Sunday, June 05, 2005

Lullaby or Landmine

It's currently 1:27AM. My husband turned in hours ago. My dog is looking at me imploringly from where she patiently hosts my feet.

I am a hopeless, senseless insomniac whose world is so topsy-turvy with sleep issues, that I can stay awake sometimes past 3:00AM, and still get a good 7 hours of sleep. People don't bother calling me--even on weekdays--until after 10:00AM, and even then they sometimes sound defeated. I never feel rested. I'm plagued with guilt that my status as a student allows me to behave like a weekend sorority sister.

I believe I am getting very close to lapping my sleep by a day. Sleep is that damn butterfly in the Ambien commercials, a fluttery thing that I want to grab and crush into my eyes. Once I begin to think--which often occurs late in the day, the wheels turn, and any momentum that continues past 10PM or so, powers a racehorse that just won't stop!

Controlling sleep is my anorexia, my alcoholism. I taunt it, deny it's symptoms, scoff at the insidious implications that sleep deprivation is impacting my life. I lie about when I turn in and wake up, even to my mother. My eyes can be heavy as a volcano, but there ain't no way they are giving in. If I bothered to crawl into bed, the sheets would feel sticky, like fly paper, my bedside lamp would threaten me like a dangling piano, each breath the cat inhaled would sound like a thousand fingernail scratches on the classroom chalkboard.

But these late night, still hours in the shadows of inadequate lamplight, feel precious to me. Like I own the world when it exhales. I feel like Abe Lincoln, all dedicated, martyring my eyesight. I feel like the predatory cat whose vision is unfettered by blackness. I feel like the industrious raccoons, focused and busy without chance of interruption. This is often when I'm most creative, always when I'm most alert.

I can hear the half-words of my husband's funky sleep, and the way he thrashes in the sheets. I can smell the dogginess of Phoebe's deeper sleep, now that she's given up and capitulated on the rug in front of my desk. I look around for inspiration -- Color is different at night, multi-dimensional and prouder. Oh god, I can't help it, suddenly I hear the lyrics to the poem at the end of "Nights in White Satin!" You know what I'm talking about, right? (another effect of night, songs in your head echo loudly into your rooms)

"Cold-hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the Colors from our sight,
Red is grey and yellow white,
But we decide which is right ...

And which IS an illusion ... " --enter mighty crescendo of mournful violins wailing in a pretense of poetic profundity!

Time for "Insomniac's music theater" to cleanse the music now reverberating in my head ... wish me luck ...

It's now 1:50AM.


At 10:57 AM, Blogger Emily said...

Wow, I know what you mean about the allure of nighttime activity. I often feel more alive and responsive at night. However, I never have insomnia - I fall asleep instantly.

I've always been curious about what it's like to be an early morning riser. I've always envied the seeming whole other lives people enjoy in the morning before I ever wake up... time to exercise with the dawn, get a little busywork done early on, quiet contemplation on the back porch with the birds tweetering.

This summer I'm going to play with rising each day just before 6am and adjusting my bedtime to suit. I was inspired by this article, which you might find interesting: How to Become an Early Riser. Good stuff.

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Pamela said...

Growing up in CA in the 70s and 80s, I was always on the beach, which meant grabbing a ride with my brother, who surfed. Sometimes we actually got there at 6:00AM. Usually I would fall back asleep, but occasionally I utterly enjoyed the freshness of the day--the sharp light increasing with the activity.

Then, working for a time in hotel kitchens I had to be there at 7:30AM. With my morning routine this required rising at 5:30 or 6:00. I always hated this, never seemed to be able to adjust, and still found myself up until the wee hours of the morning and nearly catatonic the next morning.

I read in my Biology textbook that everyone has unique circadian rhythms. Mine are obviously quite loopy.

Let me know how your summer sleep project works out.


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