Life n Times

My husband has been forcing me to stay up until 11:00 because he believes it will help with my middle-of-the-night insomnia. For the past week, when I start fading around 9:30 or 10:00 he starts his boot camp. “HONEY IT’S ONLY 9:30 IT’S NOT BEDTIME. HONEY TALK TO ME TELL ME A STORY.” I sit on the couch wrapped in a blanket nodding off again and again while he talks and prods me. Last night we passed the time by having a fight about the social responsibilities incumbent on documentary filmmakers. The moment the clock strikes eleven I am instantly in bed and asleep.

And guess what? IT’S WORKING. I’ve been sleeping through the night, like a little child innocent of guilt or worry. I’ve been sleeping from 11:00 to 5:30 or 6:00 like a NORMAL PERSON. It feels so good.

Actually while I give great credit to my old man for improving my lifestyle I must also say that this sleeping normally thing has coincided with me taking cannabis oil before bed, so possibly it is a combination of the two. Maybe tonight I will try just staying up til eleven and see which is the more powerful drug.

I have never been a night person, even in high school and college when everyone wants to rage all night. I have always been the person who goes to bed early and misses everything and then can’t find anyone to go to breakfast with her the next morning at 7:45 a.m. I sincerely believe sleep needs are deeply encoded into our souls; I know I could never be a night person. If I had a nighttime job I would have to become a drug addict, and I would just accept that.

But as the years have passed, it’s gotten so extreme. Around 9 p.m. (which is VERY EARLY) I start physically and mentally crumbling. I can only describe it as “shutting down,” like a robot running out of batteries in a movie, the voice getting slower and lower until it fades into silence. My eyes can’t stay open. My head droops. My body feels completely enervated, like every tiny spark of life has been sucked out of it. It feels like my blood is barely able to make it through a cycle of my veins. I just feel absolutely sapped. It feels totally non-negotiable, my exhaustion, it feels out of my control. Is this normal? Do I have a mineral deficiency or is this just middle age? Also, is this how nighttime people feel when they have to get up early??? Awful. I pop out of bed like a damn jack in the box, no matter the hour

It’s true and unfair that our culture privileges morning people and not nighttime people. I respect that fact.

We are having a strange spring here, where it just keeps snowing. It’ll snow, immediately melt, the next day you’ll go out without a coat and sniff some daffodils, then it snows again that night. Culturally, it’s a real “once is funny, twice is silly, three times is a spanking” situation; yesterday yet again it started snowing during a meeting and someone looked out the window and went “oh what the HELL.” They aren’t big snows, just dustings—nothing like the famous April Fool’s Day blizzard of 1997 where abruptly 3 feet of snow plopped out of the sky and the power was out for days and society basically ground to a halt—but still. Maybe this means the summer won’t be so disgustingly hot? My fantasy weather predictions.

The weather guy in our local paper is so cool. He writes a weekly column about what to expect from the weather in the near future, but it’s pretty unhelpful, literally he’ll be like “will it snow? Don’t ask me!” or he’ll say “the National Weather Service says it’s going to rain tonight but I call that fishy! I bet it’ll all stay out on the Cape” Then when it does rain, in his next column he’s like “well that was a big ‘mea culpa’ for old yours truly last Tuesday, boy what a soaking we got!” Half his column is usually devoted to a stream-of-consciousness ramble through various topics, often the famous April Fool’s Day blizzard of 1997, but other times just stuff that pops into his head, like if we have an unusually warm day he’ll talk about a new grill he bought and then he’ll start reminisicing about summer barbecues of his youth. He loves warm weather and hates the winter and all precipitation, so his column also assumes a certain perspective on behalf of his reader; according to him, we all are longing for 90 degree days so we can sit by the pool with a cold lite beer. He rules.

Our local paper is a source of joy. It’s locally owned and has been continuously operated since 1792, when it was called The Impartial Intelligencer. It’s still locally-owned and edited, and comes out DAILY, such an increasing rarity these days! It doesn’t even run that much AP stuff, it’s mostly local reporting. It’s awesome. And the front page photo is always something like “look at these horses standing out in the fog, isn’t it nice” or like “here’s a local baby eating an ice cream cone.” 90% of front page photos involve local dogs. Anyway if you live in a smallish town that has a locally- or at least regionally-owned newspaper, subscribe to it! We’ve learned so much about our community and gone to so many weird events we’d never have heard of otherwise. It’s so fun to follow the town council meetings and learn about the specific issues the town is dealing with. These epic conflicts that go on for months and are so incredibly local. The controversy over the state releasing a bunch of endangered rattlesnakes onto an island where people like to go hiking; what to do with the old Northfield school once it closes; intense reporting on the maple syrupping season and how it’s being affected by climate change. What to do with turnips. Sometimes we see the columnists around town and it’s like seeing a celebrity. The copy editing is very bad but that’s what you get.

There are also all these local characters who write letters to the editor constantly—based on how many get published, I can not even imagine the number these people must actually write—sniping at each other and playing their established roles. Some of them are Upstanding Citizens writing to support the nurses’ strike or chastise the community for letting the very shitty bookstore go out of business. Some of them are Liberal Educators who write in with carefully sourced explanations of why it matters that the nuclear power plant be closed properly or how immigrants boost the economy and that’s why we should support them. There is one Gentle Weirdo who writes in regularly, and his letters are almost exclusively about obeying traffic laws. All his letters open with epic statements like “The U.S.A. began in 1776” but then somehow the entire letter is really about stop signs. But my favorite letter-writers are the Local Maniacs, who submit the classic rambling rants that somehow touch on gun control, communism, China, Kim Kardashian, the Scripture, hippies, rap music, Elon Musk, our town council vice president, and some totally obscure federal ruling from 1996 that you’ve never heard of but that is probably something Fox News is shrieking about right now. There’s one particular Local Maniac who is my favorite, his name is Noel, and over the course of the past year I have half-jokingly started worrying about him, because he was one of those triumphalist Trump guys, always writing in like DONALD TRUMP IS DRAINING THE SWAMP, but then he got really pissed about Trump’s immigration policies (!) and also specifically was shocked and devastated by Trump’s refusal to help the people of Puerto Rico after the hurricane. And so now his letters vacillate between his old chest-puffing routine and these sort of sad, tentative letters that are like “I don’t know what is happening. I don’t know what to think anymore.” Like in the letters you see this sort of shuffling creeping toward some sort of realization, like he actually does care about his fellow community members but doesn’t understand how capitalism and structural racism and all that impacts people’s lives but he kind of sometimes can sort of see it and it concerns and bothers him because he knows the Democrats suck, which to be fair is largely true, and he knows he loves Trump, but then sometimes what Trump says and does doesn’t seem to match his supposed greatness and this bothers him; lately he just seems so sad and confused, and aware that he’s confused. Which I feel is a pretty legitimate stance these days, lord knows I feel that way a lot of the time too. And also it’s so interesting to think of using the local paper’s letters to the editor section to work out your personal feelings about geopolitics. We’ve developed a theory that he lives in this house we drive past every day on our commute, which is a super depressing prefab unit right on the highway that always has a wide array of “crazy right wing” signifiers in front, and they rotate constantly, sometimes it’s an enormous hand-made wooden sign about Trump, but then for long periods the sign will be replaced by a row of full-size flags on poles, consisting of the flags of countries that are currently allies of America and one lone Don’t Tread on Me flag. I’ve decided this is Noel’s house and we talk about him every time we pass it. At one point all the flags and signs were replaced by a big sign saying “ROOM FOR RENT,” can you imagine. And now the house is FOR SALE, and there are no signs at all out front! NOEL! ARE YOU OKAY. He hasn’t mentioned moving in any of his recent letters so maybe this isn’t his house after all.

Sometimes the paper also runs “Corrections” to mistakes made in previous stories. One time the correction read: “Catholicism was predated by other world religions. Saturday’s editorial incorrectly stated otherwise.”

This suddenly reminds me of when I was TAing a class on sacred music and one of the midterm questions was “which religion was created in 1875 by Madame Blavatsky” and a student non-sarcastically wrote “Catholicism.” God bless

I have still not finished any of the books I mentioned a few entries ago, and instead have additionally read a totally different book, INDEPENDENT PEOPLE by Halldor Laxness, Iceland’s greatest author. I can not recommend it highly enough. Actually I think one of you people recommended it to me in the first place—whoever you are, thank you, I did love it so much. More book recommendations please.

Four weeks of school left. Very excited to start my summer work, which includes a lot of article revisions but also things like pickling and canning. Here are some of my plans:
-can 20 quarts of tomatoes
-can 4 quarts of dilly beans and 2 quarts of asparagus
-more pickles
-few cans of peaches: labor intensive but pretty worth it come January
-make some blueberry jam with berries from our bush, why haven’t I been doing this
-freeze 20 cubes of basic and 10 of pesto
-make my own tomato paste and freeze it
-can twice as much salsa as last year (10 pints)
-freeze twice as many pot pies and a couple whole peach pies
-freeze corn on the cob (has anyone done this? Can you cook it and eat it off the cob and it tastes okay?)
-freeze green beans without blanching them because someone on the internet says you can do it this way
-another round of cider (I keep forgetting we have cider in the basement, which we’ll bottle probably in August), this time remember to bring carbuoy to the orchard instead of buying all the raw cider in fucking plastic jugs, you piece of shit idiot (me)
-dry tomatoes and apples

I also want to re-organize the pantry, which turns into a hideous junk room no matter what I do. Oddly enough this is my husband’s fault, whereas anything junky in the rest of the house is usually my fault. He persists in keeping weird old dirty plastic tubs and work gloves and dead batteries and old twists of wire and bags of birdseed in there. WE HAVE A SHED. Also want to clean off our back porch which is very junky. And defrost the chest freezer. And repot all the houseplants. And this year I swear to myself that I will wash the windows again; it’s a huge job but you’re so glad you did it. I also HAVE to wash the storm windows in the fall, this was a big regret this year. Staring through the filth of my laziness all winter. And I want to go camping, and go to Cape Cod, and exercise more, and write a bestselling novel that gets optioned by Universal for a million dollars, and become fluent in French, and figure out what to do with my hair.

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3 Responses to Life n Times

  1. elizabeth says:

    I have thought about the grandma’s very special earpick in Independent People at least once a month for the past 15 years.

    • Yours Truly says:

      Only using it at Christmas!!!!!!! And then she gives it to the America-bound grandson, knowing she’ll never see him/it again!!!

  2. dv says:

    “Also, is this how nighttime people feel when they have to get up early???”

    Yes, I feel physically ill and much like I’m trying to boot up that robot with 10% battery and it’s lurching and stumbling. I also feel super grumpy that the universe has done this to me, and usually that lasts all day unless I get a nap.

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