Author: Cornish, Rick

Shift-Sleeping
 

Two seventeen a.m., for the past six months or so my new start time, give or take an hour, which is followed by five or six hours of the most deliciously peaceful reading and writing time, then by a shower, a little breakfast, work somewhere on the six acres, then lunch and finally my second sleep shift of the day, which amounts usually to sixty to ninety minutes. This is the lemonade I concocted on the advice of my wife, who, in extreme exasperation advised me back in December to “just learn to deal with it, make something good out of it, until it goes away.” “Because, really,” I remember her adding as an afterthought, “you don’t have a lot of other options. You can continue to suffer with insomnia and, as is your nature, make sure that everyone suffers along with you, or you can just, you know, adopt a new schedule for a while.” Interestingly, my doctor had just a few days before given me the same advice. She told me we could continue to experiment with stronger and stronger sleep aides or I could just simply “sleep when the spirit moves me”, which, as it turns out is more or less the same every day; hence my new shift-sleeping regime.

Actually, I was amazed at how quickly I fell into it. Early mornings have always been my most productive hours, and routinizing this quirk into my daily cycle began paying dividends almost immediately. I started getting more accomplished…in front of my computer for the several hours before normal life begins here at Whiskey Creek…and in my shop or garden or wherever something was waiting to be fixed, replaced or weed-whacked. And then, what I’d describe as my elective time, the hours between awakening from my nap and beginning to cook the evening meal, are given over to whatever I damned well feel like doing.

The first hour or so I use to come gradually out of my sleep state with the help of strong coffee and the Internet. I read the email in my three accounts, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, get briefed at my five or six favorite newsy web sites…crazy Putin, KGB head-turned-Czar and stuntman; crazier Congress (both houses, both sides of the aisle, and ALL THE TIME); the roller-coaster of a national economy we continue to ride; and, without fail, the inevitable day’s pronouncement of what the new normal is, (which, if you stop to think about it, can’t really be normalif it’s changing everyday…then, with giant coffee mug, great extravagance and not a trace of guilt or self-condemnation, I wade into Facebook for a second, closer-to-home briefing…Nate Schwartz ruminates on leaving for UCLA tomorrow; Snap J. recommends a beautiful movie (The Illusionist); George Martin explains how to make dandelion soup tolerable by drowning it in copious amounts of Vietnamese garlic-chili sauce). In all I spend about an hour just taking it all in; everything from the newest evidence that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is dusting off his stock pile of deadly gas canisters to what’s on the itinerary of an old high school friend who’s lucky enough to be in New Zealand on vacation.

Then it’s time to bring cbaontheweb.org into step with the new day, a job that can take anywhere from an hour to three. First the Welcome column…a fifteen minute task unless it’s my turn to write, in which case I’ll spend sixty to ninety minutes, e.g., what I’m doing this very moment…then the creating of news items and the setting of their rotation, (I do three, Mark Peet does two, bless him)…construction of the day’s “COMING ATTRACTIONS” section half-way down the splash page, which, if I allowed it, could take the entire morning…the careful, hawk-eyed review of the day’s Mold News, the always potentially explosive ramblings of a mad man which is never in my inbox when I retire each night but which, alas, is always there when I awake, no matter how early…the re-setting of the pages masthead, (I know, you’ve never even noticed the damned thing gets changed every day), and…well, I could go on, but I won’t. (You would think that after thirteen years of “freshening” the CBA’s web site every day I would have by now found a way to streamline the process, but you’d be wrong.)

Usually by 5:00 a.m. I’m able to start on my real work, whatever it might be. During this past winter it was writing stories for my second collection of short fiction; then it was doing a contract writing job, a white paper on the history of the American energy management industry, which was delayed for about a month of super-intense button making, a self-imposed project I needed like a hole in the head but which netted the Association $535 for a re-vamp of our web site. Now, with the white paper out of my hair, I’m back to round two of buttons, the idea being that we’ll try to sell buttons here on the web site until we have enough dough to hire a .net programmer to do a major overhaul.

Oh, one important aspect of the shift-sleeping program I failed to mention; each morning, regardless of when I arise, Eddy, oldest and most loyal of our pack, drags himself into the kitchen to watch me put the coffee on and then follows me into the study where he waits for the last little nibble of my banana and almond-flour muffin before falling back to sleep, usually with my bare feet serving as his pillow.

Okay, so that’s it; 4:56 a.m. You’ve seen it all now, haven’t you? One thousand, two hundred and thirty-four words about absolutely nothing. Of course many of you won’t get to this, the last paragraph of the day’s Welcome, to even know how much time you’ve wasted,,,which, if you haven’t read this far, you haven’t really wasted. So have a good week. Stay cool and see if you can’t play or at least listen to some bluegrass or old time music this week.

 
Posted:  7/29/2013



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