sleeping is for daytime

by isaac black

It’s 1:36 am on a Sunday night, and I have to leave my house some time around 7:40 in the morning to be at work on time. I woke up around 1:00 this afternoon, because I was up until 5:00 am last night reading–this was after I drove him around 2:00 am after passing out thirty minutes into a movie at a friend’s house.

I hate being tired at work, but I suppose there’s not a whole lot I can do about that tonight; because I’ve been hating going to bed since my teens I know when I’m tired enough to fall asleep, and I’m not quite there. Turning off the lights and kicking my covers around right now would be counterproductive; I would just mentally grind through problems I have no chance of solving before morning. I would think about how to make money being creative and how I’m going to ask out the girl I want to ask out this week. And why she doesn’t seem to like me more.

Even when I am tired enough to go to sleep, I often keep myself up by reading or writing or playing some mindless game on my stupid phone. Watching movies puts me to sleep, and playing guitar serves pretty well to clear my head, but I don’t use these strategies very often. Because I never feel like I’ve gotten to do everything I want to do with my day and preparing to go to sleep is throwing in the towel.

You’d think a life long Mormon and 30-year-old virgin who scrupulously observed his two-year mission rules about the 6:30 wakeup time and not listening to secular music at all (and only listening to religious music once a week… the fuck?) would have a little better understanding of the benefits of discipline and delayed gratification. But then there’s still very much in me the kid who frantically scribbled anxiety-riddled free verse about heartbreak in his teenage spiral-bound notebooks into the depressing hours of night/morning and there’s very much the couch potato from my father’s side who has an absolute talent for procrastinating until the last possible minute the things he most wants to accomplish (creating). Plus, being well-rested at work is just simply nothing to get excited about, at all.

Going to sleep doesn’t happen for me some days until I’ve made something I’m satisfied with, which is difficult seeing as how my major creative endeavor at the moment is a novel that I have no business working on, since I already have another novel in a state of 95% completion. But the reason this novel keeps me awake at night is because I can’t write the parts I’m most excited about yet because I haven’t entirely fleshed out the parts that lead up to them, and I’m not in a hurry to, because I’d rather slow-cook those parts than get myself to bed by 11:30 every night so I can reset coworkers’ email passwords without yawning or thinking about how I’m too tired to go to the gym over lunch.

I mentioned my teenage self (the notebooks and anxiety scribbling, etc.)… well, remember how you dreaded becoming old when you were a teenager, because old people were just unbearably annoying in how much they talked about boring, minute shit like dental insurance, how much “stress” they were under, and lawyer jokes? I still live in absolute terror of becoming “old.” It’s likely that I have something to prove, that even though falling on my back on a trampoline makes me achy, even though I’m considering buying a new car and trying to save up as much as possible for a down payment so my interest rate is lower, even though I have a Career staring me in the face (resetting coworkers’ email passwords), I am trying to stay up late doing something that “matters,” because eating dinner, watching The Office, folding your clothes and going to bed five nights a week is much too adult of a lifestyle for me to ever embrace.

This is partially ironic because my teenage years were tormented and dark. There is no rational reason why I should want to cling to any ideals that I held during these years. But college was the best time of my life. My friends and I would regularly stay up until 2:00 am cuz fuck it. It’s true that I was in the library a lot of nights until 8:00 pm (later during finals. Don’t second-guess my studiousness) writing papers, but I enjoyed it. And no matter what job I find myself doing that makes some other person money, I will not enjoy it. I will have to spend my free time reversing all the mental tasks I performed (resetting coworkers’ email passwords) in the service of making some other person more money. That’s in addition to commuting, making dinner, going shopping, folding my clothes, bathing myself, doing laundry, doing the dishes, and making my bed, which I never do anyway. That’s the thing, maybe–there just isn’t enough time in one day to do my job, take care of myself, and also do the things that make that routine bearable. So I stay up until whenever I feel like it on the weekdays and sleep until I’m stupid on the weekends. Which means I get three or four colds every winter. It means I’m a zombie most days at work.

I fall asleep nearly instantly with someone beside me, but that poor person has to endure my twitching. It’s not just romantic; I used to choose to share a room with my friends. Does that suggest that my sleeplessness ultimately has to do with loneliness? That my late night creativity is a conversation with a mirror? If so, that would mean there’s an immense chasm of loneliness in my soul that can never be filled.

But I don’t buy that theory.