Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Sleeping in Place

As we shelter in place, I see that many of my friends and online acquaintances are having trouble sleeping. And some are dealing with surges of depression and anxiety. My heart goes out to everyone in this. I go through periods of change in my sleep patterns, and, yes, I am in one now. My usual solution when I find myself awake in bed, and sense I am unlikely to go back to sleep, is to accept this and get up and go downstairs to read on the couch, where I fall asleep reading.

The new twist is that I may doze while reading on the couch, well before bedtime, and 1) just stay there or 2) go up to bed, find myself awake, and come back. This morning my husband greeted me with a kiss (ack! too close! social distancing! but we know we've already been too close and can't do anything about it now!) and the comment, "You are becoming one with that couch."

I arrange myself in various ways to 1) avoid a crick in the neck in the morning 2) have the bookmark fall into the right spot when I fall asleep and the book closes. Today I finished Rebecca Solnit's Recollections of My Nonexistence, which I wrote about yesterday. (Was it yesterday? I know I am not alone these days in losing track of what day it is.) I'm sure I'll share more about it, but this seemed particularly pertinent this morning:

So much of the work of writing happens when you are seemingly not working, made by that part of yourself you may not know and do not control, and when the work shows up like that your job is to get out of the way.

She describes my own experience of writing, and this also relates in a weird, funny way to my work-at-home situation. Generally, I worked in the morning at my library job and worked in the afternoon at home and on into the evening with my freelance writing and editing. There were clear distinctions in my day. Now it all folds together, alternating with physical tasks. I've structured things so I can keep track of actual hours for my "job job," and yesterday I worked too many hours, so today my "job is to get out of the way" for a bit!

Solnit was talking about the kind of writing that comes out quickly after a long time percolating:

The essay poured out with ease or rather tumbled out seemingly of its own accord. When this happens it means that the thoughts have long been gestating and writing is only a birth of what was already taking form out of sight.

OK, she used a birth metaphor, and I used an old-fashioned way of making coffee, but we understand each other, yes? This is a more rambling blog entry, I see. I have probably gotten way too far out of the way. Time to wake up and....

A big thank you to Bill Kemp, librarian at the McLean County Museum of History, for the photo of Abe Lincoln social distancing on a bench in front of the phrase "In this together." And a big thank you to the sidewalk chalkers!


Maureen said...

I have been reading this memoir, too. I love her writing. This one saddens me a bit, thinking about all she experienced as a child and young woman, what all too many of us who are female endure. She is remarkably feisty. Have you reached the place where she measures the waist of that skirt she's wearing in the cover photo?

Kathleen said...

Yes! Wow!