I think my brain stops working sometimes. It’s as if my body is moving but there’s no one home. Here are a few recent examples.
1. I went downstairs from my condo to get my mail. When I got back, I couldn’t open my door. I kept turning the lever but door won’t open. Then my brain started to come alive. Maybe I should just unlock the door using the key I was holding in my hand.
2. When I watch TV and change channels during the commercials, I rarely remember what I was watching originally. So I end up watching something else. Sometimes I’ll stumble back to the the show I was watching originally as I’m flipping through the channels again. Now I rarely change channels (especially when I’m watching Walking Dead).
3. I will soon resort to tying my reading glasses to my “thing”. It’s the only way for me not to lose my reading glasses. But I know I’ll end up tying my remote controls, wallet etc… to it. Hmm… I wonder if that will stretch my “thing”?
4. If I don’t write down when I put something in the oven, I will never remember it. I have a timer on my iPhone but keep forgetting to check it.
5. Don’t even ask me about passwords. I can remember my ATM password, a few of my online passwords and believe it or not, my student number from university. As for the rest, I think I will have to write them down on my “thing”.
6. I was doing laundry and noticed I didn’t have enough for a full load. It was towards the end of the day so I figured I would just toss in what I was wearing. Then I realized the blinds were up. I ran to my bedroom to put on some clothes. It’s a good thing I haven’t attached my glasses and remote controls to my “thing” yet.
I need some brain pills.
A few months ago, I was on the street car when this Chinese woman got on. She was probably in her late 50s to early 60s. Even though it was spring, she still wore a long winter jacket. I watched as she made her way down the streetcar. People parted and let her through the narrow aisle. She sat down in seat in front of me. Her graying hair was coarse and unruly. She started to talk to herself in Cantonese. I couldn’t really make out what she was saying except I knew she was upset. People stared at her.
I felt sorry for her and didn’t know what to do. I think she knew people were watching her but she couldn’t help it. She grew quiet and then would start again. She stared out the window and continued her solitary conversation. I wonder if heart ever felt happiness and contentment. Did she have enough to eat? Did she have enough to get by? I departed at my stop but her image still haunts me and every so often she pries her way back into my consciousness. It was another recent incident that made me think of her.
I was walking to the grocery store the and noticed all the traffic beside me was stopped. I was curious what was causing the standstill. Up ahead a street car was stopped at a streetcar stop and the doors were opened. But no one was entering or leaving. Eventually an elderly man was helped down by another man. As they walked towards the sidewalk, I could hear the younger man say “Do you need to go to the hospital? You almost passed out.” The younger man waved at the streetcar driver and the streetcar moved on.
The elderly man was average height, skinny and unshaven. His clothes were old and well worn. “Do you want an ambulance?” the younger man asked as he led the elderly man into the streetcar shelter. I walked past them, paused and looked back. “Just sit here and I’ll call an ambulance for you.” I asked the guy if he needed to call 911. He said yes and asked if I had a phone. I nodded and called 911. The other guy said he had to leave. I didn’t really want to be alone with this elderly guy. But the 911 operator stayed on the phone with me until the ambulance came. The guy didn’t pass out. But he stood up despite me telling him to sit down. He reached into his pants and said he had to pee. I cringed. People were walking by, no one had a clue what was going on. He peed in his pants and left a puddle by his feet. It slowly trickled down to the road.
He kept asking me if the ambulance was coming. I told him it was just a short distance away. I didn’t smell any alcohol on his breath. But he wasn’t alert. To my relief, the ambulance came within 5 minutes. I told the paramedic what I knew and warned them about the urine. She smiled and said they’ll look after him. Nothing fazes these guys.
I don’t know why I wrote about these two people. They are part of forgotten ones in our city. We avoid them if possible (I sometimes do). But deep down inside, I fear, bizarre as it may sound, I’ll become one of them.
“Matt – let’s read. We always read something before we go to sleep.”
“Yes but it’s almost 2AM! I’ve got a lot of things that I wanted to get done tomorrow.” I said.
“You always read a bit to relax and to tire your eyes. Otherwise, you can’t sleep.”
I cringed. “Ok – but no more than 30 minutes.”
An hour later, I was still wide awake.
“Matt, do you want to play Scrabble on your phone?”
“It’s past 3! I really need to sleep.”
“You can always take your pills.”
“I can but I don’t want to. I always feel so tired in the morning. But maybe some Scrabble will unscramble my mind.” I said.
After a couple of futile rounds, I checked my Instagram feed, liked a bunch of photos, checked the news and read some more. By the time I rolled over, I noticed it was starting to get bright outside. I knew it was past 4:30AM but I hoped the light was just the streetlamp. I somehow got to sleep and woke up around 10:30 AM. It took an hour before I made it to the shower. I didn’t bother shaving today. I didn’t want to eat breakfast at home so I walked to a nearby coffeeshop and gulped down some caffeine.
I get stressed every night when I go to bed. I go through variations of this ritual. Some nights, I’m fortunate and can sleep within 30 minutes. Last night was one of the longer bouts of insomnia. Now the day is almost over and I just feel like I wasted the entire day.