The news mentioned a series of studies done with teenagers recently on their sleep patterns. Seems the genetic code itself is programmed to keep them up late at night before letting them sleep for at least nine hours or so into the morning. I don't remember having problems with sleep in high school, but college was another matter. I would arrange my first class of the day to start after one in the afternoon, getting myself up and out of bed before lunch.
I had nightmares for years wandering lost in one of the campus buildings, disoriented, late for a class located somewhere, I thought, just down the hall. I was late, yes, but I was filled with dread because I'd overslept and missed this particular class every morning since the beginning of the quarter and when I finally found the classroom, it was empty. They'd moved to another location. Lock, stock and blackboard. The classroom was empty, the building was empty and I was running on empty and dreaming.
College was not a long cool drink of water. I went overboard, filling every minute with a blizzard of shit so I couldn't, I now suspect, take a minute to think, to ask: "what in the fuck am I doing?", a pattern that repeated itself later. I think of it now as a way to gallop along without reason, to arrange events in a way that failure seemed certain for reasons I've never quite understood. In my sophomore year I founded a humor magazine at the University of Washington, littering my schedule with too many classes and late night paste up sessions, negotiations with printers and university advisors, drinking and hanging out. Occasional bouts of homework. And sleep.
If I had it to do over I'd stay home in New York instead of going to school in Seattle,
commuting by train to a school (most any school) in New York City, taking a full load of classes, yes, but not one hour more than necessary, filling my summers with long empty days for thinking and reading (and sleeping). Of course, when you're entering school, you want to FIND OUT WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT IMMEDIATELY. Maybe sooner. I got the bouncing off walls part down pretty good and I was pretty good at starting things, but I never learned the middle game or reached the happy ending part where, if you didn't get the girl, at least you got to sleep in late and wake up without a hangover. I never really wanted to become a doctor, invent a drug, design a better rocket-sprocket, found an internet dot or get married and divorced and married again before I was old and hopeless and 30.
So why the fuss? I pegged the dial making magazines and newspapers and whoopie, taking too many classes, spring and summer and fall and winter, 24 X 7. I mean, I was 19 going on 20 (or 9 and 90 and liver and onions, it all gets hazy). Time was short. I was crazy. One task at a time, I preach now in the corner, do it long and do it well and remember above all else to get your sleep and sip your tea and eat your Cheerios (late in the mornings) and watch, for all good things will follow. (Now see? If I didn't have a deadline to meet, I'd hit delete and start all over.)
Let's see. Had a flu shot this morning. Is my throat dry? Am I having an irrect, er, a reaction?