The other day, I decided to stay awake for 36 hours straight. Fairly easy to do in a 24-hour city like Vegas….right?!
Now you may be asking yourself, “Why the fuck would anyone want to skip a night’s sleep?” Well, I was trying it as a possible insomnia remedy.
As you may know, I have suffered from insomnia since around March 2010. It set on very suddenly — prior to that I had no sleep issues whatsoever. Over the last three years, I have tried every stinking remedy under the sun: Ambien, Lunesta, Trazodone, Temazepam, Seroquel, OTC sleep aids, herbal remedies, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, chiropractor, sleep restriction therapy, behavioral modification, etc. NONE of these worked WHATSOEVER (well, Seroquel worked…but it is prohibitively expensive, and has a list of serious side-effects a mile long). I ended up getting a medical marijuana prescription, which actually works better than ANY of the above-mentioned therapies…but it doesn’t work all the time.
Meanwhile, I have of course also wracked my brains trying to figure out what might have caused the insomnia in the first place. What the fuck did I do to myself around the time it started? My initial suspicion was drugs: I took LSD and ecstasy together shortly before the insomnia kicked in, and it seems to have permanently altered my brain chemistry. I’m not normally a big druggie, but it was my first time at Burning Man, and “everyone was doing it.” Arrrgh!
But I read something online the other day that gave me another idea. At the exact time the insomnia kicked in, I had also started working for a breath-holding fetish website; the guy who runs the site has a big doctor’s office setup in his house, and he films girls holding their breath as long as they can, while hooked up to EKGs and whatnot. The longer you can hold your breath, the more money you make — and the guy basically eggs you on by mocking you if you hold it for less than 3 minutes. In fact, he encourages you to hold it to the point of passing out — he claims it’s safe, as you will immediately regain consciousness once your muscles relax.
Well, I wasn’t about to pass out just for some asshole’s jerk joy…but being a competitive person, I did push myself as hard as I could, to see if I could beat all the other models. My personal record was 4min, 20sec — I almost passed out.
Anyway, I distinctly remember the insomnia kicking in the very night after I shot my first videos for that site — it was like my body/brain was afraid to relax and “let go” all the way; like I was afraid I’d stop breathing if I fell unconscious. Hmmm!
I quit shooting for that site a long time ago, but I still have a bitch of a time sleeping. Not to bore my regular readers, but just in case some neurologist is reading this, here’s what happens: I generally fall asleep quickly, and sleep very deeply for 2-4 hours. Then my brains clicks on, and I am unable to fall back into a deep sleep. At best, I can fall into a light Stage I sleep, which is not very restful. A few hits on my pipe can usually get me back into a decent, deeper sleep…but not always. Like I went camping at these hot springs a few weeks back, and I swear I did not get ANY deep sleep at all — a light, fitful doze was all I managed. And I was high as a kite!
This is where I feel like behavioral therapy is a total crock of shit. Basically, it involves reconditioning to your brain to associate “bed” with “sleep:” you only get in your bed when you are ready to sleep. No reading in bed, no TV in bed. The bedroom must be completely dark and cool. Eventually, your brain automatically will get sleepy when you enter the bedroom.
It’s touted as the most effective insomnia treatment out there, but it completely fucks up your ability to sleep anywhere else but in your own bed!! I mean, hello! Now my sleep is only manageable if I am at home, in my own bed, with earplugs and enough marijuana to clobber a horse. If I try to sleep anywhere else (like camping), I’m fucked.
Now I’m supposed to go to Ireland for a photo shoot in two weeks, and I can’t even bring my fucking marijuana with me, because it’s “illegal.” WTF!! I’m kinda skeered that I won’t be able to sleep as a result, and thus will look all haggard for the shoot. So I decided to try one more “cure:” staying up for 36 hours straight, to “re-set” my internal clock.
People have been telling me to try this for the last few years, but I never did it because frankly, skipping a night’s sleep sounds miserable. But here I am, desperate…so I decided to finally give it a shot. And guess what? It was miserable!
I chose last Monday to do this because I was booked for a TV commercial shoot that was scheduled til 1am…and then I had nothing to do the following day that required me to look good, so it wouldn’t matter if I was beat the fuck up. So, I woke up Monday morning around 11am…and thus began my 36-hour-odyssey.
I basically pissed away the afternoon on the computer, then went to the gym and lifted weights for an hour around 5pm. Then I got dressed and headed downtown to the commercial set.
I had to sign a nondisclosure agreement, so I can’t really tell you what the shoot was for Basically, there’s a big event on the horizon in downtown Las Vegas, and this was a promo spot to advertise it. They needed a bunch of wacky people in kooky costumes to go down and party in the street, so I suited up in my pink Elvis costume and went down to join in the fray.
The street was full of crazy Burning Man-types in tutus and furry mascot costumes and whatnot, riding bikes and hula hooping and just generally being craaaaaay-zaaaaay. Then against this backdrop, the event organizers had these lame trendy Coachella-type chicks walking back and forth looking sexy. The message appears to be “Wow, this event is gonna be FUN and KOOKY but there will also be plenty of REGULAR HOT CHICKS around so don’t worry! It will still be a hipster fuckfest!”
Us regular kooks were instructed to party hearty in the street, dancing and carrying on while the camera filmed the hot chicks walking around looking hot and trendy. This we did from about 8pm-1am, at which time they finally wrapped the shoot and turned us loose. I was in no hurry to leave, as I couldn’t go to bed anyway…so I basically loitered around and had some pizza from craft services (they made us wait outside while the principals and crew ate, then let us in to gather up the crumbs afterward. Life on the D List, indeed).
After that, around 1:30am, some castmates and I went across the street to the Beauty Bar for a drink. The Beauty Bar is this trendy “dive” bar decorated to look like a 1960s beauty salon; I had another Sailor Jerry & Coke (needed that caffeine to stay awake) and chatted with my friends awhile until they, too, left. Then I chatted with these two British tourists, who bought me more Sailor Jerry’s & Cokes, and tried to get me to sing karaoke. I put in a request with the DJ (remember, I was wearing a pink Elvis costume…so it would have been killer!), but they never did call my name. So around 3am, I finally left.
I shuffled slo-o-o-wly back to my truck, where I changed into more comfortable clothes, and then headed over to Wal-Mart for some grocery shopping. For the first time in my life I took my sweet-ass time driving; normally I rush about town, hither and yon, all the livelong day, in a mad race against the clock…but now, I found myself in the unusual position of having nothing but time!! WEIRD!
I went into Wal-Mart and basically dragged ass through the whole store; it was one of those Wal-Mart Supercenters that sell everything, so I went through the makeup section, the hardware section, the food section, and then made a lengthy stop in the book section…just for laffs.
The selection of books at Wal-Mart says everything about America: big Spanish-language section, big Christian section (“A Mom’s Devotional Guide,” etc.), big Harlequin Romance section. They even had Christian romances in Spanish, LOL!!!! I ended up killing quite a bit of time there, like the snarky hipster that I am.
The best part of being at Wal-Mart at 3:30am is, the store was actually nearly deserted!! This was probably the only
time I’ve been to that particular Wal-Mart where I didn’t feel like I was on Ellis Island circa 1917 — no crushing throngs of unwashed humanity, for once. The cashier told me that 2-3:30am is golden hour; the bums and ho’s are gone, and the early-birds haven’t arrived yet. But that’s not to say there weren’t any freaks around: I spotted a fantasically bearded woman by the vending machines out front. I mean, this woman had a full ginger-colored, Amish-style beard not unlike that of Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers movies!!
It was breathtaking!!! Alas, I couldn’t get a good snapshot of her for the “People of WalMart” site…as it was, I think she saw me trying to get a pic from my car, and yelled something at me. D’oh!!!
So I left Wal-Mart and cruised slo-o-o-wly home, where I unpacked my shopping, then washed the grime off my Elvis costume –it was nearly ruined from this bullshit water they kept hosing down the street with; the pant cuffs got really stained Then I soaked my filthy feet in a bucket of warm water and tried not to fall asleep as I waited for sunrise. Once the sun came up, I figured I’d be OK, as it would be easier to occupy myself and not get sleepy.
When the first rays of light came peeking over Sunrise Mountain, I grabbed my camera and went out to cruise around and take some bad-ass sunrise photos of Vegas…you know; fading neon signs and bums and stuff like that. But I had forgotten to charge my camera battery, so all I had was my little pocket cam, which didn’t seem worth it. I sort of drove around aimlessly for awhile, then decided I could make better use of the cool morning light by doing some yard work.
I have these giant bushes of deer grass in my front yard that are totally overgrown and dead, and needed to be pruned back. So I spent a couple hours from 6-8am chopping and lopping and raking and bagging this shit up, before it got too hot. Then I went in and took a nice hot shower, brushed my teeth, made a pot of coffee and pretended like it was a new day. Well, it was a new day; but you know what I mean.
I sat down to check my email as I always
do upon waking, and that’s when I started getting REALLY sleepy! Uh-oh!!!! I kept chugging coffee, trying to jolt myself into wakey-wakey mode, and finally got up, put on some makeup, and went out to get some breakfast at the Blueberry Hill coffee shop down the street from my house. I figured I’d spend the day cruising around town to various thrift stores, looking for funky bargains — something I never seem to have time to do. Well, today I had nothing BUT time!
It was kinda hairy driving around town in my sleep-deprived state, so I blasted the oldies station and brayed along with it just to keep myself awake. As luck would have it they played “Rock Around the Clock,” so I made up my own words as I sang along: “I’m gonna ROCK around the CLOCK today, I’m gonna cure this damn IN-SOM-NI-AY…” Etc.! It was a real hoot, let me tell you.
Around noon I got sooooooooooo sleepy I couldn’t stand it, so I went home and had another Coke and gave myself a MUCH-needed pedicure. While doing my pedi, I searched hulu for something halfway decent to watch, and ended up watching this excellent documentary about the people who jumped from the World Trade Center on 9/11. Awful/sad/fascinating enough to keep me awake for a couple more hours!
After that, one of my girlfriends had invited me to accompany her out to the Sekhmet Fertility Temple near Indian Springs — a little adobe temple out in the middle of the desert that this priestess erected to thank the Egyptian fertility goddess Sekhmet for getting her pregnant. It’s open to the public until sundown, and is used for all kinds of Womanhood Rituals and witchcraft kinda stuff after dark (it’s where I went to the Bonedance celebration one Halloween). A really cool place!
While I was waiting for her to get off work, I cruised around to some more thrift stores, then went to 7-Eleven for a Coke-flavored Slurpee. I don’t normally drink this much soda, but I was desperate to stay awake, ya know?! Finally she was ready, and we drove out to Indian Springs just in time for the sunset, which was gorgeous out there. I wandered around the temple and the grounds, and made some offerings to one of the goddess statues. Good times!
We got back around 8pm, and I still had 3 hours before I could go to sleep…so I took my dog for a walk with one of my neighbors and his dog. We shuffled aimlessly around the neighborhood for an hour or two, and then I finally went home, took another shower, washed my hair, and got ready for bed. FINALLY around 11:30pm I fell asleep reading a magazine, with the lights on and everything (I know you’re not supposed to read in bed, but that behavioral therapy shit doesn’t work anyway, so who cares?). I slept for about 5 hours solid, then my brain clicked on as usual. WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!! You’d think after a 36-hour day I’d stay asleep longer than that!!!
So I got up, turned off the light, hit my pipe and went back to sleep…and that was that. A failed experiment — it had no lasting effect on my sleep. But it was an interesting experiment!
The next day, out of curiosity, I got some Ambien and tried that again to see if maybe it would work; I took a 10mg pill, and it only put me out for 5 hours, again. Five hours is NOT enough to leave me refreshed — I still felt exhausted!! Next time I guess I’ll try 15 or 20mg.
So anyway, I give up for now. And please don’t send me any emails asking if I’ve ever tried warm milk/Valerian root/relaxation breathing/isochronic tones. I’VE TRIED THEM ALL!!!! The only other thing I might end up trying is called Brainwave Entrainment — sort of like biofeedback, but it costs $3,000 and I don’t have that kind of money to piss away on another failed treatment. I have a good friend who is a lifelong insomniac, and he swears it helped him…but everyone is different, and I just can’t afford to spend that kind of coin on an experiment. Maybe if I get on Wheel of Fortune, and win a pile of cash.
Anyhoo, in other news, I also went on another date from WhatsYourPrice.com…and this time it was a GREAT experience! This doctor from California hired me to go to dinner at the Wynn hotel, and we enjoyed a very pleasant evening. We hit it off so well that I ended up meeting him for dinner another night as well — and even joined him by the pool one day, becoming pretty good friends with him. All that hanging out at the Wynn was a blast – it’s a really classy, beautiful hotel, and a nice change from the usual dives I loiter in.
But the BEST part was when I valet parked my beater-ass old truck. A few months ago, a friend gave me a remote-controlled fart machine — I was supposed to hide it under that fucking Celine Dion mannequin’s dress, then set it off at random intervals when stupid fucking sad-sacks came over to pose for photos with the mannequin.
Alas, I quit that job before I was able to pull it off, so now I just had the fart machine sitting in my truck, waiting to be used. I drove around town with it on the passenger seat for quite awhile, and it would just randomly go off at weird intervals. I think because it’s remote-controlled, any time I got an incoming text message or email, the radio waves or whatever would set it off. Anyhoo, to show you how immature I am…every time that thing went off, I laughed hysterically. It NEVER got old!
But then one day I had to drive this photographer around the desert, so I stashed the machine in the glove box, and clipped the remote controller to my sun visor — far enough away from the machine to where it wouldn’t set it off, I hoped. It didn’t go off all day, so I left it there….but now, randomly, the fucking thing goes off in the middle of nowhere, apropos of nothing. I’ll be driving along, and Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp!!! A huge fart erupts in my glove box. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! (I told you I am immature, haha.)
So, what does this have to do with the Wynn? Well, my favorite thing about this fart machine is when I valet park my truck somewhere, and the valet brings me my car, and I can hear the fart machine go off. The poor valet attendant never knows what the fuck is going on!!!! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s a riot; especially at a “classy” joint like the Wynn!!!!!!!
Now finally, speaking of classy…I’ve been going on on the Strip lately in my Mary Jane costume, trying to earn a few bucks as a street busker. I generally go out with my buddy Jay Joint, and we do all right — we average about $28/hour each (we split the take). It’s pretty tiring work because you’re on your feet all night, on concrete, dealing with drunks and degenerates….but it still beats working for The Man, ya know?!!
The other night I went out with a photographer friend, ShotByAdam.com, who was doing a photojournalist-type essay on street performers for his awesome blog. He basically followed me around as I posed for pics the various weirdos out on the Strip, and it was a blast!!! I had already agreed to cover someone’s shift at the nightclub where I used to work later that night, but I was having so much fun out there that I almost wanted to stay and blow off the club! But the club pays a guaranteed $200, so I went with that.
I will be sure to post a link to his blog article when he posts it — it’s gonna be awesome! I ended up making $22 just standing around for the photo shoot, and HALF of that was from this poor porn-slapper standing on the street handing out those little escort flyers. He barely spoke English, and didn’t even have a camera, but he kept tipping me anyway! Awwww!
Anyhoo, I better go get ready for another night of busking fun. Jay Joint and I are planning to go out and take advantage of the big Saturday night crowds: not only is it Cinco de Mayo weekend, but there’s also some big Mayweather fight going on, so there’s sure to be a lot of tourists out and about. Better hit the gym, and then get ready!!