I don’t sleep much at night. I think it runs in my family. I have childhood memories of waking randomly in the middle of the night to find my mother dusting, or in the kitchen baking something, or cleaning or going through her stacks of magazines. She was definitely not a sleeper; she’d look at me and say, “Oh, did I wake you?” I don’t remember if she did or not, and I usually went back to bed pretty soon, but those memories of waking and finding her up are implanted in my brain forever. My grandfather -my mother’s father- didn’t seem to be much of a sleeper either. He and my grandmother lived next door to us and I was at their house all the time. I seem to remember him talking a lot about being up at all hours of the night and early morning to make bread or start some sort of project for the day. I went to visit them once at their Florida house when I was in my mid 20’s. I was sleeping on the couch in their open concept living room and woke to him rummaging through the kitchen cupboards at 3 AM. I got up & said “good morning grandpa.” His response: “good morning Mabel (his favorite nickname for me), what would you like for supper tonight? I’m trying to decide what to make. I can make some nice chicken, or I can make a nice meat sauce for spaghetti or we can have a nice meatloaf.” (He used the word nice a lot when referring to his cooking). -Do you think I even bothered to question the fact that he was asking me about dinner, which was still 15 hours away? No, I did not, because I knew how he worked. I thought about it and said “I haven’t had meatloaf for a long time, lets have that.” He smiled his big grandpa smile & said “oh yeah… we’ll have a nice meatloaf!” I smiled & lay back down on the couch to go back to sleep. He pulled the ground beef out of the fridge and started chopping an onion.
Yes, I think I come from a line of night owls. For me, it’s been an off and on occurrence that seems to be more common with each year that passes. I have many memories from my junior high years of sleeping so soundly through the night, that I would wake in the morning in the exact same position I fell asleep in the night before, sheets barely moved, nothing disheveled in my bed. I would wake thinking to myself “did I even move at all last night?” Around high school seems to be when my sleep patterns started changing. At first it was just dotted nights of sleeplessness usually brought on by extreme anxiety; a test I had the next day, a big basketball game against a rival team, something stressful going on with one of my friends. I learned pretty quickly however, that my body (and mind) would sleep when they were ready, and if they weren’t ready, it was absolutely no use in fighting or stressing about it.
Now the sleepless nights are a more normal part of my life. I still don’t generally stress about it. I know it always works itself out. The problem is, finding something to do during those hours.
There are nights when I just turn on the T.V. to a random movie or late night comedy show. Sometimes I read. On rare occasion (around holidays or special event) I will cook, but that is more of a nostalgia thing that I have attached to the special memories mentioned at the beginning.
If I’m trying to fall back asleep, one of my favorite things to do is listen to a This American Life podcast. I love the stories from that show; I love that I can lay in bed with my eyes closed and listen to whichever topic Ira Glass has chosen for that week. Sometimes I fall asleep, sometimes I don’t, but if I don’t, I’m being entertained and probably learning something too.
When I was in my teens & 20’s I used to sketch (artistic talent acquired from both my mother and father’s genes). Often times I would write poetry (inspired by EE Cummings, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Jim Morrison. –Yes I did just group Jim in with Edward & Ralph! –Read his book, Wilderness & you’ll understand why).
Now I’m more inspired to pull out the computer & start writing, or go outside & take photos of the night scenes. This new photography inspiration was brought on by my Olympus TG1 camera that I recently bought, which was purchased primarily for the great reviews it got concerning underwater photo clarity. I have recently discovered it takes not-so-bad night shots too! Hopefully that will improve as I figure out more of the settings and dig out a tripod that I know is somewhere around here.
I’v begun what I like to call the Sleepless in St. Barth Overnight Photography Sessions. Members: 1.
Now that I’ve found a new outlet for my sleeplessness, I’m sure you all will be reading more posts and seeing more pics about it here.