An Insomniac’s Solitude

A dusty old bookshop is my solitude. Sifting through titles, finding unexpected used gems (at a discount) lifts dark clouds of depression. Stepping into a curious little literary shop, I was met with a fire-breathing dragon.

Shit, fuck, shit, it’s the Fox News Channel Bookshop. Every shelf was littered with Donald Trump’s book, “The Art of the Deal.” Like any well-adjusted Democrat, I dashed out of the peculiar bookshop.

Eventually, I woke up in own darkened room. Dashing to the Gay-ve, I turned on the light. Smiling back at me were books by Zadie Smith, James Baldwin, Flannery O’Connor, Hunter S. Thompson, Jane Austen, and many more.

The Fox News Bookshop was just a nightmare. Unfortunately, I had eccentric dreams every night. Sometimes they boarded on avant-garde madness. Other times, fluffy dreams soothed the brain’s intertwined wrinkles.

Surprisingly, sleep anxiety didn’t quite build. Feeling increasingly comfortable, I found myself wandering New York City. Short of subway fare, I purchased a one-way ticket to Harlem, via the Seventh Avenue line.

A well air-conditioned train pulled into the 14th Street Station. Taking a seat on the orange seat, I glanced out the window. Dying animals appeared in between the Uptown and Downtown tracks, as the train sped, uptown.

Horses, dogs, and cats were tied to IV machines, clinging to life. The scene was terrifying and the animal hospice continued to line the tracks, all the way to 125th Street. Once again, I woke up with fear. Turning on the television, I was reminded of my safety zone in sleepy California.

The animal hospice dream finally triggered sleepy anxiety. Having nightmares became a frightening nightly occurrence. Each night, I dreaded sleep, not even sleeping pills could deter a mischievous brain.

I battled my own self-conscious by taking imitative. Sleeping next to a journal, I wrote down the nightly dreams, which stirred up panic. Eventually, the panic was turned to art. It was the equivalent of watching art house cinema, at it’s most raw.

From hamburger eating gold fish to being stranded on islands, every night had a different theme. It added to the crazy mosaic fabric of the dream journal. In the meantime, I continue to embrace stories from the subconscious. Yet, I really hope to never end up at the Fox News Bookshop. My liberal self would not approve.

Ambulance Chasers

Cole Porter dreams, and enchilada wishes happen in the desert. Palm Springs serves as my glittery backyard. It’s where the gay geriatrics lounge with martinis and collect art. They stare at mountains, art deco buildings, and shirtless men (of course). The gay desert is an escape from the shallowness of city life.

I’ve always been an ambulance chaser. This is other wise known as a “daddy chaser.” Although, wrinkles and grey hair are most appealing, age has always been just a number.

Hipster Boy, Meat-head, and Mr. Pseudo Intellectual were just a few of the fellows I dated. Inevitably, these counted as disaster dates. They also led me back to the Townhouse (a Piano bar) in New York City, where dapper older men sang alongside a piano, while sipping booze and discussing the latest Broadway hit.

My visits made me forget about the vile twenty-somethings, mentioned. My fascination for older men grew as I relocated, back to my hometown (which is fairly close to Palm Springs).

As a daddy chaser, I had all the right apps to meet men, virtually. However, after a terrible disaster date, I tried to delete the app. A most appealing man randomly messaged me.

He mirrored Nick Lachey (the cub version). After messaging me, I investigated his profile. “Only twenty-three? Shit” His messages were quite endearing, but I became weary. After disaster dates with Hipster Boy, Meat-Head and Mr. Pseudo Intellectual, dating a twenty-something didn’t appeal to me.

Revolting against common sense and preference, I sent him a message. Surprisingly, he was quite mature for twenty-three. His messages grew increasingly lovely. The messages were endless. Finally, I gave him my phone number, where he asked me out on a date at a Redlands coffee shop.

Obliging, Mr. Twenty-three became an ambulance chaser. My ego was suddenly boosted. However, I grew fearful. “If this works out, would I surrender into a parallel universe of cute couple photos, dinner by candle light, and snuggling on the couch?

Jadedness injected the soul with sharp pangs. Guilt kept me obliged to meet up. Coordinating my outfit, I received a text. “Will have to cancel, sorry.” Gloating, I responded back, “no worries”

“He’s so ghosting. He’s really ghosting” (the act where a fella texts and texts, then suddenly disappears). Surprise, he ended up texting me hours after canceling. Our correspondence continued. In a matter of days, he stopped texting.

It was my first relationship done entirely through text message. Having never met him, physically, I garnered an animosity toward modern technology. Men weren’t meeting other men in the real world, which remains disheartening.

“No cheesy couples’ photos! No romantic dinners! No cuddling on the couch!” I celebrated my spinsterhood. Predictably, Palm Springs beckoned. It’s an ambulance chaser’s dream.

Being the old cat lady would be swell, but what happens at eighty? There will be less of an abundance of older men to date. “ Thanks to modern technology and sophisticated medicine, one hundred year old gay men will still be sipping martinis and singing Cole Porter staples at the piano bar.

The Introvert Sips Espresso

Which asshole am I going to tell off today? Asked the eccentric man on the subway platform (I am being nice by using the word, eccentric). In the grand tradition of subway riders, everyone was unshaken, including me.

Public transportation can make the sane go insane. Man spreading, break dancers, sweat dripping from unknown sources, germs, germs, more germs, body odor, the possibility of contracting bed bugs, this ideally described the daily subway riding experience.

During my New York years, anxiety levels were raised high. In case of entrapment in a subway tunnel, I carried a Murse (man purse) full of distractions. Books, a sketchpad, sketching pencils, Batman notebook, and an iPOD filled with catchy tunes.

“Oh, geez, it would be swell to drive a car. No germs, no spreading, no surprise street performers!” After a nose wiggle, my quirky-self ended up in Riverside, CA. Strolling from coffee shop to coffee shop, driving a car through freshly scented orange groves, and reading on a bench, it was a perfect distraction from the chaos of New York City.

Within a month of returning to Riverside, I took the CBEST test (for my teaching credentials). Anxiety levels were at an all time-low. Yet all the Prozac in the world couldn’t rid the anxious clogging my head, upon taking the test.

A few weeks later, an email was sent. “Your test results are available, next day.” Smirking, I played it calm, “oh, well, there’s still fresh air and coffee in abundance.” Unfortunately, this New York/Riverside hybrid really proclaimed, “Shit, we’re all going to die. If I didn’t pass my test, everything is over.”

More riveting than electroshock therapy, anxiety levels rose, and rose, and rose. Even a relaxing drive through the beloved orange groves wouldn’t smash crazy in the nose.

Glancing at the passenger seat, the murse smiled back. It had an eyeglass-wearing cat plastered on the bag. “ The caption read, “Don’t bother me now, I am reading right meow.” Feeling nostalgic for the days of artistic therapy on the train, I took charge of my anxiety.

Heading to the coffee shop in the strip mall, breathing exercises followed. I drew gay cowboys, with tortoise shell glasses. It distracted anxious feelings for a bit. After an afternoon of cowboys and lattes, it was back to my humble track home.

Unexpectedly, anxiety, my old friend returned. “What happens if I didn’t pass the test?” The test results were emailed. The file opened. In (huge) bold letters the PDF read, “You did not pass the CBEST.”

My hours of studying were flushed down the grand toilet of life. However, being Mr. Optimistic, depression didn’t loom over me. For an hour, everything remained normal. The next day, anxiety turned into depression.

Failure and disappointment, it happened. Hiding in the Gay-ve (the gay man cave), depression wouldn’t subside. Great literature and pretty pictures couldn’t boost up morale.

After a day of licking wounds and dying of failure, I made a comeback. Carrying my murse, I marched to Wallgreen’s, bought notecards, and found an open table at Augie’s Coffee.

Taking a different approach to studying, plans to retake the test were cemented. No giving up for this future teacher of America. Life’s great villains (Algebra and multiple-choice tests) would receive a kick on the tuckus. Thank you, note cards, I’m ready for a test taking comeback.