NIGHT SHIFT: OFF

It’s 9:38pm and I’ve just sat down at the desk to write. An alarm on my phone has already chimed to remind me I should be going to bed soon to be up early for work tomorrow. I don’t work weekends and really need to remember to remove the Everyday option. The glow of my bedroom lamp makes the room even sleepier. I looked at the screen of my phone and didn’t realize I had the Night Shift mode turned on; everything in this room is sepia already. Or is it Brown Ochre? I can’t remember anymore, I’ve been away from paints too long. I turned Night Shift off and now the screen is as piercingly bright as the large monitor starting me in the face. I’m awake, I’m here.

I think I may have touched on this before in a deleted draft (so why am I mentioning it) but the late night posts should stop. As much as I like the idea of being the blog version of a late night radio host, it hurts the writing. These shouldn’t feel like part of my night-time ritual. If these things continue to be posted late, they will have been written earlier in the day to avoid them reading as rushed. I’m getting older and I’m not as sharp as I used to be in the late hours.

The night-time world is just starting to begrudgingly head out the door. It’s still the middle of winter so only the truly bored or desperate will brave going out into the cold for a drink. Tacky heat lamps will be a cherished commodity tonight for the smokers. The lounges with the newly added patio fire pits will finally draw in the crowds but only long enough to order a drink and head back outside near the flames. Bar owners and restaurateurs stop putting out wooden chairs because too many will end up as firewood around 11:30pm.

I’m getting a bit too old for that. I’ll stay in with the cat and click away on the keys. This weekend will be mostly devoted to writing and reading. There is also a letter I should be writing to a friend who lives in a city currently buried in snow. They understand cold weather much better than us Californians do and they have better places to drink. Were I there, I’d brave the cold.

 

A CALMER WINTER

[I’m not one for trigger warnings but I do talk about anxiety in this post and would not want to unwillingly make people feel uncomfortable.]

I have learned to be more open about my anxiety disorder over the last four years. You kind of have to when your only other option is to hide away from the world and allow it to forget about you. It was a lot easier to choose that option for the first two years.

Winters have always been the worse for some reason. Even though I really enjoy the last (and first) months of the year, there is something about the bitter cold and darkness of Winter that would make my anxiety escalate so much faster. Even in a crowd it is easier for me to feel adrift at sea, looking for shore. Even in a wide open space, it is easier for me to feel like I’m being stuffed into a box. These are the months where I can start to feel like I’m losing myself to my panic and fear because of how frequent I have to deal with it.

It has gotten much easier, I’ll admit. After so many years, you learn to shrug it off after it’s over and if you are lucky-as I have been-you can notice when you are starting to panic and learn to calm yourself before it takes hold of you. It’s the initial surge that is difficult. Imagine every so often feeling like you are going to drown, even after learning to swim. You still panic the second you feel yourself going under.

This Winter, however, has been kind to me and I’ve had no real episodes. My last anxiety attack was pretty bad but it was in the first week of December, before Winter had begun. I’m not sure what it was that fended off my usual seasonal issues. Maybe it was Christmas time which, for an atheist, I am surprisingly in love with. I was comfortable walking into the cold night air, into the darkness, because of how bright the lights shined in comparison. Maybe it was the distraction of focusing on writing. Maybe I’ve just been lucky. I have smiled a lot more this Winter than I have in Winters past. I will talk about this subject at greater lengths someday and try to actually offer some sort of solidarity for people who deal with the same thing. For now, I am peaceful and trying to stay warm.