sleep and sleeplessness: a confession

I one time escaped the escalating fear of insomnia by dunking my head in a vat of empty calories. It was difficult to get up in the morning, either way. So I suppose I’m something of a control freak. Though the logic of taking control of your disposition by endulging in alcohol is more than a little flawed.

Today, I am testing my capacities as I go. Instead of setting aside time for the desired effect, I am checking on the effects of time. It may be I have realized that deep down I’m not a bad or incapable person, so I haven’t as much to fear from the lack of sleep. Or maybe I just got tired of all of the stupid things I did when I was drunk.

I learned while I was at Newz Group, that I am capable of a 60 hour work week. I made a lot of money. But it made me miserable, and I drank a fair portion of the money that I made. I still remember the awful, monotonous dreams of computer screens and news print. Only to wake up and find myself staring at the real things again. Terrible.

Now, I am doing my best to work as many substitute teaching jobs and as many Waldmart shifts as I can in a week. So some days I’m working more than 12 hours. I’m not getting a lot of sleep, but occassionally I get a day to sleep in, and then the sleep I get is magnificent.

No serious sleepy stumbles: I haven’t sworn at any children while subbing, and I haven’t… Well, there isn’t much I could screw up at Walmart. I don’t even feel like my mood has been adversely affected. My mood fluctuates semi-arbitrarily no matter how much sleep I get.

There are two reasons for wanting to work so much. Both have to do with biking…

First, I want to make money. Though really ‘money’ is just a euphemism, or a place holder, for what I really want. I want to get back on the bike and travel again. I am planning a ride up the East Coast, starting mid-May in the Florida Keys, and ending mid-July in Bar Harbor, Maine. I also want to have enough money saved to get an apartment on my return. As I’ve said, I’m not making nearly as much money as I was at Newz Group, but bike touring is a pretty cheap way to travel (once you’ve broken your
hotel habit), so this really isn’t a huge sum of money. I’ve created a spreadsheet that tallies up my forseeable expenses (rent–that’s right, I pay rent at mom’s house; I buy and cook my own food, and do housework too–phone bill, student loan payment, train tickets, etc), and allows me to keep track of all of my spending. I know exactly how much I’ve spent on food and booze since I got back from DC: they’re two separate categories on the spreadsheet.

Second, I am trying to reproduce the sweet sense of exhaustion I felt while I was traveling. To be absolutely exhausted can be a wonderful feeling. I didn’t know this until I started cycling long distances. To fill your day with physical activity and then rest in the evening is delicious. Walmart is a poor substitute for the ample sunshine and fresh air of daily bike travel, but when I go to a new school and meet and spend time with a new set of kids from one day to the next, and work a shift at the Walled Mart too, the day is long, and I am tired. It’s not absolute exhaustion, but it’s vaguely reminiscent of it, and I’ll take what I can get.

It’s better than the alternative.


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