Square Root of 144

1:12 am

This always happens to me. I’m lying in bed, reading, or more like trying to read because I’m drifting off to sleep every two paragraphs, so I give up, close the book, turn off the light, lie there two minutes, three minutes, seven minutes, and realize I’m wide fucking awake.

Partly, I’m up because, although I’m 99% sure I set my alarm, I’m worrying that I set it incorrectly. I don’t want to get up to check because then I’d definitely be wide awake. Unless I’m three sheets in a hurricane, I have to lie completely still in a pitch black void to slip into the house of nod with a very Zen like brain of no-brain, but worrying about being late to work in the morning is keeping me up.

A severe predicament.

A cranial cat’s cradle.

An insomniac’s conundrum.

I don’t know if I have insomnia, I might just actually have FOMO. Fear of missing out. Some girl used that term with me a few weeks ago. Everything has an acronym these days. SMT. Stupid modern times. It was a deal breaker, her saying FOMO. I have strange deal breakers. Like sparkly phones. Juicy sweatpants. Stage three bitchdom.

So I stay awake watching American Dad or Bar Rescue or whatever else mildly interesting appears during my channel scan. I try to stay awake as long as possible because I have tinnitus and unless I’m absolutely ready to fall asleep in the perfect conditions, like I mentioned above, I’ll just be stuck in the purgatory zone of non-sleep mixed with dream-like half thoughts. Not a bad state for two minutes but torture for two hours.

I give up and crawl to the edge of the bed and check the alarm on my phone. It was set, right time, and everything.

1:22 am

The ringing is ever-present, a loud, buzzing, grating machine-like scream that only I hear. So is it real? It’s an odd question to ask oneself because it’s keeping me awake and I am unable to escape it, so of course it exists, unless I’m at the beginning stages of some vague madness, which is the state we all naturally exist in, per my core philosophical belief.

I go from thought to thought, each thought is a little neuron firing around a brain highway, those neurons are the vehicles that carry thoughts around: happy thoughts are hippie vans, intelligent ponderings are school buses, bitter jagged thoughts motorcycles. My half-dream state conjures up this imagery. I don’t know if it would make sense to anybody not stuck in the miasma of insomnia. Or FOMO, or whatever this damn middle ground of consciousness is.

I wonder how long the average thought takes? I conclude the answer is five seconds. That means we have 12 different thoughts a minute, 144 in 12 minutes, as a dozen squared is 144. I come to my conclusion because it took me about five seconds to do that math.

I’m thinking about succulents now, how popular succulents in coffee cans are becoming. I know this because I see them all the time at the Melrose Trading Post. The Melrose Trading Post is like a flea market, with vintage clothes, used furniture and general bric-a-brac. But it’s in the heart of “cool” L.A., so it’s filled with girls in lacy dresses and frog-eyed glasses, guys wearing flannel although it’s 77 degrees. I love it. It’s my Sunday morning indulgence. I’m a total wannabe “cool” person. I bought Chuck Klosterman’s Killing Yourself to Live last Sunday from the Trading Post, which I’m basically aping in this post, making myself a total poser, but since I mentioned this totally vulnerable personal admission I’m kinda cool? Like a geek who knows he’s a geek so he plays up his geekdom, thereby cancelling said geekdom (probably not). I’m a poser, but I’m self aware, therefore more intellectual than poser-y. Right?


Maybe I can’t fall asleep not from the ringing in my ears but the pain of my seriously injured heart. I’m still figuring out how to live after the love of my life and I split up. Certain clichés you thought were dumb prior to experiencing such an episode now seem entirely plausible and real. A piece of me died. The light has been extinguished. I’ll never love the same again. You know the deal? Even if the words are recycled, the ache inside is wholly real and unique to you and my personal brand of heartbreak doesn’t help me relax enough to slip away. I can’t stop thinking about her. She’ll always haunt my thoughts, whether it’s been two months, two years, or twenty. She’ll always be somewhere in my brain, driving her thought car around. I realize this is probably false, and I’ll be alright, but when you’re lying in the dark and your brain is churning its brain butter, it’s hopeless to fight against what comes out of the froth.

1:46 am

I realize that writing is as much about selecting when to italicize, when to start a new paragraph, or when to bold a word. It’s as much about style as the content of the words.

Know what I’m saying?

1:48 am

I realize indifference is the one way to approach love, unless you want to be tortured by love. And isn’t love really just finding somebody you’re willing to be tortured by? Or is that obsession? But aren’t they somewhat the same thing? Can you have love without obsession or torture? I really don’t know. This is what keeps me awake some nights, my totally uncool, obsessive love jones.

I’m not cool at all. I’m anything but cool. I’m anxious, jittery, fragile and needy. But I find it difficult to imagine trading my mind or soul (setting aside the completely valid question ‘what the fuck is a soul?’ for the moment), except perhaps Josh Ritter’s. If I’m going to trade souls with anybody they should know how to play guitar, because I certainly can’t, and be able to write lyrics that stir passions and bring tears to sensitive eyes.

1:58 am

My thoughts are tensile, cartoony rambles. Wandering streams of disconnected flotsam. 12 thoughts a minute. Keourac, or however the fuck you spell his name, wrote On The Road in 6 days supposedly. I could never spell his fucking name (My mom’s voice telling me never to curse because it makes me sound like a bastard interjects here). Kerouac (I just googled it) must have typed as fast as he thought for that to happen. (I never knew if my mom understood the irony.) (I also realize I’m waaaay overusing the parenthetical right now.)

2:15 am

I’m on the verge of sleep when I hear a voice. It sounds like somebody is on a ladder and talking right outside my open window.  I hear traces of what he is saying, something about needing to get higher and to the left, so I start to imagine that he is instructing somebody to direct the ladder closer to my window. I think somebody is trying to break in. I leave my window open at night so perhaps somebody saw an easy target and is now on the cusp of sneaking into my apartment to abscond with all my prize possessions.

I get out of bed and walk to the living room and check out the window. Nobody is there. I look down at the street and a man in a sharp suit is on the telephone. He looks up and notices me. “Sorry, man. I’m not touching your car. I’m not messing with your car,” he slurs. I don’t say anything. I’m not 100% sure he’s talking to me, but I’m pretty sure he is. I just want to go to sleep. I should say, “Dude, I’m just trying to sleep, shut the fuck up!” But I’m a coward, so I move away from the window and he goes back to his phone call. He’s now just a disembodied voice. A well-dressed drunk.

2:26 am

I’m thinking about a group picture I took the other day that was pasted on Facebook and a stranger I didn’t know complimented another man in the photo, and not me, calling him exceedingly handsome, and I got jealous, exceedingly jealous. I want to be the best looking person in every photo I’m in. I’m very vain. I’m take pride in my vanity, except when it makes me feel like a shallow piece of shit.

Truth is, I wish I was an inch and a half shorter and that inch of a half was taken out of my neck. I have a very long neck. To be honest, I realize I am only okay handsome, but not exceedingly handsome like the man in the photo was described. Even without that extra inch and a half in my neck I would still only be okay handsome, because, spite of all my, and modern science’s, efforts I am getting older and tripping over my prime — thanks to the stubbornly linear progression of time. Thanks a lot, wrinkle machine!

2:34 am

For some reason instead of my brain turning off it’s recalling a memory from a many years ago, a slow sputtering memory.

I met two girls in a bar and we fell into a weird conversation. They told me that they met in a halfway home, one was a sex addict and the other was there for depression and an eating disorder, although I may be adding the eating disorder. She was there for depression and something else, I don’t remember what. Does it matter? The depressed girl was obviously melancholy and drank her vodka slowly. Her eyes were fixed on her glass as she brought it to her lips. The sex addict was probably close to three hundred pounds and had a tattoo of a rat above her left tit. For whatever reason this memory was triggered first by the recollection of the rat tit tattoo.

Now, I’m thinking about how rat tit tattoo sounds like the name of some teenage punk band from Boise or somewhere in Missouri. Three boys that can’t play their instruments but excel at disillusionment and rage.

3:13 am

I wonder why lesbian porn is so popular. Lesbian porn does nothing for me. I need dick in my porn. This sentence now strikes me as pretty damning if taken out of context. I spend the next two minutes wondering if disliking porn sans schlong implies some latent homosexuality in my psyche. That means I’ve levied 24 thoughts on the subject, but I just don’t enjoy girl-on-girl erotica that much. Find it boring. It’s like watching tee-ball versus real baseball, something’s just missing.

3:22 am

I’m overcome by the fear that I’m a “writer” just like every cute girl is a “photographer”. Is it a mask for an ugly soul? Do I just possess a deep yearning to appear more intelligent and creative and wise than I really am? To hide the fact that I’m as shallow and petty as the worst of them? Writers can’t stop writing,I can barely get going. But I AM CREATIVE and I AM INTELLIGENT! I spend 18 thoughts, a minute and a half, trying to convince the nagging self-doubt in the part of my brain I wish would shut up and let me sleep that I truly am a creative soul. That self-doubt is like a downstairs heavy metal drummer with no respect for the other parts of the brain he shares a domicile with. Using the metaphor from 1:22 am this neural thought is a loud, exhaust-spewing, dented roadster terrorizing tranquil suburbs with the roar of its engine. The thought that I am creative and I am a writer is a little Volkswagen bug from the 70’s with a shoddy paint job and lopsided tires. If they race, the roadster would surely win.

3:33 am

The Farmer’s Market is my favorite place in L.A. because it feels nothing like L.A.. It makes me feel like a tourist in my own neighborhood, but walk 100 feet away and you’re in The Grove, a place that could exist nowhere else but L.A..

I was there this morning, getting my morning cup of coffee from the girl with the furry sweaters and necklaces that dangle between her breasts and the smile that can make the guy from Memento remember her name for a 100 years.

On my way out there was a promotion for the Disney Radio Station. A cheery, too cheery for 11 am, young Latino was imploring little kids to do the Electric Slide with him while a four-foot speaker pumped the familiar song into the atmosphere. Damn, this was sorts of wrong. I couldn’t place exactly why but it made me incredibly mad that this hullabaloo was happening, not only happening, but interrupting my placid morning coffee routine with this weird modern spectacle.

Lying here unable to sleep, the reason I hated coming across the Disney Radio promotion became clearer, along with the cause of so many of our modern ills. You see, there is no fucking reason on Earth there should be a radio station dedicated to kids. Kids should never listen to the radio. Why? I’ll explain…

  • Kids don’t drive cars.
  • Kids don’t work in offices.
  • Kids don’t tinker around in garages.
  • Kids don’t buy anything. (Advertising: the reason radio exists)
  • Kids shouldn’t make decision about what other people listen to… ever!

And for this reason the entire world is fucked. Fucked, I tell ya’! You see, when a 5-year old can dictate what everybody else in the car has to listen to — saccharine, bubblegum, kiddie shit — then why would we ever expect them to grow into adults that take the rest of the world into consideration, who exhibit humility, who don’t blather loudly into their cell phones at the Fresh & Easy?

Disney even has a Cruise ship line so families can spend their entire vacations making their brats happy. Cruise ships aren’t for kids. What the fuck do they need a vacation from? Their entire lives consists of play. They don’t work. They don’t pay bills. Cruises are for getting away from the grind of daily life, gorging on elaborate meals, getting pissed drunk, engaging in regrettable sex, and praying you don’t get diarrhea.

But it wasn’t the Disney Radio promotion that I’m thinking about but how when I was at the Farmer’s Market getting a coffee a woman in the hot dog stand happily shouted, “Hi, friend,” and it took me a good ten seconds to figure out that it was the woman who used to serve me every day at the donut shop just fifty years away.

“Oh, hey,” I replied, “You’re working here now?” She shook her head and told me it paid more and after that I didn’t have much more to say so I told her it was good to see her and left. The thing that is troubling me now, also keeping me awake along with a billion other thoughts, is that I couldn’t recognize her out of context. She looked different to me, unrecognizable, all because she simply had an apron with a different logo on it. It was like when you were young and your mind was blown when you ran into your teacher at the mall or somewhere and you couldn’t figure out how this person could possibly exist outside the classroom you saw them every day.

When I was older I had sexual relations with a teacher who was younger than me. That too blew my mind. Not just because said teacher was ridiculously hot, with an impossible body designed by God when he must have been rolling on X, but also by the idea of a teacher having hot, sweaty sex, and also, the fact that same teacher was younger than I was at the time.

Damn, wrinkle machine!

3:47 am

Thinking about vacations brings me all the way back around to thinking about her, and all the places we were supposed to go together but never got around to. The vacations-never-to-be feel like some great loss, like a dead dog buried in the yard.  (Maybe that’s why dogs bury bones, so they have something in the afterlife to find when they’re buried nearby? Just like why I write this blog. This blog is my dog bone. Something for the other side.)

This brings me around to thinking about Italy, which makes me think of pasta, and I drowsily imagine one long noodle, 1,142, 673 feet long, that stretches all around the world however many times that super large noodle would stretch around the world. We all go up and take a bite of this super noodle when we’re hungry, and because of this nobody is ever hungry, and there’s a blue sun rising over Mt. Kilimanjaro when I’m cresting the summit where a naked Buddha is sitting there laughing at me and he said “Well, it’s about time, asshole,” and it’s the last careening thought I shed before my mind closes down and… finally… shuts… off.


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