Lileks has such a way with words.
I used to sleep in until noon. Those were the carefree college days – or, more accurately, the carefree college days in which I had stopped going to classes. (A small but important distinction.) Oh, I had spent a few years getting up for early classes, sitting half-awake in dark rooms with a cup of cafeteria coffee until Prof. Canedy jolted everyone awake with another exceptional lecture on the miracles of Renaissance Art, but towards the end of my college career I took one afternoon class, wrote a lot, waited tables at night, played a lot of pinball, and argued over The World in a booth at the Valli after bar rush. I’d go home, listen to Larry King in the dark, drift off, and wake on the cold, shame-draped steps of Noon.
Boy, that evokes some shameful memories of my own. I was a world class sleeper in my youth. So was my sister. One summer when we were teens we were sleeping in. Both our parents were at work and our brothers had gone on an errand. But I wasn’t aware of any of that because I was sleeping the day away.
One of my brothers burst into our room telling us that there had been a wreck. Lucy and I ran outside (barefoot I am sure) to discover the little yellow Dodge Colt in the ditch. When my brother was turning right into the narrow driveway a taxi driver plowed right into them from behind, knocking the car in the ditch.
My brothers were unhurt but the car was totaled.
When the policeman arrived he immediately gave my teenaged brother the ticket, preferring to believe the foul-mouthed old taxi driver’s account. I saw red. The cop actually threatened to arrest me because I argued with him. Luckily, our father’s best friend, Pete Howard, the head of the art department at our local college, came to our rescue. He happened to be driving by and stopped to help. Mr. Howard’s calming words helped to settle me down.
My parents went to court over that ticket and eventually won. But it took several years.
I felt pretty weird about sleeping through all that commotion but continued to stay up too late and sleep in when I went to college. I learned to schedule my hardest classes in the afternoon. I couldn’t make the eight o’clocks. Dr. Doss, my Western Civilization professor, was hard to take even in the afternoons. She was an extreme feminist and anti-war advocate. She was also very boring. I remember the class laughing at her when she tried to rouse us up to demonstrate against the Vietnam War which was in its last days. She had a few true believers but most of us were offended by her rhetoric. Arkansas Tech University was never a hotbed of anti-war activism.
Sleeping after becoming a mother was quite a shock. My babies didn’t respect my sleeping habits at all. Things changed. I learned to take little catnaps when they were sleeping and to drink strong coffee. I remember asking my mother how she managed to sleep after having three babies in four years. She looked at me and laughed. “I didn’t. You just do what you have to do.”
So I did.
Moving all over the world produced a new phenomenon called jetlag. Another assault on my sleep. For a few years after we returned from Germany I still had problems sleeping. I would wake at 2:52 in the middle of the night and have trouble going back to sleep. It got really bad when I was working and had to face the day in a state of sleep deprivation. Sometimes the hour on my clock would be 3:27. Odd times.
I am sleeping in this week because it’s Spring Break.
Anyway, read Lileks. Every word is worth it.