Critical Mass

nyYAAAAAAaar! … Or, I mean, how else does one say, “the semester’s over. For better, and for worse, the semester’s over.” How else does one say, “why didn’t I study those extra three hours? How does McCarty justify such draconian and capricious paper grades?” … does one say, “I’ve been a T.A., films chair, and student. And now I’m not (a T.A. or student, anyway). … does one say, “I didn’t invest in to any relationships this fall. I feel like I should have–in a “blah, blah, relationships are important, blah” sense–but don’t feel bad that I didn’t.” … does one say, “I’m a ruthless and capricious bastard. A power-mongering megalomaniac. A megalomaniac…”

In some ways, it’s a good thing that the semester is over. So many facets of life have been approaching critical mass–the point where they reach density and size enough to become volatile, explosive. Things like the house. God, it’s a mess. It’s a pig-sty, or worse. It disgusts me, and is a thorough embarrassment. But I can’t even blame my roommates–or, at least entirely: I haven’t done any more cleaning than they have, for the last 6 weeks. I want to call them on their bullshit–“I don’t have time to clean today/this week/ever.“–when they sit down to play hours of video games. (And “they” is an unfairly homogenizing term. It’s not all three that have been way, way too busy to clean.) But, again, I’ve done no more than they have, in terms of cleaning. It’s a stupid line to walk: trying to balance between wanting things clean, and so just cleaning it myself, and refusing to clean because they should take some responsibility and initiative.

It’s like when we ran out of dish soap last week. Is it my responsibility to buy dish soap for the house? No, it’s not. But I have been the one who has purchased soap for the house, ever since we moved in. So, we ran out of dish soap. We could all see it coming. It was a busy week for me, and I hadn’t been to the store in some days, and wasn’t planning on going any time soon. The soap finally ran out on Ben’s day to do dishes. I hadn’t purchased more soap, nor had anyone else. Needing to wash the dishes, Ben took initiative: he went … well, no, not to the store, but rather to the bathroom, where he retrieved my bottle of shampoo, and then returned to the kitchen. And washed the dishes with shampoo. Because we didn’t have any dish soap.

Two days later, I went to the store and bought dish soap.

And I guess that’s the critical feature: I’m not the house mom. It’s not my responsibility to buy dish soap. But if I want the dishes that I use to be cleaned adequately with soap, not shampoo, it’s going to be up to me to buy dish soap. Because, apparently, everyone else is just too fucking helpless.

Anyhow. Critical mass. The house has reached a critical mass point of being absolutely filthy. So, I’m going to clean. A lot. And in a few day’s time, the house will be presentable again. For a while, anyway.

Critical mass. Sleep.

When I finally crashed, on Friday night (well, Saturday morning), I’d been up for 41 hours. After three weeks of sporadic sleep– three, four hour nights, for days in succession. Well, I crashed Friday night. Since then, I’ve been all but unable to get out of bed. I woke up Saturday night at 6:30 pm– without even seeing the light of day. I crashed again, 10 hours later, and slept until 4:45 pm on Sunday. I crashed again, Sunday night, and slept until 2:00 pm today. And it’s felt completely necessary. A “detox” period, if you will, after a semester of fitful and limited sleep.

Someone asked me, at some point this fall, if I had any trouble sleeping. “The only trouble,” I replied, “is finding time for it.”

And it’s not just the sleep. I’ve felt–not sick, but–unwell for how many weeks, now. For however many weeks since I last ran. Since I last climbed. Since I last slept eight hours, and woke up, refreshed.

Critical mass: being a person.

I’ve come up terribly short on that other set of “important things.” Like making phone calls. Talking to family. Friends. Like … making a point of doing fun things. Playing my guitar, or piano. Reading books, other than “Intermediate Macroeconomics”. Important stuff like that. And, in a sense, I feel like a bit of a shell. I think I’ve put a couple good bullets on my resume, but no memories in the photo album, and no treasures in my personal treasure chest. Life in the desert is hard. It’s arid. Dry. Lifeless. The land grows parched, after too many days in the relentless summer sun. Dry, caked and cracked. Becomes so much dust in the cracks of crinkled and barren soil. It’s economical. And lifeless.

Goethe once said, “Man can stand anything, except an endless succession of beautiful days.”

In the absence of human emotion, I turn on Damien Rice, like rains turned on the desert. More like bottled water– a bottled, overturned on to the desert floor. It pours out, revitalizes and replenishes the soil … but no sooner is the soil sated than drying again … the sun’s parching heat intensified, magnified by the focusing lens of a thousand plastic bottles, empty, strewn about… I turn on The Format. Placebo. It doesn’t have to be good. It just needs to be drenched in human emotion.

About Mark Egge

Transportation planner-adjacent data scientist by day. YIMBY Shoupista on a bicycle by night. Bozeman, MT. All opinions expressed here are my own.
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One Response to Critical Mass

  1. Sagar1586 says: