Tuesday, August 14, 2012

White Noise Nightmares

Working the graveyard shift as a Fire/EMS Dispatcher at 9-1-1, sleep sometimes eludes me. As tired as I might be while at work, once I leave—walk out the doors to the parking lot—I am immediately hit with a second wind. At first I used to blame the job. High stress. All wound up from work. The tons of coffee and Mountain Dew consumed to keep from falling asleep on the job.

It could be a combination. I’m not sure. I’m no doctor. I’ve tried different things to help me sleep once home. Eating a meal. Watching a movie. Having a beer. Nyquil. I usually sleep, or try to sleep, with the television on. It’s my white noise.

Oftentimes I put on Nickelodeon. Leave on Spongebob, or Disney’s Phineas & Ferb. I have to use my channel guide to make sure it’s a running marathon. That the show is on long enough for me to fall asleep to, and then some. Lately, I’ve been falling asleep to programs on channels like History, or Discovery, Science, or Animal … What I’ve found is, the droning monotone voice of the narrator is hypnotic and soothing.

Unfortunately, the programs themselves are disturbing at times to the subconscious.

Sharks Attacking, Aliens Invading, Civil War Bloodshed, Venomous Snakes, Stalking Spiders, Big Booms, Life on Mars, Hitler’s Conquests, Devastating Hurricanes, Destructive Tornadoes, Still-at-large Murderers, Haunted Homes, Meandering Ghosts and Earth-crippling Sun Flares fill my dreams. Regardless of the catastrophic events portrayed, it is still the monotone voice that does it for me. It is that nearly identical voice in every show that allows the sandman to visit.

The nightmares that ensue is another story altogether.

Nothing worse than having someone say to you, “Oh, man, I had the weirdest dream last night,” and then proceed to tell you a long, boring rendition of what they dreamed. I will spare you. Based on the above paragraph, it won’t take much imagination to figure out what nightmares taunted my dreams.

Like most people, after I wake up, rarely can I recall an entire dream in vivid detail. Bits and fragments float here and there. I’ll do my best to splice it together, try and recount some form of uniformity, or am forced to make up parts, or embellish—as people will do—if only to keep some sort of flow flowing or in an attempt to hold a listener’s attention.

The thing is, when I explain to people what happens, that my sleep is plagued with unspeakable horrors, they all tend to say the same thing. “Fall asleep with a different channel on.”

As a writer, though I may not recall the dream in its entirety, I am confident my subconscious pulls on the scattered fragments to incorporate in the tales I tell. Relatively, confident, anyway.

I tried the old, sleep-with-a-notebook-by-the-bed-and-write-down-my-dreams-in-a-journal-thing. Didn’t work well. Once up for the day, I’d re-read what I’d written. Talk about lack of lucidity. I kept at it for a few months. Not religiously, but regular. At the end of the few months, I realized I’d wasted a journal, and had pages and pages of unusable material. Not fruitful at all . . . Ho-hum.

The most frequent question asked is, “Where do you get your ideas?”

The answer is not simple. Not black and white. Not cut and dry. Life is my automatic response. People who know me, who have read my books, believe this answer to be obvious. Characters depict my dry sense of humor, or lack-thereof. And while all characters are fictional, and absolutely never based on real people – sometimes glimpses of so-and-so or what’s-his-name can be inferred???

Although I am not able to point at or refer to a specific dream, I do know that nightmares influence my writing. Since I’ve tapped into the current channels I watch while falling asleep, I can absolutely insist that my writing has become more obscure and unique.

The point of this blog? Just that I enjoy nightmares. Sometimes look forward to them. How weird is that statement? A bit bizarre, I suppose. True, though. Very true.

Take care,

Phillip Tomasso

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1 comment:

  1. Your blog is an interesting, albeit slightly disturbing, look into your psyche.Everything you're experiencing seems to be tied into working the graveyard shift, but then, sometimes nightmares can be turned into the best novels.