Last night, I threw in the towel early after about 1,200 words. Not a bad output – way better than zero – and I even felt pretty good about them. I was actually reading my early chronicles of writing Loosely Based yesterday to contextualize my current pace and it looks like I’m on a blistering tear by comparison.
Anyway, I threw in the towel because I had a migraine that I’d been denying most of the night to try to get to a place where I could write something. It wasn’t completely debilitating yet, though it was on its way there, and this is actually a good opportunity for writing. Having lived with migraines for a decade and a half, I have learned a great deal about them, including the fact that they actually represent a state of heightened awareness and sensitivity. Ultimately, this heightened state becomes completely non-functional, as all light, sound, and stimulus of any kind create overwhelming pain. But the moderate parts of the upswing represent a blood-surge to the brain that creates intense focus and ability.
Don’t get me wrong – I would never intentionally induce this state, because the downside of being knocked out for 8-12 hours (or way more in the bad cases) far outweighs the brief preliminary increased consciousness. But if it’s already underway, there’s no harm in taking advantage of it in that very small window. Unfortunately, the tipping point comes very quickly where the pain of trying to maintain interaction with the world outweighs the benefits of that interaction being of higher quality.
So I turned in early, around 4:00, after eking out four pages and change. And I realized that, migrainous, I was going to have to sleep more than the six-hour standard that I’ve been on the last ten days. (My ideal sleep cycle is four hours, but I think I may have gotten too old for this to be feasible on a constant basis.) And that, my friends, would mean dreams.
They were disjointed and unmemorable at first, as they often are when I’ve prevented myself from dreaming for an extended period. Then they started to coalesce into my standard night fare. In the first of memory, I was grinding my teeth into a pulp (sadly all too realistic, Em reports), to the point where I could feel into my mouth and pull out little chunks of tooth and some accompanying powder. The visceral reality of that dream was absurdly compelling, especially since it was set in my actual location, on the bed in Tiny House.
The follow-up was a more traditional, artificially located dream, in which I had been sent into a movie theater as some sort of harbinger of doom. My goal was equal parts to warn a specific person that something troubling was coming to the theater and to create a general aura of discomfort that aware people would be able to pick up on and join the target and I on the way out the door. Those that made it out the door before I did were safe as a rising tide of panic started sweeping in. Just before I left, the shooting began. I was then instructed to push the double-doors behind me shut and hold them there no matter what. Without considering the consequences in detail (I was mostly focused on how infeasible this seemed for one of my strength), I followed the orders. I felt a surge of almost supernatural power through my arms as I was somehow able to resist the stampeding mob shoving the doors in the other direction, while hearing the two machine gunners make their way through the crowd with a sickening series of automatic bullets and the accompanying anguish of their targets. I was torn between my incredible guilt at what I was aiding, the sweet surprise of my strength, and the fear of realizing that if I let go of the doors, I might well get shot myself. Eventually, it was over and I was able to let go after two minutes of silence. No one in the theater was still alive. I met up with a suspicious-looking counterpart who was apparently the operative holding the other exit shut – the one through which the gunmen had initially entered. We briefly discussed the horrible compromise we’d just had to make to save our own lives before I woke up.
I was going to end the post there, dramatically demonstrating why I aim for less sleep and why I see dreams as such a potent enemy of my own peaceful state of mind. But I have just recalled a third dream, I think just before the tooth dream, that might as well accompany this narrative. Funny how intensely recalling dreams prompts the further recessed recall of others.
My group of male high-school friends and I were all hanging out at what was some sort of college or graduate school, mostly in the cafeteria, but occasionally in the dorms, which resembled hotel lodging more than student housing. Fish hadn’t processed his paperwork properly and was thus deemed unwelcome on the campus, though we hadn’t been caught yet. The dream was basically an extended chase scene where we kept trying to get away from these two slick-looking undercover cops who were going to root Fish out and probably punish all of us as well. Throughout the dream, Fish was the only one of our crew who seemed unperturbed by the situation, while Jake and Gris and I struggled in frustration with how serious our circumstances were and how hard it was to get Fish to recognize this. For some reason, I kept being the one to have cryptic conversations with the cops, as though they suspected I was shielding Fish but didn’t quite have enough evidence yet, so they couldn’t just take me down. The climax took place on a used car lot, somehow the last place I expected them to find us, and they told me the jig was up right before I saw Jake tear out of there with a stolen used car, Fish in tow. I gazed down the highway, wondering if they would make it.
I’m aiming for a return to six hours tonight.