Jetlagging with Giant Ravens

Jeff VanderMeer • February 25th, 2009 @ 3:52 pm • Writing Tips

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(Me right now, listening to Once and Willard Grant Conspiracy’s Pilgrim Road, feeling slightly strange.)

It’s been a weird ten days since I got back from Australia. As long as I was sleeping from about 11 p.m. to noon, I woke up refreshed and feeling stunningly good. Ever since I’ve tried to break myself of that cycle so I wake up at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m., my life has been a living hell of insomnia and failure and horrible nightmares. The last three days in particular I’ve felt invincible, invisible, deranged, like I was going to cry out all the water in my body, and like physical objects around me had some kind of secret life.

My dreams have included man-headed panthers, huge ravens with human feet, and the return of the manta ray from “Strange Case of X,” which entered my subconscious mind from an early Piers Anthony novel but had been gone for a long time. I’ve felt like every hideous, inexplicable image hiding inside my brain has been pushing out into the light. One nightmare was so vicious and insane I had to get it out onto paper immediately because no effing way was I going to go through that again. When I woke from it, I got up with my baseball bat and patrolled the house for a half-hour, just in case. And I was still convinced there was something in the walk-in closet.

Jonathan Vos Post says this about jetlag in a comment on my Facebook status:

Circadian rhythm in humans is a myth. Without 24 periodicity in noise, light, heat, you begin to drift away from the astronomical reality. People kept in deep caves for long time with no clocks have proven this. Keywords: “entrainment of oscillators”

Seriously, that’s why jet lag is disrupting. Different organs and tissues drift back to local periodicity differently, and you body/brain are in uncomfortable chaos, in literal mathematical sense. Top expert on jet lag explained this to me at International Conference on Complex Systems.

I think it’s made worse in this case because of coming off two deadlines and then going right into a teaching situation (not that I’m complaining–just observing): going right from long-term isolation to communication, and then back again. Or something. My thoughts aren’t really right in my head at the moment. Have cut back on emailing and making decisions because I feel like I’m in the middle of a storm.

Still, I’ve got it easy. I don’t know how people like my wife, who experiences periodic ongoing insomnia, deal with it. Because it’s only been three days of real hell (one of them enhanced by the retarded decision to have two large coffees with espresso shots) and I’m already toast.

Today I didn’t sleep until 5 a.m. and got up at 2 p.m. Expect inconsistency on Ecstatic Days for awhile. Yee-haw…

16 Responses to “Jetlagging with Giant Ravens”

  1. Kathryn Cramer says:

    I’m still jealous.

  2. KJ says:

    Jeff, I get insomnia. Melatonin works for me. It works best if I take 3 x 3mg tablets. I haven’t tried it for jet lag, but people use it for that. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it might be worth your while trying it. I think it’s OTC in America.

  3. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Thanks, Kirsten. I’m still hoping a couple more days and things will work out.

    Kathryn–you crack me up. But, yeah, I don’t regret it at all. Met too many cool people.

    Jeff

  4. Ennis Drake says:

    Try four Natural Ice tallboys. If that doesn’t work, try four more. If that doesn’t work, go out into your yard and run around it about five, six times. I guarantee you that will work. Trust me. I do it at least twice a week. Minus the running around the yard, of course. ; )

    PS: The huge ravens with human feet are called Bombardier . . . er . . . Crows. They sometimes come equipped with nasty, exploding potions. And/or (though rarely, thank God) a Taurus Ultralite .38. Trust me. They feature heavily in my novel. Which is really fucking weird that you dreamed about them.
    PPS: I shit you not.

  5. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Hmm. Really? Sounds bizarre in the best way.

  6. Ennis Drake says:

    There’s a kobold that lives in the protag’s stove . . . and keeps him up all night. The stove also happens to be a tunnel to Poland. So, yeah, bizarre. LOL!

    It’s tentatively titled Usher the Kudlak. At the rate I’m going, look for it in about five years. Or ten. ; )

  7. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    FINISH IT NOW.

  8. lisa atkinson says:

    check out donna eden’s meridien tracing exercise. based on acupuncture systems, you go around the wheel of organs tracing each meridien for strength and re-alignment. amazing stuff! :-)

  9. Larry says:

    I suffer that sense of out-of-rhythmness all the time when I’m teaching. My body seems to have a natural clock of around 1-2 AM local time, but trying to sleep before 11 PM without massive tiredness is a no-go.

    Of course, I’ve found that rum is a perfect tonic for that, not that I’m suggesting more alcohol consumption than usual.

  10. jeff vandermeer says:

    Larry–i have felt no real desire to drink, actually, and not much for food. I haven’t been able to exercise as much as I wanted to coming back but have actually lost a little weight.

  11. Larry says:

    I know the feeling. I’m finally starting to regain my appetite after being sick for three weeks and losing almost 15 lbs. Has the jet lag affected your appetite as well, or is it something else?

  12. jeff vandermeer says:

    I dunno. just not as hungry. at least losing fat not muscle, so…

  13. jeff vandermeer says:

    yep. 3-ish. awake.

  14. Bill Ectric says:

    Did you hear that noise?!

  15. Jeff Pert says:

    Sorry to hear you’re suffering through this. I’ve had my bouts with insomnia, and it’s no fun. Hopefully, things will ease over the next few days. If not, I second the melatonin. It’s helped me in the past.

  16. Alex Carnegie says:

    Jetlag’s a bitch, hope you’re all sorted out soon.

    Every time my clock’s out of sync it takes me days and days to get myself squared away. Sometimes I even, horror of horrors, attempt to just stay awake for 40+ hours straight in order to get a good early night on the second day and wake up early the next – I never remember exactly how much of a grim odyssey this actually IS until I’m about 30 hours in and feel like the walking dead.

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