High and Dry

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The walls are talking to me.

I’m sitting at my kitchen table, alone. It’s been my daily habit for almost a solid month—wake up, make coffee, sit at my kitchen table for an eight-hour workday, shower, go back to my table for four hours of typing, drink more coffee, go back to my table for a few hours of reading, go to bed.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

And now the walls are talking to me. I’ve even drawn a smiley face on my office wall (in pencil, mind you, because my irrational side also values my security deposit).

The wall says: “Where is that sequel to Birthday Girl you promised two Halloweens ago? Didn’t you say it was almost done?”

The wall says: “Why do sleep when you should be writing? You’re never going to catch up on your workload, you know…”

The wall says: “I’m not even supposed to be talking, yet I still have more to say than you.”

Needless to say (but the wall tells me I should say it anyway), this nationwide COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on my sanity. The dreams are getting worse, too. In my dreams, the wall has a real face and mouth, and it watches disapprovingly as I rest. Soon it will grow arms, and then hands, and then fingers with sharp and yellowish nails, and then I’ll be swallowed by that mean and nasty wall along with the rest of my sanity.

Oh well, though. Life goes on.

As if the slow decline toward homicidal rage doesn’t mirror Jack Torrance enough, I’m also on Week Eight of total sobriety. Yay me.

I don’t have a long and dramatic yarn about why I quit drinking, nor was I led to this decision by some terrible even like a D.U.I. or a life-altering meltdown. I just decided it was time to take a break from alcohol. It’s been an increasingly big part of my life since I was seventeen, and in the past year especially it’s become less of a weekly treat and more of a nightly expectation. I’d attribute this recent bout of heavy drinking to mourning, but that would be an insult to the dead—I drank heavily because I liked it, and along with countless brain cells, it cost me a few friendships (liquid courage, Hell!) as well as some self-respect.

But here I am, Week Eight of a year-long experiment in sobriety.

Don’t worry; I’ve hidden my croquet mallet and axe.

I hate to say I owe this recent success to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the lack of freedom and inability to mingle with friends at bars has encouraged a general lack of boozing. It’s no fun drinking on your own, after all, and the main appeal of alcohol has always been the opportunity to meet strange new people and publicly embarrass oneself via karaoke and poor decision making. It’ll probably be tough to maintain sobriety once we’re back to normal daily life, but I see this time stuck at home as the fuel tanks launching my spaceship into orbit. They’ll fall off, but then I should be just fine on my own, barring any Challenger-esque challenges.

As the old adage goes, nature abhors a vacuum. When you take away one habit, you eventually replace it with another.

In my case, I’ve spent most nights reading. Two to four hours a night I’m either blowing through my wall-to-wall collection of unread books or listening to audiobooks while doing the dishes. This has been relaxing, and for once in my life I feel like I might actually read every single book I’ve ever purchased. Goals.

I’ve also taken up a more minor habit, one that I can’t explicitly name here but have chosen to infer via this blog post’s title. I don’t indulge in it much, but it helps with the craziness some nights and it shuts that big mean wall up and gives the ceiling a chance to speak. He’s funnier anyway.

I recently had the opportunity to interview legendary actress Lin Shaye, who’s been featured in movies like Insidious, The Grudge, There’s Something About Mary, Detroit Rock City, Kingpin, Dumb & Dumber, and many others. She was a fun interviewee, and a few of her answers were really surprising, particularly when I asked her whether or not her long history in the horror industry has made her a bigger believer in supernatural entities. The full interview will be available soon on CryptTeaze.

I’ve also been playing the remake of Resident Evil: Nemesis, which is generally a fun experience with a few minor flaws I’m not going to bother nitpicking. I still prefer the remake of Resident Evil II, but I’m enjoying the experience.

Anyway, the wall’s telling me something right now, something along the lines of “All work and no play something something something something…” I’d better drown him out with some music and an O’Douls.

Until next time, wash your damn hands and cover your damn mouth…or else!

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