Couldn't sleep again last night. I've been sick the last few days, some kind of all-over achiness and coughiness and head stuffy, but no fever or any really clear symptoms, making it almost impossible to sleep.
Yesterday I was feeling somewhat better, but still couldn't sleep. I'm hoping this is not a resurgence of the insomnia that I had for most of my adult life. To this day I don't know how or why that stopped, although I have a pet theory that it might have been caused (somehow) by celiac disease, and cured by an extended period of eating no gluten whatsoever. The celiac has been acting up lately, because I got complacent and ate a hamburger with bun here, a slice of pizza there, and am probably still getting a regular dose of hidden gluten in the supposedly safe things I eat.
I found out the other day that there is wheat in my favorite brand of hot dogs. To say that this pissed me off would be a wild understatement. I've been eating these hot dogs (Nathan's) for years without ever thinking I had to check the label.
If you have celiac, you must ALWAYS check the label. And you always have to assume that there is no "safe" amount of cheating, because you are always getting invisible gluten from somewhere. It can't be avoided completely. If it's not in your hot dogs, it's in your fries, toothpaste and cough drops.
Anyway, I finally got to sleep at sometime past 3 AM (probably way past) and promptly had The Cannibal Dream. And if you think that sounds like some bad shit, you're right. It's a half hour or so, which feels like days, full of decaying industrial settings, nameless monsters stalking me, my friend Susan getting eaten by someone, and eventually discovering who that someone is and being caught by them in the act of discovery, being captured, tied up, and forcing myself to wake up just before I start to be devoured.
Not much chance of sleep after that.
I discovered a few days ago that I can actually still draw. This was quite shocking, since I haven't drawn anything but crayon pictures with the Spawn in a good ten years or so.
When I was a kid, I kind of assumed that I would be a working artist one day. It was all I ever did. I was the kid that always had a sketchbook, the one whose bedroom walls were painted floor to ceiling with phantasmagoric scenes, whose jeans were always full of paint splashes. Art was the only thing I cared about doing in school, and although I was probably never going to set the world on fire, I was good enough to get into the local art college even after flunking out of regular high school and becoming known in educational circles as an extremely problematic kid.
Unfortunately the IDF didn't like the "bum around in art school for another couple of years" plan, so I never finished that. But all through the army and well into adult life, I kept drawing right up to the second I decided I was much better at writing than at painting or anything else I had done. All my life I had flirted around with various artistic fields, from painting and sculpting and creating comics, to photography and filmmaking, to "singing" in a fledgling Goth-punk band whose complete failure and subsequent disintegration probably had something to do with the fact that I was about as commited as a butterfly. When I eventually started to grow up, rather late in life, I decided I had to focus on something. I chose writing, and I haven't drawn since then.
After a while, you tend to assume that you've lost the artist muscles. I know for damn sure that I don't remember a thing about photography, and it stands to reason that I'd lose all my other skills, like a ballerina who hasn't taken a step on a stage in years would lose her balance and stamina.
I should have realised that ten years later, that dancer can still burn up the dance floor down at the club, even if she's lost any chance of joining the Bolshoi. (I really should have known this, because I married that dancer. Yes, I'm a little slow sometimes.)
So, I'm sitting with the Spawn on Sunday and telling her to come up with something for us to do together - no movies, no DS games, something that involves doing, not experiencing. She says we can write poems. I say fine, we can each write a poem and a drawing to go with it.
She writes a pretty good one about winter. I do a haiku about chipmunks in winter, and start to draw a chipmunk in ink dots, because her latest unit of the TAG program was about pointillism and I always used to like doing that kind of thing. Spawn was not all that impressed with her own pointillism, but she was amazed by my chipmunk. And even though a big part of my job is doing things that will amaze the kids, after a while, I had to admit that it was looking pretty good. You could tell it was a chipmunk, not a squirrel or a mouse, and it had a glint in its eye and depth and shading and it fit into the scenery properly. I kept working on it on and off until my wife came home from the restaurant and said, "that's really good. We could hang that in the kid's room." And then it started to sink in. It *was* a good drawing. Not MOMA quality or even "sell it at the coffeeshop" quality, but certainly good enough to hang in our own house.
I could still do it. That's a wonderful feeling.
(Don't even ask about the poem. Poetry was never one of my strong suits, even in my GAF days.)
Just finished reading Greenmantle by Charles de Lint. Wonderful book. With all the fuss in the mainstream press over Neil Gaiman's urban fantasies, people forget that guys like de Lint were doing that "ancient gods are still amongst us" thing when Neil Gaiman was wearing superhero underwear. Charles de Lint also has something that the Gaiman (talented though he is - I like Gaiman a lot) doesn't seem to have developed - his ordinary people's stories are just as interesting as those of the characters touched by magic. That is to say, the mundane in de Lint's stories is as well written as the fantasy. This is pretty rare in the horror/fantasy field, and is one of the things that make Stephen King such a standout and a major publishing force beyond the walls of the horror ghetto. King's secondary characters and minor side stories shine. De Lint is just as good at it, and it shows beautifully in Greenmantle.