Why I’ve Fallen in Love with 3 a.m.

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It’s my extreme honor to have Jayme Beddingfield as a guest blogger today. Jayme is an author, podcaster and extraordinary geek. Please enjoy this wonderful guest blog from her. 

Sleep has never been something that came easily to me. The reasons why are countless and varied, but regardless, being the only one stirring in my neighborhood in the middle of the night is not only familiar to me, but it’s become part of who I am.

I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I am obsessed with my work. The desire to succeed overpowers most other needs and desires I have–but, I’m also terrified of it. Between all that I am trying to achieve within my career and remaining an intricate and active member of my family, I often feel like nothing I do is enough. Good enough, fast enough, unique enough, it doesn’t matter, the feeling of inadequacy rolls around in my stomach constantly.

In part, I consider my anti-hero self-perceptive part of my creative process. Or, maybe my habits of how I talk to myself aren’t the best. All the reasons above probably play a big a role into why I haven’t slept through the night in months. I don’t know what dreamless sleep is like. At first, when the wave of interrupted sleep started up again I panicked, it had been a good stretch of decent sleep, and I was plenty stressed out at it was the idea of not having regular sleep scared me.

“I have to be on my A-game,” I said to myself as I laid awake in bed staring at the ceiling I wasn’t able to see what  knew was there. The first week was challenging. I fought the idea of not being able to get through the night without waking up. I was getting to sleep fine, but I wasn’t  staying asleep. A dream would wake me, causing me to open my eyes and be fully alert of all of my surroundings and the dozens of to-dos awaiting me in the morning, the following week, a year from now. Every dream plays out differently, but the theme is always the same. Embarrassment. Failure. An unfixable mistake.

Anxiety started to really set in as this trend continued. Then I started having trouble falling asleep, shutting my mind off, not worrying, not planning, just being.

One night, after finally fighting myself to sleep, I was woken up by a dream. It started out by me getting locked out of my house which was remarkably similar to Jess’s apartment on The New Girl. Right before I woke up I was floating on a boat after losing my computer. That time, I got out of bed went into my backyard and looked up at the stars—there was only a few that I could make out, but in that moment that was enough. I didn’t lay in bed thinking about how much I was screwing myself for the next day. When I went back in my house, I grabbed my notebook, my book light, and a pen and started writing. At first, it was nothing but versions of insanely detailed to-dos, but gradually it transformed into fluid words and read back remarkably resembling a story. I woke up hours later with my notebook squished into my arm feeling well rested and surprised it was morning.

The following night I went to bed, brought two different notebooks with me, I fell asleep writing and woke up feeling like a person who accepted themselves a little more than the day before.

During busier times in the day, I find my mind wondering what my night will be like, not with concern but with anticipation. As the days continue to fill up, and the noise of the world buzzes loudly, I find solace in my pockets of quiet. There is no balancing act when the world around  me is asleep.

When the sky is dark, the streets are quiet, my house is also silent. The warmth and love and craziness that fills the space between the overpriced walls fades into the hum of what is at the heart of all of it, and I write. I write without goals or lists. If I wake up, I take the thoughts and put them down.  The thing about words is that if you follow them, they take you somewhere—a similar thread to accepting ourselves. Is sleep important? Sure. Do I need sleep? Yeah. Do I keep regular hours? Certainly not. I realize that by leaning into my natural inclination even though it’s unconventional, I find a little bit more peace.

In those moments between the departure and arrival of the sun, I can lean into my mind’s need to do something and write, just for me, naively, like I used to.

About Jayme Beddingfield:

profilepicJaymeJayme Beddingfield is the host and producer of ‘Too Many Words’ a comedy interview podcast. She is also the creator of ‘Elliot Granger and The Clueless Brigade’ a weekly serial that follows Elliot Granger as she stumbles through grief and growing up. The series is featured as both a fictional podcast and written story that appears on The Scribbler. Jayme has been crafting stories since her third-grade assignment to write her own fairy tale. She prefers to work from the sofa with her dogs by her feet. Originally from Northern New Jersey, she now lives in Seattle, the city of her dreams. She lives with her husband, two children, and a slew of adopted pets. She is post-apocalyptic obsessed and also admits to being an audio enthusiast and recovering super villain

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You Are What You Consume: Don’t Prey on Hate

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My best friend and I stand and chat with her friends in a bar/club that’s so vibrant, so packed to the gills, so explosive and bursting with life that there is nowhere to sit. So I stand while she sways. She and her friend dance in a much more rhythmic way than I’ll ever pull off. I watch them in admiration—their grace, their concentration, the way they look more alive with the movement. I just feel elbowy when I dance, and it seems that her friend’s boyfriend is rhythmically challenged, too. So, we—the bad dancers and awkward socializers—sit and talk only a little and smile at his boyfriend and my silly lady as they conduct a mini dance-off. We hang out until I feel like I’m ready to sleep standing. I leave Just Johns feeling light hearted, my ears ringing, my veins still pulsing to the music. Just Johns is great. I don’t get unwanted advances or judgmental stares. I get music, a night out and an atmosphere so loud I have an excuse to sit back and watch.

The week after is girl’s night, so we meet at Novak’s instead. In the main room, ladies take the stage and sing along to a myriad of songs, winking, belting and breaking hearts. A couple girls ask me to dance, but I don’t like to dance and I’m taken, so I politely decline. Only Elle can ask me to dance and get a yes. And it takes more than two drinks to get a dance out of me, even then. I’m not here to drink, as much as I’m here to unwind. So we go to the patio, where the vibes are quieter. I get my customary 7 and 7, we order food and we talk. About everything and nothing. We head down the street to another bar after we demolish our food. The drinks are more expensive, but the music is good and we are winding down, anyway. And I dance to The Killers with Elle because I’m past two drinks and because I love her.

For her 31st, Elle decides that we are classy, sophisticated drinkers so we hit up Absolutely Goosed Martini Bar and I get a drink that tastes like a fudge sundae. It’s a classy place, but that doesn’t keep me from licking my glass. Jay teases me about this, and I stick out my chocolatey tongue at him. I’ve never been a martini girl, but that night I am won over.

I’m more of a stay at home and drink tea kind of gal, but Elle invited me out of my shell, asked me to dance and even got me to do so. She knew, deep down, that I’m goofy, that I’m affectionate and even a little unpredictable. She saw that in me and sometimes teased it out by introducing me to her favorite hops. Those nights were hilarious and unforgettable.

But those clubs/bars were rare, things we did once in a while to goof off or unwind. Usually, we just went on walks, had coffee, visited the sculpture park, went shopping, hung out before class, went out to eat, or tried to be as graceful as possible to workout videos. We did things that friends do—some of it weird, some of it wild, some of it meaningful, some of it chill.

But still…we had many fun times in clubs and bars that were considered to be the most LGTBQ friendly in St. Louis. We hung out, danced, drank, and laughed. We grew our friendship and extended it to others. We did what many people unwinding after a week of work or school do. And we did it without fear because we were in a welcoming atmosphere, and because no one should have to be afraid doing something as simple as going out for drinks, dancing and chatting. And more than that, many people who go to these bars and clubs because they are some of the ONLY safe havens for them. People in other places might judge them, speak down to them, glare their way, maybe even harm them.

But people like the Orlando shooter want to make no place safe for the marginalized. Bigoted people live off of fear, suspicion and hate. They paint people as “other,” and they push their worry, anger and hate onto the cardboard cutouts they create. They use those cutouts as targets for words dripping with aversion. They become their fear, embody it, move past words and use the only thing ignorant people know how to use—violence. They attempt to solve problems their own fear creates by beating those problems down.

But they harm more than their imagined targets. Their fear is a plague to humanity.

The humans—the sons, daughters, friends, partners, lovers, sisters, brothers, parents—that walk into a club to dance or sing or shout or chat or even drink are simply trying to capture snapshots of wonder, the cohesive feeling of community. All humans are a myriad of moments, experiences, memories, loves, losses, education, beliefs, sorrows and joys. Every human is a precious collection of all these things and every human deserves a chance to express her or himself in a harmless few hours of revelry, in a place where they feel safe.

If you espouse and support the type of fear that fed the shooter, if you, too, fear a person because of her orientation/friends/partners/religion you are the problem. Your fear will create only one thing: hate. I surround myself with a very diverse set of friends, friends of many faiths, races, and orientations. I am not afraid of this bigger picture. When a life is informed by a different history than mine, it gives me a chance to see the world in a new light. The more I come to know people, the more I feel part of a larger humanity. A breathtaking sea of lovely individuals.

But I cannot say I’m unafraid. I am afraid of the gate keepers of fear. Afraid of the narrowness that breeds hate. And I abhor the feeling. Because I’ve never let myself be ruled by fear. I think of those times I spent hanging with my best friend in some of her favorite spots, and I want to cry. Because those who were shot were in the middle of having a good time, they were in a place that made them feel safe and welcomed, a rare feeling for people who fall out of the norm. And I’ve been in the crowd of a people let loose and feeling finally free and it was a dazzling display. A thing of beauty.

They were like us and are like us and we are them. How do you shut off that human connection long enough to hate? Why would you want to? Turn that connection on. Flip the judgement switch off and learn to empathize with others. Our existences are not the same, but they are all human and deserving of a gentle hand and a kind word. If you preach love, don’t spew hate. Your actions and words are important. What you create can be powerful, so make it beautiful.

You are what you consume, so don’t prey on fear.

My condolences to the family, friends, and partners of those who were victims of hate. My condolences are not enough. We need to do more than feel sorry when bad shit happens. We need to stop being part of the problem.

Misunderstanding

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I just got done recording an episode of Too Many Words with the wonderful Jayme B. Jayme and I get on really well, which is new to me. I don’t always get on  with women for an extended amount of time. We actually talked about this during the episode a little and I discussed this with one of my best friends (someone who has the same problem, and is still a steadfast wonderful friend).

To both of these women, I noted that my humor and my demeanor seems off putting to women specifically, and I’m not sure why. I’ve been getting tons of misunderstood encounters and interactions with other women over the last two years or so. This doesn’t happen with men, as much.

Sometimes men get the wrong idea, but it’s easy enough to be like, “Nope, I was just being nice. I’m not interested in that.” And most men are like, “Okay. Sorry. That’s cool.” Some aren’t, but most are. But why do women have a hard time with me?

I think part of it comes from what I want to call the Caroline Bingley syndrome. For those of you who understand this reference, I tip my geeky hat to you. What I’m referring to is the ways in which women are trained to compete for the attentions of men or other women against one another. A Caroline Bingley is a woman who sees every other woman as competition, someone to scorn to bring herself up. Even though this figure is over 200 years old, I think this still happens. Women are constantly bringing each other down, competing with each other to be the most eligible woman in the room. In-fighting is not going to make winners of us, ladies. Not only do I not want to compete with you, I want to raise you up. Successful women are good for womanhood generally. I am not a jealous person. I am not a covetous person. I don’t want what you have. I have what I have and I like what I have.

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But another thing I that scares other women away, I think, is that I’m weird. My favorite things to do include: discussing politics and important social topics, reading, making shit up and writing that shit down, gardening, tea drinking, dressing up, and talking to myself to get that poem or dialogue right. I’ve found that my hobbies do not fit the area or style of place in which I live. A lot of women my age don’t like the things I like because they are my age and people my age don’t act like they are old. I act older than I am. I always have. When I was a kid, I preferred speaking with adults and didn’t really like to play with other kids. I would, but it was not my first choice. So, I’m weird and act like I’m 20 yrs older than I am. That’s on me.

But what really bugs me is when I’m misunderstood. I am not a mean-spirited person. I like lifting others up, especially those who are often disenfranchised. So, yeah, women, I try to be extra nice to you. I know what it’s like to be shut out of a conversation, to be told what to wear and how to act, etc. Even if I’m not always interested in what other women my age are interested in, I am nice to them and try to lift them up. And I am often met with suspicion. Were you being mean or sarcastic when you said that thing to me? No, I actually do like your hair and think it makes you look like a punk rocker. You don’t want to look punk rock? Oh, sorry. I…I was trying to be nice. Truly. I don’t believe in bringing other people down by speaking badly of them. I like to listen to others and help if I can. So, while I’m sarcastic sometimes, I’m not mean.

Are we women not used to other women being nice? Are we supposed to still be falling into outdated “cat fight” stereotype? If so, I’m not participating. I’m weird. I’ll give you that. I’m not mean. I want people to feel happy about themselves. And even though I’m okay being a bit of a loner, I also kind of miss having a couple close female friends. Being in your 30s and making new female friends is hard when you’re bipolar and weird. And that’s fine. I don’t really need a horde of female friends and I wouldn’t know what to do with them if I had them. Mostly, I miss being understood by that one friend I can have coffee with whenever. I have been, lately, very misunderstood. And it’s a truly blah feeling.

Hypo Rage Craze: How Mania Feels

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Ah, those swings. I thought I had you steadied for a while. But you always come back, don’t you? Just about the time where everyone feels safe. Hannah’s been normal-ish lately. A bit of a diarrhea mouth, but that’s her.  Then, bam! Something’s off about Hannah again…

Last time I posted about the static of depression, the buzz, the way it clings to even bright sunny days and joyous occasions. It didn’t stay long. I pushed back: walked and ran when I felt like sleeping, cleaned the house even though it made me cry. But maybe I pushed too hard?

Now I couldn’t sleep if I wanted to, and I very much do. But I’ll just edit that story, submit to that press, take a long bath, count to 100, toss and turn, give up and stay awake on the couch, away from you. I don’t want to disturb you. But I know that I do. I often disturb you, and you worry about my being disturbing.

Depression is so quiet, so mumble and nod. Not this hypomania. Did you know that “hypomania” is defined as a “less severe” form of mania. Fuck you! If this isn’t severe, I don’t know what is. It’s pretty insensitive to underplay my mania, you asshole internet dictionary! Oh my…maybe that was an over-reaction. I can’t seem to help but over-react. And talk…

When I talk, I repeat myself so much and it all comes out so fast that I can’t think before it is gone, and I say the wrong thing, but maybe you didn’t catch it because you’re so dizzy in my words that keep coming and won’t let you be, and that’s not me; I’m a good listener, I swear, and if I could just shut up for a moment you could see that I also care about you.

Did you catch that? Because I’ve forgotten what I was saying. I’ll just repeat myself again, after I clean the house, mow the lawn, write four chapters, cook a huge meal, play with the kids, go on a jog…what was I doing now? I don’t know, but even after a ten-mile day I can’t seem to slow down.

And I’m so angry. A woman said something stupid to my child. Told my child, with her twenty-five cent sticky hand toy, if it slapped her she’d slap my little girl. In my mind, I saw myself grab her ignorant face and bash her head against the wall until it bled, satisfying crimson. Have you ever had a thought that contained that much rage? If not, you can’t understand how consuming and frightening it is.

I didn’t do that thing, but the words I said, the look in my eyes, frightened the woman, who took a step back and, with an apology, fled. I wasn’t sorry. I was just mad. Until my I saw my child react. She was scared, too. But not of the lady’s threat. Of me. She’s scared of me, and I’m scared of me and I’m so fucking angry.

And horny as hell. Did you realize that was the sick frosting on this jacked up cake? It is. A ball of horny energy mixed with rage.  I am aware. Thank God for that. I know why I feel the way I do and I can usually just run until horny can’t catch me cuz my body doesn’t work. But I didn’t always know where this urge came from, why it was impossible to fill, and I was ashamed. I AM ashamed, even though I can’t help it. I simply work around it. Pray it will go away, stop plaguing my every day.

I know I will dip back down. I will no longer be able to write all night and run all day, and I’ll feel so lazy and blissfully normal. And my words will stop running down my chin, so much drool. I will be able to put words together with thoughtful pause, and they won’t be full of anger or innuendo.

Maybe I control it enough that it’s just amusing to you.

But me? I’m paranoid. That everyone can see the crazy leaking out of my potty mouth. That they are all silently judging me, my parenting, my teaching, my insane. And maybe they are. And maybe who cares?

I do. I am sorry for releasing so much anger when my children might have been able to see me react intelligently, with composure. Do they even know what that looks like in a mother? I’m sorry for not thinking and just speaking and not being able to stop and play that game of Monopoly because if I stop moving I’ll be angry.

But know, my babies, that I don’t think it’s okay to always jump to anger, to scare and bully people who say ignorant things. Ignorance meeting ignorance doesn’t breed anything good. Maybe I should just try again. Tomorrow. I can try again. Perhaps that’s a lesson I’m teaching them.

Don’t give up. You always have another day to try to do better than the day before. At the end of your years, you can be proud that you can say, “I was not perfect, but I always tried to be better than my worst days.”

I do always try to do better than my worst days, my loves. And that is not enough. Not even close to being enough.

About H.M. Jones

4589075_origH.M. Jones is a spinner of verse and a flinger of flagrant lies. You’ll never know her fact from fiction, and that’s part of the fun. She’s written books and short stories and poetry aplenty, won awards and lost awards. You can find her at www.hmjones.net, on twitter @HMJonesWrites, and on facebook.