Letters From Somnolescent

A Year Under the Bulb: Origins
December 20, 2019

In all the chaos surrounding Somnolescent, lurkers, and people peeking in at our operation, I realized I’ve never fully told the story of Somnolescent leading up to its formal inception on this day last year. Believe it or not, the name Somnolescent stretches a long, long way back, all the way back to 2011 or so, and it’s been a tale of abuse, betrayals, and triumphs ever since. I kinda wish I was joking.

Should I be sharing some of this? Who knows, but I’ll do it anyway. If you’ll allow me a few paragraphs to ramble, I present the official, messy, canon history of Somnolescent as it well and truly happened.

Log started: 12/13/2014, 6:24:31 PM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
18:24 * pacguy19 (hide-5E78619.res-cmts.sth2.ptd.net) joins #somnolescent
18:26 * prengle (hide-2537ED9C.nowhere-else.org) joins #somnolescent
18:26 [prengle] hi
18:26 [pacguy19] there it's done
18:26 [pacguy19] you're free
18:26 [prengle] close skype, its over
18:26 [prengle] i'm a kewl kid
18:27 [pacguy19] so yeah just wait
18:27 [pacguy19] they'll come soon
18:27 * Chocoportals (hide-27DB122F.dhcp-dynamic.fibreop.ns.bellaliant.net) joins #somnolescent
18:27 [prengle] there's they
18:27 [Chocoportals] am i alive
18:27 [pacguy19] hello

All By Myself

I’ve been a Somnolian a whole lot longer than Somnolescent’s been a thing. I was an early adopter of YouTube and made my account not long after my eighth birthday. I remember filling notebooks and flash drives with “scripts” and stories and video ideas that’d never come to fruition, not to mention Paint drawings and Movie Maker movies. (And websites, funnily enough…) I was kind of a lonely kid, very much your typical case of Asperger’s with a history of acting out and being isolated in treatment program after treatment program. At the least, though, I made things.

The name Somnolescent was actually a name I’d used personally for some time. It was first for my YouTube videos, something I felt made it a little more official than just being “pacguy19”. (You’ll have to ask tiny Cammy where that one came from.) My older sister came up with it in 2011 or so. Naturally, if you want cool names for things, you ask the person studying for a psych degree, and “somnolescent” was one of a bunch of conditions she came up with for names. The word, of course, means being sleepy. I didn’t pick it because of that, prophetic as it was ; more likely, I just liked how it sounded. Pretentious enough for a “production company”, I suppose. Thus, my channel was rebranded Somnolescent Productions.

God bless Cosmic Panda
God bless Cosmic Panda

For a good chunk of that time, I wanted Somnolescent to be more than just me. I wanted Somnolescent to be a name that other people would brand their projects with, a little half-bulb scratched in the corner of the canvas, so to say. People would ask about it, unsure of what exactly it was, and rather than being anything truly official, it hanging on people’s lips would give it its officiality. I also think I just wanted a circle of friends to call my own, honestly.

15 Acres of Broken Glass

I later used the Somnolescent Productions name when I joined Tumblr in 2012. I never made anything there. I pretty much used it for the things your average nobody used Tumblr for, namely reblogs of various memes and later Pokemon art. Spurred on by the creation of my Steam account, I soon found the Half-Life and Portal communities on there, and in particular, someone who’d change the course of my life for the bad and the necessary. Her name there was chocolate-covered-portals, but I’d come to know her as Brianna.

Brianna was a sickly Nova Scotian girl seven years my senior. We met when I was 14 and when she was 21. Misery in my real life had started to grind me out of my pleasant little autistic obliviousness, and being expelled from school and having all the time in the world to sit on Skype lead me to getting attached to her instead. I related to her. We shared laughs and weird discussions. She got me into Pokemon, which later became a point of comfort. I found out she made things. She was a writer—just like me! And she was into the Somnolescent thing!

Issue being, Brianna was a fucking nasty piece of work. I had emotions and suicidal tendencies pawned off on me regularly. I remember, thanks to a flurry of medical conditions, her essentially making the case she couldn’t take care of herself (to this day, she lives with her mother) and instead wanted a teenager to ship up to Canada to pick up her tab instead. Worse yet, Brianna turned out to be something of a pervert. She had a voyeur complex despite being “asexual”. She pretty much never encouraged me to write (in some cases outright ignoring my own work), with the sole exception of having me write my first OC, an Oshawott, being graphically drowned in a fishing net. Again, at age 14. She’d later call this a “fascination”, and drowning would crop up frequently in Calelira, and she’d have me write it often there too.

I still have him, by the way. His name’s Felix, and he’s an otter now.

I didn’t know any better. I convinced myself this kinda thing was mostly okay, or harmless. She’d come from a broken home, I thought. She couldn’t help it, I thought. The drowning thing was a trauma cope. And hey, she liked the Somnolescent thing. She saw potential in it being a group like I did. So with her, and satisfying one of my curiosities for old tech at the same time, we opened up a little IRC room on Foonetic called #somnolescent and made it public on her Tumblr.

Do hope she's suffering at the moment
Do hope she’s suffering at the moment

The Original Somnolians

No one ever really came to visit #somnolescent, aside from two. Brianna introduced me to a friend of hers about my age she thought would be a good fit for Somnolescent. Her name was Savannah, or fivewholeducks as she might go under here. Savannah was someone who I’d eventually come to be a little jealous of, with plenty of art skill for her age and kind of an insane work ethic, even though I knew she had an even messier home life than I did. (These aren’t my details to divulge, but I also think that whatever I got from Brianna, Savannah got worse.) By some miracle, Savannah’s still with us, and as busy with her real life as it gets.

The other was…less pleasant. prengle joined #somnolescent a few months before Savannah pretty much out of the blue. He was kind of the exact opposite of her: absolutely goddamn useless. He stayed absolutely distant for years, not even telling us his first name despite talking to us on the daily. We’d encourage him to get involved in games and things we liked, and he’d pretty much refuse every time. He’d eventually spend his entire time in Somnolescent poopooing whatever had any of us excited, slagging shit off in the most insecure display you can imagine. Not sure why we tolerated him for so long.

Still, us four out on our own felt like the first proper incarnation of Somnolescent. Indeed, I’d called them “original Somnolians” as new people later joined the collective, but as feelings dull and hindsight becomes the fair mistress it is, it registers less and less with me. At first, it was fine, fun even! Savannah kept on with her comic work, Brianna and I would come up with Calelira in February 2015, and we all had similar enough senses of humor that there was a certain camaraderie for a while. Winter 2014 was the winter of me getting to vo-tech, logging into IRC on a laptop, and keeping it idle on my workbench while I got to soldering for school projects, waiting ever-so-patiently for the group to arrive. Things seemed well for a time.

Much like a frog in boiling water though, I didn’t notice it becoming less well until much, much later. Suddenly, I’d matured a little, dealing with my first real bout of teen angst and insecurity (at 15, I know, late bloomer), and Brianna was still giggling at age-old Sims 2 screenshots as if nothing ever happened. Worse yet, exploring my own sexuality lead to me getting exploited (something prengle was later all-too-happy to share as “dirt” on me). The death rattles of a group comprised of a miserable, nothingy contrarian, a preteen groomer with the sense of humor of a preteen, and two abused loners might be somewhat expected again with hindsight’s blessing, but I’d been numb to it for years and years before then.

Slowly, very slowly, Somnolescent stopped mattering to me.

A Rebuilding Season

[6:35 PM] Chocoportals: hey @prengle
[6:35 PM] Chocoportals: so cameron has a plan, and if it works, we'll be getting some more people in here
[6:37 PM] Chocoportals: hi
[6:37 PM] borb: rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrE
[6:37 PM] Chocoportals: @Cammy I made two tentative rooms, if you want to remove or rename them
[6:38 PM] prengle: ree
[6:38 PM] Chocoportals: this is prengle, he alternates between being a swadloon and a shinx
[6:38 PM] borb: .w.

In May 2016, borb joined. borb wasn’t the first Somnolian I knew in real life (indeed, an earlier incarnation existed loosely with a group I’d hung around in middle school, but soon fell back to just being me), but she was the first to take a genuine interest in the proceedings. She too did art and joined quite hyperactively to show it off. I found kin with her I think partially because we were both semi-forgotten orbiters off the same high school circle of high school friends, and partially because we both had experience with the more spastic world of DeviantART and sites of that ilk. She’s another one I’m not too sure how she’s stuck with us through a lot of the shakiness and fighting, but I’m glad she has. That kind of headstrong dedication would later come to define us.

Still, in 2017 and 2018, Somnolescent looked dire. Savannah dipped for a bit after her and I fell out. I was sick of being neglected by Brianna, someone I looked up to creatively and emotionally for support and someone who I stood by through years of almost literally having things thrown at me. Anyone who says internet friends don’t mean anything should’ve been there when the girl made me stress vomit. My interest drew elsewhere.

More specifically, to Neocities.

My music stopped engaging me, I was still too scared to write, but the one thing I could absolutely do, like all those years ago? Make websites. It took me a whole of three days to build my first Neocities site, and not long after that to join a Discord for it. I’ve already told my history with Neocities, but as I accumulated a few actual, genuine friends I liked being around, I had a sudden desire to keep ahold of them outside of Neocities itself.

So, with hesitation on the parts of everyone involved, I invited dotcomboom and Caby into the group. I sold it to them (and later to Neo and Cheren) as a creator collective, which…it kinda was? If you considered the fact that everyone in it at one point made something, I guess. Made it sound spookier and more official than it was at the time, perhaps.

I already sampled this one in a recap but I can still hear myself internally whimpering "pls give it a chance :
I already sampled this one in a recap but I can still hear myself internally whimpering “pls give it a chance :<"

It’s kind of amusing to look back on everyone’s nerves. dcb and Caby both felt like they weren’t about to fit in, but the thing was, there was nothing to fit in to, really. Somnolescent had completely disintegrated by the time they joined. Brianna baited me into outright kicking her from the group and dropping her from my life, and prengle was getting easier and easier to ignore. What became apparent as time passed and people looked back on years of Discord logs was just how radical a shift their entry was. Somnolescent was slowly getting away from the people who’d just showed up years ago and got handed a seat at the table and towards the people who genuinely wanted to be there and make the group their own.

The Hum Grows

With two (and later four) new people in tow within the span of two months, Somnolescent started to show life again. With two of my new favorite people there, it was less a neglected little personal server I kept because of the longtime personal relevance and the hope it’d become something and actually fucking became something. I realized there was a shared hype again. We all (and by all, I mean the people who didn’t later turn out to be massively unstable) had something in common.

I went into overdrive that winter. I recorded five songs in two-and-a-half weeks. I wrote a 6,000 word story using an armadillo and an aardwolf Caby had only handed to me two months prior. I felt vital again. I wanted to make. People around me wanted to make. Somnolescent was what I’d always wanted it to be, at long last. Our group. It wasn’t long before inspiration struck and Somnolescent’s manifesto was written in all the excitement, setting our principles in stone.

Buying our own hosting was the moment we became official. It gave our group a proper home base. It unified us. Neocities was so much heat and flash that it’s easy to forget a Somnolian like borb didn’t come from it. There was a bit of tension in the group back when we were still there. People felt left out. Having our own hosting not only gave us an identity to rally around, but it also gave us all equal footing. No one was left out now. We all had our spot for whatever we felt like using it for. That’s why the day I bought hosting, December 20, is now Somnolescent’s birthday. That’s when Somnolescent started for real.

That’s not to say all was well then necessarily. As said, certain folks outed themselves as nutters. Cheren and Neo dragged the entire group into their codependent, abusive mire for a solid month, prengle flipped his shit upon learning I wasn’t about to fuck him (leading to the epic voicemail sampled in my track “Kaden”, and yes, that’s his first name), and Brianna gave me one last kick in the ass on the way out by handing him three years worth of roleplays from when I was underage to humiliate me on the onlines with.

At least now, though, I had a group of real friends to work through it with. We’ve been as stable as we’ve ever been for almost nine months now, and after what it took to get here? I’m enjoying it greatly.

Happy birthday, Somnolescent. You’ve come a long way.


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