03 May, 2010

When You Burn the Candle at Both Ends

My whole life I have been told that I "burn the candle at both ends", or I "run myself ragged" or, perhaps in my least graceful moments, I "run around like a chicken with its head cut off."

I do, absolutely, too many things in too little time, and yet most of the time I feel like I get nothing done at all.

When I was younger, as a manager for Gap, I would work both the 6:30am to 3:30pm shipment shift and the 12:30 to 9:30pm closing shift so I could cut payroll at my store. Working both shifts was not really possible (which did not mean it was discouraged). It meant that I did not take a lunch break,  a dinner break, and if I could swing it, a bathroom break from 10am to 7pm when the store was open. It was ugly. Looking back I can understand why I was thin and had headaches all the time. I lived on Diet Coke (only because Rockst*r wasn't sold yet), and Brachs starlight mints.

The best part of working that crazy day? I could schedule enough managers the next day so I could take a day off. That left me free, after I locked those doors at 9:30pm, to head straight to Larry Blake's, or Bottom of the Hill, or Hotel Utah, so I could dance from the band's introduction to the last notes of Picture Book Pretty. I will never be so in control of my life again; the only thing stopping me from doing whatever I wanted to do, was me. The only thing that held me back was an apparent need for a modicum of sleep. Damn that need for sleep.

Recalling all of this in a conversation with my friend Sage, I began to tell her of some the places I have
inappropriately fallen very, very, deeply asleep. Here are a few of my favorites

© BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons
The North Reading Room, Doe Memorial Library, Berkeley, CA
Contrary to popular belief I did study, several times, when I went to Cal. My favorite place to study was the North Reading Room in the main library. I think you get smarter when you walk in the door. It feels like you are in a movie about a great university whenever you plop down in one of those wooden chairs at the long heavy tables.  I fell asleep here once while highlighting a "reader". Remember those? $250 for a bunch of photocopies bound together with a plastic binding? I fell asleep with the lid off my bright orange highlighter, tip on the page and soaked through many, many, many, pages. It also leaked on to my arm. I also drooled. It was dark when I woke up.

AC transit bus / Wikimedia Commons
 An AC Transit bus Route 51
After an extremely grueling debutante tea I attended in San Francisco I decided that I could not walk back up the hill from BART, and took a bus for a mile and a half. I must have sat down and fallen straight asleep. When I awoke a short 8 blocks later, I was leaning on the entire right side of a 20-something rocker type with dreads coming off his head in a star Mohawk-type pattern, sporting a jacket made of safety pins and body odor.
I had to give away the suit I wore that day because I could not get the smell of that man off the sleeve of my nautical-inspired, kelly green jacket and navy skirt even after two trips to the dry cleaner. I am not sure that guy ever even noticed I was there, but I will never forget him.
A Nail Salon Chair
This actually happens quite often, but there was one time, during a period in our life when Jake was not sleeping at all that I decided to treat myself to a pedicure; if I couldn't have sleep I would at least have soft feet. I went to a small place that was stacked high with junk magazines. I sat down with a big stack of People and Cosmo and Us, and must have fallen asleep in mere moments. I woke up over an hour later, leaning to the left,  the stack of magazines scattered to the floor between the chair and the wall, my head lolling about over the side of the chair. My toes were pretty, and the young women were eating their lunch quietly so as not to wake me.

I was thinking about these, and all of the other places I fought my heavy eyelids,  because lately I've been that tired again. Jake has had migraines, or sleep disruption or something this week, and my worries are different now that he's older and gained more skill. It's been years since I really slept all night long unless I take Benedryl or something. I get out of bed a minimum of five times to check on the kids most nights. Jake's covers slide off of him, and if they get to the floor he can't coordinate all of that to get them off the floor and get cozy again, and without covers he is understandably cold, so he doesn't sleep well and our mornings are more rough. He's been out of bed and wandering this last week, and while we have gates and locks and all sorts of things to keep his little self safe, I cannot help but worry that one night he will gain just that much more skill and be able to unlock the front door; he would be gone forever. So any movement or sound that does not sound like my children sleeping has me out of bed and down the hall.

I am trying to figure out how we fence in our front yard with a six foot barrier without seeming to be unfriendly, and outside of the building codes which dictate that front fences be no higher than three or four feet (like a little white picket). It would be a great comfort to know that even if he did get out the front door there would another safeguard before the cars and a steep hill and perhaps I would be able to sleep with both eyes closed.
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