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Good Morning by Chris Klassen

It's not as easy as just getting out of bed in the morning without any thought. It takes a lot of thought. And discipline. Most people can't understand this and it's hard to explain. The first obligation is always to acknowledge the final laying-down position from the night before, the position of the body right at the start of the new waking-up day. The acceptable position is face-down, right arm folded under the chest, left arm straight up, pointing at the wall. Left leg has to be bent, right leg straight. This is what's proper. Sometimes it's hard to breathe being face-down, but this is the only acceptable way. If this is how it is upon waking up, then getting out of bed is ok. Otherwise, the only choice is to consciously maneuver into this position first and remain still for a few minutes. It's just not right to get up without being in this position first. Once this is done, then and only then is getting out of bed ok. Not randomly though; it has to be in the logical order. First, swivel upright so that it results in sitting, legs dangling over the edge of the bed, almost touching the carpet, but not quite, with feet hovering above the blue slippers that were put in their place the night before. It will take three little shimmies forward so that the slippers are reachable. The feet then slide in comfortably and standing up is easy. Touching the carpet in bare feet is not an option.

The first sound of the day is always a yawn, accompanied with a stretch of the arms, upwards towards the ceiling. When the yawn ends, the arms come down. Twist once to the left, twist once to the right, bend forward, bend back, straighten up again. Always facing the wall with the bookcase and the dresser. And always in the dark. The light goes on when the twists and bends are done. The curtains stay closed. They never open.

So the bookcase, may as well address that now since it was just mentioned. There are over two hundred books, all paperback, no hard-covers. How they're ordered is important. Fiction is first, starting top left and arranged alphabetically by author's last name. If there's more than one book by the same author, then they have to be chronologically by publication date, from oldest to newest. Non-fiction is arranged by category. History is first, then philosophy, then religion, then science. Miscellaneous is at the end, the bottom right. Each category is also sub-divided alphabetically by author's last name. Fiction and non-fiction cannot be on the same shelf. In the rare occasion that there's a new book, it sometimes takes a bit of work to figure out where it should go, especially now that space is so limited. This doesn't happen often though. It never seems to be the right time to get a new book. And, to be truthful, there's rarely an opportunity to go out and get one anyway, so that thought doesn't much matter. There are no biographies or autobiographies in the bookcase. They're all in a box in a closet. They just didn't seem to belong.

But back to the good morning routine, that's the point. Every morning, after yawning and stretching and bending, it's time for medication. It's important. On the dresser, placed there the night before, next to a glass of tepid water, is the day's little buffet of pills. Two blue, one pink, two green, and two yellow, always in this order and always to the right of the water in a little tray. The blue help control something, the pink and green do something else and the yellow something else again. They have to be swallowed one at a time in thirty second intervals, counted out loud so there aren't any mistakes. That's not the rule of any doctor, it's just how it has to be to best cope.

A few minutes after ingesting the pills, a bit of vertigo and nausea always sets in, which means more time has to be spent back in bed. But it's ok because that's the time for morning prayers. Like ripples in a pond after throwing a stone, the prayers start closest to home and expand out. First, prayers for immediate family, then for extended family, then close friends, then former friends, then a few people on tv. Each prayer begins with "Dear God, please take care of..." It takes a while to cover everyone, especially if the proper order gets messed up because, in that case, the only option is to start again. The bad mornings are nothing but prayers, over and over again. It's not bad to be praying, that's not the point. It's bad that it can take so long and create so much anxiety.

Usually between the interval of praying for close friends and praying for former friends, as long as everything is progressing well and the pattern hasn't been broken, there's a knock at the door and breakfast is brought in on a white plastic tray which is placed on the dresser where the pills were. Orange juice in a plastic cup, porridge in a plastic bowl with a plastic spoon, one piece of white toast cut in half on a plastic plate. Crust on one half of the toast, no crust on the other half. No butter, always dry. The proper way to eat means that breakfast takes a long time. First a sip of juice, then a spoonful of porridge, then a bite of crusted toast, then a bite of uncrusted toast. Then back to the beginning for a second sip of juice, a second spoonful of porridge and a second bite of toast. And so it goes. Eventually the food and drink are all gone and, when there's no more, the empty bowl gets placed on the plate and the empty glass gets placed in the bowl, upside down. All on the tray which is placed on the floor in front of the dresser to be picked up later. But if the prayers aren't done, breakfast has to wait. Sometimes the food gets cold.

Once breakfast is complete, and after a period of a few minutes back in bed, which is needed to guarantee that the food stays down, because sometimes it doesn't and that's an absolute nightmare and very upsetting, then it's time for tooth-brushing. In the bathroom on the counter is a red toothbrush and a white tube of toothpaste and another plastic cup. Like everything else in the morning, the order of tooth-brushing is important. When the right amount of toothpaste is on the brush, just enough to cover all the bristles, then it gets dampened by some tap water. Then the brushing begins. Top teeth on the left first, fifteen times up-and-down, fifteen times back-and-forth. Then top right, then bottom left, then bottom right, and always fifteen times each. Rinsing is done with one-third cup of warm water. Usually there's a bit of blood but not enough to be scary. The last step is with the mouthwash, which is blue to match the slippers mentioned earlier. Fifteen swishes and then spit. Oh, not to forget, slippers can't come in the bathroom because they are only used on carpet. Bare feet on a tile floor like the one in the bathroom is fine. Tooth-brushing is the best part of the morning. It's immediate gratification. They need brushing and then they are brushed. Always success.

Hanging on a hook on the back of the bathroom door is a white robe. It's very comfortable and fits very well and hides scars. It can be worn over pajamas all day long. There are other clothes. They're in the closet with the box of books. But they're never worn. They just hang there, unnecessary and overwhelming.

Feeling good with a clean mouth and warm in a soft robe, slippers back on in order to walk on the carpet, the next part of the morning is spent journaling. Every day it's important to write, even if there's nothing really to say. It still helps maintain an active mind, encourages creativity and, somehow, just feels good, like a satisfying sense of completion. The journal, a brown one with a clasp on the cover, is on the right side of the dresser. A pencil sits on top. In case it breaks, there's a spare one too. Writing always takes place sitting back on the bed. First step is to find a totally blank page, then indicate the day and date in the top left corner. Then writing can begin. Even though the subject options seem endless - thoughts, descriptions of nature or cities, pretend letters to family and friends, dreams, memories--

sometimes not much comes to mind. But, no matter what, it's still important to fill the pages. Looking back at the last few entries from previous days, there's nothing but the letter "x" over and over. The pages are full though. So that's pleasing.

Today the words are coming out of the pencil at a brisk pace. Here's what there is so far: "Dear journal dear journal. I've been here for so long. I haven't been here long. It's a great place. It's hell. There's so much freedom. I can't do anything. I talk to people all day. I never see anyone. I get so much attention. No one visits. Nobody sees me. I feel so rested and refreshed. I'm exhausted. I'm always happy. I'm so sad. Don't be so egotistical. XXX!!!???." It's not a full page yet but more will come. It takes time. Sometimes it's necessary just to write bigger, to fill the space. Or to draw little pictures. There's a lot of stick figures in this journal. None of them have faces.

If it seems strange that there has been no mention of a bath or shower, it's because today's date is an even number. Baths and showers can only be on days with an odd number and only twice a week. Since today isn't a bath or shower day, there's no point in talking about it. Hair-combing is also only on bath or shower days, which makes sense since that's when it's washed. Short hair makes this easy. Only one more note about bath and shower days. Never use scented shampoo. Days always turn bad with scented shampoo. Scented conditioner is ok. Soap is fine too, as long as it's blue.

There's not much more to say about each and every morning's routine. If all the steps are completed in their satisfactory way, if nothing is missed or confused or done in the wrong order, then there's no reason to not accept the inevitability and the potential of the rest of the day. It will be fine now. No one will be mad and anxiety should be at a minimum.

Outside the door of the room, there's a hallway and a row of chairs. Some are blue plastic and some are white plastic. There's always a place to sit. The blue chairs are best. They're more comfortable than the white. Lunch is served here. Sandwiches and potato chips on a white tray with a glass of juice. It's usually good. There's a tv too.

Sitting peacefully and eating food that is always more delicious after a successful completion of the good morning routine, I can honestly say that I am so much better I am so much better I am so much better than before.

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