Insomnia, Installment 16 (Six Sentence Stories)

She looks up from the phone screen, biting her lip, then thumbs the icon to read the message. “How long until you get home, honey?” with a heart sits next to a time display of 27:22. By her reckoning, the nightmare she’s just walked through has taken no more than about forty-five minutes, and even though she does use the twenty-four hour clock, what kind of time is 27:22, anyway? 

She might as well go somewhere, so she begins walking toward the diamond-studded water, noticing that without the bustling city blocks she’s used to, it seems a longer distance away. Nothing has been right since she arrived in this thrice-cursed city, if that’s even where she still is — miserable job, an armpit of an apartment, raging panic and insomnia. Her eyes feel like they’re about to pull completely back inside her head, she’s so exhausted, and she wonders how long it’s been since she’s slept.

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Mykl Roventine 2009, CC

This is a Six Sentence Stories installment. The cue was “long.” Notice how I got it in there three times?

Click here for Installment 15.

Click here for fun Six Sentence Stories from other writers.

Insomnia, Installment 15 (Six Sentence Stories)

Oddly, the address of the building she had worked in, the building that should be right here but somehow isn’t, is still there. It no longer consists of molded and brushed steel numerals affixed to a sleek professional tower. It now looks more like a status: “1,601 Available Now,” proclaims a handwritten sign hanging from a solitary post. She feels a vague fear running its way up from her toes.

Absent-mindedly craving security, her fingers pull her phone out of her cardigan pocket to check it, almost at the same instant it registers that she can see no power lines anywhere. She thumbs the button to turn the display on and is pathetically comforted to see the icon telling her she has a pending message.

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Pixabay/Tante Tati.

This is a Six Sentence Stories installment. It’s been hectic around here and I missed a week, so I’m making myself feel less behind by getting two cues in one story. Last week’s cue was “address” and this week’s is “check.” Aren’t I just the clever one?

Click here for Installment 14.

Click here for Installment 16.

Click here for fun Six Sentence Stories from other writers.

 

 

#1000Speak: Forgiveness Sucks, So Let’s Try Something Different – Updated

Here I am again, awake. I have what may be the world’s worst insomnia. Tonight I’m not worrying about money or children or husbands, and it’s not noisy people. I was actually asleep, but a bad dream woke me up.

I moved to Seattle to take a job after no luck finding one in my home state of Nevada for a year. It should have been my dream job, stepping up to the big leagues of paralegal-dom after many years working for country, but good, lawyers. It should have been a whole new vista for me, an exciting new professional experience in an exciting new city in beautiful new country.

It was the job from hell. Seriously. In my 40 years in the work force, I could not imagine a more horrific experience. I suspect my boss was a true narcissist, and I’m dead certain she was emotionally and mentally abusive. In current nomenclature, I was bullied mercilessly. The three months I worked at that firm was the longest, most horrific time I can remember aside from one marriage I’ve worked hard to block from recall. It should be noted that the dynamics of an abusive intimate relationship and an abusive employment relationship are extremely similar. That job and that woman damaged me. I needed counseling to get past the worst of it.

I’m still damaged. What woke me up a little while ago was a dream that I was right back there, working for that harridan again. I woke gasping, with the electricity of a panic attack running through my veins.

Great.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve moved on with living my life, and I’ve accomplished a lot since then. I stayed in counseling for a year and unpacked a lot of things. I made the decision to return to school, excelling at that and enjoying it, and I have another job I more or less enjoy too. It doesn’t challenge me and the pay is middlin’, but I don’t bring any work stress home at night either, and that’s worth a lot. I am the only person in my office; I run the whole damn state for my company and for the most part, I like that solitude and independence just fine. If some jerk brings donuts into the office when I’m cutting out sugar, well, I have no one to blame but myself. To further my healing, I considered writing her a letter but opted instead for scathingly honest review on Glassdoor, and if it saves even one person from what I went through, I’m glad.

And yet, here I am dreaming about that horrid woman, and still losing sleep to her, three years down the road. What gives?

I was lying there, having burned one of my precious few anxiety pills and trying to read a bit of War and Peace in the hopes I could return to sleep, when I realized it.

Forgiveness.

And then: Why should I? That bitch hurt me. She’s hurt lots of people, that I know of; I was far from her first. Why does she deserve anything from me?

And the truth is, she doesn’t.

And I know the platitude, that forgiveness isn’t for the other person, it’s for you, and I kinda believe that, but then again, I don’t believe it at all. To forgive is to absolve the person of what they did, and I’m just not going to do that. She’s accountable, past and future, because I know she’s still doing it to others who were looking forward to a terrific position just as I was. When I was there I saw payroll records for three other legal assistants in the eight months before I arrived. Add me, that’s four in a year. She’s accountable. I might not be willing to confront her any more directly than an anonymous online employment review, probably because I loathe conflict with a flaming purple passion, but it’s what I can do.

No, what popped into my head from the depths of I-don’t-know-how-long-ago was another definition of forgiveness I heard once attributed to Oprah, I think it was, and I’m not a fan of Oprah, but I’m a fan of this definition, because it works:

Forgiveness is giving up the wish that things had been different.

And as I lie there still unable to go back to sleep but also unable to unscramble the letters on the pages of War and Peace, I realized that’s what I need to work with.

I am not making the buckets of money I did, briefly, at that firm. I do not have the nice house, and the nice new car and maybe a truck for the Tominator, and long weekend trips up to Vancouver and Whistler and a canoe for all the lakes around here. I do not have a 401(k) and killer health insurance. I do not have the prestige of high-end law firm experience in a posh downtown office tower. And that’s what I should have had. It’s what I’d worked for, for so long. It’s what I was offered when I left my family behind, left my home with my Mother’s Day rosebushes tended lovingly in the yard, and dragged the Tominator and Dream Girl and my stuff up here, and I should have it. I was robbed.

Yeah, I know. Shit happens and who said life was fair, suck it up buttercup. But underneath it, as superficial as it sounds, I am angry about that. Still. I moved up here for professional and financial advancement but here I am, scraping by from paycheck to paycheck, as I have for most of my life.

But on the other hand, as I struggle through many of my days, one of the first things I count when I’m reminding myself of all I have to be thankful for is that I no longer work for that Medusa. I may not have what I should have had, but I have enough, and I’m away from her, and I’m nowhere near anyone remotely like her, and that should be nothing but good.

I don’t have to absolve that woman of anything, but I can give up my wish that it had worked out. I can do something radical, even, and wish for something good tomorrow instead of in the past.

New entry on tomorrow’s to-do list. Make that today’s to-do list; cruising up on one a.m.

I’m going to try to get some sleep now. And even if I don’t, even if tomorrow – no, today – is another day I have to wade through in a sleep-deprived fugue state, I know one thing I can work on toward my own brand of forgiveness: I can wish forward instead of wishing behind.

It’s a start.

Update: Yesterday I was scrolling through job listings, thinking it might be time to go for an upgrade, and I see this Hagatha is advertising for a new victim paralegal. The ad doesn’t list the firm but I know her writing style, and the location is the same. Oh, God, all I can do is pray for the poor sacrificial virgin new hire. Another one. A therapist can make a career out of this woman’s employees.

Angela Carter, Courtney Love, and Sleep Sweet Sleep (Book Review: The Bloody Chamber)

The Bloody Chamber and Other StoriesThe Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the strangest endorsement for a book I’ve ever come out with. This book of fairy tales retold with a very feminist spin is indeed magic, but not for me as for most people. You see, I suffer from what may be the world’s worst, chronic insomnia. I often go days at a stretch with a handful of hours of sleep spread over the whole thing, sleep deprivation fueling my also chronic anxiety and panic disorder, so I’m left fumbling my way through the world half afraid I’m about to fall right off of it and half hoping I will, so I can just get it all over with already. Welcome to my life.

The magic this book gave me was sleep.

I was awake one night as usual, scrolling down Courtney Love’s Facebook page for some reason. I don’t know how I ended up there. I don’t love her, I don’t hate her, she just is, although I was sad when Kurt Cobain joined the 27 Club. Click, click, click, one place to another and there I was. Hi, Courtney. So, Courtney Love had a post about this book, and it intrigued me, so for something else to do while not sleeping I reserved it on my library website.

I started reading it in bed one night, and although I was enraptured by Carter’s prose and intrigued by the retelling of Bluebeard…I fell asleep. Right on the pages of the book, with the light still on, and I slept the whole night through, until my alarm gently woke me. What a rare treat it is for me, to sleep until my alarm wakes me! And then…it happened again the next night. And the next. Over the week I spent reading this book every evening in bed, that’s what happened every night. I slept. Full nights. For six nights in a row.

I hadn’t felt that good in years.

I finished the book, and the sleeping stopped.

I have to return it to the library, although I will be getting my own copy. Not just for the sleep; Carter’s stories are beautiful, and her writing is lyrical.

But the sleep is a gift without compare. I’m happy to read the same book, every night, for the rest of my life. I hope my own copy will cast the same spell. If it turns out that this one particular volume is the talisman, then I’ll borrow it from the library again and tell them I lost it, and pay whatever they charge me and gladly, so I can keep this magic book. I may try harder to like Courtney Love, too.

View all my reviews

The First Annual (or Whatever) 99 Monkeys Stupidest Random Awards

The Stupidest Song You Can’t Not Sing Along With: Daydream Believer. That song is as impossible to break away from as the Borg. And I’m not bagging on the Monkees. I love the Monkees. I had as big a crush on Davy Jones as any other girl.

The Stupidest Best Philosophy I Just Might Adopt Immediately: WWKRD? What Would Keith Richards Do? Say what you want about the man, he’s a survivor. “Keep calm, get blazed, and play the riff ” has a simple purity to it.

Of course I am not the first to have thought of this. It’s a real book, and I want it.

I am aware that Keith Richards and Davy Jones are sort of the antithesis of each other, and I’m okay with that.

Elegantly wasted, indeed.


The Stupidest Dictionary: The one in my phone. It absolutely will not learn the word “damn,” but regularly tries to autofill “fisting” for any number of normal, everyday words. Are you fucking kidding me, Samsung? Learn “fuck,” too.
The Stupidest Super Power: My inability to sleep adequately for years on end. I can sleep only 10 minutes a night for a week at a time, and somehow my body thinks a 10-hour collapse once a week is sufficient for me to catch up and somehow avoid a psychotic break from sleep deprivation.

Unless, of course, this is due to a psychic awakening because I am, in fact, one of the Star People from the Pleiades. If that’s true, then I’d just like to go home now, please. A pair of ruby slippers would make short work of the 445 light-year trip.


The Stupidest Ostrich Argument: All these inane social media posts about wonderful white cops and wonderful black detainees and just all-around warm and fuzzy racial wonderfulness. It’s like posting about all the people who don’t have cancer to “remind us the world isn’t completely bad,” which really means “allow us to pretend the bad thing isn’t there.” No matter how many people don’t have cancer, cancer is still an ugly plague. So is racism. Stop trying to pretty it up or shrug away from it.

Of course. Racism solved.


The Stupidest “News”: That two little kids held hands. I don’t know what’s stupider, that someone actually got paid for writing this crap, or that people continue to eat up anything about the Kardashians. But that’s our society these days: the most money and the biggest boobs.

The Stupidest Place to Get Your News: Facebook. Remember, what you read is only as accurate as the most ignorant user.


This prank meme, Steven Spielberg posing with
a fake dinosaur from the Jurassic Park set,
was taken seriously by a disturbingly large number of people.

The Stupidest Alert System: Whoever invented obnoxious car alarms should be shot. OK, maybe not shot, but perhaps forced to be awakened by this rude noise every 15 minutes for the rest of his life. Nobody goes running out to catch the car burglar when these things go off, and go off, and go off, and go off, ad insaniam. What they do is start looking for the baseball bat they will use to shut the damned thing up, when it turns out the car’s owner is away on a three-week tour of Russia and the Balkan lands.

The runner-up is whoever thought up using a car horn as an alert to tell you that you’ve locked or unlocked your vehicle. Do it the old-fashioned way, by, um, remembering where you parked it. And if you can’t remember, then you’re missing out on the fun of trying to find your beat-up ride in the sea of a coliseum parking lot, with your ears still ringing from the concert and your head swimming from the ganja. Where’s your sense of adventure?

Overall, I think car horns are far too subject to rude usage, and should therefore be un-invented.
That’s it for this installment. Here’s the earworm. You’re welcome.

Out, damned Facebook!

It’s time to slow things down, Facebook. We’ve been seeing far too much of each other.
There have been a few good articles on how Facebook is bad for you, like this one and this one, but I’d like to think I figured it out on my own. Wait. Maybe that’s not such a good thing. It’s pretty bad when I have to figure it out for myself instead of reading about it on Facebook, right?

I’ve noticed it personally for a few months now. I see pictures of someone’s vacation and I feel envious. Not just that passing kind of envy, wow, how beautiful, that’s a place to keep in mind to go to someday, but something more ferocious, an anger turned inward. Why am I not good enough to be able to afford a vacation twice a year, or even once a year? People post pictures of their gardens, or the feasts they’ve prepared, and I immediately feel that I’m failing to live an acceptable life because I do not serve equally sumptuous dinners with tables graced by flawlessly arranged flowers grown in my equally exquisite garden. Never mind the fact that I live in a tiny apartment that doesn’t even have room for a proper table. Also never mind the fact that I am more of a necessity cook than a gourmet cook, and also have a pretty tight budget. Who, these days, has $39 for an ostrich egg? Hell, it’s all The Tominator and I can do to keep the place stocked with bread and tea.

I realize this is not the fault of the people who are doing fun and beautiful things in their lives. They should be doing fun and beautiful things in their lives. I am a depressive person. I’ve suffered from crippling panic attacks for 35 years, as well as the depression that goes with that. It is easy for me to find fault with myself, to weigh and find myself wanting. Why am I not that skinny? Why don’t I have 35 friends waiting to take me out on the town for my birthday? Why don’t I knit things that look that good? Why am I not a worldly and cultured traveler?  I certainly should be. I mean, just look. Everybody else is. Except, of course, that they’re not.

Yes, I know when to use which one. But I don’t own most of them.

But it’s not just that.

I don’t need the distraction. I recently participated in Camp NaNoWriMo and while the fault is ultimately my own, I still blame Facebook for the fact that I did not reach my word count goal. Hell, I’ve had to mentally slap my hand three times already, just writing this post, to keep from opening Facebook in a new window to see what new thing I’m not doing right that has come up in the last fifteen minutes. (It is interesting that I don’t have this problem when school is in session and I really do have to study, and I don’t have it at work either. Apparently my mind does have some self-discipline.) I’m still not as bad as some people though. I do not now have, and never have had and never will have, the Facebook app for my phone. But I still think that’s like justifying skin-popping smack by pointing out that it’s not as bad as mainlining. It’s still bad, Advertising irritates the living daylights out of me, clickbait destroys IQ points, and any article written about the Kardashians is a tool of Satan.
I don’t need the overstimulation. Yes, the world is full of injustices that need to be righted. But people who share a meme and apparently believe that means they’re actually doing something to fix things irritate the shit out of me. I personally don’t need to have horrifying pictures of abused animals shoved in my face. It agitates me, and the fact that you slammed me in the face with a gross-out makes for zero likelihood that I’m going to jump on your bandwagon. If this is a cause I will use my time to fight for, I will seek it out. Do you think the criminal justice system needs an overhaul, or GMO foods should be labeled? First, fact-check the meme you just read. Then, get off Facebook and write a letter to your legislator. Have a real conversation with a real person about it. Vote. I don’t know if it’s causing the insomnia that plagues me, but when I wake in the wee hours, that kind of crap is what is floating in my mind. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter. But I don’t need it invading my sleeping hours as well as my waking ones.
I don’t need the negativity. I realize they are just stupid memes, and people frequently share stuff without really thinking about the implications behind them. Still, it upsets me to see that someone I like apparently harbors viewpoints I find hateful. Why, exactly, is it so horrible to have driver’s license tests available in languages other than English? Anybody who has ever learned, or tried to learn, a foreign language knows it’s damned hard, and having things available in people’s mother tongues makes rules and regulations clearly understood as well as making us just, well, classy for being so accepting of other cultures, kinda the same way other countries make things available in English. (Oops, I ranted.) And then there’s just all the generally irritating things that people do on Facebook anyway, like “vaguebooking” and proselytizing and posting quotes that aren’t even correctly attributed and the rest of these Facebook sins.

Except this one. If Abe said it, it must be true.

I’m not saying Facebook is completely evil. A year or so ago I reconnected with some cousins I hadn’t seen in decades, and it’s been delightful. I enjoy knowing that people I care about are doing things that make them happy. There is some intelligent stuff out there, and I come across some interesting articles and points of view. It’s a good place to promote my blog.

But I think there’s a lot more bad than good, and it’s time for me to draw a line.

In the hour I’ve spent writing this blog post, I haven’t looked at Facebook once. Now I think I’ll go email my legislator about the asshattery and unconstitutionality of the English-only movement. Maybe I’ll finish that beautiful scarf I started knitting for Dream Girl. And who knows, I might even read War and Peace and get some sleep.
Now, Twitter. Now, that’s interesting…

***
Get a Life: Nate Bolt, Creative Commons
Formal table: Andreas Praefcke, Public Domain
Abe: He’s everywhere.