Saturday, October 24, 2009

Songs of My Misspent Youth: Overkill

I've mentioned my insomnia before, I know, but over the years what I discovered it wasn't so much insomnia as waking up with the house on fire.

The house was not in fact on fire, but that was apparently not enough to convince me, and from the third Sunday in October of 1987 on the house repeatedly caught fire at exactly the same time every morning until the summer of 1989, when the fusebox melted for real.

Now, I'm aware the knowledge that the house was in peril was most likely a coincidence, like how I fell into such a deep sleep while the electricians were installing the circuit breaker and I dreamed my Poppy would die right after my 16th birthday. subconscious had a tendency to point out the painfully obvious at the worst possible times.

I say had because after about 15 years of that I stopped trying to hide that I had a problem, gave up the idea that I'd ever sleep the way I wanted to and finally started telling my mind to shut up unless it had something useful to contribute. I still don't get enough sleep and when I do it still leaves me more tired than when I went to bed, but I learned to separate my thoughts and control the toxic ones so well that I've become incredibly difficult to piss off.

I first heard Overkill by Men At Work in the summer of 1983 as my cousin and I were checking out the Return Of The Jedi shirts in Macy's. My cousin pointed the song out, and I couldn't really hear the words over the store radio at the time but I liked the saxophone. Years later I caught the video on MTV, and finally heard the words.

I can't get to sleep
I think about the implications
Of diving in too deep
And possibly the complications

Especially at night
I worry over situations
I know I'll be alright
It's just overkill

Day after day it reappears
Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear
Ghosts appear and fade away

Blew my exhausted teenage mind, I tell you.

The song has made it onto just about every mixtape I've ever made, and repeatedly keeps showing up in my blogs. As a side effect of learning to choose the better memories to hold on to, when I hear the song now I don't think of any of what I've written about, I remember holding my cat in the backyard while we watched a meteor shower. Maybe it's my subconscious letting me know it knows I know it can't control me anymore and wants me to be as happy as I pretend I am when it gets bad, even if I do come off as a forgetful, glassy-eyed, foggy, passive lunatic. I don't know that I'd advise anyone to try it my way, because staggering around deprived of both sleep and concern for the future is bloody annoying at times.

It was my Poppy who started me on the path to not worrying about things unless there was something to worry about. I'm nowhere near the level of mastering anxiety as he was, but he was living proof that it was possible to get up and stop letting the world be a bully. He had a reason, of course. That helps. He also listened to a lot of music. I'm convinced that helps too.


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