Friday, June 30, 2017

Sleepless in...





If there is an upside to insomnia it’s the idea that at four in the morning there is damn little else to do but write. Of course, I could watch a movie, read a book, pet the dogs, or even do housework, but it’s four in the morning and what else is there to do but write? I could walk in the woods, but it’s cloudy again and since we’ve had 30 centimeters of rain in June there are more mosquitoes outside than there are tweets coming from the president when he’s had a bad day. Last night when I did sleep I had dreams that blended together, separated, dissipated, and finally ended with me sitting up in bed wondering if there are other people who have this problem.


Oddly, there are dreamscapes, places in dreams where the dreams are taking place, geographic locations as it were, that do not exist in reality, or are modified to fit the dreams, and these places reoccur on occasion. There are some my mind returns to again and again and I have no idea what they all have in common except they don’t exist anywhere else.

There is an old wood frame farmhouse that exists in the dreamworld. From where I am sitting right now who ever built it, if they still lived there, would be my neighbors. The screens in the windows are long gone, and so is everything else inside of the house but the windows still let the light in and whoever painted the inside of the house liked blue. New and cleaned up a bit, it would be the place a family could get started. I could see a man and his wife, three months showing, moving in and setting up here. A cat would walk the counters and sit in the windows, and a dog would hunt in the yard. There isn’t a porch but the steps going into the house would be wide enough for a couple to sit close and have the dog beside them as they drank coffee and watched the sun go down.


Maybe they were here, in reality, back fifty years ago, or maybe not at all. It would be odd to meet someone who was born fifty years ago who once lived out here. They would tell me about the house they grew up in and I would nod, knowing the house as well as they did.  They would tell me about the steps in front and I would already know they remembered watching the sun go down with the dog plopped down under their feet. I remember your house. I’ve been inside of the kitchen and looked out of the window that was too high for you to see out of until you turned eight.


In this reality, which I sometimes wonder if it’s not some odd form of dream that comes and goes, the house is totally gone. No one I have ever spoke to remembers it being there but then again, they live in a very solid universe where dreams are forgotten as soon as the eyes open or the remnants are ignored unless someone was eaten by a bear. This is the only world and the only world in which to put concern or consideration. There is nothing out there but the past and it is gone and there is nothing inside but the ability to figure out how to live while awake. What on earth are you talking about?


But there have been, very likely, many homes in this area. I drive by abandoned houses and wonder what they looked like new. A man burning off his yard this spring went inside to watch television and the fire devoured an old trailer in the woods. I’ve seen in a thousand times, likely many thousands of times, going to work, coming home, driving into town, and finally I drove by the smoking ruins. The Sherriff was there and there was a man in handcuffs. There was nothing left of the trailer but smoke and ruin and melted metal. I have often wondered who put the trailer there and why they let to go into disrepair, but it has never shown up in a dream.


Many years ago I helped a man take the wreckage of an old trailer to the landfill. A huge pine limb had shattered it and there was no method to repair it, except at great cost. His wife still loved the place; both of their children had been conceived there. But a half dozen trips to the landfill and there was nothing left but the place under the trailer where the grass has long since died. The grass would return and the woman would haunt the new grass, pouring her memories out and watering the grass with them. Perhaps the trees remember the people who once lived here and they pass the memories onto me, for reasons I cannot explain to you now. Or ever, perhaps.


The sky is growing light now and soon I will drive by where there was once a trailer and I’ll drive by graveyards were there were once people with memories. Maybe somewhere in the ground not far from where I’ll drive is the person conceived in the house that only the trees, and I, remember. Maybe the person never existed at all and it is I who am shifting dreams into the trees. Perhaps, in some way, there is a medium in which we live we cannot see when we are awake and are only vaguely aware of it when we sleep, and dream. Nevertheless, I swim in this pool at night, betimes, and when I awake I can see the homes of the long dead, or never existed, as if they were still here, or if they were once here, it is not clear to me which way the truth lies now.

The day begins, the night ends, and I walk among those who sleep at night, in the small hours where a gulf opens up between those people and myself, and another closes where the places I dream about are as real as where you are right now.


Take Care,

Mike

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Insomnia and Districting Bears

There should have been some sort of warning that I would become married to insomnia but instead it slipped up on me like a stripper asking me to buy her a drink. Most people would like to stay up later and get more done, and maybe they even drink coffee or stab themselves in the genitals to stay awake, but me? I’m running on autopilot. I couldn’t sleep right now if I was dead.

It really started about an hour or so ago, with the barking of my neighbor’s dog and my neighbor doesn’t have a dog but there is one there and he is barking. They’ve experimented with various forms of canine over the years but this is a rough environment for dogs who are not safely ensconced in a pen during the day and sleep inside at night. Most people who have outside free ranging dogs around here do not have them for very long. This is the woods’ hood.


Sleep was something I could do all day when I was younger. Frequently, I would sleep until noon and sometimes, and this was far less frequent, I would get off work and just go to bed, at like five in the afternoon, and sleep all night and wake up the next morning feeling great. I miss that. I miss sleeping. I miss the feeling of being rested and being recharged. But I have coffee and writing so there’s some positivity in this.

The odd thing about being a writer is watching the words form in front of you on a screen and as you’re trying to get your thought out there in some sort of reasonable fashion you have these thoughts like, “Gee, I’ve never used the word ‘positivity’ before, ever, is there a reason for this?” And you stop and stare at the word until you are completely convinced you’ve misspelled it and actually typed some other word that looks somewhat like the word you were trying to use. You wind up looking it up in the online dictionary and there is great peril in wandering around in a dictionary for an hour or so exploring words that look like positivity but have nothing to do with what you were writing, which has been abandoned because you were districted. Distracted. What in the hell does districted mean? I’ll be back, wait here.


Damn, that’s a word? I bet I don’t use it, ever, but then again, now it’s there and I might. This is like reaching into a vast bag of colored beads and trying to string them together to make a necklace, and as you string them you also take one or two out, restring them, and then you find one that looks odd and you wonder where the hell that came from, but you use it anyway and wonder if it works. Yeah, writing is like that sometimes.


And right now I can visualize in my head, as if I would ever visualize anywhere else, some character speaking about some area being districted, and you know this guy is in the military and he’s talking about refugees or prisoners or some area that has to be policed by the military will is never a good thing for anyone involved. There’s a story there but it will have to wait until more beads slip onto the string.


Before the internet I had a few thousand words in my vocabulary that I had no idea how to pronounce and still couldn’t on a bet. Yet You Tube has pronunciation videos on nearly every word known to humankind. Writers tend to use words other people do not because a sentence that has the word “hit” in it three or four times tends to bog a reader down. Strike, pummel, bruise, or beat, just might be better and sometimes we have to go looking for trouble. Online dictionaries, for all their perils for distraction, are goldmines. I still have a collection of hardbound dictionaries that will always been mine, but I have to admit I haven’t picked one up in a while.



A friend of mine told me that when she couldn’t sleep she would take a shower and masturbate. It didn’t always work, she admitted, but it always left her clean and less stressed out. My well would be dry and my arm muscles would look like a bodybuilder’s if I did that. And I’ve been given a list of things to try; green tea, various supplements, warm milk, essential oils, and various prescription drugs. I woke up in my truck one night, naked, and the truck’s engine running, but I was still in my driveway. Ambien. Roll the dice if you feel lucky. That was genuinely scary.


I used to sleepwalk on a regular basis but I haven’t done it in a while. I would wake up standing in the living room and it was always a bit disconcerting. I’ve always had nightmares and some of them have made great fiction, but some of them are best left where they lie. The truly scary dreams are those that when you wake up realize could very well happen. I had a dream about being chased and caught by a bear, and bears are real creatures. They are also really scary real creatures and you don’t have to dress them up or make them worse. They’ll do just fine with what they have and what they can do. You better be packing if you try districting bears.


I bet that last sentence has never been written before.



That’s the thing, really, when you write, is that you want to write something that’s new and good, and you hope that what you’ve done isn’t going to sound like it was written by an eight year old who is missing two random letters on his keyboard and just doesn’t realize it because he’s hyped on lemon drops and old Ren and Stimpy cartoons. You hope that if you have to be up at night because you cannot sleep, the least the Universe can do is make you interesting for it.


Take Care,
Mike