As I’ve aged, I’ve learned a few things about what makes me happy and how my body and brain work. For instance, while I can still happily inhale piles of barbecued pork and sauced carbohydrates, food is actually fuel that gives me energy and keeps my blood pressure in the not-even-concerned range. Also, documentaries and books are far better for my intellect and curiosity than daylong marathons of the Maury show that I love so much (because there are few things more satisfying than watching single mothers lose their shit after someone yells “You ARE the father!”). Lastly, I’ve learned that sleep isn’t just an inconvenience or a way to ride out a hangover, it’s a necessary phase to heal and recharge, and without it, I’m pretty much useless.
Of these lessons, some are easier to control than others. I still eat garbage sometimes, but as an employed person with disposable income, I’ve chosen to spend more of my money on whole ingredients and stuff my food with as many nutrients as possible. Somewhat related, while much of that disposable income comes from not having kids, some is the result of not paying for cable, which gives us more money for the Internet and literature. Sleep is the most difficult lesson to control, though, and it’s also the most difficult to make other people understand.
For every person who brags about sleeping until late afternoon on the weekends, there is a whole set of other people who can’t understand why I want to be asleep by 10pm when I’ve got to be up at 5am the next day. Which is, um, every day, because that’s what it takes for me to earn a paycheck. I sort of get why they act like I’m missing out by going to bed early. I mean, I am missing out on some stuff. Shows. Hijinks. Camaraderie. Not many of those things happen early in the evening.
But I know how much sleep I need to function the next day, and I know the difference between “a little bit tired” and “so fucking exhausted that I can’t think.” I don’t need and never get a full eight hours on weekdays, but anything less than five and I spend the next day at work in a fog of confusion, irritability, and nausea. You don’t react to fatigue that way? Fine. Congratulations. I wish I could function at your level. But I can’t, and I know this, and that’s why my ideal weekday evening is me in bed with a book at 9pm.
Last night I was asleep by eight. I’d gotten maybe two and a half hours of sleep the night before after seeing the entire Screwtape Mixtape/French Letters acoustic set, which was worth it because a) they’re my friends and b) they’re terrific but also c) oh my god I was tired. I considered calling into work but I didn’t because I’m responsible or some shit, so I trudged there and looked like I’d been punched in the face, and then I trudged home and felt like weeping when I looked at my bed and imagined curling up in it.
And I curled up in it like a motherfucker. I slept for eleven fucking hours and shot out of bed this morning feeling rested, refreshed, and happy to be alive. And because it’s Saturday, I might be able to take a nap later and hang out with my friends tonight. Some people can allow themselves to be tired, but I’m far better as a human being when I’m allowed to sleep.
For most of today, I’m going to stay in my pajamas. I’ll maybe take a nap later, definitely make some chicken stock, and finally do the damn dishes that have taken over the house because even when I’m allowed to sleep the way I want, I’m still really super lazy and not as affected as I should be by living in my own filth.