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.