Finding Out You Were Asleep When Your Dreams Passed You By

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Welcome back to Gravity, My Enemy. I’m unveiling a couple new things as the month goes. Make sure you peep my Instagram for links to cool stuff. +

@alvatobiasbooks

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I am known nearly famously for my terrible sleeping habits. I don’t sleep according to any set schedule, I just kind of fall over when I feel tired and wake up with just under the necessary time remaining in order to get ready and get to work the following day. I’ve tried all manner of adjusting my sleep schedule but it doesn’t stop my body from sending me off to bed whenever it good and well feels like.

I’ve gotten a lot of information from friends about their sleeping schedules and how they manage to get their days knotted into one tight little bow. Some, like my father, can operate on a full day with five hours of sleep. Bed at 9 PM, up at 2 AM. Easy. Others take their sleep routines in multiple cycles. Four hours here, two hours there, and two more hours somewhere else. Others take one long break as the sun sets and they wake up as it rises and so on. There is a myriad of ways to sleep and to do so adequately. There has been a multitude of tests run to determine the appropriate sleeping cycle for the average person and it dictates that we are best fit into one of two groups, one singular sleep every 24 hours or a biphasic pattern, which means a shorter night with a short nap in the day. Others consider polyphasic sleep a possibility as well, but the numbers are much smaller.

Sleeping, at the end of the day, is an important facet of our livelihood. Without sleep, we die. When we die, we stop existing. Obviously, we would be wise to lean more towards the other option. I complain regularly that my body is incapable of sleeping for less than 8 hours now when I used to be able to stay up for days on end with minimal negative side effects. During the first pass of The Darling Bones, my loveable test demo (first book) gone awry, I was sleeping roughly twenty minutes for every twenty-four hours in a sequence of thirty days. On April 1st, I passed out and literally slept for two straight days. Do you know what that is like?

Of course, I could regale to you the tales of my sleeplessness and all of the wonder that came from them. The nights that became stories and the moments that became a memory. I am fond of those times but looking back, I’m thankful that my body literally refuses to allow that to happen anymore. When I’ve run my clock down, I’ve run my clock down and I become something of a husk. Without the drive to push forward and anything I do comes across as actual garbage. (I’m sure you’ve seen it on the blog and on the YouTube channel, those are unfortunately the main indulgences of my sleepless nights.)

Of course, all of this being said, I am awake for long enough in the day. Working at my job for somewhere between 5-10 hours depending on the workload and then coming home to game and spend time in leisure for 3-5 more, depending on the workload.

I am awake often enough for myself nowadays. I can manage all of my work if I dedicate to it. I can balance everything and still sleep between 6-12 hours a day, depending on the workload.

I’ve come to accept this for one reason I had not taken account of when I was writing the first edition of The Darling Bones…

When you sleep for so long, you inevitably miss days. Of course, that isn’t to say I am working tirelessly to set my circadian rhythm in a more… economic way. I would rather be awake and living every day with 6 hours of sleep giving me enough energy. It just takes time.

In the event you find yourself looking at the clock in desperation, next time you are face to face with a big project, consider relaxing for a while. Lest you evolve to become like a husk yourself and meet the Grand Somnambulist.

To be honest with you, I don’t believe in sleep. If I could operate on no sleep every day I would do so willingly and happily. I appreciate the sleep I get and I make sure I do it regularly nowadays, but it isn’t for my own health, well… not entirely.

The Somnambulist possessed me one night and I found myself down the hall of my apartment, leaning on a wall, coughing violently. The back of my throat burned with a sour, fruity sensation. Perhaps an intestinal infection, or perhaps a symptom of my loss of sleep. My body knew nothing of its whereabouts for a time. It was as if I was living a dream. A nightmare of my own creation in which the words I wrote fell flat, the songs I sang were out of pitch and every single keystroke that plays the rhythm of my life was just slightly off beat.

I awoke and felt the burning in my throat as the Somnambulist released me, a sinister force still held my eyes closed. When I could manage to hold them open I saw it…

Sauntering off, out of my apartment as the sun rose. He had been following me for a while and continued to do so afterward, begging me to fall back and sleep. To close my eyes for only a few moments so that he could wrap his slender hands around my head once more and drag me down the hall like a hay-stuffed puppet.

I had become a victim of my own circumstance.

They say that evil spirits like Vampires and Ghouls will not enter your home unless invited. Of course, this isn’t always a matter of directly inviting them in. Many, if not all documented will aim to trick you and push you to that end for their own gain.

The Grand Somnambulist is much like this, urging you day after day to keep yourself awake, to write one more chapter, to record one more hours worth of content. To push your body to its limit and when you’ve had enough, he will gently lay you to your sheets and tuck you in, comforting you along the way before his fangs protrude from deep within his throat, wrapping around his tongue like a twister, boring himself into your skull and resting within your mind until you have been overcome with the urge to sleep.

He is not just one being. The Grand Somnambulist is everywhere, in everything, waiting for you to run your clock down enough for him to sneak in and torment you in your waking and sleeping life.

When you are awake, nothing is as it seems. You become forgetful, you become weary and nervous. Anxiety swells to become a menace that you can no longer face alone but you find yourself so often resorting to sleeping instead. Knowing that just one more nap will make it go away. One more long dream. One more long nightmare and you will be free.

This is so, but he does not give in so easily.

Even now I can feel him, patting my bed and whispering to me, that it is time for sleep. That I should be resting. I have been under a great deal of stress and I must take this time to rest, to be apart from the waking for a while.

Of course… I don’t listen anymore.

When I was asleep. I missed so much. So many events, so many opportunities, so many friends. Because twenty waking hours turned to thirty and my sleep stretched from eight to fourteen and I could no longer stand to be under the immense pressure that I had put upon myself.

The worst part, about those dreams… is that if I were to have been awake, I wouldn’t have missed so much of my life. That is the greatest bargain chip he has to offer, that for a few more hours of consciousness, you can accomplish more than you could if you would instead lie down and sleep. When you’ve racked up a debt that is impossible to pay, he comes for you. All of your dreams you held when you were awake and alive become nightmares as the words draw longer, each brushstroke falls from the canvas and your head bobs, behind you, he whispers…

“Just a few more hours, and then you can sleep… I promise.”

www.linmtba.com

The Somnambulist (Poem)

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This month I’ve started a new project, the Word of the Week! In which I will try to use this word in correlation with the blog post + have a bit of fun with the blog. It won’t always match up, but I figure, I wanted to mix things up for a while. This week’s word, the first of those on my list is:

Somnambulism.

According to Dictionary.com, it originated likely somewhere between 1790-1800, it is defined as sleepwalking. I found out about it from a band I listen to named Thank You, Scientist. They have a song of the same name and I loved how it sounded, you know how you just appreciate the way some words sound?

Well. I definitely do. I’ll be sharing some of my favorites with you along the way. I promise, not all of them will be real words, either. The poem today is based on the feeling the word gave to me. I’ve been trying to draw inspiration from some of my favorite writers lately as well. Whitman, Poe, Frost and more. This one may be a bit tongue in cheek but you know, I appreciate it greatly.

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www.linmtba.com

Two to One

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Back in the day, there was a Greek myth about Zeus creating man, how we were originally built with four arms and legs, two heads and so on, but fearing our power he split us into two pieces, cursing us to forever search for our other half as punishment evidently for being cooler than a God.

I’ve used this myth before in a few places, a best man toast, a couple other blog posts, and in day to day conversation with others generally speaking to them about relationship troubles and the purpose of relationships. While I can’t accredit this myths factuality to anything in particular. I’m saying that I don’t have the answer to whether this was true or if it was some made up social media post about people to be inspiring.

What I can talk about is the message sent here.

In counting all of the human’s attributes, they glossed over something much more important to the facets of a relationship.

We were born with two ears and one mouth.

Which means that in all things we do, we should use those ears more than we should use our mouths. All too often I find myself more willing to speak on things and tell others about my life, or how to fix their problems when the reality of the situation is that I should be silent and listening, valuing their time much more than I should be valuing my own. Even as I write this I can think of moments within the past two days in which I should have been listening to others and not talking over them. It isn’t intentional, I believe I have important things to say.

Of course, that is the root of the problem then, isn’t it? We each believe that what we have to say is valuable and others need to hear it. Yet, the information we have that needs to be conveyed will still be there at the end of a conversation and we must be delicate in framing what we respond with.

Have you ever been speaking with someone and zoned out, forgetting or not listening to what it is that they’ve said. I tell others often that when I’m working I don’t want to be bothered. If I am in my office writing or doing some other task, I can’t be bothered because if I am I won’t be able to regain my focus. This has led to more than one scenario involving someone I care about feeling as if I don’t listen to them when they are speaking. I wanted to argue this point here and explain that I had set up a time to work and a time to relax, if that can’t be followed what is the point of setting those things up? So on and so forth, but it shurks the actual responsibility of my friendship or relationship to ignore them through and through. It takes the issue I am writing about and turns it into a me issue, an excuse, not a them issue.

Should we consider ourselves a higher caste than another we would know that they would have no need to speak to us? There is nothing they could say that we wouldn’t already know, there is nothing they have to say that would bear any weight. We would be above them. This is the mentality of someone who chooses not to listen to another human for their own selfish needs. I’m not saying that there won’t be times where people will say things completely irrelevant or unnecessary to you but that doesn’t mean every word out of their mouth is spoken without purpose.

The fine details of our lives are spoken through the subtext of our actions and words, we convey how we truly feel or think through the way we speak and how we behave. It is much like knowing someone is upset because of the way they tell you they are upset. They could not admit anything and you would still know because there is a sorrowful lilt to the way they say it.

This is the purpose of our ears. Two mechanisms affixed to the sides of our skulls so that we may hear. We may hear the way others love. We may hear the way others hurt. We may hear others flashes of joy and excitement through their tone, despite the words coming from their mouths. We should be doing this twice as often as we speak, as well. Not everyone will come to understand this idea. There are people in droves who believe the things they say are really important and should be heard by everyone and that is okay, some people are just more important than us. Some people don’t have the desire to listen and understand or listen to feel.

Sometimes, though it frustrates me to no end, this even includes me. I know, hilarious right? The author admitting that sometimes he gets talking a bit too much. You’d think the downsides of my profession would inherently be something much less obvious.

Today, I challenge you to listen to another. Find something within them that is worth hearing, worth considering, listen twice as much as you speak and really devour the things you hear. Especially what you hear between the words and the sounds of the trees or rivers or cities. This world is rife with sounds of life and that is the most powerful notion I have felt in a long time.

We are here, we are alive. We will be gone one day and on my tombstone I’d like it to say something like, he spoke often, he spoke well + good, but the testament to the man buried in this ground is that he was able to listen through your words and hear the feelings you felt, the things you were afraid or embarrassed to say and he helped us bring them out.

Black Garden

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Oh thee, living life in such a way as fangs upturned,

Those, the wolves who’ve not yet earned the blood drenched fears of the morning not yet come.

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I  often consider the possibility if things turn out a bit differently. Should I have done such and such thing, would my world be drastically different if I had never done this insignificant task?

I pose a question to you today, first, as yourself as I have:

What would my life be like had I not done (any series of events that your have been a part of or have seen.)?

Then, when you’ve answered that question, consider this.

Life is here. It is daunting. There are things within each of our own lives that are difficult to fathom.

How a man can arm himself and enter a school, with the intent to kill innocent children, convicted of no crime? How can the world around not stop to see that it was one of our own children, or friends, how can we continue along these paths that we see lead nowhere?

How can one we love betray us?

How can we continue to argue over the world when our words are used so frequently they have lost all meaning?

How can we wake up the new day, and tell it of our discoveries?

How can we venture to a new world bravely, with nothing to show in our past but cowardice and pain?

How can we heal?

How can we rebuild?

How can we recover?

How can we breathe again?

How can we ask ourselves any of these questions without first considering this…

You are here. now.

Hold your loved ones tight, tonight. Keep them close. The reality is that this world is cruel and unforgiving. The longer we spend within our own minds, worrying about timelines that don’t exist, the closer we come to extinction or eradication, whichever chooses to pull the trigger first. In my final days I will not be wondering how differently my life could have gone, no matter the pain or the tremors within it.

Those things which have come to pass will be as such tomorrow. Tomorrow there is time to consider the possibility of butterflies. Tonight, you must hold those you have. You must love them. You must be here. you must be now.

Because when tomorrow comes to you asking for a word, you may no longer have a breath to give.

Beautiful Faces

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Its interesting how much we cater to the societal expectations of beauty. Even in rebellion. Welcome to Gravity, My Enemy. This week I wanted to talk about Valentine’s Day (Like literally every other year.)

We have this one day set aside to get gifts and romantics from people, everything turns red or pink and condom sales boost by a marginal percent in the days leading up to it.

We as a society are extremely focused on how things look, something I’ve spoken of before especially in correlation with Valentine’s Day is that we want our lives to be some sort of spectacle. My conservative adult friends tell me it is social media’s fault and my liberal younger friends tell me that people do it for themselves and to escape societal norms, which, if that were the case, wouldn’t we be relatively silent about it?

By this I mean no disrespect to the people who want to make their lives seem glamorous or more fun than they really are, unless you’re intentionally misleading others. That’s not cool.

Still, I see a lot of posts now a days of men or women who put themselves out on social media in a strange outfit or some kind of sensational imagery posted alongside them with the expressed purpose of standing out. I’m a fan of uniqueness, in many of its forms but can’t uniqueness be derived from humble and silent means instead of boisterous ones?

Wearing baggy clothing as a girl doesn’t have to mean that you are rebellious or tomboyish, it literally means you like baggy clothes and dude pockets because Valentine’s Day just passed by and you still have thirty seven condoms you didn’t use lying around in your bedroom, might as well take them and go make condom art.

(Don’t make condom art. Or do. .The choice is yours, just… consider placing condoms on public property extremely carefully. If you get caught vandalizing a stature of General Patton, well. I’m not going to be here to help assist you.)

Still, men in tight fitting clothing doesn’t have to be some grand break away from societal norms either, I like slim pants, a kid I know loves pleather. There is nothing to be gained or lost by how we dress and we as a society like to emphasize the shit out of it.

“Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.”

Well, ideally, I’d like to be a full time writer but I’m not going to stroll into a 90 degree kitchen in a cardigan, robe and no pants. Get out of here with that. I’m going to be comfortable and wear what I enjoy.

This concept goes a step further I think with cosmetic enhancements. I saw someone on my Twitter TL the other day talking about wanting a boob reduction, not because she had large and cumbersome boobs but because “No one gets breast reductions + I want to show the patriarchy that I am in control of my own body.”

Call me crazy, but perhaps being in control of your own body might have less to do with the size of your boobs, and more to do with the control of your body.

This comes off as patriarchal to some, I’m sure. To those of you who are assuming I am part of the He-Man Woman Hater Club, allow me to reassure you. You can do whatever you want.

With whoever you want.

Whenever you want.

Hopefully that will have cleared up some of the smoke from the hollow gunshots I did not mean to fire into the crowd, yet somehow there are people who will still assume as such.

The point to all of this is that working so hard to fight something with actions like this, i.e. doing the opposite of the norm, quickly goes from a powerful statement to useless expense or banter in no time flat.

Have you ever used a word so much that it lost its meaning to you? I’ve laid centuries worth of vulgarities and the words themselves have lost the initial punch they had when I first heard them, these powerful statements are a lot like that.

Wearing extremely thin clothing in the winter is not a symbol of your oppression. It is a stupid decision, are you trying to get hypothermia? I don’t’ understand.

Similarly, men, those of us who steer into the skid of being “girly” by acting and overcompensating, trying to make the world believe you chop down redwoods with your hand, just be cool. It is okay to have feminine qualities and it is okay to have masculine qualities. I promise you it is not going to kill you. It will actually make you see things in a different light. Much like, for instance…

Each other.

See, we spend so much time trying to make ourselves stand out that we lose sight of the actual uniqueness within us. Clothing and physique are massive signals to others that lead to clues about our personalities. Men in suits, probably are either Mormon or have office/business jobs, men in overalls are likely mechanics. Etc. This applies to all people. I dress in flannel and tye dye exclusively. If you assume I’m either a hippy server who smokes a lot of weed or a gay hipster who will tell you why every album released in 2005 is only good for nostalgia sake, you would be half right.

(Not gay, I haven’t taken any of the electric lettuce in many months and bands that wee big in 2005 are still in HEAVY rotation on my Spotify playlist, I promise you. Fall Out Boy is A1 shit. Classics.)

Regardless, we use these symbols of ourselves to try to subvert the mainstream ideology of those around us, but all of these signal flares eventually evolve into a cluster of nonsense and no one understands what the purpose of all the showy idealism is anymore. These clothes mean this thing.

These Botox injections mean this thing.

So on and so forth, which leads us to less and less genuine interactions with one another, being less genuine means that you are less real, losing the things that make you one of a kind is a terrible fate to behold and I hope it upon none of you.

Besides, being less genuine means it’ll be harder for you to meet and befriend new people honestly, which in turn makes it especially hard for you to actually do anything with the $431 you spent on chocolates and prophylactic supplies for Valentine’s Day.

In summary, we were all created to be unique, divine in our own way, gifts given to others on this planet. Don’t squander that and force yourself to become a statement. Instead, consider the alternative…

Live in a way that makes you a statement unto yourself. You are wonderfully made. Your face, in all of its own glory was meant to be a beacon of light to others. Be a greater, better, more compassionate human being. Don’t be generic, generic things will be left behind one day.

(Except for Kroger brand cheese I am ABOUT that stuff. 15 slices for a dollar? Count me in.)

True Cleric

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I do what I do to help others. I know that not everyone needs what I have to offer, but someone, somewhere does.

As long as I can remember I’ve been a person that my friends come to for advice or help, for a laugh or for comfort. I have been a healer for as long as I remember playing this game, and because of that I have been witness to some terrible things. The world is a mean and rotten place sometimes, the shadows behind us can grow and become bigger than we ever thought they would, but there is still a glimmer of hope.

Shadows only grow when the light is brighter.

I bring this to you today, because I was scrolling through Twitter on a break from work and I saw someone I’ve followed for a couple years who I never really speak to tweet to their followers:

“The worst feeling is when you give all of your healing soul to someone and they take that from you.”

“I have a healing soul, it is my nature, but when I need healing, where is everyone else?”

“That’s all I’m saying, the people who heal you are broken too. I want to be healed.”

I was caught off guard initially by the series of tweets because it sounded like something between a cry for help and a cry for attention.

So I thought I’d do what I do best and talk about it today.

I will never tell you that there are people out there who don’t need encouragement or help or healing. We all find ourselves in times of distress or fear or whatever other damaging moment that life sends to you. We all have moments to shine and we all need moments to recover, but there has been this growing notion recently about people. It started with “Old Souls” and has grown to be so much more than that. Before I get into the hook here, I want to be clear with you, reader, I have been guilty of the very thing I am here to discuss. I am no stranger to the desire for attention and help. I need it just as much as the rest of us do, but that doesn’t change one important thing about our lives.

If your purpose is to heal, then you will heal. It is your purpose.

Explicitly and divinely appointed to your heart are the desire and the necessary tools needed to have a healing spirit. That being said, we have grown lazy in our interpretation of healing. The kindness that so many of us spend on one another has become a game of who can catch up faster. Social Media posts riddled with self-aggrandizing images of us helping the homeless or standing alongside a burn victim who we brought to the hospital, the stink in our heart of our desire to help and to heal has been infected with a more powerful urge to be noticed for the things that we do. I can be accused of this as well, even in some moments bragging about the kindness I share on this very blog, where two years later I disavowed those things I said, or rather, the way I said them.

There rests a fine plane between kindness and healing for the sake of purpose and doing it for the sake of attention and I’ve seen that when we say things in the vein of “Look at what I did today.” Or “Why is it that I give my all to help others, yet when I need help no one is there?” it tends to come from a place of attention hungry infection, not true healing or hope.

If we are designed to be healing spirits, why then, would we seek to do anything outside of our original purpose? If what we say is true, we are healers for the sake of being healers, why would we seek retribution or payment for simply acting out of our base instinct?

We wouldn’t.

Unless of course, we were maligned by infection of some sort.

In as much the same way we seek approval from our peers for marital, athletic or creative success, we have ventured into seeking that same approval from genuine actions such as empathy and kindness. There should be no payment due for healing given. We are not doctors. We are Clerics. We are healers and we should expect nothing in return for what we do.

Healers are, at their core, people who are capable of indescribable love. Sometimes I doubt that it is my own purpose, but I am trying to remember that I know what I should be doing. I’m trying to remember that I know where I should go. I will remember + I hope you all do as well…

There is no return payment on love.