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Insomnia

I have a hard time sleeping. During the day I feel like a zombie, but when it gets dark I receive a strange jolt of energy and start searching for ways to fill in the next….oh….6 hours or so.

It leads to very interesting places. Last night I watched 2 online documentaries….one on the 19th century Greely expedition in the Arctic. If a documentary is made about an Arctic expedition, you pretty much know how it ends up. They get stranded up there and guys start dropping one by one of starvation and are forced to eat each other. In this case, only 6 of the 25 men made it home alive and for the rest of their lives were tagged as cannibalistic ghouls.

After this I was ready for something a bit more upbeat (and it was only 1am), so I watched another online doc, this one about the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in the Village, and its patrons were constantly harassed by cops. One night the bar decided enough was enough and when 6 cops raided the place they were locked inside and the gays started kicking (and grabbing….as some gleefully remember) some ass. When blue reinforcements arrived the crowds outside had swelled, and the cops realized they had goose stepped their way into a trap…..they were now encircled by thousands of pissed off drag queens. Obviously this sort of thing wasn’t covered in the training manual. The end result was predictable enough. Cops don’t like it when their backs are up against the wall….so the nightsticks came out and heads were bashed and paddy wagons filled. They figured that was that.

Except it wasn’t. The crowd gathered the next night too….and it happened again. Night 2 was worse. More destruction. More beatings. More rage.

And to add a little spice to the story the Stonewall Inn was owned by the mob. Only in America.

Anyway, the end result was the beginning of the end of legal gay bashing…..and further proof that sometimes violence is the only way to force social change in this country. Not the kind of lesson they teach in schools probably, but the streets often don’t fit themselves neatly into textbooks.

My goodness, how did I get on this bit? We were talking about not being able to sleep, were we not? Somehow we’ve veered into cannibals and drag queens. But that’s the thing with insomnia. If you don’t fight it, it can lead you down some fascinating alleys. I don’t look at it as losing sleep. I look at it as gaining knowledge.

I tell this to people and they just look at me like I’m weird.

I’ll tinker a bit on the piano. I have to play really quiet so I don’t wake anybody up. Normal people are all sleeping. I can easily put away a 400 page book. I drink endless cans of Diet Coke (don’t say it). I’ll search for new music for my Ipod. Some nights I make proclamations to myself like…..”for the next week I’m going to do nothing but read books about Richard Nixon”. I’ll send texts to friends saying things like “while you were sleeping I learned the details of Donald Segretti’s involvement in Watergate. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”

People worry about me.

It may be justified. But there’s not much I can do about it because I can’t sleep and I cannot endure boredom. I have to be feeding something in my head at all times or I feel like a sloth. Ironically, I do this type of mental work mostly lying prone on the couch….which people who can sleep think is slothful. I try to explain how hard I’m working but nobody believes me.

‘Tis a cruel world.

In a bit…

–tf

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