One Good Day for the Hyperactive Child
One of the things that has helped ease my from-the-womb-and-into-the-world hyperactivity has been writing. This makes perfect sense because I've always been an avid reader, which was my former way of easing my hyperactivity. Reading and writing are not only fundamental, to a writer they can be both synergistic and antagonistic. I have good days and bad days managing the above due to my inborne hyperactivity. A good day for me looks something like this:
I wake up from a dream based on the novel I am working on. The dream makes my job easier, like some of the novel has written itself. Since I'm still groggy my body doesn't fight the sedentary writing senses that require me to sit down to do it. Then I make a pot of, a moka, of stovetop espresso, the sound and fury of which sends me straight to the desk to the PC to get some work done. As a warmup, I might read the day's headlines from CNN, the Covid News Network, or check on how my XRP shares are doing (what if all of language was composed of acronyms?). Then I get to the sublime task of writing (usually, also editing).
I'll start with one of the books I've been hired to develop or write. I don't resent writing for others, because I admire the others I work for. I am lucky to have writing clients who are themselves very inspired/inspirational, hardworking people, including a Coil member or two. If I don't put in this morning writing time against my body's true desire, the twinge of guilt I receive leaves me irritated for days. Not on a good day.
After a few thousand words of editing or ghostwriting for others, I get up to stretch or do a few pull-ups and then sit back down to work on one of the short stories or novels of my own. But not before taking time to slam another coffee and have breakfast, usually bananas or blueberries with granola and yogurt, or a sunny-side up egg or the currently in culinary vogue, avocado toast. Some days I eat nothing. Occasional fasting is healthy.
Somewhere between the writing, coffee drinking, and eating or not eating, arrives the pacing behind my work chair. I am an avid pacer, now and before. I'll pace then write, then pace and write some more. Pacing helps me think, maybe because I was a hyperactive child.
Speaking of which:
I love the Dead Kennedys. Energy, mood, rebellion, coupled with musicianship like few others. Way back when I owned a pet bird (I would never do it now, shame on the me of then), I named it Jello. I still remember the day when Jello flitted over to the window, took one look at me, then at the clear sky, and flew away. Could I blame him? Hardly. Anyway, the lyrics for this tune, “Hyperactive Child,” basically express the feelings of most of my school years.
When I wasn't acting hyper, I was reading books, one of the only activities that calmed me down. I would do anything to sneak out of my desk, escape the structure of the lessons, to read. I would go so far as to fake illness so I could spend more time in the boys' bathroom alone with my books. My teachers loved me for it. What the hell is he doing in there?
The only thing that has really changed in me in these regards are that my hyperactivity has become more focused and sophisticated, and nefarious, in adult life. And not only do I read books now, I also write them. These activities are related, but in terms of how they are affected by my hyperactivity, or vice versa, they are very distant.
My being prefers to either stand up highly active or lie down and go to sleep (anything to stay in the motions of a dream). I've never been comfortable in the middle. My middle is being forced to sit down. My body hates it, but my profession and passion demand it. There are worse middles to be in. It's like Henry Miller's writing memoir, Stand Still Like the Hummingbird, which to me captures the act of writing perfectly, especially when I'm working on “new stuff,” which demands a sort of hyperactivity in place, like that Millerian hummingbird.
To keep hovering, I'll glance out the window to check on the weather, then turn back to the desk to pound out more words. Again and again, until I'm spent. Why? Working on original material, first drafts especially, also triggers my body, also stirs me up for what comes next, the reward for what my body really wants to be doing, the antidote I discovered around age 24 for my hyperactivity:
Exactly. And yes, another Murakami reference. You might think he is, but Mr. Murakami is actually not my favorite author (close), but it's been that kind of month, a Murakami-esque month. See my “Counting Sheep” essay for more insomniacal Murakami nuggets of wisdom:
Running offers the PC a break from my pounding on it all morning. We should always consider our shiny objects. They are becoming more sentient by the day. How rejected do you feel when they let us down or die? I feel very rejected, heartbroken even. But it's a one way street, when tech fails us, and the love we feel will always go unrequited.
But my body loves me for it. Almost on its own, it'll race away from the desk, multitask its way across the studio into the bedroom to multitask into its running clothes, then multitask back out to the studio to stretch out on the floor or stretch more yogic style standing up—Low Lunge, Downward Dog, Sun Salute, Lord of the Dance (Michael Flatley, eww).
Then it's out the door to race down five flights to hit the begummed pavements of locust-lined 106th Street, which runs through an area known as the Manhattan Valley (betcha didn't know that), my New York City neighborhood, and ends at the edge of Central Park at an ascension callled Strangers Gate, which is the Central Park plaza and staircase I named my book company after . . .
Strangers Gate is where I begin my run of a Central Park loop of about 4.5 miles, usually following the bridle path, where, sadly, people still saddle their butts up on horses who would rather be running wild hoofing up a maelstrom of dust or peacefully grazing somewhere flapping their gums over blades of grass with that rubbery hollow sound almost like a plunger, as they occasionally rear their grand and narrow heads to stare and read our minds. Beautiful, if strange, creatures. Let's get off their backs, deal?
A perfect day for running can be rain or shine, famine, flood, or pandemic, even a hurricane—any day, and I'm not lying when I say I have run among falling branches and fallen tree trunks.
Yes, I ran during Hurricane Sandy. I didn't happen to read the weather report that day. Oops. Blame my writing and my hyperactivity, the best and worst marriage.
For me, running in Central Park (or anywhere) is like sightseeing. Seeing the constantly changing environment of flora, fauna, animal, vegetable, or sights of the human variety—these days, some masked, some not. In unmasked times, sometimes I'd spot a celebrity—I have seen Scarlett Johansson, Elliot Spitzer, Matt Dillon, one or two of the women from Sex and The City, though I missed Bono's bike crash (darn)— or that neighbor you never speak to, or that craggy regular from your local bar you've just seen in the light of day and wished you hadn't. I run Central Park year round in every mental state; I never get bored and it always lifts me up. Changing routes every day accentuates the uplift.
Running both cleanses and focuses me, like a defragging of the soul and a sauna in motion. Flushing new blood through the brain, generating those same theta waves that occur during REM sleep. Many times, while running, I'll solve, literally, novel problems I couldn't solve at the desk. Like dreaming, running makes my job easier. I rarely feel better in life than after a good writing session and a good run. I feel fully integrated with my activity, hyper as it may sometimes be, fully integrated with my Self.
Contrary to my desire to keep things new while running, I always end up at the place I started, Strangers Gate, having descended the same set of stairs I ascended at the start. I might have crazy-legged it almost anywhere in the park, but completing this circle is good. Completion is healthy.
After descending back to 106th Street earth, I run back up the street then trudge up the five flights of stairs to my apartment, and immediately take a post-run siesta on the cool floor to sweat the run out. Dreams may come again, and as soon as I wake up, I head right back over to the desk to work on my story or novel half in the siesta dream state. I resist myself less this way.
At some point, my brain gives out. And that's okay.
By the time I jump into the shower, I am left very hopeful, like I have engaged in most everything I always wanted to in life.
The day will get even better if the closest person I have to a soul mate decides to visit. My soul mate, you can call her V., which happens to be the title of one of my favorite books, V. by Thomas Pynchon:
(I have only completed half this book because some cruel practical joker literally ripped the other half off while I was in the restroom of a cafe. Good one, asshole.)
Coil Members can read more about V., etc., below . . . .
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