As usual, I'm hunched over the keyboard on the old
oak desk in the lower left corner of my one room, train-side
apartment trying to write again. I keep resting my head on this
wonderful, pea green refrigerator circa 1952. I've been at this
fucking project for roughly four months, but nothing is coming.
The more the time passes by, the more I stare at the peeling,
greenish brown walls in this apartment. I really don't think that
the word "apartment" is appropriate here. The word "compartment"
would be better; apartments are places people live, a compartment
is where people stash things away. That's what I've done with
myself. I've stashed myself away until I write something
worthwhile. So I should correct my opening statement. It should
go something like this: "As usual, I'm hunched over the keyboard
on the old oak desk in the lower left corner of my one room,
train-side compartment right next to this wonderful, pea green
refrigerator circa 1952, trying to write again."
Sitting here is killing me. It's all I do anymore
because nothing is coming. The walls and the computer screen, the
floor and the ceiling, my cot, everything is just an object to
keep me from writing. If I had nothing here, I'd find a way to
focus on the nothingness, just so long as I didn't write. The
whole situation is ridiculous, and what makes it worse is that it
gets more and more difficult to focus as the time goes on.
Boredom somehow transforms into exhaustion. My eyes start feeling
buoyant, a sure sign I won't be conscious for much longer. I give
myself an hour, tops. And there I go; wandering from the desk to
my bed. For how short the trip is, I've never known it to seem
like a leisurely or quick one. Just like tonight, or this morning
maybe, I'm not sure, it's a fight to make it to my mattress.
That initial flop onto a mattress as you're heading
off to sleep is one of the most amazing feelings a person can
experience. Plummeting from five feet above that fluffy rectangle
of happiness and hitting with a force that would cause a
concussion if a harder surface was hit the same way, is beautiful
in the same way Thanksgiving dinner is beautiful: they're both
pure, unbridled slovenliness that no person would sneer at, or
even think a judgmental thought about.
Then insomnia strikes. Insomnia is quite possibly the
single most despicable problem in existence. It robs a person of
the raw joy of a good night's sleep, and ruins any productiveness
that the following day could offer. When it happens, there is
nothing to do but lay, or if you're lucky, take some kind of drug
to allow you to sleep.
Knowing that there is nothing to take, I choose my
only option, and try to sleep, further acquainting myself with
insomnia. By now, we already know each other far better than I
would like to, but still it never seems to pass up an opportunity
to keep me company. At any rate, why break tradition at this
point? It stared at me from all directions in the fizzing,
popping bedroom/kitchen/living room darkness. Insomnia never
fails to taunt me, reminding me constantly just how tired I am,
but never letting me drift off long enough to lose consciousness.
Sometimes it lets me start to go, only to jerk me back to the
world at the brink of slumber. After a while, I try to force
sleep. I slam my eyes shut, and try my best to focus on
nothingness, only to notice some second layer of thought, and I
begin thinking about my need to go to sleep.
Insomnia does not do anything; it simply sits back, letting me do
its job for it, laughing at me the whole time. Hours pass in a
week's time, and I am still not asleep. I just continue tossing
and turning, flipping the pillow over every few minutes hoping
for the perfect temperature, but never finding it. I kick off my
sheets and pull them back over my head in fits only minutes
apart, and get angry and blame this thing or that for my lack of
rest, knowing that insomnia is a blameless complication.
I begin to think about the idea of insomnia in abstract, wordless
ideas. These thoughts take on a frame within a frame feeling,
layering on each other the more I think. They shoot off in
tangents, which branch off into others. The branches begin
branching off into such abstract areas that they can hardly be
called thoughts anymore. They started out organized, in neat
little rows, then slowly losing their form, becoming puddles of
mud, dissipating into clouds of half-sleep thoughts, and finally
losing their thoughthood altogether, changing from clouds to an
aurora of dream which starts permeating from the back of my mind.
The dreams start as a thin veil over waking-thought, gaining
thickness over time until no other conscious effort can pierce
the atmosphere of illogic that surrounds dream-thought.
Sitting up from my bed, I find myself balancing precariously on
the tip of some spiral minaret and look around. I survey, through
the masses of gray-black clouds, the pure, white landscape of
rolling hills dotted with occasional neon red sycamore trees.
While gazing, I look down to find the minaret jutting some
unfathomable height out of the alabaster ground below. My feet,
apparently, decide that west in the best direction to go. So they
carry me out of bed and down the minaret, amethyst colored,
muffin shaped platforms forming under my feet with every step on
On my way down, the platforms continue through some of the lower
hanging iron clouds full of masses of buzzing electric beetles
and a myriad of other animals composed of various proportions of
storm clouds and lightning. They swarm me, passing around me, and
sometimes through me, causing flashes of indescribable colors and
shapes. As they move about the clouds, the only sounds they make
are the occasional cracks and booms of their storm bodies, all
the while never ceasing their voltaic hum. Lightning bolt eels
and snakes slither through the nimbus sea, alongside thundercloud
fish and bears that are crackling thunderstorms in and of
themselves. As my legs continue taking me lower, I can't help but
turn the parts of my body under my control back toward the clouds
for one last glimpse of the storm creatures. With the distance
between us widening, I slowly lose sight of them traversing their
The ground is getting nearer and nearer, and upon closer
inspection, the albino hills reveal themselves to be less than
solid. It seems to flow and be made up of an uncountable number
of marble sized white beads. Farther ahead are the red sycamores,
snowy waves lapping against their trunks, causing tiny ripples to
travel through the paper-flame trees, up the branches, sending
tiny flare-shards of glowing, sanguine leaves out into the air,
only to dissipate into miniscule nebulas of copper dust in a
matter of moments.
Finally, after descending ad infinitum, control of my legs is
restored to me, and I step out onto the sea of marbles. A black
spot forms under my foot upon contact with it, sending bits of
itself in all directions seemingly reaching each ruby sycamore at
the same time, and causing them to be enveloped in flames of
varying reds, purples, yellows, and oranges. In spite of the
abounding colors of fire now covering every tree, they all begin
billowing the same coal shade of smoke in straight pillars that
feed the clouds, gradually blotting out any light that was
previously making its way to the ground.
Most trees are now dwindling to the point of nothingness, with
the last remnants of smoke finishing their ascent to the death
colored cloud blanket above. The sky is completely blocked out,
and yet the ashen tide under my feet is emitting enough sepia
light to keep the flowing landscape visible. The smoke-bloated
clouds, now seemingly sagging, occasionally drop amorphous
globules of blackness onto a glowing, semi-solid floor. A soft
sprinkle of the liquid shade begins falling, splattering on the
ground into an ever-increasing coating of fog. As soon as it hits
it forms miniature ground clouds which, as if by some
programming, commence drifting toward my feet. I try moving from
spot to spot, then running when the effluvium continues closing
in on me.
I give up. It flows under my feet, as if to reset itself, and
slowly takes on its original form of a tiny, pitch black disc
only slightly larger around than my size ten feet. I wait for the
whole process to repeat itself, but instead find myself being
raised through the air. It is slow at first, but begins gaining
speed, until I can feel the stale air making burn marks on any
exposed skin it can find. I lose the ability to discern any
semblance of flow or even the marbles that make up the ground,
and the charred sycamores fall out of sight at electric speeds.
My cloud elevator continues to shoot me skyward, back up through
the low hanging clouds, where I see my thundercloud menagerie
again, but only for a split second. Soon I pass my bed, still
teetering on the very tip of the minaret. The gaseous lift
continues firing me up until I pass above the higher clouds.
There is nothing but white light, which could only be described
as a flash because of the speed of my travel upward. Its
brightness gives way to blackness as the former fog drives me
through what little atmosphere there was, causing me to be
uncomfortably warm, but it too, only lasts a matter of seconds. I
begin choking; gasping for air, in the area beyond the
atmosphere, but the cloud platform never ceases its feverish
movement, it only changes direction, making an arc to my left. My
lungs are aching, but before suffocation takes me, I find myself
bubbling and covered in plain whiteness. I can see nothing but
the color white in front of me and yellow-red flares peeling off
in the horizon, and all I can do is burn.
I shoot up from my bed screaming, hands over my face, eyes wide
open in terror, only to find a few shafts of morning light
peaking through the shades in my room. I let out a sigh of relief
at the realization of safety, and begin to fall back to my bed.
Luckily I catch myself, and it hits me what just happened, so I
bound out of bed, and make a mad dash for my computer, focusing
in a desperate effort not to lose my freedom from writer's block.