Insomnia: A Short Story

The television’s on.

It’s freezing in here.

I should probably be asleep, but I’m not.

It’s 4:53. It’s always 4:53, when, click, the heat turns on.

Now the draft from the window’s competing with the dull heat, which smells like last years dust, pouring through the vent, above the door, which leads to the living room where the TV’s still on.

In about an hour the sun will be up and it will be another morning.

I can’t tell yet whether or not I’ll be excited or scared, but either way, I have to write my grandmother—thanking her for the letter she sent a couple days prior—she used to fill the cards with glitter but doesn’t anymore…

Perhaps there’s a glitter shortage, I don’t know.

I’ve been pulling my beard out again, which I don’t like, but still do. Why? A doctor would probably claim it’s nerves but by this point in life I know better than that.

It’s funny really, thoughts, how they come and go as easily as a hair can be plucked from your chin.

If I had eggs in the fridge I’d probably boil some for breakfast but I don’t have any because yesterday while shopping I’d debated prices in my head for what seemed like too long to be debating prices of eggs, causing an uncomfortable feeling I just couldn’t shake, making me anxious and aware that I’d been standing in the isle for what seemed like eons though was probably only a couple minutes, still, too long to be debating whether or not I wanted to pay 2.39 or 2.99 for a dozen of eggs.

The heat feels good now, while the right side of my face warms up, the left side is still dealing with the draft from the window.

Common sense tells me to close the window though my better judgement says to just let it be. What’s the point, really?

It’s 5:06 now. It’s always 5:06.

The repetitive nature of this statement keeps recurring in my mind as if the idea isn’t fully mine, though I use it anyway.

Perhaps it’s my conscious mind coming back to me? Perhaps it’s programming I just don’t have the strength to deny, either way…whatever.

It’s 8:08 on the East Coast. My mother’s probably pouring coffee, reading the morning news. My brother’s probably already dragged himself from bed and into work. My nephew’s to school. My sister-in-law to her studio where she makes jewelry from metal and her imagination.

Their routine gives me comfort because right now I don’t have one.

This pandemic has us all in a pretty weird state of affairs, though, my affairs have always been pretty weird now that I think about it.

At least I’m writing again. That’s good.

Everything is pretty all right right now—knock on wood.

And what if this is as good as it gets? Hog wash.

At least it’s warm in here, closing the window, watching the sun rise.

My nail beds are long. I’ve always been told that. “You’ve got piano hands,” they said once, go figure, I don’t play—if I did this would probably make for a better story though, well, you know.

Turning off the TV seems irrational as it’ll just get turned on again tonight, unless, unplugging the TV—Ah! That’s better.

Insomnia, it’s the breakfast of champions.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, the letter.

An open question for the one’s still reading.

What is it that makes you Tik? And I’ll tell you what makes me Tok.

(But for real! What makes you get up in the morning, drives you through the day, and helps guide you to sleep?)

I’m curious to know more about you.

I’m all ears…

The ability to discover is a gift in itself and it’s that same gift of discovery that makes our individual perception unique.

Have you ever noticed that the thing you are most excited to share with another person, be it a new book, movie, podcast, idea, or what you think happens to be something to be considered “the greatest,” that their excitement never quite matches your own?

Of course you have. We’re all human.

And have you ever noticed that upon showcasing this thought or idea to another that when you do, their reaction never quite lives up to your expectation, which leaves you feeling either hurt or discouraged?

I will not take it upon myself to assume that you have though I will tell you this: I have.

And it’s a very tough thing to understand.

In the moment of realization that your appreciation for something you deem extraordinary hasn’t been deeply felt in the same way by another can often cause conflict, misunderstanding, and judgement—that is reactionary rather than honest.

Instead of expressing our pain for what seems a lack of appreciation in the moment, we often turn to criticism, which is in itself a form of false pride.

Rather than saying, “I’m confused as to why you don’t feel the way I do about what I’m showing you,” one says, “well, of course you don’t get it,” or more often than not, we say nothing, letting our emotions fester to distress and shame.

In the Alchemist, Paulo Coelho writes: “It’s not what enters men’s mouths that’s evil, it’s what comes out of their mouths that is.”

Well if that’s not the boldest yet truest statement to have ever been penned than I implore you to enlighten me as I’ve found myself in this predicament more times than I am willing to admit.

My point is, we can’t expect another’s reaction to mirror our own.

We shouldn’t expect them to for the simple fact that they are their own person, with their own background, beliefs, and experiences that before judgement deserve appreciation and due time to process and articulate what is being presented.

What took the time to find, understand, and appreciate should also be granted—the time—to another.

It’s like telling someone rather than suggesting someone read a book.

Your willingness to share does not determine one’s willingness to receive.

It’s like giving someone the answer without allowing them to solve the equation.

The ability to discover is a gift in itself and it’s that same gift of discovery that makes our individual perception unique.

So the next time you offer someone a gift, regardless of their reaction, remember who you’re sharing it with and why you chose them to share it with you all over again.

I think then you will find an even deeper appreciation for yourself and another.

Santa Monica. September 6, 2020

How do I write a good book?

“How do I write a good book?” He asks.

“Read a lot of books.” I tell him. “And…

“And what?” He presses.

“Remove the word good from your vocabulary.”

Shrugging, he digs, “and replace it with what?”

“Whatever’s wrong with the world, my friend.”

“I’m listening…”

And upon waving him farewell.

“A book worth reading isn’t always easy

but it’s worth the effort.”

Seated in the summer sun

Seated in the summer sun

drenched in heat

reading a novel, alone

how sweet.

With memories of you

drenched in heat,

feet stretched out

along the beach.

Where in the summer sun

you’d sit and read

a novel too, my mother

sweet.

While you’d watch us kids

the swimming sea,

and how you read

effortlessly,

I never wondered then

like I do now,

how a quiet lesson

could teach me how.

I turn each page

my mind at rest,

my mother’s sun

warm on my chest.

In the house I keep

In the house I keep each wall shall be

A coloring book for poetry

Where colors burst in harmony

Where war and peace succumb to paint.

In the house I keep each window sill

Shall only bear the daylight spill

Where succulents hang with free will

Where laughter’s never faint.

In the house I keep each lock will turn

With open ended thoughts to churn

Where no one line deserves to burn

Where honesty is quaint.

But when fear knocks in the house I keep

There will be no reason for which to weep

My hands dipped well within relief

Each wall we’ll finger paint.

In the house I keep my only wish

To deserve and serve this simple dish

Where forks and knives grow strong and rich

Where no wall goes untouched.

shelved next to Shakespeare

How can one be

an open and closed book

all at the same time

he wondered,

licking his thumb

fingering pages

watching his life unfold

like a story shelved

next to Shakespeare.

when Whitman sings

I often hide the cover of the book

I’m reading,

commuting on the subway

or relaxing over coffee,

like anyone would care

either way, because yeah!

What if they did? They don’t.

But what if? And how does one explain

his book of choice, when more than not

the books I read give me no choice! Aha!

They’d label me pretentious, surely they should

but what if they didn’t?

Would I really have time for a friend,

when Whitman sings and celebrates self

Oh! You better believe I butt in.

Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen

Next

to the Bible

in the Dollar Store

I pick up

Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen

tuck it

under my arm

and proceed to the cashier,

handing her a buck

she looks at me warmly

and says,

this is a good one, but

young man, have you read the Holy Bible?

alone, reading quietly

I saw you today,

behind the page of a book you sat

hair tied back in a tight pony,

legs crossed in black leggings

corderoy red dress and bomber jacket.

But I knew better than to say hello.

We’ve been there before, and you

looked like you were doing just fine

sitting alone, reading quietly

commuting to work

or whatever it is you do now.