anxiety

#819: Early to Rise

GETTING MORE TALE #819: Early to Rise

I’ve been an early riser since my youngest memories.  It probably has to do with an anxiety disorder that was undiagnosed until my 40s.  It happened mostly on weekends.  I’d be so excited for the weekend to begin, that I would be up at 5 or 6 AM.

My earliest memory of waking up early was Boxing Day, the year I received my Lego 371 seaplane.  The set came out in 1977, and that could have been the Christmas I received it.  It was a fantastic set with plenty of slopes, opening doors and two figures.  I got up at 2 AM to take it apart and put it back together again.  I woke up my dad who came down to see what all the noise was.  He wasn’t happy!

My parents didn’t have much choice.  They had to get used to it because I kept waking up early.  Quite often, I suddenly woke up after a cool dream of making something interesting out of Lego.  I would run downstairs and try to make it in real life.  Sometimes I would try to draw pictures of things I dreamed.  Other mornings I was just excited that it was Saturday, or Sunday, with no school.

There was usually not much to do on those early mornings.   In the 70s and 80s, television stations went dark overnight, usually starting the broadcasting day at 6 AM.  Nothing on TV but test patterns or static.  If you waited long enough, eventually the national anthem would begin, to start the broadcast day.  Then came the religious programming.  You had to sit through an hour of TV preachers to get to the cartoons.  I was well familiar with Jimmy Swaggart and many more whose names times has forgotten.

On one occasion, I woke my parents up in glee.

“Mom!  Dad!  Did you know there was a THIRD testament of the Bible?  I wonder when we’re going to learn about that one in school!”

Never, that’s when!  Nobody told me the difference between a Catholic and a Mormon.

Another morning I raced upstairs to tell them more good news I saw on TV.  One of the religious shows was discussing the creation of the solar system, which I sketched out.  But the big part was that Jesus was coming back in the year 2000.  That’s what the show said, and I couldn’t wait to tell my parents.  I was so excited that I actually took notes.

The most irritating of the morning TV preachers was Henry Feyerabend, a Seventh Day Adventist.  He had this condescending smile.  Feyerabend was probably the one who got me all excited about Jesus coming back.  I really grew to hate his face after awhile.  He’d talk about things such creationism, and sing hymns with these other dudes.  I was into science at a young age so the creationism always bugged me.  But there was nothing else on TV.  Not until Bugs Bunny at 7:00.

My early morning TV adventures were not all uplifting ones.  I woke up really early one Saturday, and a channel was in the middle of late horror movie night.  I don’t know the name of the film that I saw, and I’ve never been able to find out.  All I can remember is that there was a mad scientist or doctor of some kind.  He had little voodoo robots that looked like people.  In one scene, one of the little voodoo dolls stabbed and killed a woman with a pair of scissors.

I didn’t even know you could stab a person with scissors.  I wasn’t getting any more sleep that night!  But it would be amazing to find out what the name of the movie was, and see it again.  See how closely it matches my memories.

The last straw for my dad was Christmas Day 1984.  It was the year I got my GI Joe Killer W.H.A.L.E. hovercraft.  One of the best toys in the entire line, incidentally.  I couldn’t sleep.  I went to bed, tossed and turned, and waited.  The adults were all downstairs laughing and drinking.  I waited for that to die down.  Then I could hear the shuffling about as presents were laid around the tree for us.  The parents went to bed, and I decided I had waited long enough.  Sleep was cancelled.  Assembling of the GI Joe hovercraft commenced henceforth.  Once again, my dad trudged down the stairs to see what the noise was.  There I was, ankle deep in GI Joe parts and stickers, so happy to have my hovercraft.

Nobody else was happy, but that hovercraft was the centerpiece of my GI Joe forces for years to come.  It was and is totally badass.


Time went on, I grew up, but early morning rising never really ended.  There were a couple semesters in University when I only had afternoon classes, and my sleep patterns shifted to later in the day, which was really weird for me.  By and large I have remained early to bed, early to rise.

I didn’t think it was much of a problem.  It was “just the way I am”.  When I told a doctor about it in 2012, they didn’t brush it off as I did.  I was having trouble waking up in the mornings on weekdays, but still getting up at 2 AM on Saturdays.  During the week, there was depression.  “I have to go to work.  I’ll just hit the snooze button for 15 more minutes.”  Then I’d hit snooze again until I absolutely had to get up.  On weekends it was the opposite.  The doctors diagnosed me with a bunch of fun things, including obsessive-compulsive disorder.

As shitty as that is, it’s always why I have such a kickass music collection.

I’ve been trying to maintain more regular sleep hours, though I still wake up earlier on the weekends.  I don’t like to wake up before 5 AM on a Saturday anymore.  If I can’t sleep, I’ll get up for a short while, watch some YouTube until I’m tired, and go back to bed.  Sometimes it takes a while to unwind but it’s been working.

Otherwise, on a “normal” Saturday morning you’ll usually find me at 5:30 or 6:00 AM with a coffee in one hand, music in my ears, and pounding out words on a keyboard.  Sometimes Deke is awake, way up in Thunder Bay, and we’ll chat coffee and music.

Mornings are magical to me, much more so than late nights.   Especially Sunday mornings.  There is nobody up.  I can go for my morning walk down the middle of King Street if I want to.  I love going to get a coffee when the drive-thru is empty at 6 AM.  I prefer getting things done in the morning before people are awake.  I’ll do laundry or I’ll review a box set.  It’s just somehow better before the city wakes.

Early mornings aren’t necessarily the best way, but with moderation it works for me.  I’m most creative in the mornings, and I love the solitude.  And my parents can sleep soundly in their house while I putter around mine!

Part 256: A Case of the Mondays

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RECORD STORE TALES Part 256:  A Case of the Mondays

Towards the end of my record store years, 2005 to the start of 2006, the mere thought of waking up in the morning of a Monday was enough to make me feel physically ill. The feelings of dread usually began settling in on Sunday evening. By Monday morning I was not feeling well at all.  I was used to being beaten down by unpleasant customers, unpredictable superiors,  and long hours with not enough time off. I was sick and tired of being used, but I was also sick.  I began to hate the mere sight of a CD, and certain songs played in store became so annoying that they haunted me at night.  I stopped enjoying music.

I remember waking up one Monday morning and thinking to myself, “I wonder what would happen if I quit my job today.” I had a home and a mortgage, but finding a new job had proved difficult. My skill set was expansive, and my time at the record store had demonstrated my loyalty.  Most jobs I was applying for were not interested in somebody with only retail experience. It didn’t matter that I was a manager, so I went from interview to interview without luck. The steady rejection impacted my emotional state in a negative way.

I called my dad, who I could always count on for good advice.

“Hey dad,” I began. “I have kind of a weird question for you. What would you say if I told you I wanted to go to work and quit my job today?”

“I would say that is not a very good idea,” he responded with seriousness. “You have a mortgage, and I’m sure you know it’s easier to find a new job when you’re already employed. Finding a good job while out of work is easier said than done. I would strongly advise that you don’t quit anything until you have something else to fall back on.”

Not the answer I wanted to hear, but I knew he was right. What I didn’t tell my dad (and what he didn’t know until he started reading these Record Store Tales) is just how miserable I was. I had become a complete basket case.  He tells me now that he regrets the advice that he gave me that Monday morning. If he had known what I was going through he would have given me very different advice.

I thanked him for his words of wisdom and hung up the phone. I got dressed and ready for work. Breakfast was out of the question. My stomach was too wound up to handle eating. At the end of the record store days, I was generally only eating one or two meals a day. I didn’t really put together how that was affecting my mental and physical energy levels.

I used to listen to the same CD in the car on the way to work in the mornings: Dance of Death by Iron Maiden. I’d get in, put on the album, and then try to take as long as possible to get to work. Red lights meant more Maiden. Then as I’d pull into the store, I’d check out the parking lot and see if any of the bosses had arrived yet. You could never guess their temperament any day, so all I could do was pray they all had nice weekends. If they were in a good mood, they’d leave me more or less alone. If not, you could cut the tension with a knife.

I hated the tense Monday mornings.

Once I entered and hung up my coat, I’d do a walk around. I’d check to see how sales were on the weekend, what messes were left for me to clean up, and what problems had come up. I’d also rush to do a quick cleaning. Any glass surfaces with fingerprints had to be wiped clean before any bosses spotted them. They had a habit of bitching about anything they saw before I did. Other store managers didn’t have to deal with the stress of having “head office” in the back of their stores, but I did.

These taut Mondays were often long and enervating. I’d open the store at 10am and wait for the first customer. Usually they were people selling scratched up CDs for cigarette money. The day would drag on, and Mondays meant getting home later than usual, since Monday was also Stock Transfer Day! Even though I was “off” duty, none of us were ever really off duty. The phone, after all, could ring any time.

I suffered in silence. I didn’t want to stress out my parents, so that one phone call to my dad was all they knew. It was a dark time, but it is always darkest before the dawn.  I survived.  I am here with Record Store Tales to prove it.

REVIEW: Coleman Biowipes (Sausagefest XII)

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COLEMAN BIOWIPES
$3.99 for resealable package of 30

July 5-6 2013 was the weekend:  the annual all-rock, all dude Countdown event known as SAUSAGEFEST.   This particular installment being Sausagefest XII.  As discussed in Record Store Tales Part 30, and as seen in last year’s video, I suffer from a certain level of anxiety regarding the restroom arrangements.  As in, there aren’t any.  And I’m not as young as I once was, and the plumbing doesn’t always work as well as it used to when I was in my 20’s.

To the rescue came Biowipes, by Coleman!  Not only can you shit with a clean bottom, but also a clean conscience:  the Biowipes completely biodegrade in just 21 days.  (Less I’m sure if you ate the bacon-wrapped jalapenos that we consumed.)

The Biowipes are large enough (20 x 25 cm) and tough enough to handle whatever you need to do.  There are 30 of these moistened towelettes in each package, by my estimation and usage, probably enough to get you through 10 days in the woods.

6/5 stars

Seen below:  Some of the many reasons these wipes were necessary!

For related reading material, please go to BOOK REVIEW: What’s Your Poo Telling You? by Josh Richman and Anish Sheth M.D.