For the last decade, I’ve been a terrible sleeper. I wouldn’t call it insomnia, but I tend to wake in the middle of the night and think about everything I’m working on.
The solution has been to take melatonin. The upside: I sleep better. The downside: I have the most hyper-realistic dreams ever. Every night.
I’ve come to accept these dreams; but on occasion, they encroach on reality.
I have woken up some mornings convinced that my family has been killed. Or that I have drowned. Or that I am very good at diagnosing the peculiarities of hot air balloons. But the most alarming dream of all happened right after I returned from Australia this year.
I had a dream that I was employed at my old position.
I was in a marketing meeting. And the things that were said were so disturbing that when I finally awoke, I made myself a cup of coffee, sat in our sunroom for a good hour and just stared at the squirrels and cardinals in our yard. One word kept going through my head:
It has been exactly two years since I left Popular Woodworking Magazine, and it has become obvious how unemployable I now am. I love to work all the time (12 hours a day, seven days a week, minimum), but I won’t implement someone else’s master plan. When someone suggests a dumb idea for a product for Lost Art Press, I don’t do hours of market research to come up with an empirical way to say “no thanks.” I just say “no thanks,” and move on.
When someone asks me to promote their product, I now (politely) refuse. Even if I like the product, I dig in my heels and decline. I don’t want to be part of anyone’s marketing plan. Yeah, I know that’s not a smart strategy for making friends and “partners.” But when I write about something – anything – I want it to be out of pure enthusiasm. No obligations, even social ones.
Offer me a discount and I’ll overpay you so that I think we’re on equal footing.
For me, this way of life is the hyper-realistic dream – better than anything that 10 tabs of melatonin could conjure from my frontal lobe. And it was made possible by someone I don’t talk about much on this blog: my wife, Lucy May.
I try not to drag her into the day-to-day operations of this blog. Her life as a journalist is public enough, and she doesn’t need me talking about the time I drew a sheep on her bare buttocks. (No, really, I didn’t do that. Honest. See? This is what I’m talking about.)
If it weren’t for Lucy, I would still be in that endless marketing meeting. I would still be employed at my old position. I would still lose sleep over small changes in the “sell-through” percentage of our magazine in bookstores.
But thanks to Lucy, I get up in the morning, I work until my eyes go out of focus and I then sleep. She tolerates the endless travel, the time in the shop, the writing, writing, writing. She never complains.
I don’t deserve it, but I’ll take it.
— Christopher Schwarz