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Wednesday, August 09, 2000

Late Last Night

I lie in bed, unable to sleep, unable to wake. Megabytes of data streaming through the cluster of networking devices in my entryway cast flickering green and amber light through the window next to my bed--a silent fire in the distance throwing more radiation than heat, a tease, almost inviting but not quite, just like the sleep that is eluding me.

Something bites me in the arm. It's an ant. I crush it between my fingers and drop it over the edge of the loft bed, to tumble a dozen ant-miles to the ground where it will be carried away and eaten by its brethren. Ants own this house in the summer, scattered evenly about on every surface, nook or cranny. They scout about, seeking moisture and protein, and I must have let one escape with a morsel of my flesh or a bead of my sweat because soon their numbers are increasing and they complement my new-found insomnia with a Chinese drip torture of kamikaze ant attacks that last until dawn. One will find me, wander aimlessly about me for a while until suddenly it realizes "hey, I'm standing on it!" and then it just puts its head to the ground and bites, as if you or I could lift the earth by grabbing a tree and pulling up. No part of the bed is favored, so each is a surprise attack--particularly so when the target is an eyelid or scrotum.

I had once envisioned a small robot designed to wander my kitchen counters and capture the occasional ant scout. But the engineering challenges of a version for the bed defy my imagination.

The house is silent. Michelle is in China, Ben is away on his annual family vacation. They both return in a week and a half.

I am so enjoying this time alone.... I find myself revisiting places, mental spaces, I have not been in for years--places just around the corner but far enough away that the tight leash of social interruption has kept me from following my chains of thought such a distance. I feel almost an excitement, having rediscovered my own frontiers, my daydreams naturally exploring the boundaries of my most interesting challenges, and being able to stay there long enough to find solutions! I feel like a man paralyzed for a decade who suddenly discovers he can move again, carefully and cautiously stretching each muscle, trying not to get his hopes up that he'll actually be able to stand or, hope upon hope, run again.

At heart I am a mad scientist, out of my element, longing to be hid away in some dark castle, storm and thunder closing off the rest of the world. No need to eat, no need to sleep, turning levers and dials in a fury to assemble the pieces of the puzzle we call consciousness, heart pounding in anticipation of that moment where I cry "It Lives!" and the world is forever changed.

But alas I am here, meal to ants, unable to stay awake past two or fall asleep before six, waking every day at exactly 10:20am for no particular reason, watering my garden, sorting mail, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning house, feeding my chinchilla, turning the Megacorp crank round and round.

Round and round and round, and each time the music stops a hundred chairs from other people's games are thrown my way and the music starts again.

There's an ant on my shirt. It's time to work.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com