrier on the side of our house, the rosebushes trimmed and tied back by my mom for winter.  The frozen dirt and grass in the backyard and the yellow of the Shanahans house next door.

I came back into it and I had one hand on my car and the other on my thigh bent over.  I looked down at my hands, cracked, dirty, bloody and numb.  The tools spread around me, the nuts, bolts, and washers carefully placed so I would remember exacty how they went back on, just like my dad would.  I felt a weird emotion, sadness and joy mixing together, a weird feeling I couldn’t quite comprehend.  With all the stuff going on and my realization that I may be 400 miles from home, but I was millions of miles away from my family and friends.  I longed to be 14 years old again in my driveway with my dad, I wanted to have that comfort that I didn’t need to pay attention to everything he was doing because he would be here forever and take care of it.   I thought of my mom and how she never made me feel anything less than the greatest person alive, and how with a look she could fill me with guilt for dissapointing her.  I thought of my sister and her round glasses, wide grin and the Black Dog sweatshirt she wore with such pride.   I thought of my paper route and my fear of knocking on doors to collect money from the customers, how I didn’t want to confront people, because I was weak and afraid.  I missed riding my bike with the Lynn Item in my paper route bag tied to the front handlebars, pretending each paper was a bomb and I had to deliver them in a set time or they would detonate and I would die…….I miss how all the money I earned on that paper route could be spent on frivolous things like candy and pizza, I missed how I didn’t even recognize I might be chubby.

I missed Toby and his benign nature, the way he slept at the top corner of the steps on his bed.  I missed my wall untis that my dad built and how my parents let me fill them with lizards and snakes, how I would play nintendo with an old hockey goalie mask on and not think it was weird.

I looked at my hands….

I remembered the Tia Marie, the wooden boat my dad bought.  I remember complaining every second as he made me work on it, bitching and moaning like a baby because I had to help my dad on the boat.  I was young and lazy, I remember him trying to teach me things, important things that I could learn nowhere else.  I began thinking about the TIa Marie, taking trips to Martha’s Vineyard as a family on it, fishing from it, diving from it, and painting it.   I had a great childhood, I had two parents who loved me and they sheltered me from so much growing up, I lived in a great town where I could ride my bike to the library and look at pictures of sharks and snakes in books, returning day after day to look at the pictures.  I played little league and soccer, I got to see the Atlantic Ocean in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.  I got to have my dad coming running in the house at dinner time telling us to hurry up and get down to King’s Beach because the blue’s were running.

I walked to elementary school and then to CCD, I walked to middle and high school (until I had a license).   I had good friends and I knew no real pain.  Life was good for me, but it was made that way because of my family.

So there I stood, dirty, numb, wearing a Massport hoodie, the smell of oil and car in my clothes.

I looked down at my hands….

I saw a scar on my right index finger where a swiss army knife closed on it.   I chuckled to myself because I can relive that moment.  I was at Fisherman’s Beach, we were fixing some gear for the sailing program and I had to cut some rope.  I slipped and the knife closed on my finger, blood began rushing out and I clutched it running toward the ocean to rinse it.  I got to the water’s edge and saw the dirty water and decided it was a no go.  I ran back to the sand and went for the hose at the fish house.  I rinsed it, the blood wouldn’t stop.  Brian told me to call my mom because I would need stitches.  I called her and she didn’t believe me, you see this also was the day my uncle was getting married.  I finally convinced her it was real and she came to get me.  We drove to the hospital and they stitched me up.

I laughed at the scar and as I laughed I felt a wave of sadness moved from my stomach, to my throat and then to my eyes.  I waited for tears but nothing came.  So I sat there, I thought of Jen, my youth, Toby, the white buick station wagon, the Tia Marie, the smell of the fish house and Massport sweatshits that smell like engine and oil.  Nothing would come.

I stood there, numb, dirty, and bleeding.  I just realized what I was doing and where I was.  I couldn’t tell if it had been an hour or a minute.  I shook my head, laughed to myself and finished putting the new battery in.  When the battery was in I began putting things away, I sucked the blood off my knuckle and thought to myself “It’s a lot easier when you have the right tools….”

I hear voices, but they like me.

The Confession: I have been seeing a psychotherapist.

The Reason: Insomnia that has become physically and mentally painful

I know, I can’t believe I actually went, however my health insurance covers it, so I figured why not, lets see what they have to say about this. So here goes.

I will not go into too much detail about the psychotherapist, she is a middle aged woman, very nice, very intelligent, and is very easy to talk to. She seems very genuine and I have even given her some subtle tests to see if she was a phony, either she was smart enough to recognize them and told me what I wanted to hear, or she is genuine, either outcome is good enough for me.

Let me give you some background of the symptoms.

1. I perpetually tap, twitch, and roll things in my hands, whether its my shirt seams or paper, I cannot keep them still.

2. When I lay down to sleep it takes me at least an hour to fall asleep. This is caused by active brain and a very strange restlessness in my legs and arms…let me go further with this one since it has afflicted me my whole life. When I lay down at night, my arms and legs get extremely restless, If I dont move them it becomes physically painful. The pain builds up and gradually gets worse until I move them, then it subsides, then starts again. Sometimes I have to get up and pace for awhile to get them to settle down……strange, very strange. When it gets bad my muscles involuntarily twitch rapidly, over and over again, it is unspeakably uncomfortable.

3. When having conversations with people I am constantly looking around, at everything, and as I listen, I also have a conversation my head about what I am a feeling and a conversation in my head about whats going on in the environment around me.

These are the three main points I told the doctor. She was keenly interested in all this.

She said she noticed when I spoke to her that my eyes were rapidly moving all over the place as I was speaking and as she was speaking and she noticed my hands were in constant motion.

She tested me, without saying it was a test we began to talk. We had a 5 minute conversation, she then said “do you mind if we switch seats”? So we switched, I was now facing the opposite direction. Here is what followed

Her: What was the picture of behind me? (It is now behind me since we switched)

me: an ink drawing of a woman with a slight smile and her head cradled in her left hand.

her: what was to the left of me?

me: a chest of drawers with chinese characters on them….12 drawers total, 3 rows of 4.

her: what did I tell you would help your stomach problems

me: hydrochloric acid, however I told you that I often have acid problems and that may cause a different set of stomach pains in which you responded that I can take antacids and that you prefer tums becomes they have calcium and you are taking preventative measures against osteoporosis, but me being a young male does not have to worry about that, at which point your phone rang and you checked the caller ID, and mouthed the number to yourself and then seemed to recall who the number belonged to and then returned to the conversation.

her: that was thorough

me: ya, I tend to over explain things, by the way, the pothos plant that is behind me could use water, I noticed some wilting in the larger leaves.

her: I will note that.

She then paused and looked at me for a few seconds which made me rather uncomfortable.

That was a brief taste as to what went on. She did a few more observations and tests and then discussed what she thought might be going on.

One test was to read a few paragraphs in a book while she talked to me. She then asked me questions about our conversations and questions about the book. Both of which I could answer. She says next time she wants to try a book, conversation, and a talk radio conversation to see the extent of my comprehension.

She said that the results of her observational/tests on me were, well in her words “pretty incredible”. She asked me if I studied much in school or took notes, I laughed and said “I really didnt try to hard in school, and to be honest I could never study and my notebooks consist of doodles.” She said that is exactly what she expected.

Here is her “professional opinion” on the weird, unique being that is I.

I have a very well developed and heightened sensory perception. She believes my brain takes in the different parts of the environment around me, such as the visual part (colors, objects, movements) the audio part (sounds in the environment) and then the conversation I am involved in. She claims this is responsible for the 2-3 “conversations” I have going on in my head at once.

She then asked me if I have extremely detailed, long and involved dreams that sometimes may actually involve me physically feeling what is going on in the dream. I was like YES!!!! She explained that this is often the type of dreams someone with my brain activity has. Since it is very active during the day, it needs to be very active during REM to recharge. She said there is a small percentage of people who will actually be able to feel what is going on in their dreams, which can be frightening to the person. I told her about the time I dreamed I was in a knife fight and I felt the person slash my arm. She said that is exactly what she is talking about.

Now, how does this pertain to my restlessness? Here is what she said….

When a brain is as active as yours all day, it cannot just shut off at night. It is constantly processing. So what happens is that you have all these neurons firing, all these electric impulses going on, however the receptors are shutting down and not open to these impulses, the energy has to go somewhere, and this is most likely whats causing the twitching and restlessness……now how can we solve this???

Well she wants me to see a doctor to get some actual medical tests to make sure this is whats going on. So she gave me a number, she said she was going to call him to and explain to him her observations and he will do the medical tests. Apparently there is a medication you can take to help this, however do I want to help this? I mean I dont want to alter any of my brain activity, so if it does turn out this way I am going to say thanks but no thanks……

Life is like a tube of toothpaste

I am completely sober right now, however I am in one of the moods when I kind of look off in the distance, not at a particular object or place, but looking off in the distance at a faint pinpoint of light, its hard to make out when you look directly at it, but out of the corner of your eye it becomes clearer, you look at it again, and it disappears, it eludes you. I look, I stop trying to see it and just stare off, my eyes stop focusing on the external stimuli of the real world and melt and blend into an intoxicating daydream, it is one of those days when it doesnt matter what particular problems are nagging at my brain, or the unsureness of the future, it doesn’t matter because you are feeling aligned and yourself makes sense. When my emotions align in such a precise way, a lunar eclipse of the mind and soul, I can immerse myself in memories that make me feel a happiness that only exists in the soul of laughing child, like a kid feeling the ocean on his feet for the first time, seeing the wave come at you and wonder if its going to hurt you, nervously anticipating its approach, trying to be brave and face it, here it comes, you tense up, feel ready, then right before it hits you, you panic, you try to run but you can’t you feel stuck, you feel its the end, the wave is about to hit you, you begin to scream and then…..wwoooossshhhhh airlifted out of the water by two strong arms that feel like the grasp of God himself. You clutch to the side of your parent, comfortable, happy, safe, a feeling of security that only the hug of a parent can give you. This feeling is isolated to the innocence of childhood. It is an amazing feeling, and I think we strive to find it.

As we get older, we become hardened to the world, we see violence, hatred, poverty, love, betrayal, and separation. Our youthful exuberance and innocence is slowly drained from us like an aging tube of toothpaste. When we are young we are filled with it, it seems like we can use and waste as much as we want because there is no end in sight, when we are young we leave the cap off and just let it drip out because we cannot foresee an end in sight. Soon we grow, we notice that we are not as full as before, we find out that there is a limitation to all this security and happiness. We curl the back up to push more of it forward, but no worries, there is still plenty left, we throw ourselves into relationships and situations where we need to use more of it, why not, we are young and there is plenty more of it left. We go through life losing more and more each day, sometimes not realizing it, sometimes crying and longing to have it all back, sometimes just feeling the indifference of nothingness.

Then one day we wake up, we say, how the fuck did I get here? You call upon that sense of security and the uniqueness of childhood happiness, and you realize you have to squeeze the tube as hard as you can, run your fingers the length of it to try and get every drop out, thinking to yourself “if I can get a little more out I will be ok, just one drop”. Meanwhile you think back to all the times you could squeeze tablespoons of it out and even scraped some off so you don’t have too much. It is a sad realization that day, when you long for the innocence of childhood, it is a depressing day.