Insomnia vs. Somnia

“Somnia” is not a word; “insomnia” is. That’s just English. Non-native speakers (like me) beware. There are as many exceptions to the rules as those that follow the rules. Not only many words starting with “in” don’t have corresponding antonyms that lose the prefix “in”, but also some “in” and non-“in” pairs completely disregard the convention that they should be contradictory to each other. For example, “valuable” and “invaluable”, “sure” and “insure”, just to mention a couple of them. Sometimes one can’t help wondering if the rules are entirely necessary. With the exceptions to the rules being so numerous, what’s the point of setting the rules?

I’ve been having this insomnia for more than two weeks and I am bewildered with this new development. I used to sleep so well. Sometimes even before my head touched the pillow, I would be gone to a dream of oblivion. I could also sleep at my desk during lunch time if I had not had sufficient sleep the night before due to various reasons. My friends are often amazed at my power of falling sleep and I suspect that I am remembered and will be remembered as the person who can sleep, though I’ve never made the inquiries. It would be weird to ask people, “are you going to remember me as the one who can sleep.”

Now I can’t sleep anymore. At midnight every day, I don’t feel that usual sleepiness, though my body feels tired. I guess my limbs are ready for bed but my brain is not. I don’t understand. Can’t the limbs communicate with the brain and send the “ready for sleep” message?

I have been taking melatonin for the last five days. Here’s what I do. I went to bed at 11:30 and try to sleep naturally. If I can’t do that by midnight or ten minutes after midnight, I will get up and take a pill of melatonin 10mg extra strength. Half an hour later, the drowsiness will come and I will fall sleep. In the morning, I still feel a little bit of the after-effect. A little bit of motion and visual impediments is still lingering even though I feel that I’ve already had enough sleep. After 10AM, I will be back to my normal self.

It is said that the incomplete wakefulness is helpful to writing, but I haven’t experienced that so far. Not yet. It is claimed that this is discovered by Freud–in our dream, with our consciousness gone and restrictive social rules not applicable, we behave more naturally and think more naturally. I wish I can write better before 10AM when the remnant of melatonin is still exerting its power over my consciousness. So far it is still in my wish. My writing seems to be impervious to the wonderful opportunity opened up. It’s still as unsatisfactory as before.

Can’t Live With Or Without Impulse

I hate impulses, especially impulse purchase. I went to Trader Joe’s today and bought a big bunch of things. Completely over my budget. Do I really need the “Tomato Basil Hummus”? No, but it is so good that I can finish the whole thing before I start my dinner. Do I really need the one gallon Aloe Vera drink? No, but I like to add it to my juice drinks. And the “Crunchy Curls” of lentil and potato snacks. I can’t live without it, but I really don’t need it that much. And what do I mean when I say I need it or not? I don’t know.

I know for a long time that I really don’t need any new clothes–non-expensive clothes–but I continue to buy them anyway. I mean buying clothes is not only a waste of money for me, also a waste of time. Still I continue. Must be the evil of habit. I already have the habit of buying things. I mean useless things. Now to think of it, most of the things we go out to buy are useless and we can live very well without. I almost feel that the reason I go out to buy things is to help the local businesses. Once I said that my friend laughed at me that my tiny little purchase will help nobody. I might as well save the trouble.

Now look at my writing. It’s sadly not advancing. I mean I should have spent all those time to sharpen my skill and perfect my craft, but instead I waste my time on wanton useless impulses. I’m an Asian immigrant and I should uphold our tradition (or stereotype) of hard work without a break, minimalism in purchasing, self denial to the extreme. The problem is that if I exercise that with my writing, it is a disaster. Whenever I force myself into a disciplined schedule and a state of self monitoring, my writing becomes worse than it already is–as if that is possible since sometimes I feel that I just can’t write any worse.

C told me that she thought of applying to Iowa, probably a PhD since she can’t afford a master. I don’t even know what Iowa means. So I searched. Thank goodness for Internet. This audible book I bought last year, “We Wanted to Be Writers: Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop”, with an unnecessarily long title, probably could tell me something. So I listen to it. The content is arranged in a strange way–I would never structure a book like that–but I really like it after going through half of the book. That’s the problem that a book can never be love at first sight for me since I have to go through at least fifty pages before I can decide whether I like it or not. So the sample given by Kindle book is too little to have any effect.

Now I am at the end of the audible book and it mentioned John Cheever. So I found the John Cheever book I finished several years ago and went through the index. Alas, I can’t remember most of it. I can only remember “The Enormous Radio”, “The Five-Forty-Eight”,
“The Swimmer”, “O City of Broken Dreams” and that’s about it. I can’t remember anything else. However I know there’s one story that I really liked, about a girl who describes how her husband’s snobby relatives snub her and make her feel inferior–the girl is quite a pretty airhead, but still the relatives are so mean–and the girl describes the relatives and her own confusions in such a funny way that I laughed and laughed. However I can’t find the story anymore as if the story has legs and walks away from the book. I really like that story since the girl talks exactly like how women talk. I love the way women talk and I feel that many books don’t show how women really talk–they only show women’s restrained and demure talk in social situations but not the way women really talk.

Now the book on Iowa Workshop talks about John Cheever in Iowa. I just can’t imagine that. John Cheever is always connected with New York. No wonder the book says he drinks a lot. I am not surprised. A real New Yorker like him won’t survive a place like Iowa without drinking. He must be desperate for money. Otherwise he would not take a job in Iowa, so far away from New York. Even him, with his talent and reputation, is short of money like this. I don’t understand why Iowa? Why having the workshop there? The same kind of confusion is here when I think of why Iowa is always the first to vote and what’s the differences between caucuses and primaries. Things too complicated for an immigrant and an outsider to understand?

Nothing And Everything

Have you ever had that feeling of dread that when you open your refrigerator, which is filled up nicely, but can’t find anything to eat? Soy milk–I just drank it for the breakfast. Tomato soup–I had it yesterday. Vietnamese pizza with rice wrap underneath–I tried it twice already within 48 hours. Bean curd–too bland. My conclusion is that I am not hungry enough.

Have you ever had the feeling of incredulity that when you stand at your closet door looking in and can’t find anything to wear, even though the closet is arranged in such a way that every corner is most economically occupied by your clothes? This T-shirt–too dark. That skirt–worn too often. The flowery blouse–too showy. That pair of pants–too boring and un-showy. Those animals on Discovery channel have such an easy life as far as outfits and accessories and hairdos are concerned. A lioness doesn’t care what she wears when she goes out there to hunt, with several photographers and truck loads of tourists in tow. A lioness can roll in mud, flip in air, eat with no table manners to speak of, and still be camera ready.

Have you ever had the feeling of alarm that when you stare at your book shelf, scroll the list of kindle books, and review your audible library, you can’t find anything you particularly want to read? It must be the book “The Barbarians Are Coming”, which depresses me. Sterling Lung, why are you so subdued? Your parents, your three women, your ladies in the club are all imposing on you in various ways. The thing is I can’t stay in non-fictions for too long since the writing style is not as I want it to be, and the fictions with language I enjoy are usually, if not completely depressing, unflattering about life in general in their plots and observations.

Have you ever had the feeling of surprise that after you write something beautiful and funny and interesting according to your mind’s design, you find it awful when you read it the next day? It’s like a movie director has a beautiful dream, but when she shoot the scene according to her dream, it’s a disaster. The effect is just not there. The thing is so flat and ordinary and mundane…but hopeful. That’s the problem. If it is completely hopeless, you can just drop it and throw it away, but if it is still promising, you don’t have the heart to throw it away. I can’t throw anything away. I feel like a hoarder.