Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cure for Sleep

Look at that, it's one o'clock in the morning. In the last month and change, I think I've had literally three nights when I've just fallen asleep when I climbed into bed. And one of those nights was the Fourth of July, when I was drinking beers at a friend's house all day and eating lots of good food. Actually, even that night, after everyone else had gone home and my friends had gone to bed, I stretched out on the couch and spent an hour drunkenly reading six pages of Rob Lowe's autobiography -- which I'd been looking forward to reading, but I was in no shape to try to make heads or tails of it that night, I just wasn't ready to close my eyes on the off chance I'd actually just go ahead and go the fuck to sleep. But the beauty of being at least a little bit drunk (or better still good and drunk) is that your brain is highly unlikely to clamp onto the one thing you tell it not to -- like you say, "Okay, let's not think about . . ." whatever, whatever it is that makes you anxious or ashamed or angry. And then of course you think about that, and you might as well put your pants back on and play sudoku on the computer for three hours.

And that's the part that truly sucks about insomnia: I'm not sharp. Like right now -- I am NOT sharp. I don't have any deep thoughts, anything interesting to say. I'm fucking tired. That's why I went to bed in the first place TWO HOURS AGO. I was tired, I'd used my brain more than enough today, and it was time to let the big muscle rest so that I can use it again tomorrow. Except about a minute after I closed my eyes, this went through my head: "Hmmm. Okay. Feels good. Feels right. Feels like I'm going to drift right off to (pause here for a heartfelt yawn) sleep. . . . Glad I'm not thinking about . . . Aw fuck! No! You stupid stupid sonofabitch. Why? Why?! Why do you do that?" I rolled over. I opened my eyes, cocked an eyebrow, sighed, then threw back the covers, grabbed my pants, grabbed a shirt, and here I am.

I was thinking about doing a kickstarter -- do you know what that is? It's where you go to this website, you make a pitch for a project you're working on, and you say, "This is how much money I need to do my project." Then you post it everywhere you know how, email it to your friends and family, get them to send it to everyone they know, people pledge money, and if your pledge goal is met in like a month, you get all that money (minus handling fees and a small slice for the kickstarter website) to put toward your project. My friend Doug did it for his cowboy poet documentary, and I'm very happy to say he met his goal. It's pretty cool. Anyway, it turns out I can't do a kickstarter because you have to have a bank account (obviously), and I don't and won't. But, hey, you can still contribute: just send your checks and money orders to my attention at the Bear Cave, 105 Main Street, Waterville, Maine 04901. We also accept sandwiches and packs of Camel lights.

Some nights when I can't sleep it's because, for one reason or another, I've remembered something else I left behind in my former house. I used to refer to all those lost items as things that were lost in the fire, but that's disingenuous, isn't it? No, there was no fire. I just couldn't stand to be there. Which, objectively speaking, is pretty fucking ridiculous . . . unless you've ever had the experience of a happy familiar place suddenly haunting you. Anyway, most of what I left behind was just stuff, baubles and trinkets and endless dead weight. Some of it, though, mattered. Some of it meant more to me, and in random moments I can still picture exactly where those things sat in my house, or where they were at the end, the last time I walked through, throwing this and that into boxes that Hank and I tossed in the back of his truck, with every intention of returning -- soon -- for more. But we never went back. I couldn't stand to be there for more than a few moments, and after that last time, I had so many opportunities to go there, I could have literally gotten everything I owned out of the place. Then one day, more than a month after the last time, some friends drove by the place and saw the signs on the doors: locked down. The bank, she took the house.

Which in a strange way was a relief. Until that day, I was operating on the assumption that I'd be going back in there -- that I would have to, because I still had stuff there, some of which I still wanted. In truth, though, for a long time after I fell apart, I didn't want any of it. Duh, right? Why would you want stuff if you're so severely depressed? But in bits and pieces I grabbed a boxful here, a boxful there. The books I loved the most (of the couple thousand on my shelves) I got out of there. Pictures of my daughter, most of those made it. Some clothes. My computer, of course. A weird ceramic pencil holder my college girlfriend made for me. A coffee mug my younger brother gave me for Christmas a couple years ago. My electric clippers. Shit like that. Shit I still have.

Sometimes, though, I wonder about my two-volume collection of Proust. Did that end up in a dumpster? What about the copy of The Sound and the Fury that I read in college and marked up with my pithy annotations and bold underlines? Or my massive dictionary -- where the fuck is that? Shift gears: what about the cupboard full of board games Braden and I used to play? Or her Legos? She had a lot of really fucking cool Legos, man. Castles and ships and houses and Spongebob. All gone.

Of course, losing sleep over any or all of these things is senseless: they're gone, they've been gone for more than a year, and dwelling on them avails me nothing but a later than ideal start to my day tomorrow. Still, there's something about remembering all the lost pieces, connecting them to a time before everything seemed hopeless, recalling how they felt as my fingertips passed over them in the time when all had gone very much to hell, and looking back now from this peculiar time that is neither. That's the thing about the descent into the maelstrom: you and all your stuff swirl round and round on an inexorable course toward the bottom, the maelstrom spitting out only what it chooses, only when it chooses.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure I saved my Poe.

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