Living Backwards


[Note: Post published @ 9:12. Blogger appears to save the post time as the first time the draft was saved]

Allen George starts writing this entry at 8:05 AM on a Saturday morning. He does not know the route this entry will wind – instead he trusts that the words will come.

What he does know however, is how it will be written.

The digital scale reads 107lb. The time is 8:04 AM on the digital clock. The birds and the fan mask the sound of the computer booting. Minute in.

8:02 AM on the microwave, and reaching out, he depresses the red toggle switch on the kettle. It boils again, almost instantaneously and he silently soaks the double tea bags, chasing them in the mug, targeting them individually with the boiling stream. He stops early; today is different. A boost would be welcome so space is left for milk and sugar. Carefully, the mug is covered.

As he washes the mug the morning gloom doesn’t even register. At some level it’s appreciated. Gloom assumes nothing. It allows you to find yourself. Define your mood for the day, your path for 24 hours. A sunny day forces a mood. He’s chosen the big red mug today. Double tea bags. Caffiene hit wanted thank you very much. It’s 7:55 AM on the microwave oven and idly the thought passes through:

How accurate is that?

Mental shrug.


Instinctively, on entering the room, eyes dart towards the alarm on the fridge. A partner for multiple terms at Waterloo, its presence is welcome. Trusted. He wouldn’t start a term without it. 7:50 AM. Had cleaning the bathroom really taken over an hour? Briefly, a return to sleep is considered and the bed, covers jumbled beckons. Reaching around he carefully places his clothes in the laundry bag, running through a to-do list in his head. In goes the shirt, the socks. Pause at the red shirt. In it goes. He wants to finish it. Wants to write. Turns around again. Messy covers won’t do. That has to be fixed.


Until early this morning, the knowledge that a bird sanctuary was nearby was non-existent. It explains the large mural etched into the building face at Amos and Erb. It explains the morning chirping he finds so pleasant. Steam roils around and the hot water lashing his back allows him to focus, completely focus on the moment.

I want a cup of tea. I wonder what this, my lack of sleep, is doing to me. I understand now, what role I’m playing.

Disconnected thoughts. Tangents. Other people would call it not thinking straight. Scores the arms, a frenetic energy in the actions. The bathroom had not been cleaned in a while and cleaning it…contaminated him. It’s only a first pass. If all of them pull together, it’ll become better. He’s tired. Again. He’s been here before. Back in


His knees on the side of the bathtub, bending over, the sponge in his hand squeaks as he scrubs at the ingrained layer of dirt. Idly, he realizes that a single slip on his part would involve falling head first into the tub, cracking his skull against the rim and again on the floor of the tub itself. Garden State. He wonders if that’s how he’ll be found; sprawled in a layer of Lysol, unable to move. That would be an odd way to go. He neither laughs at, or finds the thought depressing. Simple observation. Wonders if he dies now, whether he’d feel fulfilled. Doesn’t feel anything at all. But there’s so much left to do.

Scrubs away.

It’s over in an instant. It’s because he doesn’t seriously consider dying. Now, at 8:53 AM, he wonders the effect impending knowledge of his death would have on his attitude. He’ll find out someday. Continue to write.


Doesn’t understand why. Tearing open the shrink wrap from the package of latex gloves it strikes him that this is perhaps the most surreal moment in a surreal day. A perfect ending to an ill-defined previous 24 hours. Why the sudden urge to clean? Why the wish to scrub away everything, tear it apart?

Don’t know. Don’t know.


Eyes wide open.

Time. What’s the time? It’s dark. 6:32 AM on the digital clock. Asleep for an hour and 12 minutes. Why now? Why wake up now? Is his body that attuned to waking up at that hour? Lies in bed, eyes searching in the darkness. Turn over, continue to sleep?

Pushes the covers aside, his feet fumble in the darkness for the slippers.

Time to wake up Allen George.


4:12:04 AM. Jeff Hill’s up. They talk briefly. He’s struck by the miniscule parallels.

You’re still up?

Just got home.

You’re still up?

Thoughts turn to the coop posting. Due tomorrow. Wonders till when he’ll sleep. There’s so much to do. It’s been a tumultous day. Needs to think. Needs to think.


The past 12 hours have been…unusual. Doesn’t know what to make of it in general. Watched Garden State somewhere in there. It appealed. Phrases, quotes, ideas. Some of them spoke to him. Hit very close to home. Very close. Yet, even then, it pales in comparison to everything else.

Confused? Yes, in a very real sense and yet no, not at all. He can’t explain it. There’s simply more understanding. Of himself, of…

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