Insomniac

I hate when I can’t sleep. It seems like it happens more frequently these days. I can usually feel it coming on, too. I lay in bed, earplugs securely in, and a random thought occurs like, am I sure my second session class begins on Thursday, and not today? Maybe I missed it? As my mind works, I can actually hear my heart begin to beat faster as my breathing gets shallow and rapid. One thought invariably leads to another; my anxiety rises, forcing my eyes open. To me, it sounds like my breathing and heartbeat are as loud as a percussion section in a Tchaikovsky symphony. Nothing to do but go to the couch.

Nothing like a distraction to help cure insomnia. The web is full of distractions. What’ll it be first? Facebook? Flickr? Maybe I’ll just go through my neglected RSS feeds. I start from left to right.

Facebook is the new high school. I was never that popular in high school, nor am I popular on Facebook. Some of my friends 249 “friends” are — you know, the ones who were popular in high school. I like when I post a link to a political story or an interesting photo or a funny YouTube video, I rarely get a response. Yet, one of the populars posts the same damn thing, and people seem to fall over themselves to be the first to offer a bon mot, a snarky response, or some other slithering obsequiousness. Facebook changes its interface every three days, too. You’d think this would be for the better, but it usually amounts to what the campus IT guys call an “upgrade” — you know, something that helps them as administrators but makes the system worse for its users.

Flickr is not much better. I have less “friends” on Flickr, and they are a more gregarious community. However, the “photographers” who seem to get the most attention are the ones who post pictures of their lovely lady lumps. I might even go so far as to say that the most popular photogs on Flickr are young women self-portrait artists who don’t mind showing their boobs. They don’t even have to be good photographers to get a lot of comments. My favorites are the ones who try to analyze a technical proficiency that’s not there: “Excellent composition and attention to details.” What they really mean is “Nice boobies!” Even serious photogs turn into Beavis and Butthead when boobs are involved. Yours truly is no exception. Flickr used to be about growing as a photographer; now it’s about looking at boobs.

One could learn a lot about me by seeing my RSS feeds. I use Fever as my reader of choice, installed at Jhary.com. Fever allows me to prioritize my feeds into “kindling” and “sparks”; the former are the essential sites I want to read, while the latter are supplemental and only influence what’s hot — i.e., what’s being talked about the most on all my feeds. While it’s expensive, I’ve been using Fever for almost a year now.

I usually begin my RSS perusal with technology news, like what’s up with Apple and Ubuntu. Since the iPad is coming out at the end of the month, it’s interesting to see what the lovers and haters have to say. There are plenty of both offering praise and condemnation for a device that hasn’t even come out yet. It looks like it might be bigger than the iPhone. I usually include Boing BoingSlashdot, and LifeHacker as part of my tech browsing.

From tech, I look to photography, from Canon rumors and new equipment to advice about being a better photog to equipment reviews. Next, if I’m still awake, I check out what my favorite car company — Mini — is up to on Motoring File, and I might look at a couple of motorcycling feeds.

Yes, I have feeds on politics, arts, literature, and other news, but I generally don’t read these when I’m trying to fight off insomnia.

Last night I found something interesting on LifeHacker: 750 Words Clears Your Mind. It suggests a simple site, 750 Words, that encourages you to write 750 words a day. Now, I gotta say, I’m prime for this suggestion, having just met some great writers at the Crossroads Writers Conference, like Jack McDevitt. Now, I’ve never fooled myself into believing I was a writer, especially a creative one. Yes, I took a creative writing class as an undergrad, making Dr. Cole suffer through all my awful sonnets and short stories, but the only thing I really learned is that I’ll likely never write a novel. Still, it is a dream of mine. I’d love to write a series of science fiction novels.

Thsi is where 750 Words comes in: “The idea is that if you can get in the habit of writing three pages a day, that it will help clear your mind and get the ideas flowing for the rest of the day.” Well, the 750 Words web site is not taking any new accounts at the moment, but this entry is my first — up over 800 words by now. When I asked Jack McDevitt how many pages he writes a day, he told me six, about 1500 words. But, he’s a real, working novelist.

Maybe if I just get in the habit of writing, I can get better? At least it will give me something productive to do when I’m insomniac.