You wake up with a racing heart-beat. You ask yourself what it could mean. To always wake up with a heart that seems to be training to win the Kentucky Derby while you’re asleep.
Your dream: You were on the phone with your mum. She’s asking you to go and clean up the dead body of your grandfather at your grandparents’ place. You find him in the bathroom, in the bathtub, slumped back. To your surprise there’s an other bathroom where there shouldn’t be one. In that bathroom is the corpse of your mum, also in the bathtub, also slumped back.
You’re very worried about her, because if she dies you’ll be an only child AND an orphan. A relatively wealthy orphan, but shockingly alone. Your mum is the last blood relative you can have a sane conversation with.
While your heart is slowly calming down you boil water in a plastic water cooker, even though you are paranoid about the hormone disrupting substances that plastic, especially heated plastic, leaks into what you consume.
You drink Saint John’s wort, it’s supposed to stabilize your mood, and it’s the only antidepressant you’re willing to take. You don’t have money for gingseng, which used to work well, but you don’t trust the quality on the market and you don’t want to poison yourself even more with heavy metals.
Your wife’s left a note that you should empty the dishwasher. She’s texting you that she’s having an axiety attack. She doesn’t know why she’s having that anxiety attack. It’s not common for her. You feel the tense knot in your gut and you realize that mild to heavy axiety has been your natural state ever since 2007. That’s a lot of anxiety. You try to calm her down and together you try to find reasons for her anxiety. It could be her feelings of guilt for totally legitimate sick days she took earlier this week. She asks if she’s a workoholic. Maybe not, but she’s not far off.
You go to work, three kilometres along a busy road, always straight ahead. You see people rushing to busses and squeezing themselves in the cramped cattle cars. You feel a tiny bit of arrogant pride for being one of the few people who doesn’t mind walking, if needs be, 20 kilometers a day, all told. Hey, that’s still less than the average Amazon storage hangar worker.
You teach three young ladies today at a relatively big firm.
They wanted to know more about the use of ‘er’ in Dutch, and some other things, so you’ve prepared that.
You also read a text together on Slovakia that took you 10 minutes to write. It’s not what you really think, it’s tuned down a lot. But to your horror you hear yourself saying that you once wrote an article called ‘What are Slovak women like?’ and that it’s -sadly- the most popular article on your website. To your surprise they immediately write down ‘what are Slovak women like?’ and you know they will google it, which can get you into a lot of problems, because people are easily offended by stuff you write. And you also realize that the stuff you wrote about Slovak women happens not to apply to the three Slovak women in front of you. Not all of it.
The atmosphere in the classroom is quite ok, these are friendly students, one is always cheerful, one is ambitious and one is very sweet and romantic.
You tell the amibitious one that if you were both five years old you would be pulling her hair by now.
You would think that the whole ‘me too’ outrage would make you skip comments like that, but clearly it doesn’t. Some mild border-crossing is all that makes life sort of exciting.
You leave the building in mild fear of losing this particular job.
You go home and prepare more classes. The three girls want to read a text about The Czech Republic next time. Over here you can’t say anything about Slovakia without being asked to also consider the Czech Republic. Czechoslovakia never really split. You also try to find some other few activities to do with students. And you order comic books of the Smurfs in Dutch, which you can’t afford, but you explain it away as buying excellent teaching material. And you’re already afraid that when you’ll borrow these comic books to students, they will – as per usual – forget to give them back.
You’re off to your next teaching assignment.
There a female students hands in her homework. She’s described herself. And she’s described herself as a very sexual being. Now this is not very common in Slovakia and you wonder what it means. You ask your wife and she says: ‘Well, she knows that she can say stuff like that to you.’
You teach an other class, and people here are quite open and relaxed and fun-loving, so that goes smoothly enough. One of them shares that his older sister has six months to live. Cancer.
It reminds you of one of your best friends who died of cancer when he was 24. He also only lived six months after being diagnosed. A little less even.
You remember how you didn’t visit him often enough and how you didn’t take his condition all that seriously, because you were too busy fucking all that moved.
How radically different two friends’ lives can be, who otherwise had a lot in common. We had just got back from a trip to Ireland when your sister called you to tell you he was in a coma. He suffered like a gulag prisoner for six months, while you were finding out how many orgasms you can give to a woman with your tongue before either you or her passes the fuck out.
These days sex has mostly become a topic to be worried about, not something you’re supposed to enjoy.
You walk home at around 20h30, and you’re careful to keep your distance from a girl who’s walking in front of you. It’s dark and there’s nobody around, so you don’t want to give her an uncomfortable feeling.
You notice that the backpack you got for your birthday in 2007, from your then sexually voracious girlfriend, is finally falling apart, one strap is about to come loose. It has served an almost impossible tour of duty, since you’ve always propped all the groceries into it. Your wife calls it the magical backpack, because it looks small but lots of stuff can go into it.
You are home now, it’s 20h40. You open a can of tuna to get proteins. You’re not an actual bodybuilder, but building muscle is daily on your mind. Perhaps because your father tried to feed you like a bodybuiler as of age 11, except that without doing the actual weight lifting exercises it just makes you fat. I was a fat kid.
You answer an email from a therapy client who’s feeling better and writes ‘you were so right’.
It’s not hard to be right, human behavior becomes ridiculously easy to analyze after you figure out what drives us, what can go wrong, and the strategies people use to save face, cover up their mistakes, try to fulfill their needs. There are not THAT many different strategies, so eventually you can spot most of them quite easily.
You continue playing an ancient DOS game – you’re unwilling to spend money on new videogames and you’re unwilling to learn how to play a new one – and it looks like you might be about to break your personal record, but then the game jams and no matter how many times you reload the saved game, it always jams.
You start watching several German movies in a row, but they all seem to suck, so you delete them from your computer.
You end up watching ‘Der Untergang’ for the 77th time, while you are on the hometrainer and your wife is asleep.
You enjoy movies about sieges and about military collapse, because you grew up in a family that felt besieged, was besieged and did collapse in the end. It feels like coming home to see Volkssturm mowed down by hordes of Ivans in Hitler’s Berlin while Wilhelm Mohnke is screaming: ‘Dass ist doch Wahnsinn!’
You notice that your ears are infected, because over the last couple of weeks you have developped this tic of maniacally cleaning your ears. Perhaps in a drive to want to control something. The predictable results of overdoing something are in and they’re not good. Your left ear bloody hurts and you can’t lie on in it in bed.
At about 2 am you drop from the hometrainer, with a painful back, even though you really weren’t going that fast, and you take a shower.
You drop next to your wife, who talks in her sleep and wakes you up about three to four times a night.
You wake up when she closes the door of the apartment behind her, and you notice your heart is racing.
You dig down in your mind to try and retrieve the haunting dream you’ve just dreamed, but you can’t find it anymore. It doesn’t really matter, because you know you’re heart is racing because ever since 2007 you’ve come to expect horrible news to arrive any minute now, and it also has to do with your terrifying conviction that you are not doing enough, that you are not enough.
You share something about mass shootings in the US that nobody cares about, because you’re not a famous athlete who’s every fart is more interesting than anything you could possibly have to say.
You boil water full of distruptive female hormones to drink Saint John’s wort and the cycle repeats itself.