Vern's Verbal Vibe

Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of folk 'n' roll: spirit-filled sad songs made better.

February 26, 2006

Quote of the Day

This is an excerpt from my horoscope for Monday:

"Anxiety and intuition go together like marmalade and mayonnaise. They do absolutely nothing to complement one another. When your instincts are working well, you will never feel anxious. Your sixth sense will always tell you what to do for the best. When worry is getting the better of you, though, you can forget all about getting into contact with your inner wisdom. It simply won't speak to you while you are feeling fear."

Thank you, Jonathan. Words to live by.

February 21, 2006


It's not been an easy week. For the most part, though, I've been able to fight through it and continue working. Today I revised the first part of Chapter 14. Before I bring an excerpt to my writing group, I read it aloud and make changes at home. It's nitpicky, difficult work, but this afternoon, I did it. This evening at group, I read the end of Chapter 12, went to the pub with my writer friends afterwards, came home and incorporated their suggestions into the next draft. After that, I printed/collated several copies of next week's reading, the first half of Chapter 13. I didn't feel up to any of this, and look at what I accomplished. I'm learning to give myself credit for (and take pride in) how much I am able to get done on a bad day.

As for the sleep situation, the chronotherapy escapade has been a success. For seven days in a row, I've been asleep by two and up at ten. Regular, sufficient sleep isn't doing wonders for my mood yet, but it is boosting my productivity. I'll have to be strict about my bedtime in order to prevent backsliding. Part of me truly bristles at this, but I know it's for the best.

February 11, 2006

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS)

This is what I think is troubling me. It differs from insomnia in that it's a circadian rhythm disorder. My sleep/wake cycles push themselves forward incrementally until I'm going to bed at 9:00 a.m. and rising at 5:00 p.m. (like I did today).

Treatments include chronotherapy (progressively shifting bedtimes ahead three hours until desired bedtime is reached), light therapy, and establishing regular patterns of eating and exercise. I'm ready to try a modified form of chronotherapy for starters, but the bright light thing is gonna be tough. I wake up slowly—"dragged out of bed kicking and screaming" is more like it—and don't think I could stand a sudden jolt of light. But I'll turn a couple of soft lights on when my alarm sounds and gradually step it up from there. If that doesn't work, guess I'll have to let loose the floodlights upon waking. In any case, proper light therapy isn't possible until I can afford a light box.

So, that's two sleep disorders for the price of one, as DSPS likely interacts with my CPAP treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. (In lay terms, I have a hose attached to my nostrils that pumps air down my throat so I don't stop breathing during sleep. Fun, eh?) To be fair, I don't think one has caused the other to occur, but I believe each is making the other worse.

I'm trying to self-diagnose (and self-treat) in order to avoid seeing the sleep doctor, who will probably tell me what I already know and prescribe some nasty pharmaceutical concoction. But if my attempts fail, I'll pay him a visit ... if I can manage to find a time when he's open and I'm not sleeping.

Tag Results

Having been tagged by Jamie (thanks, Jamie!), I offer the following humble answers to this humble set of questions. (For entertainment purposes only. Void where prohibited. This offer not valid in combination with any other.)

When you were little, what were three things you wanted to be when you grew up?

I don't recall having any occupational dreams whatsoever until I was sixteen (at least). In order from there, they are ...
  • mathematician
  • sociologist
  • rock musician
You can live one day over again from your childhood. What day will it be?

  • That summer afternoon in '71 when I sat in my backyard and heard the sounds of Three Dog Night wafting over from Borough of York Stadium.
You have two minutes (and a mover if you need heavy lifting help!) to grab five things from your home before it morphs into a polka-dotted hobgoblin and hops away. What will you take? (Food, drink, family, friends, and pets excluded!)
  • photo of my beloved
  • bed
  • entire CD collection ... and we'd need the movers for that, yes
  • computer ... which conveniently includes a CD player
  • short-wave radio
You have to paint one quote on your kitchen wall. What's it going to be?
  • "Sign me up as a diplomat, my only office is the park" - Paul Kantner, 1970
Which three things do you want to accomplish by the end of this year?
  • Finish my book
  • Submit the manuscript
  • Sign a juicy deal
You are moving to the moon for one year and can only bring one flower with you. What kind will you bring?
  • Whatever flower my lone house plant is (I've no idea). Actually, no: I'm trading in the house plant for three more books (see below).
You just received word that aside from one flower, you can also bring five books with you too! (And I'm going to sneak a pen with me.) Your choices?
  • The New London Property Guide 04/05
  • The 12 Steps—A Way Out
  • The Canadian Writer's Guide
  • Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, Lester Bangs
  • Zen: Merging of East and West, Roshi Philip Kapleau
And my three bonus choices for chucking the flower:
  • Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia, Rob Brezsny
  • Passport to World Band Radio
  • a blank journal

February 10, 2006

Clapham Calling?

Had an amazing London dream last night—or should I say, this morning. My sleep is all messed up again. Anyway, I go into a tube station to purchase a Visitor Travelcard for Zones 1-6. The attendant is a dapper, polite, and very helpful gent, a true service-with-a-smile type. He wishes me a wonderful time in London. I walk away feeling great and hop on the tube. It might be the Central Line; I'm not sure. In any case, this part of the line runs outdoors. It's a brilliant, sky-blue day, and as I take in row upon row of terraces and mansion flats on the surrounding streets, I smile, let out a big sigh, and think, "Oh, yeah. It's so good to be back. I love it here." The train stops at the next station, then pulls out. Right away, a block of smart-looking properties catches my eye. For some reason, I can see street signs as well. Two come into view: Crescent Lane and Crescent Walk.

The dream goes on, but I'll stop there, because here's the fun part: when I awoke, I searched the index of my London street atlas for Crescent Lane. Yep, there's one in SW4. Wonder where that is? I turn to page 150 and am blown away, for just east of Clapham Common sit Crescent Lane and Crescent Grove (I was off by one word), side by side, a block from the tube station. Okay, it's the Northern Line and I don't think this section runs outdoors, but still ...

So, it's off to The New London Property Guide 04/05 to get the scoop on the area and, if possible, the streets themselves: "Past Crescent Lane lies Clapham's premier street, the gated Regency enclave of Crescent Grove. The fine stucco crescent faces a row of grand semi-detached villas with linked coach houses: £1.5 million will buy you villa plus coach house. In the Lane itself, nine flats and four townhouses set round a gated court are sold bar one house (3-bed, £600,000)."

Does my future dream home await me in Crescent Lane or Grove? I don't know, but next time I'm in London, first order of business is to take the Northern Line to Clapham Common and check out, ah, Clapham's premier street.

Here's another mildly cosmic tidbit. When I first bought that street atlas, I thumbed through the index to see if any of the streets I lived on here existed in a parallel universe across the pond. (I tend to do weird stuff like that with maps.) I discovered that Jarvis (my then-current street) and Westbury (my former street) not only existed in London—they met. Whoa! So, on my first visit to the capital, I caught the District Line to Barking, found the intersection, and took pictures. It wasn't the greatest area, but still, the experience tickled me pink and provided the first inkling that London Town and I share some kind of mojo. The dance continues.

February 06, 2006

Boring Through the Rockies

Progress update: I'm slogging away at the book, temporarily marooned in the midst of Chapter 14. Three more to go after this one. I've finally made it through the horror of recounting my day on the Icefields Parkway. After spending an entire night trying to bore through it and getting nowhere, I gave up. Then just before nodding off, the light bulb came on: merge two days into one! This required major cutting, pasting, and juggling of actual events, but that's allowed. See my previous posts on memoir: I give myself permission to omit the boring stuff and put "what really happened" in a different order. Literature is a spatial/temporal illusion anyway. Next, I condensed the scenic descriptions into a paragraph's worth of sweeping generalities ("a staggering parade of rugged peaks, alpine meadows, and shimmering turquoise waters"—you get the idea).

For whatever reason, I have a terrible time describing the physical world, especially those spectacular sights about which readers plead, "Take me there, dear author." I'd love to, dear reader, but words fail me ... literally. They vanish. I stare at my photo albums and see trees, lakes, fields, and rocks. That's it. And "I looked out the window and saw another tree" doesn't take any of us anywhere. I've been tearing my hair out over this, and because the story's setting is a cross-country trip, surprise—the issue keeps cropping up. I think I've managed to create enough real-world grounding that the story appears to occur in space and time, not some literary black hole. That's good, but I wish the process weren't so gut-wrenching every time. I'm happy to report that other than the bloody scenery, the rest of the narrative is coming along quite well.

When you've been at one project this long (over a year), these issues tend to magnify themselves. A word of advice: kids, don't make your first book an epic. Start with short stories. Or Haiku. :)