A Bedtime Dilemma

I’d like to get to bed early, but I don’t think I ate enough today to sleep through the night. I used to eat a lot of food before I would sleep. But now if I do that I sometimes get acid reflux, and it can wake me up too.
One solution is to eat, wait, and sleep. But then my bedtime goes much later, and I lose the beginning of the next day. I used to try to wake up early, but I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep on time. No matter what schedule I started a week with, I would soon be falling asleep at five and waking up at one.
I hate the feeling of not having slept enough. Having been awake too long is a nice feeling, and I create some of my best work when it’s late at night. But having woken up without being rested enough is awful – the day will at best be pockets of engagement with long spans of distracted states, and low-energy lulls. So sleeping late seems to be the natural solution.
I like the feeling of having gone to bed early; I enjoy having a long morning, I like feeling well-rested. I want to get as much sunlight as I can. But I am often unable to sleep early. I feel too active, or potentially active, or I have things to do that I have not taken care of, or things on my mind, or I’m not hydrated enough, or haven’t eaten enough. So it never comes to be.
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
My problems could all be solved by a few simple principles: eat enough to expend enough energy, expend enough energy to sleep later, eat enough to recover, and eat early enough to wind down afterwards. I have several sets of principles that I always regret violating. Some day I’ll right them now. But now it will be an unsuccessful attempt to sleep.
I thought I was on the way to sleeping early. I wondered what I would do until I fell asleep; soon, it was late, and now, I’m trying to get to sleep on time. I repeat this pattern with all sorts of resources: Begin surprised at my wealth, wonder how I’ll spend it -> hesitate, either spending it well or feeling it dwindle regardless -> end in poverty. It happens most often with time, but also with other things. There’s a moment of freezing, of indecisiveness, at the beginning, when faced with too many options. And there’s an inability to escape that initial feeling until it’s too late.

When I start out with not enough of something, I sometimes find later that I have a surplus.


Time Ran Out

I started this weekend with plenty of things to do, thinking I would have time for all of them. I did very few.

This sentence could be written many weekends; I don’t know if there are more weekends in my life this would be true or would not be true.

There must have been some days when I did more than I expected; if so, I should adjust my expectations until such days sometimes occur.

A New Place, a New Time

I visited my grandparents today in what is now their fully furnished apartment. I had been there before they moved in, at night when the apartment was empty. I saw that there was a lot of space, and that there were a lot of windows. Today I visited them in the daytime; all the furniture was moved in, and the daylight was shining in. I was amazed at how much it looked like their old home in Texas; how quickly the associations came back, and how much a glance at the home conjured some of the same effects. They’re in a corner apartment on the fifth story of a unit of an assisted care facility in Washington, D.C.; their old home was a one-story house surrounded by a grass and live oaks at the corner of two streets in Austin, Texas. It’s strange seeing a piece of one place spliced into new surroundings; it’s surreal, comforting, and exciting.

Home With the Family

Today I did the things I said I would do yesterday.

I went to the Washington Nationals playoff game today with my family. We sat together in great seats. The Nationals lost, which was a big disappointment, since they’re a great team and I had been very excited about the possibility.

Afterwards I went to Kol Nidre services with my grandparents. It was very meaningful for my grandfather, though my grandmother is more skeptical of religious services. I’m much closer to her view on these things, but I also don’t want to leave my grandfather behind. He’s older, and can’t remember a lot of things anymore. I used to be very close with my grandfather, even when I had trouble getting along with my parents, and it’s especially hard for me now to know that he’s so often not there.

My father is the one doing the most to take care of his parents. It’s very hard for him, watching his father get old. It’s hard for me watching him watch his father get old, and knowing that he is getting older too. Aging and death are very tough, and they really aren’t okay, but they happen. My brother and I are getting older. My family has great times together – we get along really well – but we’re very aware of the lack of eternity of things, and we don’t speak about it much. My brother and I were just talking about it, and it’s very scary. The only thing to do, really, is try to get into moments, try to develop some depth while you still can, try to find some bigger things to identify with so the totality of loss of softened. But really mortality is very hard.

There are so many things that are tough about it. It’s tough to lose people, but even tougher is thinking about how complete their loss is, and even tougher than that is that it happens to all of us. It’s weird, but true that that is the hardest part, even when we care deeply about other people. When things start getting peeled back, the self is very persistent. But because you have to recognize how small that self is in anyone else’s world, the thing to think about when anyone else is going through anything is them. That wouldn’t be true if it weren’t assumed that their self was their center.
My friend Curtis studied Akkadian in school, and read Gilgamesh in the original language. We were talking about the myth, and he mentioned that one of the best parts is how Gilgamesh is mourning his friend Enkidu, and is very sad to lose his friend, but the biggest reason he’s really sad is that he starts thinking about the fact that he too will die. We started laughing, and part of it is laughing at Gilgamesh, the nakedness of his little selfish action, the contrast to the bigness of the character and his heroism. But also because it seems very true, and it stands in contrast to what we sometimes pretend.
Around a lot of people, especially my friend, I like to joke and laugh about mortality, which I find terrifying and hilarious, because all of life is kind of in contrast to and denial of this fact. Around my family, I never joke about these things, or talk about them. I don’t know if it would hurt too much, or what. It doesn’t feel natural to our dynamic. Part of it, maybe, is that we know it, and recognize it, and we know that we all consider it independently, and have privately concluded that the only sane reaction is diving back into existence, creating moments and connections, enhancing the value of what little life we all have. So to not talk about it is to recognize that we all know it, that we are already acting in that knowledge.
If it is not that, I don’t think I want to find out. My family is a place I feel comfortable, and safe, but I feel greater boldness outside it. I wonder if there’s something about love and comfort that breeds cowardice. I wonder if there’s something about having love and comfort that allows boldness outside it. Do we need both kinds of spaces?
The world is an amazing and wondrous place, and the limits of our existence seem cold in contrast.

More Exhaustion; Retiring too Late; Failure to Articulate the Structure of Reality

Today I woke up and packed my stuff to go to D.C. for the weekend. The Washington Nationals are in the playoffs, and I’m going to watch the first two games. I’m also going to visit with my parents, grandparents, and brother. It also happens to be Yom Kippur. I’m not religious at this age, but my grandfather has become more conscious of religion in his old age, and it will make him happy if I attend services with him.

Then I had a 3-hour rehearsal with my sketch team, and a brief planning session I afterwards.

Then got on the bus and began to write. I had some brief rewrites of sketches, which took a few minutes. But I’m also planning on teaching sketch classes, and I tried to write out some syllabi. It’s very hard; I’m trying to summarize abstract concepts that mean a lot to me, in readable, digestible ways. And before I summarize them, I start thinking about them, and the field of writing is so vast and abstract that it’s easy to get lost in thought. That doesn’t make it any easier to come up with concise summaries.

In general, I find writing about myself and things I think a lot about to be hard, especially if I do it directly. It is much easier to write about small things, and to bring my self and thoughts into them.

In general, I find it hard to express things adequately; more precisely find it impossible to express thing adequately, and hard to tolerate my inadequate expression of those things.

And you see now why the writing derailed me. Or do you? (The theoretical “you,” the you I imagine when writing this, although it is altogether possible, even probable, that the “you” will never manifest itself as a real person). Have I expressed that adequately?

Anyway, I did not finish writing the syllabi. I searched my computer for some samples of fiction writing to send to a friend to try to get into a fiction-writing group. I typed an email to the friend telling him what samples I was sending, and then tried to upload them. The wireless on the bus was too slow, and my browser crashed, so the email was lost.

Then I read a few good articles in the New York Review of books. The best one was about the foolishness of thinking about information without reference to consciousness. I think about this a lot, that the rational structure of the world, while very useful to analyze, is meaningless without sentiment, that the basis of our thoughts is emotional, that our intellectual functions are built over feeling. I don’t know how to articulate it, but what I do know is that the articulation will not, cannot, be equal to the thought.

I got home, and got picked up by my parents. We talked for a while, and then they went to bed. I tried to work, and got a little done, but I was running out steam, and time has dragged on. If I were fully alert, I could have done all of the work (writing, emailing, etc.) that I did in the past two hours in half an hour. I have been awake for too long; but there is more I have to do before I can feel good and sleep.

Things are good, but I need my rest.

The Weight of Promises

Earlier in September, I was talking with a friend, and he told me about National Sketch Writing Month (NaSkeWriMo). The idea was to write 30 comedy sketches during the month of September. I told him that I would write 30 during the last 30 hours. I ended up doing 37 during the last 24, although it’s really 36, or maybe really 33, depending on how you count. And during those 24 hours I slept and had a long meeting and rehearsal with my sketch team. So I think I did what I said I would do, and more.

The sketches were often just a spewing of words, but I knew that would be the case.

I sometimes have lots of trouble writing, because I find whatever I’m writing to be inadequate, and I don’t want to write down a version that seems to be such a poor reflection of what I mean it to be. Deadlines were always good counterweights, and I wrote my first fiction stories that way. I have begun to set more of my own deadlines, make bold promises I know I can keep but that I know would never be done if they were not promises.

It’s a strange human thing, to make things so by declaration. I would explore it more, and I should. But I need to go to sleep. I have promised that I would write every day, and I have fulfilled that promise. There is plenty to explore: whether doing something just to keep word it is a fulfillment of the word, what purpose is served by that background, what the goal is when you promise to do something, and more. But for now, I must sleep.
This is the second variation on National Novel Writing Month that I’ve participated in; the first was NaNoGenMo; I made a simple computer program that could generate a “novel.”

I’ve told myself a few times that I should learn programming; it’s fun in some phases, and amazingly stimulating, and I can learn it quickly. But I can lock into it, in a sort of addictive way that separates me from the world, that can manifest as an obsession. And at other times, there are all kinds of hassles associated with it; tedious tasks, opaque errors between programs I can’t control.

But mainly, there are too many other things I want to do instead.

If I could be paid to learn to program, I might do that and have a new job. But right now, I would feel the time draining away from me, I’d start to worry about what I was losing while I was programming.

Kris Kristofferson sang “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” and it’s a sentiment that resonates deeply with how things often feel. When I feel like my time is useful, it’s hard to spend time on things.

It’s strange that we can feel interference from too many good ways to spend time, too many good things to do.

When I feel like things matter and I’m not thinking about how much time they take, I feel better. This is how I often feel.
Write this some day: A story of someone always cursed to look at what what he’s doing looks like from the outside, so he can never be present in what it is he’s doing. But I mean to say “try to write this some day.” I can’t promise I will. I have countless ideas of things I’d like to articulate through writing, and I have no way to say them. I wish I could even find a good articulation of how it feels to be inarticulate.
Sleep, for now.

An Exploding Bottle

Today a bottle exploded in my room. There was a loud pop, a high pitched whine and ringing sound, and the crinkling of glass. There was beer all over the floor, and glass lots of places. One big shard was stuck in the ceiling.

The bottle was a 40 oz bottle of Budweiser that I had gotten as a birthday gift from a friend. We were outside in a park, there were a lot of different things to drink, and I don’t drink much anyway, so I ended up only having some of it and resealing it. It was on the floor, exposed to the sun, for about a week, and the pressure must have built up too high.

I haven’t fully dealt with it, yet. There is still glass a lot of places. But I have other things to do. One thing I fear most from disasters is the derailment of my other plans.