Sunday, September 17, 2017

Slice of Life: More Absentmindedness, Frozen Yogurt, Funny Dreams, Creativity and Insomnia

September 17, 2017

Lately, I've been feeling very energized to pursue various creative goals, puppetry-related things in part but also some other projects. All of this creative energy is having an interesting effect on me, including more absentmindedness ... which was previously mentioned in a recent post of mine.

In one recent incident, Dad and I were headed to church for our second choir rehearsal of the year. Dad has joined as a baritone who might shift between bass and tenor, and I'm in the soprano section. As Dad is driving us, I began to share with him some of the crazy puppetry ideas buzzing around in my head. I am not the only absent-minded one in the family, and I ended up distracting him. Dad drove past one of our usual turns, and the driving mistake probably added about 10 minutes to our trip. We turned up late, not for choir rehearsal, but for the prayer meeting that precedes it.

Then, just last night, Dad and I went out together again to pick up some yummy cold stuff from a frozen dessert place near us. (I guess they call themselves a frozen dessert place, since they sell soft serve ice cream and frozen yogurt, gelato, sorbet, etc.) This place is part of a little strip mall, and, most always, when we go to this strip mall, we are headed to the grocery store. I was in mental writing mode, and my feet, once out of the car, were programmed by automatic pilot to go to the grocery store entrance. Dad said something to me before I actually went through the door, and then I turned around and saw some pumpkins on display just outside the entrance. I started patting the pumpkins affectionately, because they reminded me of my A. Morris Pumpkin puppet character. Then, I followed Dad to get our frozen yogurt, and I don't think I ever explained to him why I was patting the pumpkins with such affection.

Me with A. Morris Pumpkin

Mom didn't accompany us but put in an order for "something vanilla or something citrus-y and fruity." So, I fixed her up a Creamsicle bowl with vanilla ice cream and orange sorbet, then topped it with some little fruity candies called mango stars and strawberry boba, raspberries and blueberries. I like Creamsicle too, but I chose different flavors for myself, Nutella gelato and caramel macchiato frozen yogurt. With all of that chocolatey and mocha stuff, I did give myself some fruit too, some Bing cherries and blackberries.

These recent absent-minded incidents are not as embarrassing as something that happened one or two years ago. When I was working for the newspaper, I would walk down from my office to the 7Eleven for my lunch and pick up a sandwich and some fruit and a drink. I was such a frequent customer there that I had a pretty friendly relationship with one of the workers, and he bought my first mystery book, Action Men with Silly Putty, for Kindle. Still, it wasn't the only business in the area I frequented. There were one or two other businesses nearby where I might go for lunch.

One day, I was in full blast mental creative writing mode during my lunch break, and I walked down to the 7Eleven on automatic pilot. I had really intended to go some place else. As soon as I walked in the door, I paused and thought, "Why am I here?" My friend there saw me pausing and probably looking confused, so then, I made my situation worse, and, after making eye contact with him, told him that I didn't mean to come here! This, I thought afterwards, was bordering on rudeness. How can you tell a business, especially one where you're on good relations, that you didn't mean to come there or buy anything? So then, of course, I felt obliged to buy my lunch there.

When I went to the counter to pay for it, he asked, laughing a little bit, "So, you didn't mean to come here?" I tried to explain, and, with his next words, he made me feel much, much better. "You," he said, "are an artist. Your mind can be in two places at the same time."

The other effect this recent burst of creative energy has had on me is getting my brain wired up late at night. I've been trying to get enough sleep, but it's a struggle. Ideas want to come to mind after I'm already in bed and trying to sleep, even when I know I'm exhausted. It doesn't feel like an entirely negative thing. I like myself like this rather than the me who is too overwhelmed with other concerns in life to be creative. I hope I can get a balance between working hard at my creative goals and also sleeping well at night.

I suppose I'm not alone. I mentioned in a recent post that I've read Jim Henson's biography. As I was reading it, I kept feeling like this man was a lot like me. It's not just the puppetry connection that I felt, and it wasn't thinking that our creative ideas or particular gifts were all that similar. It was the description of his basic temperament and personality that sounded a lot like me. He was described as quiet, calm, not easily ruffled, all words or phrases that friends and family use to describe me. There was even an interesting scenario in the book where he was in a position where he needed to fire someone from The Muppet Show, but when the person was sent to his office, Henson just couldn't do it and ended up giving him a bear hug. I thought, "Yeah, I can see myself doing something similar." I would have a hard time firing someone too. Another thing that I learned from the book is that his creative drive sometimes robbed him of sleep too.

By the way, at the time that I was reading the book, I kept thinking Henson must be, according to the Myers Brigg system, an INFP like I am, and later found a personality site that agreed with my assessment. Rather than explaining the significance of the four letters for those who might not know the system, I'll just include this little summary of the type from Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Brigg Type by Myers & McCaulley.

Full of enthusiasms and loyalties, but seldom talk of these until they know you well. Care about learning, ideas, language, and independent projects of their own. Tend to undertake too much, then somehow get it done. Friendly, but often too absorbed in what they are doing to be sociable. Little concerned with possessions or physical surroundings.
I have some insomniac tendencies. I've been listening to the Book of Psalms on audio via YouTube to help me sleep, and last night, the last Psalm I remember hearing was 39, so, obviously, I didn't just pop right off to sleep. On Saturday, I know I napped, which is good, and I was dreaming of Cavalier King Charles spaniels. I think I know what inspired it. I had been watching a movie recently where a dog of that breed made an appearance, and I was admiring how pretty it was. It amazes me, and also strikes me funny, how often I dream of animals. It makes me think I'm more of an animal enthusiast than I claim to be. I even had a "celebrity" animal visit me in my dreams recently. I follow a clever, trained bunny called Bini on YouTube. In one of my recent dreams, I met Bini the Bunny, and I was so happy.

I suppose I should tell you about my weird Ambien experience. I find it funny now. In fact, as early as the following day, it became a source of laughs. Some years back, I went with some friends to a camp called Camp of the Woods. We did some work projects there such as boarding up cabins for the winter season, or, as I remember one year, folding up a lot of fitted sheets, and, in return, we got to use the camp facilities in our down time.

I was taking Ambien for sleep at the time and was stupid enough to think that I could sit up casually drinking my chamomile tea in the lounge with my friends after taking my pill. I would go to bed after I drank my tea. I started to get double vision and announced, just as casually, that everyone had two heads and that it was probably due to the Ambien. I got up to go to bed, and my roommate for the weekend and one of our other friends got worried about me and led me back to my room. I had another weird visual phenomenon, where the pattern on the hallway carpet seemed to be floating at my waist level. They told me not to look at it, but that seemed hard to avoid. The next day, one of my friends was teasing me that the moose head in the lounge must have been talking to me that night, and I told all my friends that they all looked much, much better that morning.

I don't mean to discourage anyone from taking Ambien temporarily if it's needed. I think it did me more good than harm, and I could have avoided the visual effects if I had gone to bed promptly after taking it. Ah well. Fiction writers wonder about strange medical "what if" situations, and I have been known to ask my doctor and nurse friends bizarre questions about what would happen to somebody in different medical situations, including "What would happen if someone was shot with a tranquilizer dart?" In part, this experience of mine gave me some inspiration for that scenario in the first Action Men.

What about you? Are you a creative type? Do ideas keep you awake at night sometimes?

Wouldn't it be nice if we could work out our ideas during sleep in our dreams and had the technology to note it all down without the need of waking up?


  1. I can see it now. The next mystery novel will be "Action Men and the Dream Recorder".

    1. Well, I was dreaming last night that I was going to write a book about tea party ideas, so .... Hhmmm....

  2. A few times, I have gone to bed with an engineering or mathematical problem puzzling me, and woke up with the answer. So I must have been figuring it out in my sleep, although I don't remember dreaming about it.

  3. A few times, I have gone to bed with an engineering or mathematical problem puzzling me, and woke up with the answer. So I must have been figuring it out in my sleep, although I don't remember dreaming about it.