Monthly Archives: May 2011

Insomnia, or How I Sometimes Can’t Sleep for No Reason.


I started writing a post last night that began with, “Pretty safe to say I’m not falling back to sleep anytime soon. I keep having these awful dreams where nfjen urg vq nrje;qg mrewgre.” So I think it’s time to talk to my doctor about things I can do to help me sleep.

That leads me to the topic of this post (now that’s what I call a segue!): insomnia. Occasionally I’ll have my bouts of it. It usually happens when I’m undergoing stress, or when I’m experiencing a personal dilemma. However, in this case it’s a combination of rampant nightmares and not knowing how much caffeine is too much caffeine when you work a shift that runs from 3:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

The worst part is that I normally am very productive when these things hit. I’ll stay up late at night and write, sketch, take weird photographs of myself with stuffed animals…

Gee golly willickers, however did my hair get on that stuffed turtle-saur's head?

This time it’s the complete opposite. I wake up from the dreams, sit in my pajamas (read: underwear) on my couch and watch “The Office” on Netflix while eating almonds and occasionally drinking red wine. What used to be a space occupied by creative outbursts now houses lethargy and loneliness. Sloth. Gluttony. Me in my underwear. Sins running rampant.

So I’ve decided to do something about this. I need a challenge, but one I can do at night. I thought about giving myself the challenge of doing individual photo series of each object in my apartment, but then I realized that might get monotonous since many of the objects interact with each other.

I also considered doing a kind of “found at night” project, where I drive out into the world and find something interesting, then photograph it and post it here. That was an OK idea until I was driving home (the long way) tonight and saw the kind of hooligans that float around the downtown after midnight. If my primary goal were to photograph drunk white trash wandering around with paper bags full of who-knows-what, then I would have a never-ending supply of material.

As I thought about this last night, mulling over the many ways I can make good of such a late hour, I decided that I can’t make a plan for creativity. If it’s going to happen, it will happen. Maybe I’m not feeling creative right now because I have no inspiration. And if that’s the case, perhaps I should work on finding inspiration before I force myself to start churning out useless crap that no one wants to see.

Speaking of which, here’s a photo of a flower, taken in my parents’ back yard after a rain cloud passed over. It’s a metaphor for religion, and how the dew always springs fresh from fertile ground, and how with rough hands and tender hearts we can conquer our fears and make our names known, make our names remembered for the ages as kings and queens of eternity. We will rise up and forever be aligned with the brightest stars, with the farthest reaches of the universe, from the rings of Saturn to the very deepest depths of Uranus.
Or something like that.

Here we are, flowers of the universe.

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Question: How do we explain this to post-9/11 children?


In case you’ve been living under a rock, Pres. Obama last night announced that Osama bin Laden was killed in a raid on a compound in Pakistan.

The initial U.S. reaction was celebratory. People partied in the streets outside of the White House.

There are a lot of young people in these photos. Probably a lot of students from Georgetown, a lot of young professionals who were up late.

I remember where I was on Sept. 11, 2001. I was at school. It happened during my first period class, then I went to lunch, and when I got to Earth-Space Science the Twin Towers were falling on TV. I didn’t understand. I thought we were going to be talking about gravity and its effects via a fun lesson using demolition as an example. My enthusiasm for what I thought was going to be a lesson was shut down quickly by my teacher, who already had expressed his dislike for me and what he declared my “incredible ability to put science on the back burner.” (I hated him so much.)

This was tenth grade. I was cognizant enough to know the differences in national emotion. It was like someone snapped their fingers and, suddenly, everything changed. I turned 16 about two months later, and I remember reading 9/11-related news the morning of my birthday. I also remember the night after the towers fell. I remember moving a TV into my room to watch round-the-clock coverage on MSNBC. I watched Brian Williams and Tom Brokaw with a sense of complete awe — part of the reason I decided to go into journalism.

Many of these kids look like they’re 18. I would estimate that on 9/11, they were between 7 and 9 years old. They may have a pretty good idea of what life was like before 9/11. They may remember their parents being emotional, watching the news, stowing away the newspaper the next morning in a safe place. Children in New York understand this well, I’m sure, as do those in Washington, D.C.

But I guarantee there are kids here in Florida who can’t comprehend the real, powerful emotions people feel when hearing that Osama bin Laden is dead. There are kids in elementary school today who can’t understand why their teachers are sneaking looks at the news on their cellphones, or keeping one tab of an internet browser open on CNN. There are kids who heard their parents cheer when the news broke last night and, roused from sleep, asked for an explanation.

But how do you explain something like that to a child? How can you justify being jubilant when you hear the news that someone has died? How are parents handling this? You have to be handling it somehow; it’s the top story on the news, and it’s on every newsstand, and there’s no way they haven’t seen it or heard it from friends.

Do you tell them the back story? Do you explain the event of 9/11 first to put the current situation in context? When you tell them, do you tell them about the people falling from the towers before the towers themselves crumbled to the ground? Do you gauge how much you can tell them by their age, or do you assume they’ll learn about it later anyways? When you come to today, do you first ask how much they know? Do you show them Pres. Obama’s address? Do you let him tell your children, because you’re too speechless to say it yourself?

I’m asking these questions not to be critical, but to get a better idea of how parents are handling this. As someone who only has had pets, I can’t comprehend the difficulty of being in this situation where there are images of people partying — revelry in the streets — and it’s in response to the news of someone’s death. I have so much sympathy for parents trying to deal with this right now.

It’s a huge event, sure to be in history books in the future, and obviously it’s important to put it into perspective for the little ones. So how is that achieved? It’s a question I can’t answer, and I think it certainly is one with which we’ll struggle more as this war continues.