Thursday, February 07, 2008

Thoughts from a Night Owl

Photo 1

Sometimes being an insomniac can be fun. I can do anything I want without distraction. No ringing phones. No squealing girls. No fighting. No distracting conversation. I can work or spin (my term for living in the AD/HD moment of hyper focused distraction) to my heart's content. I get a surprising amount of work done at night without the pandemonium of family life. Last night, for instance, I redesigned my daughter's website and worked until 5am. That was by choice and I felt pretty good about things when I reached the end of my goal.

Sometimes I'm awake for no reason, however. My body says "Hey. Four hours of sleep is enough. Weee!" I know I'll pay for it later in the day with the inevitable ticking episode, but what can I do about it? It's insomnia. "Take a pill!" is the usual helpful reply. However, as you may have noticed, I frown upon using meds. Modern pharmacology and I don't get along. The last time I tried sleeping pills (Ambien) I hallucinated. THAT was some fun, let me tell you. And I was taking a 1/4 dosage of the prescribed amount. I can just imagine what would have happened if I had taken the full dosage prescribed. I would have ended up on the evening news riding a USPS mailbox during morning commute, naked except for some underwear on my head screaming "Where are my marshmallows!"

Tonight is one of those nights. No, not a night where I will wander around with underwear on my head. I'm talking about insomnia for fun's sake. Here I am. 2:58am and twiddling my fingers. What do I do with myself?

There is a time in between projects where I flounder. It's born of AD/HD and it has to do with coming down from a period of hyper focus. Last night was intense and I pulled out all the stops, even working through vocal ticking episodes, to get things done (another reason why I like working at night. Nobody gets to hear me babble nonsense). It is not that I don't have anything else to do tonight. The problem is that I'd have to change gears to get busy at the new list. This is an area where AD/HD really slaps me around. As I said, I flounder.

So instead of losing more time on the web, or watching some TV I downloaded off the net, I thought I'd do something more constructive and jot down some ideas. Not my typical blog, but maybe it will give you some insight into me you didn't have before.

Thought #1: As I was looking at pictures from my old home, Cape Cod, I saw faces that reminded me of people I used to know. That brought to mind a problem I have. Whenever I meet somebody from my past and they ask me how I'm doing, I tell them. Then I never hear from them again. Apparently, being a stay-at-home dad on disability who freelances on the side and raises four children while managing his oldest daughter's nascent career is too uncomfortable for them to deal with. Too disappointing. As evidenced by the fact that mostly women follow and comment on my blog, I am a pariah among men. The lesson to be learned? Tell them I'm a real estate mogul who lives a life of austerity.

This led me to a few thoughts. The first two were whiney: Being a stay-at-home dad is lonely & other men suck. Ever have a thought that pops into your head then makes you surprised? These did that for me. I grimaced at myself and shook my head. Then I decided to channel that frustration into something funny. I posted in Twitter: Want to make old highschool chums scatter? Tell them you're disabled. Bam! Just like magic. You'll go another 24 years w/o hearing from them.

I can't change the fact that I am on disability. I can't change the fact that I'm the one who stays home. I'm on this bus until the end of the ride - sometime after the kids leave home or I suddenly figure out how to earn more money than my wife selling myself on the internet. Do you think people would pay money to see me ride mailboxes naked? Nah.

Thought #2: I find inspiration in the blogs of other people, usually up and coming or published writers and illustrators. Tonight I read something from Neil Gaiman, author of Stardust, that made me feel better:

I just drew the little headstone for Chapter 7. After one hundred and eleven handwritten pages. There's a lot wrong with it, there are bits that need to be expanded (or, in the case of one scene, written) bits that mean that I need to go and change or expand moments earlier in the book. The prose is a bit more pedestrian than most of the other chapters, and I'll need to play with it or leave it. But it's done -- and it's huge. Which, for something that, if this was a film, would be the entire Third Act, is not really surprising.

I've been following Neil's blog for some time. I am not actually a fan of his work (though I recently read a short story by him that was phenomenal), but I am a fan of his blog. He's been struggling with that Chapter for some time now. To read how he'd crossed the threshold and finished the chapter, even with its rough bits, was inspirational to me.

Too often I allow my disabilities to define me. I'm so used to not being like other people, and being treated like a pariah (I'm not a fulltime Dad, apparently. I'm just an out of work bum to these people), that I forget how much I am like everybody else. Here I struggle with my own projects and writings and think, "There must be something wrong with me. Maybe this would be easier if I didn't have ________ (fill in the blank)." Maybe things would be easier without disabilities, but that doesn't mean they'd be easy. Life is work. Everybody struggles. I struggle more than some, less than others. It is my attitude and perseverance that will see me through to the end no matter what the project is. I guess I needed to be reminded of that tonight. It snapped me out of the spin I was in and helped me have focus again.

Thought #3: I need to recommit to my master plan: Become filthy rich and successful then NEVER return any of those old friends' calls or emails. Mwahahahaha!