Your host for today is Matt Micheli, author of MEMOIRS OF A VIOLENT SLEEPER: A BEDTIME STORY.
The book is about Steven Birkman, a guy in his upper twenties that struggles with a rare, embarrassing and sometimes violent sleep disorder known as RBD (REM Behavior Disorder). Symptoms of RBD include (but aren’t limited to): punching, kicking, viciously thrashing about, running into walls, windows, and furniture headfirst, urinating and defecating on oneself and/or others… all occurring while the person is asleep.
Here’s a piece taken from the book.
You’re dreaming that you are in an old, worn down truck stop bathroom. Everything is that ugly dark brown color your parents thought was so hip in the late seventies. The smell of rotten piss sickens you. There’s sh** still resting in the toilet with mounds of toilet paper torn and piled on top. The bathroom is dirty enough to where you don’t want to touch the light switch or anything else without layers of protective sanitized hospital gloves The fluorescent lighting flickers and buzzes—only one of the two bulbs has electricity flowing through it—putting out only a minimal, unpleasant amount of flashing light. It’s barely enough to aim your business into the urinal.
# # # #
You wake up to the fierce alarm sounding, and you notice a yellow stain on the wall to the left of you. The bulk of the mess is about waist high and stretches down to the floor in dripping paths. It’s warm to the touch. Concerned, you think there must be a busted pipe leaking from inside the wall. The carpet below the mess is soaked full of the yellow liquid. It stinks like . . . ammonia. Or is that urine? You think to yourself, I don’t have to piss this morning which is odd. Coincidence?
And this is why you don’t have many friends and can’t have a girlfriend. I mean, how could you? You might have mistaken her as the urinal in your pissing parody of a dream.
This is Steven’s life.
The book is fiction and there are some exaggerations to increase the level of embarrassment, but folks that suffer with RBD will attest to the uncontrollable outbursts.
Imagine having to sand off any sharp corners on dressers/furniture in your bedroom in case you decide to go at them head first. Or having to cover any windows with heavy blankets to avoid shattering glass into yourself if you try and crash through them. Or your wife waking up with a bruised neck after you strangled her, trying to break the neck of a ten-point buck in your dream-wrestling.
These are real things that this disorder brings with it.
IN THE NEWS: Watch this clip titled Husband beats wife in his sleep?
RBD to further explain: (Grab a drink and stay with me here. You can do it.)
A normal sleep cycle has 2 states: NREM (Non Rapid Eye Movement) and REM (Rapid Eye Movement). There are four stages of sleep that occur in your NREM sleep: the first when you are falling asleep, the second when you are asleep, and the third and fourth being the deepest stages of sleep. The third and fourth stages are responsible for that refreshed, rejuvenated feeling you have when you wake up the next morning. The fifth and final stage of sleep is considered your REM sleep.
In this stage, your brain is highly active and brain waves and spindles are going crazy, shooting all over the charts. This is when you dream. In a normal person’s sleep cycle, this is also when your brain releases Atonia. Atonia is a chemical that calms your nervous system, putting your body under paralysis, a natural protection to what your brain is telling you to do. In a not-so-normal person’s sleep cycle, (someone suffering from RBD), this is when your brain SHOULD release Atonia, but doesn’t. This is when you dream, and this is when you physically respond to what you are dreaming—be it running, jumping, fighting, engaging in sexual deviance. And that’s where the problems come in. If you are within an arm’s reach of another person, pet, object…they can easily be the victim of your uncontrollable outburst. The good news is: REM sleep only lasts about twenty minutes. The bad
news is: you reach REM sleep every hour and a half, around four-or-so times per night. Taking prescription medications have a remotely small success rate.
Now that you know the disorder, let’s talk book.
MEMOIRS OF A VIOLENT SLEEPER: A BEDTIME STORY is a story about Steven, a guy in his upper twenties that has dealt with RBD since the age of seven. The book takes you back to his first bizarre occurrence and then bounces back and forth from present day to other embarrassing moments from his past. From disappointed parents, to emasculating siblings, to a total fear of sleeping next
to someone (which kills any shot at a girlfriend), he feels . . . different. Nobody likes him. How could they? He breaks and pisses on things in his sleep. Fueled by this embarrassment, Steven soon ventures into a dangerously dark world full of strippers, pornography, drugs and alcohol. That is until Gina walks into his life.
With help from his trustworthy (and might I add sexy?) new therapist, Dr. Ashlea with an A, his one true friend, Kyle, and Gina (the punky barista girl that works the we’re-not-a-Starbucks coffee counter at the Barnes and Noble where he works), Steven starts to see that maybe he can lead a normal life; he is deserving of it.
Memoirs of a Violent Sleeper: A bedtime story takes you through one man’s journey to find out what it truly means to be normal. Will Steven find what he is looking for? Or will he continue to let his disorder dictate his life?
The book is available electronically and printed copies will be available worldwide in July. Please visit my website if you are interested in reading more on the book.
To the readers: Thank you for your time today, and I sincerely hope you got at least some sort of enjoyment from the piece. If I offended anyone, I’m sorry. (I tend to do that more than not)
To Scott: Thank you for opening up this spectacular forum for readers and writers in the Indie world and giving us an opportunity to share our projects and stories.
TO EVERYONE: Maybe you should think twice before falling asleep tonight . . .
Please contact me with any questions/concerns/comments or if you just want to berate me for fun @ email@example.com
Follow me on Twitter: @micheliworld
Matt Micheli is a transgressive fiction writer out of Austin, TX. His analytical, sometimes satirical, and often times blunt views of love, loss, life, and beyond are expressed through his writing. For him, writing is an escape from the everyday confines of what the rest of us call normal.