Most people take a hands-on approach to their lives. I prefer to observe mine from a respectful distance.
From this vantage point I've noticed some worrying behavior. This might shatter the mental image that you've built up, but I'm beginning to think I might be a big dumb idiot.
There have always been clues, mind you. Like the fact that I kept this horrible nickname for years when I could have easily changed it. Or all the career opportunities I missed by not emailing the contacts I've made, since they all seem like pretty busy people and I didn't want to bother them.
If we consider those Exhibit A and B in the case for me being an idiot, Exhibit C is the clincher.
I like to read in bed every night. It would be great if could tell you my bedtime book selection ranged from literary fiction to historical biographies and poetry. It really would. Instead, it's almost exclusively genre fiction.
Only the good stuff, mind you. Fantasy by Joe Abercrombie, Felix Gilman, and Terry Pratchett. Sci-fi from Ian M. Banks and Lois McMaster Bujold. The very finest Warhammer 40K novels - the ones with covers depicting space generals looking pensive, not the ones with covers that have space generals shooting their space blasters and screaming.
Of course I read other stuff, but not when I settle in for the night. Escapism helps me unwind. I can't relax the same way with something dry and challenging, like one of those books about a modern wizard detective.
So at night I read my comforting genre fiction until I start to nod off mid-sentence. I catch myself, and instead of turning off the light, I attempt to push through and keep reading for no good reason.
"Okay, now this orc battle is making no sense at all."So far this is fairly innocuous. Stubborn and sort of dumb, sure, but nothing we haven't all done. The thing is, I've been using a Kindle for a few years now. After something like ten minutes with no page turns, the device kicks into a screen saver image. So, invariably, while fighting off sleep, I find myself staring at an ad for a book, or a graphic made up of floating words or a stylized picture of an author's face. And because I'm barely awake, I try to read this thing I'm looking at.
In my mind, the book I've been reading has taken a turn for the surreal. I press on, determined to make sense of the screensaver and fit it into the context of the book. Confused, I try to focus on a random part of the picture, close my eyes to think about it, then nod off, waking with a start to finish my inspection.
Eventually I decide to either go back to the previous page, or to press on with the rest of the book as if I decoded the meaning of the screensaver. Only my Kindle doesn't let you turn pages when it's in screensaver mode, since you have to turn the thing back on by pressing the power button. So, still half asleep, I paw at the turn page buttons and frown. In my idiot brain I wonder... Is the reader broken? Or is it not letting me continue until I fully understand this weird ass page that makes no sense? Better look closer, or keep trying to turn the page.
This ordeal exhausts me, and I eventually fall asleep while thinking about the mysterious, otherworldly turn my book has taken.
This happens every night.
I know how the device works. I've been through the pointless routine hundreds of times. You'd think that my brain would be able to notice a pattern and say, "Hey, maybe this is a good time to go to sleep."
Instead, as I blink at the screen as if it's Quint's Indianapolis speech written in Klingon, my brain says to itself, "I'm no good."
We might find we have more in common than we think if we just stop fighting long enough to combine our bodies into a singular organism.
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