I’m writing this at about 5:30AM, after nearly 10 hours of sleep. That’s slightly less than the 14 hours I got the night before last. After what felt like months of waiting, Martin Luther King Day (aka: Josh’s special write-all-day vacation) was upon us, only to see my getting sick. It was one of those stomach flus that doesn’t warrant a trip to the doctor – just rest and the odd sip of ginger ale – but naturally, it sapped just enough brain power to prevent me from pursuing the writing tasks I had hoped to achieve. It’s hard not to see the timing of all this as purposeful. Not that I brought sickness upon myself, but rather that I held it at bay until it was the most “ideal” time to experience it. And since the days and weeks before that were filled with myriad work and familial obligations, I was left with only one option. As though I blocked the dam and let it burst when I was sure the area was evacuated… before I was evacuated, I guess.

It’s actually less like clogging a dam, and more like just “clenching” all day. Sucking in your gut so the pretty girl doesn’t think you drink too much beer. Holding it in and hoping there are no long term ramifications other than the current physical discomfort of sucking your fat inwards, and the mental anguish of waiting for her to turn around so you can breathe again. And I think there’s a little bit of that “clench” in going to work every day – standing up a little straighter than we naturally would, pushing down bad habits that we only share when we’re alone, that mental gut spilling out like the aforementioned floodwaters. You attempt to put forward the best, most professional version of yourself, which is only somewhat natural. It takes a sense of control and awareness that isn’t always kept on.

Maybe it’s the nerd in me, but I found an equivalence to describe my job to fellow nerds, and it’s Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man 2. You know, when you first see Doc with his passion project, an endless renewable fuel source, and he attaches these horrific metal arms to his body so that he’s equipped to keep this self sustaining star in check and under control… or else it could explode and take everyone else out?

So yeah, something like that, with less my wife being murdered and driving me crazy. That’s the goal, at least.

My point is, with those arms on my back all day, taking them off at 5:01PM feels more like crashing. It’s even tougher having worked freelance for so long, with only myself as boss and officemate. I’m still figuring out how to handle playing to a much wider, and inevitably less understanding, crowd than me, myself, and I. So I suck in that gut, all day, every day, and when I get home…

It all spills out. Happiness, anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment. It all just pours out, unrelenting and unstoppable. It’s weird, because even when I’ve had a great day, even when I’m smiling and calling my wife with big plans for the night ahead, I come home to find my heart feeling… not unlike my skin this very sick weekend. Sensitive and on fire from the slightest touch. Everything hurts, even happiness. Because it’s just too raw to feel anything else right now.

Especially with Unlife and the blog still in the mix, I almost always have more to do. More to accomplish. More to write. I could always cut more things from my life, channel some of that water from the dam elsewhere. I’ve already pulled away from habits that I worried were leading me astray, like overindulgence in video games and comics, or even just staying up too late and eating like a pig. I’ve always been better with just going cold turkey or… hot turkey, I guess? Is that the opposite of cold turkey? Is there only clenched and unclenched, on and off, 1 and 0? There must be a middle ground. Medium turkey?

Maybe I just need to keep my belt a little bit looser and start there. Maybe then I won’t crash when there’s a stretch of free road again. And with that choice, I’m already feeling better.