Misha Gafurov, Kyiv

Misha’s 13.12.2011



Fifty-three minutes ago I prepared some sheets of paper to jot down the happenings of the coming day. A good friend of mine asked me to participate in this wonderful project, where all the participants describe a day from their life, in any form. I’m game (of course), and the only problem is that I am not a writer, or a very creative person for that matter (at least not by conventional standards). So my idea is to keep it as straightforward as possible: to write what I mean, you know? No hidden messages, no greater meaning or anything. Just the events, and my thoughts on those events where applicable. The value this may have is to figuratively get into another person’s head for a day.



My life is great and beautiful. I am listening to dubsteb; a chess tournament between the world’s strongest chess engines is running on my netbook on the left; in front of me is my desktop PC, a tool and a friend that will help me to complete two projects for tomorrow. During my first year of studies I developed a sure way of telling that your time-management skills are great: when it’s long past midnight and you’ve just finished working on one project and move on to another.



I put on headphones so as not to disturb my family, who have this weird and non-understandable urge to sleep at night. The music is different: this time a Ukrainian group called Boombox is performing, their leader screaming:

“Доброго ранку порожні пляшки!

І до побачення випічка й кава!

Всі недобиті добив глечики й горшки!

Ай молодчинка! Ай красава!”

(“Good morning empty bottles!

And good-bye bakery and coffee!

Whatever good relationships you’ve had left – you screwed up!

Atta boy! That’s my man!”)

I love this song – it reminds me of how I actually screwed up every single relationship I had not so long ago, maybe two years back, and had to begin from scratch. An easy adrenaline boost every time – perfect for such a night.

Fatigue starts to kick in, and I begin to wonder whether the choices that led me into such a situation (yet again) were rational. And then, for the first time on 13.12.2011, I remember her face. I wonder how many times I’ll recall it during the day?



I also switch off the lights so that my dad will think I’m already asleep and sleep tighter himself. He always becomes very upset when I pull all-nighters.



Another track from Boombox (this time feat. pianoboy) – “She doesn’t really care that I’m on top of my game! Can’t you see I’m flying!”. First time on 13.12.2011 when my heart acted up. I have a non-serious condition, a 2-3 mm mitral heart valve prolapse, to be more precise. It’s usually not a problem, even when I’m killing myself on the track or in the pool/gym, but during sleepless nights I sometimes get this feeling like someone is squeezing my main engine, trying to crush it.

It’ll pass, as usual. No problem here.



I set my alarm to 6:30. I’ll have to take a taxi tomorrow, but an extra 30 minutes of sleep are well worth 50 hryvnas in my book.

This very moment she is sleeping with another man.



I’m packing my bag for the morning. Thinking about that line from the latest remake of Solaris: “We don’t have to think like that anymore”.  The reasons I remembered that: a) the actress who said that line is totally hot and b) I noticed that after 2-3 days of not getting proper sleep, surprisingly the very act of resting becomes less important.

Underslept? Well rested? We don’t have to think like that anymore.



It may appear that I am insincere here, but I actually, REALLY, truly-madly-deeply do NOT mind the lack of sleep. After all, I’m doing what I want (I do want proper education, after all), the music is good, the chess tournament is entertaining (it’s a five-minute blitz round robin with 9 participants and 10 rounds, by the way).

What really bugs me, on the other hand, is that during these nights the fact that I am alone becomes strangely… real, I guess. Yes, “real” is the best word here (shut up thesaurus! “Tangible” is too fancy in this context!). Maybe during the day there are many more distractions.



Time to go to bed but an interesting game is in progress. I will spend the rest 7-8 minutes observing the war between Houdini and Rybka.



After 40 moves Rybka resigned.

Time to get my quality sleep.



A nightmare is my way to prepare for the day. This time it was my father dying from a heart attack, and I couldn’t do anything to stop it – just stood there and watched, literally paralyzed.



Sometimes when I am tired my mood improves. This was one of those times – cracked jokes and laughed with my family throughout breakfast.



I’m already in that taxi I mentioned earlier and on my way to the university. The driver makes a technical stop at the gas station. I reflect: my first year of studies (I always took the bus and basically had a choice of either being an hour early or an hour late – good times); not being able to wake up my dad during today’s nightmare; her face again.



Alone in the classroom. It’s still dark outside (because of all the clouds) and the day looks like it’s going to be gloomy. Agenda for today: 2 presentations, swimming, preparing 3 presentations for tomorrow.



Got home. Solved two out of three tactical puzzles on chess.com.

Did you notice the time tunnel of higher education process? Six hours, BOOM. Gone.

I don’t really have the energy reserves nor any desire to handle swimming right now. But what would super-Misha do? This guy is basically a perfect version of myself. Apparently he would go to the pool, have one hell of a workout, after that successfully prepare all of the presentations and endure another 2-3 hours of sleep like a boss. What a great guy. I want to be like him (I hear he’s quite popular with the ladies), so I pack my bag again and head to the pool.



Another funny thing I’ve noticed about sleep deprivation is how it blocks emotions. For example: during most of my exams I had a perfect poker face when the results were announced – because I spent the whole night preparing, I was too tired to be excited, happy or depressed.

I kind of like it that way.



Found a paper with an executive summary that I can use for tomorrow’s presentation.

Loaded up with carbs and caffeine (I haven’t drunk coffee since 8th grade but I compensate with tea that would make most people throw up).  This should keep me functional for about 3-4 hours, so I have to work fast. Another tactic: opened up all windows so it’s not warm and cosy, and therefore the body is less comfortable and not as likely to start shutting down.

At least I’ve learned SOMETHING after all these years.



That emotion-blocking thing? Apparently it doesn’t work all the time. I’m nervous, anxious, erratic. Just had a very unpleasant talk with her on the phone.



I’m going to sleep in half an hour.



This time I am seriously questioning the soundness of decisions that led me to my current position. Depriving myself of sleep; talking harshly to the people I love; preparing inferior presentations. Hopefully this is just a short-term thing.



I’m looking in the mirror and crying.

I’m not crying because I can’t be with the woman I love. Nor am I crying because I am deeply unsatisfied with my job, education or health. I’m not even crying because the universe doesn’t care for abstract categories constructed by the human mind (such as love, fairness, friendship etc.)

I am crying because I have salicylic acid in my eye.

Apparently, the gods hate me and when I finally was ready to sleep and washed my face with a cosmetic anti-acne soap, some of it got right under my eyelid.


[some time after 22:00]

I am sleeping. Probably experiencing another nightmare. A girl writes me a message – we haven’t seen each other for quite some time and she’ll soon be in Kiev and wants to get together. We always meet when she’s in Kiev. And we always have a great time with each other. So I guess things are about to improve, but that is something that will happen outside of 13.12.2011.




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