Tag Archives: Sleep

How Do You Spend Your Time?

14 Sep


American Time Use Survey – measures the amount of time people spend doing various activities, such as paid work, childcare, volunteering, and socializing.

Not much fascinates me more than what you’re doing in your house right now. I know that sounds weird, but I just want to know how you spend your time. When I walk the dogs at night I “accidentally” see people walking past windows. I see people on couches with magazines. I see people cleaning up dinner’s mess.

Yes, I look in your windows, but I assure you it’s passive voyeurism. I don’t stop to gawk. That would be different.

Most people sit around watching TV in the evenings. Tell me what you’re watching. If I walk by and I can see your television, in those few seconds, I’m trying to see if I recognize anything. I know right away if you’re watching rugby, cricket or football. (I’m in England so when I say football I mean soccer and if you’re in the USA, you’re probably not watching rugby or cricket, and probably not soccer.) Sometimes I see the Netflix home screen, waiting for the next selection. (Where’d you go? Are you asleep on the couch?)

So your task is to begin writing about how you spend your time as often as possible. It’s like a journal, but public and for my entertainment, not your self-improvement. I want to know the details of your activities and the thoughts you have during these activities. What did you eat today and why? Do you take long showers? What are you reading? Oh, you don’t read? Why not?

It won’t be fair if I don’t share. Here is my Monday morning up until noon.

Time awake: 4:30 a.m.
Time out of bed: 5:00 a.m.

I weighed myself and did 25 jumping jacks. I walked groggily down to the living room and meditated for 23 minutes. I couldn’t sit still and labeled the session a failure even though meditating at all is a success.

I washed some dishes by hand.

I fixed my “morning drink” which I can’t call coffee or tea because it’s weirdly both.

My Morning Drink: .25 teaspoons of matcha green tea powder, one scoop of decaffeinated instant coffee, and a scoop of Bambu coffee alternative, 200 ml of rice milk, and hot water to fill the rest of the mug.

I unrolled my wife’s yoga mat in the living room, set down my drink, turned on Netflix and started to watch the first episode of the first season of American Horror Story. I didn’t do yoga, but what I call deep stretching. Seven minutes later, I switched to a Hungarian film called “White God.” Some minutes later all stretched and limber I turned it off and went into the kitchen.

For months I’ve been eating a bizarre combination of foods mixed together like a thick stew because 1) I’m in a “health nut” phase of my life 2) I actually enjoy the taste and consistency 3) I always have food in my bag when I get hungry on my bicycle or out walking 4) I wanted to get down to my optimal weight.

Some of the ingredients are always the same and others are substituted in and out, especially the foods listed below in grams.

This was Monday’s Green Slop Superman Food:

One tablespoon each of hemp powder, hemp seeds, cacao powder, carob powder, nutritional yeast flakes, raw amaranth, chia seeds, oat bran, wheat germ, maca powder, cacao nibs, raw buckwheat groats, dried unsweetened coconut, pea protein, and bee pollen.

One teaspoon each of lucuma powder, spirulina powder,  and wheat grass powder.

Two teaspoons of cinnamon.
Three teaspoons of stevia powder.

In grams: rolled oats (37), dried cherries ( 18), plain soy yogurt (100), mashed tofu (50), raisins (30), mashed banana (82), pumpkin seeds (9), peanut butter (24), blueberries (150), spinach (79), matcha powder (3), and brazil nuts (18)

I add enough water to soak up all the powders and then I divide it into equal portions in small plastic food containers with lids.

As I whipped this up I listened to Tara Brach’s Buddhism/psychology podcast.

I fixed my daughters’ school lunches.

I walked the dogs and picked up two piles of dog doo.

I walked Ainsley to school.

I cycled 3.8 miles to Costa Coffee in Kingston where I bought a large soya cappucino.

I wrote for two hours.

I went to WH Smith and bought a cover for Ainsley’s history workbook.

I cycled 3.8 miles back to Twickenham.

Okay, now you go.

Waking Up Mom Was Hard To Do

13 Feb

For years I thought my mom was a super hero whose power was that she never needed to sleep. She was up when I climbed into my bed and there she was again, day after day, puttering around the house in the morning. What the hell did she do all night? For all I knew she was controlling a Midwest drug cartel. But I decided she was probably just scrubbing the skid marks out of my Fruit of the Looms. I was certain skid mark removal had to be a full-time job. But later I found out she did, in fact, sleep every night, and that impressed me even more. I mean, if she could keep my underwear brilliant white and NOT work the overnight shift–wow. Anyway, once in awhile (maybe ten times during my childhood) I needed her help in the middle of the night. Yep, that first time in a silent house I searched all over, and there she was in the last place I expected…in bed, asleep.

I can think of only 3 reasons I ever had to rouse my mom from a deep sleep: (1) I felt like I was going to throw up all over myself; (2) I had already thrown up all over myself, or; (3) my dad, drunk, had thrown up all over me and had passed out under the swing set in the back yard. Obviously, mom didn’t like opening her eyes to me standing by her bed. Bad news all the way around. I didn’t much like it either; in fact, it scared the sh– out of me.

In my experience humans wake up in two ways, and I’m not talking about what kind of mood we wake up in, which can range from cheery to “kill me now.” No, I’m talking about the moment your eyelids separate, the moment before you have time to think, the split second before “Oh my God, I didn’t take enough pills, I have to life another hellish day on Earth.” Get it? That moment. The way I wake up, I like to call the “normal” way, and this means that I open my eyes slowly and remain in a horizontal position and speak in hushed tones (if I speak at all). The second “way” is known by two names, depending on where you live: In California it’s called the “earthquake wake” and in other parts of the world it’s called the “war torn rise.”

In my childhood home, I called it the “Oh Jesus I have to wake up mom.” Think of the Jack-in-the-Box toy: you know it’s going to pop up and make you crap your pants, but you have to turn the crank anyway…a tiny bit at a time.

I don’t remember the first time, but I’m sure it ended with me curled on the floor by her bed, crying. From then on, the process of waking her would take up to an hour, because I would stop off in the living room to watch the most wicked scenes of The Exorcist to ready myself. After watching Regan’s head swivel 360°, I thought could handle anything.

I employed two basic “wake up mom” strategies: the pussyfoot and the little-less-pussyfoot.

My least favorite, the pussyfoot method, called for me to tiptoe up to her bedside and stand there staring at her. This was torture for me because, eventually–2 hours later?–she would sense someone creepy standing over her, watching her sleep, and she would bolt upright and yell something like “Who are you!” or “Bomb!” or “Skid marks!” Well, to be fair, I don’t remember actual words. More accurately, just think of the sound you would make if you found a severed head in your closet.

The little-less-pussyfoot method was way better because I had a general idea of when the upright bolt and gasp was coming. I felt more in control. I would create some noise entering the room. For example, I made sure my socked feet would strike the carpet with some force. (But, really, how much sound could that have made?) Also, I would deal out a pseudo-cough or that “clear my throat” sound on the way in. Usually, though, when I reached her bed I would turn into a big fat chicken and revert back to the standard pussyfoot method. Again, I would stand there, silently….

Finally, a whisper: “mom.”



A little louder: “mom.”

Then I would push on the mattress, enough to move her arm a couple of millimeters.

Whisper: “mom.”

Then sometimes I would pull on a blanket or sheet…ever so slightly. Nothing. Damn! (That’s an internal “damn,” of course.)

Growing desperate, but remembering my throat tricks: Hack. Ahem. Hack. Hack. Ahem.

At this point I knew she would wake up any second, so I pushed on, sweat pouring down my face, heart thumping. With a shaky little arm I would tap her shoulder. “Mom!”

BOOM! The walls and ceiling crack, the floor turns to Jell-O. A flash of fire. Skin melting. The house, gone.

She would startle awake, sitting up, “What!” As I pooped myself, I would forget what the hell I was doing in there, that I had thrown up on myself an hour ago.

“Um, I had a bad dream.”

“What’s that smell?”

“Uh–what?–I’m going back to bed now.”

“Okay, good night.”

I walked back to bed wondering why I had even bothered. As a child–and again in my my twenties–I had no problem at all with sleeping a few hours in my own mess of poo and vomit.

Note: Though the above is based on true events, it has been exaggerated for effect. For example, dad usually passed out inside the house.


If the fly farts

26 Aug

This morning I got up at 4. Jennifer did too–for a minute. On her way to the bathroom she asked “Are you getting up?” I said yes. She said “What the hell for?” Or maybe she said “What the hell! Four?”

First I went to make sure Ainsley was covered up, because it’s, like, frosting over in the house–what, is it 40 degrees outside? In August?–and she wasn’t even in here bed. I looked on the floor between her bed and the wall. I looked in Chloe’s room. I started to freak out a little, because it’s not like her to wander down to the couch in the middle of the night. I’m freaking out because people like this are walking around.

I’m an ultra-light sleeper. If a fly farts, I’m awake (and not happy with the fly). Well, last night Ainsley must have been quieter than a fly fart, because she had snuck into our bed. I went back in there and grabbed my little pen light, pointed it at the bed, and still didn’t see her. That’s when Jennifer got up. I was thinking how to handle telling her that I can’t find Ainsley without throwing her into a panic (I’m the calm one). I said “Ainsley must have went downstairs to sleep” knowing how unlikely that was. She said “She’s on my side of the bed.” Whew! She must have been buried under the sheets.

Then I experienced a sign that today’s going to be a good day. I went down to the kitchen, freezing. Every window in the house was open all night and the whole house fan was on, sucking in 50 degree air. I had on only thin shorts. I couldn’t uncross my arms from my body to make coffee because I was too cold and wussy. I was thinking “damn I need a shirt,” but I didn’t want to go back upstairs or downstairs to get one. Then I spotted a shirt right there by me in the kitchen! Okay, it wasn’t a strong sign.

I’m always tinkering with my sleep hours trying to find the magic formula so I can get all my crap done and feel good doing it. I was on the 8 to 4:30 schedule for awhile, then 10 to 7, 9 to 5, and now I’m going to test out getting up at 4, falling asleep whenever I’m tired, and taking a nap after lunch between 1 and 3. I’m not particularly fond of the time between 1 and 3. What’s going on then? It’s the hottest part of the day. Awful hours. Siesta anyone?

Odd place for a siesta