Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Insomnia is for Wimps

I can't sleep. I can't sleep. I can't sleep.


I can't sleep.

At 11:30pm, I was fully tired of staring at student papers, but I felt a little wound up, so I took a hot shower. The shower reminded me that I haven't had a proper, luxurious bath in several months. The last time I had a proper bath was at a very creepy hotel in Haifa last summer. It was creepy because everything in it harkened back to the Golda Meir years of the 1970's. Yes, my faithful travel companion, Dr. B, agreed with me that we were in a scene straight out of the film "Munich". At one point in our 24 hour stay, I attempted to re-enact a scene in which I played Golda herself and Dr. B played the main character guy and we pretended to smoke cigarettes in a darkened room and plot revenge for our fallen brethren. But, even if the shag rug was perfect for the scene, Dr. B took himself far too seriously for my little shenanigans. (It didn't even matter to him that my Golda Meir impersonation was on point, Israeli accent and all.) If memory serves me correctly, this was about the time that Dr. B declared that he would no longer drink Golan Heights' wine with me on our little overnight, data-gathering excursions through the land of milk and honey. According to Dr. B, wine was impractical for a number of reasons beyond the obvious issue that we were responsible adults who would not sleep together for lack of anything better to do. Humph. In retrospect, I really did find Dr. B's Protestant boy scout ethics incredibly admirable. I had a certain respect for the way he didn't insult my entirely When-in-Rome ethic without completely squelching my soul. It was also really wonderful that he didn't talk too much, either. Props to Dr. B.

Yes, it is 4:21 am, and I am fairly certain that my eyes are still going to be open when the birds start chirping. I think it's safe to officially declare that I have insomnia.

The fact is, yeah...I've been under a little stress. Ok, a lot of stress. Ok, more stress than I have been under in years. Last week it occurred to me that I was actually far less stressed during that hellish month of my Ph.D. field exams. In fact, I am suddenly overcome with a sense of nostalgia for those days. At the very least, those were the days when I could get into my own bathtub if the feeling moved me and sit there with a book and a candle or two. I was also in a big enough city to have my pick of any yoga studio and acupuncturist on the block. And don't get me started on healthy restaurants. Yeesh.

I miss yoga. And acupuncture. I miss public transportation. And bookstores. Coffee shops. Most of all, aside from simple privacy, I miss anonymity. I miss being able to get lost and found again in any number of the galleries I wandered in my wonder lust for art and authenticity and inspiration. I miss knowing where I was going but enjoying the detours. I miss impromptu meals with friends. I miss the sunshine and having my roller blades in my trunk for the frequent occasions that I would stop on my way home and skate round the park, just for giggles. I miss living in the same town as Slinky. Just having her nearby made me feel like the world was less of its axis...on most days.

Ah, gosh, I miss Big City, U.S.A.

I miss the rabbi.

Why is it beyond poetic that I have insomnia in the middle of nowhere? Or that I have culture shock in the frozen food aisle?

It really is such a shame that I don't do drugs.

For the first time in my life, I'm getting a migraine at least once a week. Perhaps I should blame this on the fresh air of Upstate New York.

Now 5 am, and I somehow need to be fit enough to teach all day...in 5 hours.

Help. It seems that I am jet lagged in my own life.


Alan Ward said...

Old Irish saying:

"Take it easy, and if you cannot take it easy, take it as easy as you can."

I sometimes find wisdom in it.

Anonymous said...

When I asked one of my yoga teachers about a recent bout of insomnia I was suffering through, he told me to do the camel posture (ustrasana) for as long as I could before bed. Obviously, you won't be all that warmed up, so you'd have to be careful and ease into it, but he told me two long sets of that pose, and I'd be out.

I tried it that very night and, what do you know, I passed right out. Granted, I woke up a few hours later and tossed and turned, but still. I got a few hours.

And sometimes you just have to take what you can get, right?

Good luck!

Kim Ayres said...

Astral Projection.

Lie on your bed and try and focus on leaving your body and floating up by the ceiling.

Everytime I've ever tried it I've fallen asleep before success.

And on the offchance it works...

KassyK said...

I think we are living very very similar lives right now (except for the fact that you are more intelligent AND employed ;)). Next time you are up and I need an insomnia buddy, write me.


Brave Astronaut said...

You could have called. I was up until about 3:00. My insomnia is inconsistent, but I am sure is stress related as well.

What this latest bout with insomnia has done for me is proven that I am not as young as I used to be and that all-nighters in college cannot be replicated by a middle aged government employee.

Falling asleep in one's cubicle can lead to problems. I just have to remember that upon opening my eyes, and finding someone there, to say, "Amen." Then ask what I can do for them now that my [morning / afternoon] prayer is over. :)

Namaste said...

ah, these comments make me smile. it's so nice not to be alone. for the record, i need phone numbers. who knows, one of you may get a late night call from me. now wouldn't that be a hilarious blog post...

for the record, kassy, please don't overestimate my power to sound way smarter than i am.

hannah, yes, i am going to try camel pose tonight. that one was always a really tough one for me in the series. obviously something to do with the heart chakra.

kim--funny you should mention astral projection. i tend to do that in my waking hours...

and alan, we are so hanging out the next time i pass through france.

VJ said...

No drugs? Tylenol PM is just the poor substitute for the real thing or strong drink or good port m'dear. (Kim can sing you the 'Madeira song'). But listening to the BBC always did it for me, but their shortwave service has been cut back drastically. But before the net, that's what I'd be doing late at night when sleep would not come, listen to shortwave. The non medical options would also include watching C-Span (1 Or 2!) or listening to the talk radio options on XM. This is what people did before the Net, but now that we do have it, why not start researching something crazy. Like famous dirigibles we've known & loved. (Oh come now, you've never heard of the USS Los Angeles, ZR-3?) Eons of history, art& songs from the dawn of time it's all there to dip into and discover. It does tire you out quickly. Cheers & Fell better soon, 'VJ'

FemaleCSGradStudent said...

Poo the loss of anonymity in the small town. It's a terrible feeling (for me) to go to the grocery store and see 2 people I know every time. I hope that there is a big city refuge nearby for you.

Best of luck with sleeping.

Anonymous said...

do you ever experience "mental fog" in the morning after taking tylenol pm?

melatonin is a great sleep aid with no side affects. you may want to give it a try.

gratitude and acceptance also help relieve my stress. sleeping then becomes a cinch.

wishing you sweet dreams, nam.

VJ said...

You know I once had the 'anonymity in the small town', but living here for such a long time, I've lost it. People just know me. My local Congresscritter is the funniest in this regard. He knows he's well detested for his outlandish Rethuglican ways, and he sees me, and literally has fled in the other direction on more than once occasion. All I do is ask him questions, and not fall for his answers... But being well known in a small town means that they have your typical lunch order down pat at your various haunts around town, and they have it cooking by the time you sit down. That's reasonably well known!