Posts Tagged ‘sleep’

Online Trials

30 December 2011

Dear J-

New Year Resolution times are nearly upon us and one that I want to have and probably won’t be able to keep is getting more sleep: the sooner I can get to bed, the earlier I’ll be able to wake up, which means that I’ll be able to ride my bike all week next week, or at least until my schedule shifts and I’m no longer able to ride on the vanpool at all. I’ve tried to do the math multiple times and it’s not working out right. In just over a week I’ll have to work twelve hour shifts, and with three of the additional hours consumed by commuting that leaves me with nine hours to sleep and maintain the luxurious online presence I’ve become accustomed to.

I’m thinking that I’m going to want more than the six hours I’m getting now in order to compensate for the shifting schedules (two weeks on nights, then two weeks on days; I figure I’m going to be pretty scrambled by the end of the outage) and I don’t want to shortchange my family so things may go dark for a few weeks. And for this to be the source of my anxiety, more than twelve hour days and what I do at home and work — this online life — makes me think that I must have my priorities skewed beyond belief. Right now as soon as I get home it seems like I jump on the computer after a hurried greeting.

In the middle of stories and getting figgy ready for bed: online. While she’s watching a movie, or some video, I’ll hang out nearby: on my phone. I’ve become accustomed to getting and reading feeds online and that’s made me knowledgable about the current memes but hasn’t really done much for me in terms of actual knowledge or useful life skills. Instead of finding ways to make figgy or Calcifer laugh I amuse myself by laughing at people via FML. Other people may not but I find myself lost in social networks at times: it’s nice to keep up and see what’s going on, but I need to rethink the priorities in my life..



Everything Comes in Threes

10 November 2011

Dear J-

The sky lately has been all kinds of interesting colors and filled with incredible cloud shapes but overall it has been bone-crispingly dry. I feel it in the way my helmet strap crunches as I swing it over my chin; I know it from the coughs and sniffles that have arisen in our family. Cooler weather is finally here although the need for a jacket is blunted by the bike ride: it’s nice when you’re going downhill, but if you’re warm going downhill that always means you’ll be hot going uphill and I’d rather freeze a little first.

Today was the first day this week I haven’t woken up too early from the time change — you’d think that it wouldn’t take this long to adjust to the one hours’s difference but while I would go to bed at the same tim eon the clock I’d keep waking up the same hour earlier every morning until today, when between the snooze bar and the warm cat digging his claws into me every so often my sleep was punctuated enuogh to wake me up around the time I should have left. It is a surprisingly cozy feeling luxuriating under warm covers and reading a book in the dark, but I give in to that temptation too often and have spent many late nights lately as a result.

What else? We’re heading into the weekend and I’m contemplating mutinous thoughts of not coming in at all versus going in on two of the three days we have off from work. That’ll come soon enough, though, having the full weekend back again, and next weekend will be a three-day weekend anyway if I play my cards right. There’s only so much that can be done to help with extra time, but now I think I’ll look back on the luxury of geting paid for the hours I work with a kind of bitter regret. The posting to replace me closed yesterday and though it’s not going to happen I think it would be interesting to see the list of candidates and be able to interview them, although it’s hard to see me riding this train any longer.


Dream Composition

2 November 2011

Dear J-

What do dreams mean to you? Do you ascribe any sort of deeper portent or metaphor t owhere your dreams took you last night? When I was younger and I got enough sleep I used to dream more often but then again I wonder if I just had more to dream about, seeing as how I now have just about as much as I could ever want: family, kids, and three squares a day.No, really; I think it’s the lack of sleep that’s been doing in my dreamsas it feels like years since I’ve had a good, solid sleep that wasn’t marred by some kind of strange exhaustion, whether from staying up too late or getting up to early or the various punctuations that growing kids will add to the situation.

I do miss the dreams, which seemed to have an easy way about them, showing me what could be and what I should have done, perhaps. At the same time I’d wake up and wonder how much of what just happened was real; it’s not clear at all whether it was all just wish fulfillment or merely warnings. I’d wake up some days with a huge sense of loss and regret which would spill over into everything else I did that day, little knowing that the mood controlled by dreams would make the day a self-fulfilling prophecy. Still, though, I wonder what it would be like to go to bed around eight, say, get my eight hours of sleep and start to dream again. I wonder if I could even sleep that long, though, too.

The various experiments in sleep deprivation all seem to point out that folks will become less lucid eventually, and I’m not sure that I can keep up in the sense that eventually I can’t count on being able to sleep on the van every day or my hours aren’t going to change or life as I know it doesn’t come to a screeching halt on Monday, 12 December 2011. As it is I wonder how critical dreams are to keeping us sane; not the goals sort of dreams where we say in our waking lives this is what I want to become, athis is what I want to achieve — I’m talking those full-bleed technicolor movies your mind plays after the rest of your body has gone slack and the brain has the chance to reknit a few loose connections. Those dreams, occasionally inconvenient but always personal, those dreams. Make up a third of our lives and are best seen in misty repose, in broken snatches of song, as fragments we sift and resynthesize when we’re awake and what happens when you run out of ingredients for your conscious life?


Next Friday

29 September 2011

Dear J-

We’re giong on vacation again tomorrow and I’m interested to see how figgy deals with it tonight. If the past is any indication of the future we’ll be packing and moving stuff into the car at the same time that she keeps popping out of bed, too wired and excited about the trip to sleep and too exhausted to venture much further. At this point we’ve only taken the one trip with Calcifer so he has no idea what’s in store except that he’s going to be strapped to the seat for a few hours and that’s going to make him crabby during, but at least he won’t have any anticipation of the trip. We’ve tried to keep it quiet so figgy doesn’t ramp up but she’s been telling the other kids at daycare so that particular secret is out of the bag.

In fact every other line on Tuesday must have been about the trip, since the teachers all came up to me and said that she’d been talking about the trip all day. I understand her obsessive nature, as I see it in myself, but this forward kid who’s not afraid to let her emotions out bare is someone I don’t recognize. Last night was a bit of a struggle, as lack of sleep made us both crabby: the less inclined she was to do something the stricter I got and instead of bending gracefully we both snapped. I’d take stuff away for crying, which made the crying worse, but there I was trying to make a point and … y’know what, after the night’s sleep it seems so petty and ill-advised given that neither of us is taking any lessons away from that. You want to make the point that crying isn’t going to garner the sympathy that it did when you were four months old but at the same time you have to pick your battles carefully.

I’m looking forward to getting enough sleep on this trip. Between a forced lack of connectivity (i.e. no Google Reader with its hours-long obligation to read me, read me, read me some more and no tumblr to consume the remaining scraps of free time) and the obligation as guests to conform to our host’s bedtimes, I think I’ll get more rest than I bargain for. Not a bad choice, certainly. Plus it’ll hopefully give me the strength to fight off this first achy cold of the season, which has felled three members of our family in quick succession (figgy, Calcifer, and now me). Drive on; I’ll see you tomorrow.


Late Flight

10 June 2011



Dear J-

I’m really pushing it — doing Warp Factor Stupid on I-59 to the airport and listening impatiently to the speaker phone telling me to please hold for the next available agent and suddenly the voice whispers to turn right, not left, to Sloss Furnaces and its appealing mix of decay and I heed it. The one that’s been sitting on the other shoulder starts screaming that if I really push it there’s a chance of being home by the time the later flight is ready to leave Birmingham but I’m already well aware that there’s things I need to do for me first. You can see from the picture above I ended up at Sloss. Maybe if I left right when everyone else did and didn’t stay around to be glad-handed and sold a program I don’t havethe power to buy, maybe if I was convinced I could fly through security and checkpoints without fail id have pushed harder.

Hindsight and regret will kill you. You could blame the lead for not getting us out any sooner, you could blame the traffic that held you up or the rental agent taking her sweet time with the return or the guy who doesnt know what a rush you’re in and walking through life just mad like that is a mean way to live. But then yiu take your time and now the tickly voice is asking if you did enough or if surely you didn’t need to take that side trip but it wouldn’t have made a difference, surely? If only is the cruelest phrase.

I walk out of Sloss with souvenirs and a renewed appreciation for the industrial might of Birmingham, dwarfed by giant machines and structures designed to make steel from the earth. And it helps me remember why I’m trying to cut down on the heroic travel measures: swapping an hour layover for two half hour connections is a sure losing gamble, and only to gain an hour besides. On the other hand I wonder if I can turn the connection in Dallas any faster tonight …


Echo Yell

15 April 2011

Dear J-

Friday lately means all sorts of different things, most importantly the start of the need for patience. This makes a lot more sense on a lot more sleep, though, so hopefully I’ll be able to deal with those situations with far more grace than yesterday. There are only so many things you can do with the willfully disobedient and the threat of taking away future priveleges doesn’t seem to carry much weight. If this was animal training (which we amply demonstrated how deficient our skills are) you’d do simple tasks and reward good behvior with gentle corrections for undesired ones, not punishment. Me personally, I’m too quick to jump straight to yelling and drama, which is no doubt entertaining theater but not helpful.

As the week wears on the sleep debt accumulates until you’re left holding a bag of snakes at work and home. The smart thing would be to restrict your activities and boost your efficiencies (for me that would include typing on a real keyboard instead of thumbing it) where possible, freeing up more time for naps, not TV or games or other such junk. You don’t realize what the toll of sleep deprivation is until you’re yelling at someone near you when what they’ve done isn’t particularly egregious. And if you’re yelling because of some long-simmering frustration, by all means, let that crap out and drain the resentment on your own time.

You have a right to boil over but remember what lessons you impart. When you see the people closest to you adopt your habits are you proud of the echoes in your life? The Star Wars films are not classical art, and they give wisdom out ham-handedly, but I’m sure everyone who watched The Empire Strikes Back remembers the scene on Dagobah: midway through his training and with a newfound confidence under his belt Luke ventures deep into a swamp cave where he’s confronted by no other than Darth Vader. In the ensuing fight Luke gains the upper hand and decapitates Vader, whose helmet then splits open to reveal … Luke’s own face*. Be wary of the battles yu fight, and do not trust where your body leads you.


* You could also take this as clumsy foreshadowing of the big Luke-I-am-your-father revelation.

Snooze Slice

20 December 2010

Dear J-

Thus far an inauspiciouos beginning to the day, waking up with a sore throat in a fevered tangle of sheets, having thrashed there by oversleeping and overuse of the snooze bar which, in the case of the fancy clock-radio I got on clearance, is the entire bezel — no fumbling for ten more minutes of peace, which of course is my downfall as I try to get up with plenty of time, and generally fail. Outside the drizzle hasn’t really slacked off from yesterday — heavier than a mist yet not so strong as to justify using rain — but the base temperature has turned warm this night: what they call the Pineapple Express from Hawaii is in town, bringing thoughts of apocalyptic flooding in Sacramento but only inconveniencing drivers and shoppers here in San Diego. I’m still so tired I can hardly think straight. I know that everyone else has had to deal with this the whole four weeks I’ve been missing but this still seems cruel and unusual, single-digit hours of darkness upon darknesss.

I need to remind myself that I used to drive this way, either solo or with one other, for four years; it’s hard to believe that I’ve been in my current job now a longer amount of time and in the vanpool program for just slightly longer. If you had access to our company’s internal newsletter you’d be as horrified as I am to read some of the anniversary dates; they don’t bother beginning to publish until your silver date (25) and run off in five year increments beyond that, topping out at 45 years of company service. And yet from where I am I’d be staring down 36 years, assuming that I can keep a job (no easy feat when you’ve been as lazy as me) and retire at 67 (by the time I get close to that I’m sure they’ll have moved the target some more). Time has a convenient way of being blenderized this early, full of the heavy sleep of night and without the drama of the coming day.

Think about it: unless you’re so disciplined that you spring out of bed the moment the radio starts shouting in your ear, you’ve already chopped the nascent morning into ten-minute chunks; I had a friend in high school who would deliberately set his alarm an hour in advance of the real waking time and exclaimed with great pleasure how much rest he could get in the ensuing staccatto snooze-broken sleep (I set it an hour early too, but only because I know it’ll take an hour of snoozing before I realize what I’m doing). From there your life is broken up into ever-smaller chunks, task here, work there, do it over again and repeat, there’s nothing quite like cruising on your own reputation. I suppose I’m finally ready for my day, but just a little nap first, can we agree on that much at least?


Dream On

6 November 2010

Dear J-

It comes to me — as it does every time I find myself driving in to work on a regular day off — that same question: what am I doing here? Even though weekends aren’t always sacrosanct around here I can’t imagine that there aren’t a ton of places I’d rather be, and it spilled all over the time I did have at work, growling like a bear and moaning over every single small thing like the whole world was out to get me. Even though I’m right doesn’t make me right to treat the world that way; cheerfully ask for another, perhaps.

We watched Toy Story 3 twice today in rapid succession; the second time was for all the wrong reasons. We needed a nap and she was showing no signs of relenting in her iron will to stay awake all day (she sleeps at daycare; is home so much more inherently exciting, or do we need to establish a short naptime routine?). It really doesn’t net you much margin, but it’s enough to be able to close your eyes briefly after a long day and let it drain away.

So I kept feeling out of place everywhere I went today; no sooner would I get somewhere than I’d feel the itch to be elsewhere. Hard to stay awake, then: keep dreaming instead.


Input Overload

1 September 2010

Dear J-

Some days I wake up in a blind panic, unable to even think of the next thing to be done until I take a few deep breaths and collect myself (these days are not coincidentally ones that I get up late, defined as the difference between how long it’s going to take me to get ready and how long I have left before the van leaves). Other days I wake up and it’s as if I’ve taken tranquilizers already: I see the numbers on the clock, but they don’t mean anything in particular. If the patterns hold true, I’m going to have one of those panics tomorrow after the calm of this morning.

The tone of the day is set by these things, and I don’t know if that’s the superstitions talking (“got up on the wrong side of the bed, huh?*”) or my immaturity dictating that I let emotions spill over from one box to the next. Why should I let the way my day went affect the way I see the world? I still remember when I hung up on my dad because I was mad at my brother once; we’d quarreled, as siblings do, and I thought I was making a point in the argument, which later resolved itself into my dad getting about as mad as I’d ever seen him.

I’m not saying that everything that happens should be boxed away in its own little compartment; it’s human nature to synthesize a reaction from multiple inputs, after all. It is, however, our responsibility to make sure we don’t lash out over perceived hurts; I have the bad habit of throwing out oh-yeah-but-you-do-this in arguments, which is just as inflamatory and provocative as sorry-but. Counterproductive: the new game that’s sweeping the nation, right? Only if we let it.


* I didn’t quite understand it the first time I heard it, as the bed I was sleeping in at the time was pushed against the wall: there was only one side of the bed to get out of. As trivia, that’s probably affected the way I sleep, which is on the left side of the bed on my right side — that was facing away from the wall.

Mess Hall

28 June 2010

Dear J-

I check in on figgy when we go to bed; the titanic struggle for sleep has casualties, after all. Dolorous corpses of stuffed animals litter the floor (some placed there deliberately and covered in an attempt to make them sleep, others left where they landed from their short unhappy trip from the bed); usually a blanket or two and sometimes, the pillow itself, all stripped off while fighting off the sandman. The line between consciousness and slumber is abrupt for both me and her; we’ll hear her chattering away and then, sudden silence. theVet has remarked on my powers of falling asleep, which has been my blessing since getting out of school.

Between the late nights and rampant stress, I was an insomniac as early as grade school; I would run numbers in my head trying to figure out what I needed next to secure that grade, or run through potential test questions. It got me knotted up enough inside that I didn’t want to couldn’t rest; this is the curse of insomnia — the more you dwell on it, the less tired you get. One of my bosses is fond of paraphrasing Richard III: Uneasy rests the head that wears the crown. I don’t know if that means my conscience is clear, or I’ve learned to let go of things I can’t change.

Yesterday after dinner we went to get a few snacks from our local Japanese superstore, Mitsuwa Marketplace. A good portion of the clientele is Japanese-speaking or otherwise Japanophile in some way or another; yesterday we kept running into the same group of four young people, like us, looking for snacks, but one of them was wearing Vulcan ears. I suppose it fits: at the intersection of comic books and sci-fi, you’ll find us anime and Star Trek nuts. Carry that innocent shameless attitude forward, figgy; be as loud as you want to be as long as you want, but realize that the messes don’t get magically straightened out overnight.