I waste time. But not in the same way that I usually do it. I’m always up nights, twittering, reading, working on recent photos. My day ends somewhere between 3 and 4, at which point I go to bed, which alerts the cats to begin their trills of demand for food from my softhearted wife. I use a cocktail of Xanax, Benadryl, Doxepin, melatonin, and my nighttime anti-psychotics and mood-stabilizers to stall my brain into torpor. I sleep well and I sleep deep until about noon or one o’clock in the afternoon, an unconventional hour but one that I can manage thanks to my unemployment and insistence on afternoon appointments.
If I am manic, I forget to take the meds until a later hour and do not feel their slowing until after Lynn has gone to work at nine. I lay in bed, staring at the pockets inside the sheets, groping for rest. Mania purposes me to a different set of activities, First, reading is impossible. My eyes fly over the words, ignoring the middles of sentences and barely noticing the presence of paragraphs. I have missed whole scenes and whole characters when I am in this state. For this reason, as my condition advanced in the late twentieth century, I read less and less. Volumes I wanted to peruse stood on my shelf for years, unopened and stinking of dust. There was no accomplishment during this time except as resulted from my strange habit of digesting dictionaries.
Forget, too, the learning of languages and despair for the reworking of photos because I don’t have the interest required to take them in the first place. I loiter in chat rooms until talk of politics and the insipid, incessant chatter of bored minds rile me to perpetual wrath.
So, having no television, I turn to computer games, which I play on a laptop at the foot of our bed, occasionally waking my wife with my anger and despair at ever winning. Lynn gets a nervous look on her face whenever I turn my attentions to the entertainments aisle at Fry’s Electronics. Subliminally I know what it means: the restless, endlessly disturbed nights mesh in her head. My bouncing on the mattress and my screams at an imaginary routine that I call “the cheat circuit” grieve her. She doesn’t like this for good reason. But I ignore her and buy the sugar-acid pleasure anyways.
Games do little for my ability to sleep. They lead to the long nights and short sleeps that I have previously described. Wars of conquest and the building of fabled towns interrupt my dreams and make for a shallow sleep. In a few short hours, I burst into consciousness and resume my fruitless, solitary liveliness.