A large portion of my recent posts have included phrases like, “I’m tired”, “Didn’t sleep last night”, “So tired” and “Killed a hooker” . . . . wait. Rewind. Delete that last phrase. What I’m saying is that I’m just not getting enough sleep. It’s not like I’m attempting to harness the power of productive creativity through sleep deprivation. I’m no Michelangelo. It’s a combination of being over-worked (underpaid?), mild insomnia and stress.
Well. I’m lying. Not lying. I’m not telling the whole truth. Here’s the skinny. When I get home from work or school – no matter the time – it could be 5pm, 11pm 0r 6am, twelveenteenthish o’clock – I have to wind down. I never understood how some people can just hop into bed and start their slumber. It’s like they have a Nytoll gland that activates as soon as they pass the threshold of their home. “Honey, I’m home – snore.” Nope. I can’t do that. I need to sit down and watch me some TV. It eases me out of work mode. Relaxes me. Let’s me “wind” down.
However, since Megan and I got rid of cable, there’s nothing I find interesting to watch on TV. There’s some new cop drama on Ion Television called Flashpoint but it’s GOD AWFUL. Just really bad TV. It’s literally like a “flashpoint” being driven into my eyes. Talk shows are out since Conan moved to TBS . . . TBS. Home of George Lopez. That’s an emotional roller coaster I’m glad to not have access to. Going from Conan to Lopez is like going from a heroin high to day 2 of rehab in the span of 2 hours. Jitters. Jitters. Jitters.
What are my options then. A movie? That’d be a better idea. When I’m tired and watching a movie, I tend to fade easy. But I hate starting something I won’t finish. How about a book? Well, that would be smart because when I read in bed, I get through 2-5 pages and conk out. Unfortunately, book reading 1) doesn’t let me suffiecntly wind down and 2) now that my mind associates it with sleepy time, I end up dozing off wherever I read: the train, on a bus, driving.
Well, that leaves one choice. Video Games. And since I recently purchased the mother load of time wasters, Skyrim, I’m more than happy to oblige my Wood Elf alter ego into battling ferocious dragons and learning the art of leather binding. Unfortunately, Video Games before bed is where the problem lies. Video games are interactive. With interactivity comes brain activity. With brain activity comes alertness and focus. With alterness and focus come the death of the sandman. So, I end up staying up much later than I should, adding to my already depleted sleep schedule.
Staying up too late and missing sleep for video games; isn’t that, by definition, an addiction? I mean, is addiction like being crazy? Crazy people don’t think they are crazy. If I think I have an addiction, then do I really have an addiction? Is it like people who try and convince others that they are funny? Ever notice how they get increasingly unfunny they more they talk about how cooky and funny they are? Like your crazy high school English teacher who constantly tells parents that she’s the crazy one the kids like. the more she talks and bounces around like an idiot, the more you want to send her away to some kind of rehabilitation camp for the comically deluded.
As well, I’m in no way near the level of gaming adduction of MMORPG players. That’s not the sound a cat makes when it coughs up a hairball. It’s an acronym for Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Game. You may have heard of ones like Everquest (Evercrack), World of Warcraft (World of Warcrack) and EVE (Crack). These players can spend up to 18 hours a day battling their imaginary demons. One hour of therapy a week could help heal all the problems LeRoy Jenkins caused for some of these level thirsty nerds. Me, ignoring the laws of Sleepytime Rick for a few hours can not be even close to that insanity.
Video game addiction (which is not in listed as an actual medical condition), is nothing new, either. It’s been around since the inception of the video arcade with it’s gigantic video game consoled. I’ve been reading a autobiography called Honkey. It’s written by Dalton Conley and depicts his early childhood growing up the only white kid living in a Manhattan lower east side project in the 1970s and 1980s. He dedicates a whole chapter to his addiction to the video game Defender. There was one at the local donut shop, Twin Donut, near his school. He wrote:
“To support my habit I embezzled laundry quarters when I did the weekly wash, skimming on the dryers. I returned the clothes folded but damp, and soon our entire family wardrobe took on the dank smell of mildew . . .
I sold all mu comic books, I sold my Dungeons and Dragons books, and when I ran out of goods to hock I stepped up my illicit activity from embezzlement to naked theft. I stole my sisters savings from her Hello Kitty bank. I took money almost daily from each of my parents. My father kept his racetrack cash in his top drawer, underneath rows of neatly folded socks. He was somewhat careful with his finances, so I had to replace a large-deonmination bill with a smaller one so that the overall number of notes and size of the wad remained the same. As long as the same weight and thickness were there, it would take him a while to discover that he was missing five or ten dollars in his total.
Stealing from my mother was easy. Her purse teemed with loose change, a canister of Mace, and year upon year of receipts. Though Ellen carefully monitored the Diet Pepsi supply, she had no idea how much cash she was holding at any given time. I stared by trolling the crevices of her purse, fishing through the crumbled codeine tablets that she swallowed when she had a migraine to locate change and crumpled dollar bills. When I has cleared out the bottom of her purse, I moved on to her cash compartment. She unfailingly left it unzipped, various bills sticking out like the petals of an origami flower. I plucked them one by one, then two by two.”
Dalton continued to on to write that he started cutting school to play the game. So much, in fact, that he was placed in the lower classes with the rejects, mentally disabled and social misfits. He was convinced that once he hit high school, his records would be cleaned and this wouldn’t matter (In the end, he was right). So, this addiction to video games has been, at least in written history, been going on since the early 80s.
Do I have an addiction. Nah. But I do play to the detriment of my own sleep schedule. Megan has never once reprimanded me for this, but I know she worries. Some people just, however, overreact. This is a great article on the over-reacion of loved ones to video game playing. I thought it relevant: 10 Days As A Skyrim Widow. It’s relevant because yesterday, Megan did ask a very poignant question involving video games. It was a loaded question that, basically, had an easy answer. “When we have kids, are you going to let them stay up and play video games all night.” My reaction was, “WHEN? I got kids playing video games all over the country.” No, really, my first reaction was,”No. We’re giving them outdoor time. Like when we were kids.”
Instantly, though, my mind raced to another conclusion. When I’m an old, old man, will I be sitting in front of a TV playing video games? Will I even be able to play with a decreased reaction time, slowed motor functions and arthritis. Will I have kids or grandkids who come over and watch me play video games. It’s an interesting thought. Some people might say , no. That I will have outgrown them by then and moved on to other things. However, I do think this maybe be the case. Look at it this way – I truly believe that my generation is the first to have had it’s toys grow up with them. The toys and hobbies I had as a boy have evolved and been re-evaluated over and over so that they continue to be used and bought by us at every age.
Comics, when I was a kid, where pretty tame. Some violence, but never touching on some of the adult themes they do now. If comics had maintained the same tone that, say, the 1960’s batman TV show had, I would have stopped collecting years ago. Instead, you have comics like The Long Halloween and even Preacher that cater to the 30’s crowd. The same can be said about video games. When I bought my first Nintendo (yes, I bought it myself in 1987 when I was 10) I was playing Super Mario Brothers; an innocent mustached gentleman hopping on turtles and mushrooms. Mild. Now, video games invoke intense narratives, intricate plot devices, sex, blood and gore – they cater to adults. And it’s been that way for years – adjusting to the median age of it’s demographic.
With that sophistication, I think it’s likely that I’ll be playing video games when I’m an old man. Will I allow my kids to sacrifice their lives to video games? No. Because I don’t sacrifice my life to them. I play them and I really enjoy them. But a few hours in place of sleep once in awhile does not make me a potentially bad father. What it does make me is a man who’s cruisin’ for a bruisin’. If I was working a normal load with a predictable time table, then spending my night fighting the hordes of demons and dragons of Skyrim would be no problem. But with the load I have, I must agree with my wife – she’s the smart one – I must take some more serious me time. And that “me” time is actually QT with my pillow . . . not making out with it! Gross. It’s drooling on it as I dream . . . about making out with it.