Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fearing Insomnia

For about six months now I've been suffering with insomnia, but that's overstating it, because on most nights I sleep like I’m fresh out of the womb. I would actually define what I’m suffering with as a fear of insomnia, even though I don't actually have it. Yeah, I know. Makes no sense to me either.

Of course, in the past I’ve had my fair share of sleepless nights, but they were nothing to go crying to mum about. That was up until August last year when I got asked to go on a shoot for this music video. The director contacted me about four days prior asking if I could camera assist. Mind you, everybody involved were complete strangers whom I must have given my resume to somewhere along the way (I hope!). Jumping ahead to the night before, I had to be up at four the next morning for what looked on paper like a grueling twelve hour day in a laundry list of locations I’m not too familiar with. To put it simply, my girlfriend was spending the night, we lost track of time and next thing I knew, I was only going to get roughly four hours sleep, something you don’t want to have before a long day with strangers you want to impress in a strange place at a strange time. And that revelation freaked-me-out! I ended up tossing and turning all night - worried. Worried that I wasn’t going to get enough sleep. How nuts is that? The worry of not getting to sleep was keeping me from sleeping, and the later it got, the more worried I became. I was caught in a whirlpool that I created and I could not get out!

But it all worked out fine in the end. I only got two hours of shallow sleep at best, and of course I wasn’t chirpy the next day, but I did excellent considering. I managed to make it through almost ten hours and two thirty minute hikes - and they were hikes - through a mountainous gun range for the first location without a single drop of caffeine. Ten hours! I did end up grabbing a coffee at about one o’clock at a snorkelling beach where we were about to film some underwater stuff (Clovelly, if anybody’s interested). The sun was beaming down and they didn’t need me for a while, so I laid down on the sand for a ten minute rest and then I woke up an hour later. Thinking back on it, I still can’t believe it. I lasted ten hours on dead batteries, not to mention the six hours of shooting that followed my beach nap.

Afterward, the actress in the video dropped me in the familiar city, where you would think I’d just want to hop on the next train that takes me directly to the Sandman, or even his evil-cousin Krueger, no matter the consequences, but no, I kind of didn’t want to leave the city. So I got some grub, had a drink and dawdled home acting like someone that wasn’t teetering on the edge of unconsciousness. I didn’t even sleep on the ride home! I was a marvel of ‘sleep is for the weak’ that day. This is boasting.

But despite my overall ability to function on little shuteye, albeit uncomfortably, this one single incident has been the catalyst behind an ongoing six month bout of insomnia fears. And it’s not the night that’s the main problem, it’s the day before the night before a big day - when I say ‘big day’, I mean a long one in which I’ll need to be light on my toes and not, you know, lying on the ground moaning. This fear I’m talking about manifests itself as a minute thought in the back of my mind that I can ignore, but not turn off. It says ‘shit! I better get some good sleep tonight’. But as the day progresses and I draw closer to bedtime, that ignorable buzzing in my mind grows into an angry swarm of butterflies in my stomach which I can’t swat away, and then from there on in it’s just like I had caffeine intravenously shot up my arm. My heart beats through my chest, I toss and turn out of utter frustration, I play out the next day in my head starring a zombie-version of me, I juggle the notion of not showing up. It’s horrible...but it’s not really. It’s just me building myself into a night of little sleep and a lot of anxiety for no real reason, is it not? Given that I’m aware of how silly this whole thing is, you would think I would be able to calm myself down, but it’s not enough emotional ammunition to overcome the worry. I need something more.

As little as it makes sense, it is purely just a fear of not getting to sleep at night, and not a fear of anything else. For a bit of backstory, in the past year, I’ve been to shoots before not knowing anybody prior to the day and slept fine; I’ve started new jobs and slept fine; I’ve been to one-on-one and group interviews and slept fine; I’ve worked grueling days in the past and slept fine; fine, fine, fine! During high school, a high school in which I hated so much that it was lucky that I didn’t set it on fire and send a wrecking ball through the remains, I did lose a bit of sleep, but I managed to rectify that by falling asleep to the sound of my television, and I’ve done that every night since with favourable success. But alas, no amount of television can salvage my night when in the throes of my non-insomnia. I need something...something more.

One of the emotions I feel between the tosses and turns that mark a restless night is what I would describe as loneliness. Not physically, but emotionally. I could have one leg over my girlfriend’s hip, but I’d still feel it. It’s a sense that everybody is having a better night than I am, whether that is sleeping better, partying better, whatever. But meanwhile, there I am, studying the ceiling instead of sleeping. Ideally, what I really want - and need - is a buddy in insomnia if you will. Sort of like a buddy you would have from alcoholics anonymous which you can call whenever you’re tempted to drink so that they can talk you out of it. I want a buddy I can call which I know is having the same shit night that I’m having so they can talk me out of not sleeping and vice versa. If only there were insomnia-hookers I could order over the phone, that would great.This is something more.

For the moment, I haven’t found this buddy, but I do have one thing: my lovely neighbours. Most old people I know go to bed early and wake up before they turn SBS back on, but not these people. They are seventy years old but they go to bed in the early AM and wake up long after the sun has risen. They’ve always done it; it’s been a topic of conversation throughout my household since I was a tadpole. We know this because their kitchen window faces the side of our house and if they’re up, rest assured they’re in the kitchen. So all I need to do in order to check if they’re awake is peer out a window. And that brings me comfort. If it’s one in the AM and I see that woman with one of her foreign films on and her hands buried in the sink, I suddenly feel less alone. Somebody else in the world is up, not just me.

Fearing insomnia, but not insomnia, not even close. I realise that some people actually suffer with it and I really sympathise with them, especially after the last six months. If they had a choice between my measly handful of anxious nights and their being anxious every night, I’m sure they would love to be in my shoes any day of the week. So, what else can I say? Perhaps this is just another step I’ve taken into insanity. Or maybe it’s just my age and the pressure of responsibility that comes binded to it sliding down the hill toward me. Who knows, I’m crazy.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Photographic-Handover

You have a fun day with a bunch of friends, one of which takes a metric tonne of photos with their camera, and you think you're going to get a link to them later on, but then that night, they wrangle them onto their computer, lock them up and melt down the metaphorical key for scrap…and nobody can ever have them. It's always too hard for them. And they're not wrong; it is really hard to give photos. I mean if only there was a massive library we could access via our computers where we could put our stuff for other people to access from their computers. Actually that's not a bad idea. Perhaps I'll call it...the 'internet'!


So when it comes to that time when you’re like ‘hey man, can I have those super-rad photos please?’, they’re going to say one of two completely moronic things: first one is ‘oh, but they’re on Facebook?’, like that's a solution, and the second is ‘ah yeah, I’ll go home tonight and put them on a thumb-drive/CD/floppy-disk for you’.

Right off the bat, I don’t want to be too hard on people, but the Facebook response is as dumb as dog-shit. It's not a photo-sharing site? It's not even like a photo-sharing site, so why treat it like it is? Facebook's just a place to put your pictures so that smartarses like me can make our little smartarse comments and then make a decision on whether we like or secretly dislike them, similar to critics at a catwalk.

Firstly, Facebook isn’t a viable substitute because it has no ‘download all’ feature. So say that there are a hundred photos. That means that I have to click ‘download’, 'next' and possibly 'save' a hundred times each. So 'unnecessary chore' in my language must actually mean 'answer' in their language.

Secondly, this may not be such a big deal to some, but a great deal of the photos on Facebook aren't that big. Don’t forget, It was only a couple of years ago that it added the ability to upload high resolution photos, before that you had no choice but to have the photos automatically resized down to something I could considerably obscure using my hand. In spite of that though, many of my friends still aren’t ticking the high resolution box when they’re uploading anyway, which bedazzles me even more when they think that Facebook is the answer.

Now, if you’re scratching your head because you're not real sure what the big deal is, it’s a personal preference of mine to have the originals and not the resized versions. If that’s not possible, then I’ll settle for something that will fill my twenty one inch computer screen. The reason is very simple: the future. What if it’s an amazing photo? I may decide to show my family on a big screen television or a projector, or I may want to frame it or have it printed on a canvas. With something tiny, I can't do any of that, I can't do a real lot of anything apart from stick it in my wallet. But with a big one like what every camera takes now, I have a lot of breathing room to do whatever my black ass desires.

So telling me to go on Facebook to get photos is basically as good as pointing and laughing in my face!

Numero Twoplah: why are we still treating the photographic-handover like it needs to be a face-to-face transaction? They're all like 'yeah, yeah, I've got your photos man. Can you drop your flash drive by my work tomorrow? Then you can leave, come back another day and pick it up.' What is this? The 90s? Give me a fucking break! Like I said, half the time they're already sitting on Facebook anyway and this arsehole wants me to make two special trips to his work because he won't use Flickr. Fuck him! He can keep them if he wants them so badly!

I don't know what's more frustrating: the realisation that people my age use the internet so much and yet they never actually use it, or just knowing the simple fact that people are making a painless, trivial matter so complicated. Do they not realise that they've already got the uploading principle down and now they just need to apply it to a site that isn't a social networking site? Do they not realise that there are hundreds of free photo-sharing sites out there...literally hundreds? Do they not realise that if they have Hotmail or Gmail accounts - which pretty much covers everybody short of my grandparents and the people you see in World Vision ads - that they already have either a SkyDrive or Picasa account, two fully-featured free photo sites? But no, no! Why better utilise the internet when we have writable CDs?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Personality & Private Parts

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I thought about writing a thousand words. I thought about writing five hundred astoundingly sarcastic ones to mask my petulance. I thought about writing a single sentence, not a whole lot longer than the title. But there was no quenching the thirst that I had to get my point across. A million words or five, it wouldn't make any difference. I figure I'm not going to change the way anybody thinks on this particular matter anyway, the same way that I can't possibly cover every single possible scenario that one may find themselves in regarding this. I’ve also gone over distrusting relationships already as well, but we’ve all heard that one piece of nonsense that makes all of what I said there garbage, “it’s not that I don’t trust my partner, it’s just that I don’t trust their friend”; you know, dumb stuff. So, let’s try this at a more rudimentary level, shall we. Here's what I think: if two people are friends, and I mean that in the strictest sense of the word, then the gender of each party is completely meaningless.

I'm sorry, but I'm not wrong.

I’m not speaking from a cultural bias either, undoubtedly that’s what I trust a lot of people think when I say this, with my white liberal upbringing and all. Nope! It’s actually coming from a being normal bias of mine; it's a bit of a hang-up I have from when I was normal.

Excuse me for being frank, but I don’t give a shit what any culture or religion says about the differences between men and women. When a person is in a loving relationship, there are no differences. But no, no, majority of people prefer to view gender as some personality flaw, and that’s not right. I’m not suddenly going to try and steal your girlfriend simply because I’m male, even if I am single, nor is some girl going to abscond with me just because she’s female.

Take me for instance; when I have a girlfriend, I view my friends in the same light that I view dogs: no matter male or female, a dog’s still a dog and a friend’s still a friend; I wouldn’t have sex with a dog and I wouldn’t have sex with a friend.

I do realise that as humans we are always taking cues from our biological urges, but there’s still a fine line between personality and private parts.


Oh, and just as a quick foot-note for any of my friend’s boyfriends who may be reading: when my sights are actually set on a person, I don’t muck around. So if you truly think that I’m after your girl but I’ve already had one or two of what you think are dates with her, and you decide that you don’t want her to see me anymore as a pre-emptive strike. Well calm your little booties princess, because if something were actually going to happen, you’re too late because it already has! Mark my words, I would not leave any doubt.