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Of Sleep and Charles

Thursday, 28. July 2005 23:42

Regressing even further into my past, we have a ‘personal narrative’ that I wrote for my creative writing course in my senior year of high school (taught, incidentally, by my chemistry, physics, and calculus teacher). Though written as a personal log/journal, the entire thing is really a giant farce; ie none of the following actually took place. It wasn’t really even ‘inspired by true events,’ as fictional movies like to claim about themselves.

At any rate, it’s not to be taken seriously, so I’m not sure how one would judge it; I suppose if it induces laughter (either of joy or contempt) then it has succeeded. And yes, the picture was in the original that I turned in as well.

———

Of Sleep and Charles
A Documentary Story of the 21st and 22nd of March of the Year 2001

2:00 am – Here begins my tale. It is two o’clock in the morning of March 21st. The glow from my computer monitor is all that illuminates my room. The pangs of tiredness are pulling me towards my bed. But I must fight them. I must write a story for my Creative Writing course. To combat the temptations of Sleep, I have equipped myself with two cans of RC cola and a quarter of a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints (perhaps one of the best cookies on this planet). These armaments should allow me to fend off Sleep until at least five, when I can allow myself an hour of rest before waking at six to prepare myself for the Creative Writing course itself.

2:05 am – Royal Crown cola is perhaps the best cola that one man can find to drink. Another great part of the beauty of RC is that is can be combined with the wondrous Thin Mint cookies to produce a “Mintola” (mint and cola) flavor. I think I’ll play some music to keep my mind thinking. Hmmm Duke Ellington should do the trick. Hold on, I’ll be back in a sec.

2:07 am – What’d I tell you? The Duke is doing the trick quite nicely. I love his music. Arrrgh! Someone messaged me on ICQ. This is really distracting when one is trying to write a story. I’ll be right back.

2:19 am – Why? Oh why??? How is it that out of the thousands of ICQ users, this girl from Hawaii had to randomly pick my name from a list of people? It took ten minutes to get her to stop messaging me. I had to go “invisible” so that she would think that I had disconnected. Oh cruel, cruel world. No. Its not the world that’s cruel, its this damned need of Sleep that’s killing me. Oh well, I’ve still got eight Thin Mints and a can of RC left. I think its time to crack open that last can.

2:21 am – NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS CAN’T BE!!! After taking a glug of my now least-favorite cola, I noted two dreaded words on the can: Caffeine Free. If only I had not seen those two words… Then I would have had thought that I was being rejuvenated by the magical drug of caffeine. And If I thought that I was being rejuvenated, then, because my brain would believe that I was being healed of my wounds caused by lack of sleep, I really would be being cured. But no! I am being unjustly persecuted. Now I will grow weary and tired. This battle against the evils of Sleep has just become more vicious. But hold fast I will, for I still have 6 Thin Mints. Those alone shall bear me through the night.

2:28 am – I have finished the can of the infernal non-caffeine cola. I have but one cookie left. Very well. I may have been deprived of my main weapons, but I will continue my valiant struggle against the colossal enemy that is peaceful slumber. I will not fall victim to the tiredness. I will win this war. I will! I must. And so I will defeat Sleep. It will not overtake me tonight.

2:35 am – I’m really feeling it now. I should have gotten more Sleep the last three nights. Huh. That’s actually quite strange when one stops to think about it. To combat Sleep, one needs to have fallen victim to Sleep in the past. At least while I ponder this I will have something to do. I ate the last cookie five minutes ago, and so I have nothing left to keep me awake but this journal, my thoughts, and my incredible will power that can make any foe succumb! … Well, at least I have my thoughts and this journal.

2:43 am – The two empty soda cans talked to me. It was really strange; they almost exactly quoted Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice:

COLA CAN 1: How now, Charles! what news among the sleepless?
CHARLES: You knew, none so well as you, of your lack of caffeine.
COLA CAN 2: That’s certain: I, for my part, know lack of Sleep that made the tiredness
come withal.
COLA CAN 1: And Charles, for his own part, knew that the Sleep was needed, and that
therefore it is his complexion to desire caffeine where it is not.
CHARLES: You are both damned for it.
COLA CAN 2: That’s certain, if slumber be my judge.
CHARLES: My own cola, to lack caffeine!

-More Things I don’t quite remember-

CHARLES: I need to write this story! Hat not I eyes? Hath not I hands, organs,
dimensions, reasons, affections, desires, and passions for defeating Sleep? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us do we not die? and if you take our caffeine, shall we not Sleep? if we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. It shall go hard for me to continue in my drowsy state, but I will better the instruction!

And suddenly, the cans stopped talking. Oh, what does this mean? I dread to think that this was part of a small dream. But no. It cannot be! It’s only been 8 minutes since my last entry. This was not a catnap. And I know that I did not hallucinate. Those cans were moving! They were! I know they were.

2:45 am – I think the cans were moving. No, I’m certain they were moving and talking. It was not a nap. At least, I don’t think it was. ARGH!!! I know not if I am insane, taking small naps, or, rather, I am witnessing strange, unexplainable, paranormal events. My security in believing that I experienced the last is fading. But it must be a strange event! Yes. I’m only thinking that it might be otherwise because Sleep is trying to overtake me. Yes, Sleep, I see your methods. You try to sneak up on me, to make me doubt things that I know to be true. Well, Sleep, it won’t work! You cannot make me question my principles. I know that I am right. Hah! You didn’t get me there. I have won this battle. And I will still win the war! I have but a few pages left to continue this struggle before I will have my final victory. And have my final victory I will. Watch out Sleep, for you are going to lose your quest. You are lost.

2:50 am – Stop pulling at me, Sleep. You will not get me. You can take my friends. You can take the others. You can take the world. But you won’t get me. You think you’re so tough, huh? You think you’ve got some incredible endurance that can’t be matched, huh? You think that you can’t fail because everyone eventually sleeps? Well not this Charles Modica, no sir! I ain’t never going to need you! Do you hear me, Sleep? I WILL BURY YOU!!! I WILL BURY YOU!!! And so, Charles Modica, ask not what Sleep can do to kill you, ask what you can do to kill Sleep!

2:58 am – I just had a reallyu great idaeeee foreaa this juornle. Buttt I cann’t remember itt.sf No Sleeooeep, Yaosudu You ddaWilll faillllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllnnnnnnnnnoljjjjjjjj

3:21 am – What? Huh? I don’t remember. Wait, let me read my above entry… Oh my… It seems that Sleep has taken me for a time. Fine! Sleep, you have won one battle, but have you won the war? I think not! Hah! You had me for twenty minutes or so, but the good Duke, Mr. Ellington, kindly woke me up with his great piano playing. Oh yes. You didn’t count on the music to wake me, did you? In fact, you just didn’t count on anything! But you see, Sleep? I have my own “secret weapons” up my sleeve. And now I’m back, and you won’t get me.

3:23 am – I see what I wrote two minutes ago, and I look to it for strength. I was so awake then. How can two minutes change so much? Oh, how I long to lie down in bed, to cuddle with the blankets, to lay my head upon the soft, soft pillow. But NO! I must not allow myself to think of those thoughts. I must prevail.

3:29 am – It is so difficult. I fight and fight, but my resistances are being lowered. But I’m so close! But alas. What Light from yonder computer monitor breaks! It is the East, and this journal is the sun. Oh please, let me continue my struggle. I cannot fail, for good is on my side. I still have my principles. They will support me in my fight against the evil of Sleep. My principles shall be my sword against the evil of Sleep. Evil, meet my Sword! SWORD, MEET EVIL!!!! RRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

3:33 am – I am losing. I can ffell it coming for me in my Sleep. Heaah! Therr’s a thouguhgt, sloeop coming for mee in mty Sleep. Ohhfdm, bjut I muts maek it thru.

6:02 am – NOOO!!!! DAMN YOU SLEEP! DAMN YOU TO HELL! You, you great deceiver! Oh, so you won this night. But I went down fighting! At least I didn’t succumb to your sheets and blankets and pillows. No, I am strong. I spent the night sleeping here in this very chair. You cannot take that from me. You cannot take that, you, you, you… DAMNIT! DAMNIT! DAMNIT! DAMNIT! Very well. We shall see how you fare this coming night. I will beat you then. For now I am rested. I have had two hours and twenty-nine minutes of Sleep. You may have taken me last night, but unbeknownst to you, your foolish attack has made me stronger. Ah yes! Do you remember the words, Sleep? “Strike me down and I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” Yes, indeed. You have struck me down, but you have fortified me. This is not a defeat; this is a prelude to triumph. Gloat while you can, Sleep, for on this coming night, you shall stop your gloating and begin your weeping! Ahhh hahahahahahahaha!!!

2:00 am – Here ends my tale. It is two o’clock in the morning of March 22nd. The glow from my computer monitor is all that illuminates my room. The pangs of tiredness are pulling me towards my bed. But I cannot fight them. I have finished this story for my Creative Writing course. To combat the temptations of Sleep is but the dream of a madman. I was inspired last night. My writing was inspired last night. I was also insane last night. Sleep is necessary, and so, I hereby offer my apology. Sleep, I’m sorry I ever turned against you. Please accept me back into your open arms once more. I’m sorry.

THE END

2:13 am – I can’t fall asleep. Must try harder to fall asleep.

2:25 am – I try and try, and though I am tired, the Sleep is not coming to me. Oh, I hope I have not offended you, Sleep! Please, accept my apology! I’ll never try to fight you again!

2:30 am – I cannot keep my eyes open, and yet I cannot fall asleep. Oh, I am cursed with this horrid disease! Sleep, with all of my heart, my soul, I implore you to take me back! I am sorry that I ever strayed from the path that does not lead astray! Oh, dear Sleep, please, take me in once more!

2:57 am – I was welcomed back into Sleep for a time. I think that Sleep has forgiven me. I will here recount my small dream to you before I enter the sweet, black abyss of even more Sleep. The RC cola cans were there in my dream again. So was Sleep herself (yes, Sleep is female.) Again, it came straight from Shakespeare. What follows is a transcription of my short dream:

SLEEP: Speak not so grossly, Charles. You are all amazed: Here is a letter; read it at
your leisure; it comes from COLA CAN 1. There you shall find that Sleep was the doctor, Caffeine her clerk: COLA CAN 2 here shall witness I set forth as soon as you, and even but now return’d; I have not yet entered my house. Charles, you are welcome; And I have better news in store for you than you expect: unseal this letter soon; there you shall find your night to be richly come to Sleep. You shall know how I Sleep have allowed you to enter my kingdom once more.
CHARLES: I am dumb.

And now, dear journal, I must leave you, for my old enemy turned friend is beckoning me. Farewell, and goodnight.

THE REAL END

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Communist Huts and Fields

Thursday, 28. July 2005 23:32

This was written on May 10th, 2002. At the time I was attempting to write in some sort of style, and did write in some sort of style, but in hindsight I’m not sure if I like it all that much; some of the style (which is quite short – two typed pages) seems set apart from the content of the story. I think there may be maybe 3 (possibly 4) sentences that I actually like; suffice it to say, this was an early effort.

And, being autobiographical, it’s all true. Enjoy (and/or critique :P)!

———

I was on the bus going downtown from campus with my three apartment-mates today. There didn’t seem to be anything particularly interesting at first, though it appears that a situation did develop. A typical Santa Cruz anti-capital and probably anarchist student confronted me with weak words, and I chose not to respond in any incredibly meaningful way. But I’m getting ahead of myself. As all good stories have a beginning, so shall this one.

Earlier today (or perhaps yesterday), I decided that I would leave campus for an excursion out to the incredibly miniscule (but still somewhat impressive) Capitola Shopping Mall. This mall has also been called “Crapitola Small,” as opposed to the proper “Capitola Mall,” but I’m not as critical of its size as some others seem to be. Regardless, I decided that a trip there (for no reason in particular) was in order. I would leave after my final class of the day (and week, for that matter, as it’s a Friday), a politics class taught by an incredibly gifted professor. I went to class at two-o’clock, listened (and hurriedly scribbled down notes) to perhaps the finest (and most un-biased, fair, and honest) lecture on Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto I’ve ever had the privilege to hear. The talk was both incredibly informative and intellectually stimulating. Eventually, the lecture ended, and I walked out of the classroom satisfied and intrigued. Several questions had arisen during the lecture that I planned to email to the aforementioned incredibly gifted professor.

It was a very nice day outside, and so I walked back to my on-campus apartment in lieu of taking a shuttle. When I got there, I informed my two present apartment-mates (who were interested in the excursion to Capitola Mall) that I would write an email to my professor posing him my questions, and would then leave (with the aforementioned apartment-mates) to catch a bus for downtown. I wrote and sent my question-filled email to my professor, and within an hour, we (the two of my three apartment-mates and myself) were off to the bus stop. Once there, by happy coincidence, we met the third and final apartment-mate, who decided to come with us to Capitola Mall.

This third apartment-mate had recently stopped pledging for a Fraternity after deciding (wisely, in my opinion) that it wasn’t worth everything that he was being forced to go through (by which I mean, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, hazing). He regaled us with stories of various tortures he had endured while we impatiently waited fifteen minutes for the bus. But eventually the bus arrived; we got on, ambled our way to the back, and sat down on available seats.

Through some convention of conversation, a comment was made about my lack of a tan (while my whiteness isn’t that apparent to me, it seems to be quite glaring to another apartment-mate). This led to a question of how I, a person who had lived in close proximity to San Diego for over ten years, could lack such a bronze covering of skin. This further degenerated into a fallacious and jest-filled argument between myself and apartment-mate-Matt, regarding which of us had lived in a better location before college. This entailed such comments as, “Oh yeah?!? Well, I live across the street from a vineyard. And 2 miles one way and there’s a big shopping mall and two miles the other way there’s untamed nature!” (my comment) and his opposing response, “Yeah?!? Well I live close to two lakes! And we have the second-biggest shopping mall in the country within 5 miles of us! 350 stores! And, so there!” This continued for several minutes (during which our other two apartment-mates essentially attempted to disassociate from us) until I remembered the ULTIMATE justification for claiming that had I lived in the better place.

I remembered, quite simply, that the kitchen and bathroom of my old house had been featured in Better Homes and Gardens. And so I went in for the kill: “My distance from a kitchen featured in Better Homes and Gardens? None! My distance from a bathroom featured in Better Homes and Gardens? None! Hah!” And with that, my apartment mate may have conceded defeat.

But I’ll never be sure, for this is when the typical Santa Cruz anti-capital and probably anarchist (and rather large) female student jumped in: “And you’re proud of that?!?” she asked me incredulously.

I was immediately taken aback. I first wasn’t sure if she was talking to me, but she was. She obviously didn’t realize that the entire argument was made in jest.

“This entire argument is being made in jest,” I said.

“And you’re proud of that?!?” she asked again.

Obviously, I wasn’t getting through to her. I pictured the rest of the conversation playing out in my head before I responded again. I would say, ‘define proud,’ and she would stop, stumble over someone asking her to define a simple, but integrally important word, and mumble something like ‘you think that represents you?’ I would then ask her to define ‘represent,’ and she would again have trouble. And in the end, I would say something along the lines of ‘Well, I rather like living in nice surroundings, and I don’t really see why you should be so upset with the fact that I have been lucky enough to have such an opportunity. I’m sorry that you can’t get passed your own personal grudge and feelings of inadequacy that you seem to be feeling, even though you seemed to assert that the conditions in which one lives don’t necessarily reflect one’s inner self. If I were you, I’d probably take some time to think about this entire issue, and then decide if you’d rather live in a shack or a mansion. I’m not going to criticize anyone who lives in a shack, but as for myself, I’d take the mansion. But it’s your choice.’ And then, in this hypothetical conversation, she would either say ‘You’re right! I was an idiot!’, ‘You’re right, I am an idiot!’ or simply leave, disgusted with me.

As it is, though, none of these things happened. You see, we were less than a minute away from the downtown Metro Center, so I just repeated that the argument was being made in jest. She looked down condescendingly at me (she was standing, I was sitting) and moved away. The bus reached the Metro Center. We (the three apartment-mates and myself) got off and walked in a different direction than the typical Santa Cruz anti-capital and probably anarchist student. Matt commented that he considered asking her if her home had been featured in “Communist Huts and Fields,” but thought better of it. The sun was still shining in the cloudless sky, and we continued walking and laughing.

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