Lack of Sleep

Being awake at two a.m. is not something I make a habit of, but sometimes – when life is overwhelming and insomnia sets in – I find myself laying awake in bed pondering the meaning of life, or wondering about human existence. During those times all I can do is wait for the thoughts to run out and for my mind to shut off. Chances are sunlight will start leaking through my curtains before that happens and I’ll start thinking about how much caffeine I’ll need to make it through the day.  Looking like a raccoon’s cousin should be a new type of fashion statement, at least on the days when I feel that I look like one.

My brain-to-mouth filter is pretty decent on a good day, especially in my line of work, but when I suffer from sleep deprivation it tends to verge on non-existent and the edge of hysteria will break through. Like a miniature tidal wave. My co-workers are very good at feeding me Starbucks during those days and covering for my verbal diarrhea. They are wonderful and I’m pretty sure that I amuse them immensely. I figure if I can make people laugh while I’m feeling loopy, then that’s a small point towards a slightly better world.

The insomnia only ever lasts a few days, but it can be brutal. No amount of warm milk, calming tea, or sleep aids can help me. Well, nothing short of a brick to my head anyway, and even that’s a bit questionable.

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All boundaries are conventions. (A ‘Cloud Atlas’ 2012 Review)

A coworker was arguing at me a few days ago about The Avengers being better than Cloud Atlas. (Please note that he has not seen Cloud Atlas, but just likes forcing his opinion on others. I am a neutral person so I’m usually the target of his arguments.) I loved both movies but, as I told him, I found it impossible to compare the greatness of both movies because they are very different from each other. They each affected me in completely different ways. The Avengers movie thrilled and excited me in a way that only a long-time continuity could; Cloud Atlas moved and inspired me in such a way that I had no idea what my feelings were doing.

I went to see Cloud Atlas opening night and then went again the next night. I can say with complete honesty that it blew my mind. I was simultaneously impassioned, motivated and inspired. There was also some despair and lighthearted happiness thrown in there somewhere. By the end of the film I had no clue what emotion I was actually feeling; they were all over the map and my brain decided that the best self defense against the onslaught of feelings was for me to sob uncontrollably. This was the first time I had ever been so emotionally invested in a movie.

Cloud Atlas is essentially six separate stories being told to you at once. In the beginning you have little idea as to how they’re related and then mid-way through the movie everything starts to interconnect beautifully; everything suddenly makes sense. Revelations are made and connections are discovered and you’re left reeling from the force of it. I’m limiting what I tell you because I’m hoping that everyone will go see it in theaters and I don’t want to spoil anyone who hasn’t seen it yet… or read it.

Currently on top of my ‘to read’ pile.

I discovered right before going to see Cloud Atlas in theaters that it was based on a book. Usually I’m a bit more aware of these things and I’m a firm believer of books being better than their movies. Since the movie effected me so much, I can only imagine what the book will do to me and I’ll be sure to keep you all posted. Needless to say I’ve bought the book and I’m hesitating to read it this close to the start of NaNoWriMo, but I don’t think I’ll be able to hold off much longer. I’m craving to see the movie a third time and the book is sitting conveniently beside me. I’ve never been good at resisting temptation.

November is just around the corner.

November is National Novel Writing Month, and if you don’t know what that is, please click on the above image because The Office of Letters and Light will do a better job of explaining it to you than me. During the month of November I do my best to write 50,000 words in thirty days. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at novel-writing November is the perfect month to start because you’ll have 300,000 other people there to motivate you and encourage you and help you leap over plot holes.

I could tell you that it’s easy and that 50,000 words is not a lot, but that would be a giant fib and I’m not going to lie to you. I will tell you that winning feels AMAZING and you get a sense of  accomplishment even if you know that your novel is going to require some serious editing later. There will be late nights and early mornings and getting eight hours of sleep at least one night a week will seem like an impossibility. Caffeine will become the newest love of your life for the duration of the month and you will get enormous dark circles under your eyes but after a while you’ll stop caring about your appearance because it takes away from your writing time. You will make new friends and have an intelligent support network (via the NaNo forums)  at your beck and call at any time you need them, because you can’t afford to get lost on Wikipedia.

You’re probably thinking something along the lines of: I can’t write a novel in a month! I have no idea what to write about and I don’t have a plot. BUT YOU CAN and it will be brilliant. I had a general idea that I wanted to do something with Fairy Tales and Dinosaurs for this years NaNo and it took me maybe thirty minutes to think up a plot to combine those two radically different things. Your mind can and will surprise you with the sheer amount of imagination, creativity and ideas that it can produce.

Even if you don’t reach 50,000 words by November 30th you’ll STILL be a winner because you’ll have given it your best shot and you will probably write more than you ever have before. Yes, you will be rocking some serious sleep deprivation and be more over-caffeinated than you’ve ever been in your life, but it’s WORTH it. Your family will think you’re strange and some of your co-workers will avoid you when you’re writing in the break room, BUT IT’S WORTH IT. I promise.

If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel I highly encourage you to give National Novel Writing Month a chance, and if you haven’t, well, I can tell you that you’ll be missing out on a grand amount of fun.

Warning: there is much friendship sap ahead.

You know when you’re a kid and you make that ONE great friend who likes all the same things you do and then you end up keeping them for the rest of your life despite them moving across the country and not seeing them face to face very often? Yeah, well I wrote a sappy poem-song about mine. Clearly I’m just trying to embarrass myself, but it’s absolutely worth it. Also – I am not a poet so this is most likely rubbish.

This is an accurate depiction of how our friendship started and still is. If anyone can pick out which books are referenced in the poem-song I’ll give them virtual brownies! ( I promise it’s probably not that hard to figure out – brownies for EVERYONE).

The Heart of an Open Book

Rainy day; school library
Eleven years old.
Stuck inside, but I don’t mind.
This story untold.
You sat down right beside
Me on the floor.
Nose in a book, I took a look
I’ve read that before.

Now we’re wrapped up in conversation
One that took us by surprise
Magic and swords, knighthood and wars
A squire girl with violet eyes
Finding common ground with fantasy
Made our friendship start to bloom
When the bell for class rang at last
I didn’t want to leave the room

Sunny day; school library
Seventeen years old
Time passed and up we grew
Our friendship no longer new
Still reading side by side
Our minds out with the tide
From the pages our eyes rarely stray
Until one of us has something to say

Suddenly a whirlwind conversation
That no longer takes us by surprise
Magic and charms, lightening bolt scars
A wizard boy with bright green eyes
Our love of books brought us together
And made our great friendship last
Best friends through the good and bad
Who knew time could fly so fast?

Now we’re twenty-five
With our own lives
There are provinces between us
And the distance made us wise
Now too many things take up our time
And books have taken the backseat
But now and then the phone will ring
And on the other end –

An enthusiastic conversation
That makes us pleasantly surprised
Dragon tattoos and family feuds
A girl who played with fire
Books keep us glued together
Even when we’re far apart
Friends like us will last forever
We know it in our hearts.

PS — It’s Banned Book Week and this is an awesome thing! Everyone should read a banned book at least once in their lives and this is the perfect time to do it! Go out there and fight censorship, WITH READING! How amazing is that?!

PPS — Did anyone else meet their best friend in a library? Or was it just us? We’re a bit weird so if it WAS just us then it wouldn’t surprise me.

PPPS — Happy October! Halloween is on the way and Autumn is here and that means that I can drink all the pumpkin spice latte’s that I want without getting strange looks!

Once I get up I feel better and I pull myself together.

I remember those two letters; it will be O.K.

Everybody has their own dysfunctions; some have more than others, and some barely have any. I fit into the ‘more than others’ category. I have difficulty filtering what I think from what I say. I tend to fan-girl at the worst possible moments. I’m a bit socially awkward and meeting new people is synonymous with getting a tooth pulled. I also have extreme reclusive tendencies, to the point where just going outside can be a lot more difficult than it should. These are just a few examples of how much weirder I am than a good majority of the people I know.

I also know that I’m not alone.

It took me at least four-thirds of my life to realize this fact. Prior to the realization, I knew that people were accepting of ‘the jumpy girl running the cash register‘ or ‘I don’t know why my daughter is the way that she is, but I love her anyway‘ or ‘it’s weird when she hides herself but I like her, I guess‘. It got really messy in my head for a little while and I wasn’t entirely sure I’d make it out alive. Then the realization came. It was a few years ago when I witnessed a man actively avoid physical and verbal contact with everyone else in the cafe I was writing in – to the point where, when it got really crowded, he ran to the men’s room and I could see him peeking out from behind the door to see when the crowd dispersed. I have no idea why he was in the cafe that day, but I am very thankful that he was. It was like looking at a mirror image of what I did sometimes. I was a bit more subtle about it than he was, but it was exactly the same. It hit me in the face then, that I wasn’t alone in what I was going through. That there were other people who fought themselves over going out into the big bad world with all its humanity. It was an oddly wonderful feeling.

I would also like to say that I’ve gotten a lot better since then. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some very bad days, but they aren’t as frequent as they used to be. I still frequently get my ‘run and hide’ instinct when I’m around large crowds of people but I can control it somewhat, where I couldn’t before. Having a somewhat distant family and friends that didn’t push me helped a lot.

What I went through is something that I don’t talk about often, mostly because I don’t like the questions that come with it. The why’s and how’s and the confused looks when I’m trying to tell someone that sometimes the thought of stepping outside my front door used to crush the air out of my lungs. Or that sometimes I still need to meditate before I leave the house so the irrational fear doesn’t overwhelm me. There are quite a few people out there who are incapable of understanding, and I’ve accepted that too. It’s okay to not understand or relate to the crazy reclusive girl. I understand and that’s a good thing.

Dysfunctions and weirdness are apart of everyone. Whether you’re reclusive, fighting depression or another mental illness (possibly more than one), or you’re a giant socially awkward geek that nobody understands, an outcast, a victim, or you’ve just lost a very important person in your life.

You. Are. Not. Alone.

I’m not going to tell you that it gets easier or that it gets completely better, because those would be lies. I will however tell you, that there will be both good days and bad days, and to quote Doctor Who – life is just a pile of good things and bad things. Always remember the good things no matter how hard the bad things try to pull you down and if you can’t remember the good things, cling to those who care about you like a lifeline; they don’t have to understand you to care about you. It could be any one, including but not limited to your cat/dog/chinchilla. Just let them love you… it helps.

That took longer for me to get out than I thought it would. Now that my seriousness is over – get over here so I can internet hug you.

Even if the skies get rough.

One of the things I enjoy about writing is the feeling of being unleashed. Like, being set loose after a long time in confinement. The need to write and create. The feeling of the keys beneath my fingertips typing out every little thing that pops into my head. Every word, every descriptive paragraph and every scene. In a way, writing makes me feel alive. It gives me a reason to get through the day, so I can come home and type out two measly paragraphs. That might not seem like such an accomplishment, but after a long and exhausting day at work, I’m lucky to even make it past my couch to get to the computer chair. It’s an effort that I’m willing to make, at least, when I’m not partially unconscious.

The feeling of a pen in my hand, the slide of ink on paper, and the easy relaxation that comes from jotting down disjointed thoughts in the margins of notebooks. I can type faster than I can write, but one thing I’ve learned is that some things are better written out by hand. Letters to friends a few provinces over (even though I talk to them regularly over the phone) and little notes that I leave on my mothers fridge when I visit (they make her smile and I know she keeps them all).

Writing, whether by hand or by computer, helps me relax and unclog my mind. It’s the calm in my storm and I love it unconditionally. I’m sure everyone has something they cherish like I do writing. I also think that everyone should take the opportunity to acknowledge that ‘thing’ and hold onto it with all their might. It’s the thing that you do everyday because it keeps you sane. It’s the thing that you think about doing while you’re at work or stuck in traffic. It’s the thing that you gladly give all of your attention to without a second thought. For me… that thing is writing.

What’s yours?

“An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.”

Happy 200th Birthday Mr. Dickens! If only you could have known the affect your writing would still have on the world two hundred years later.

“Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress.”

“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”

“There are strings in the human heart that had better not be vibrated.”

“It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes, and softens down the temper; so cry away.”

“To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart.”

“Life is made of ever so many partings welded together.”

Charles Dickens – 7 February 1812 to 9 June 1870.