Dark settles outside
Offshore winds quiet the sea
Sleep still eludes me

Haikus are defined by more rules than the 5-7-5 syllable rule. One instructional guide says the lines must also correspond setting-subject-action. Another explains that a true haiku must relate to nature and contain a universal truth. Yet another attempts to explain the difference between a true Japanese haiku – and related forms of Japanese poetry – and the American Contemporary haiku.

I would like to have a definitive explanation.

(NOTE: the rest of this post is not particularly interesting. But I need to empty my mind somewhere and this is where it ended up. I can’t recommend reading it, though. Lots of good stuff here if you’d prefer to be entertained.)

Why I can’t sleep is simple: my hair is too thick to dry without a blow dryer or long hours in warm air; it’s still wet from surfing. The mug of green tea at bedtime didn’t help. So my over-caffeinated brain spins through the night while my damp head makes staying warm impossible. I have been here before. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the lack of sleep that makes me so tired the next day or the ceaseless thinking that wears me out. What do the kids need? Are they happy? How can I help them be happy? How can I protect them? How can I protect them and let them have adventures, too? How can I encourage self-sufficiency and yet keep them close to me? How can I maintain a semblance of reason when constantly being needed exhausts me? Now that Nick’s made the school soccer team, how will I keep tabs on his blood sugar? I’m so proud he made the soccer team! How I am going to fit one more responsibility into this life? What about all those friends I’m neglecting? How long since I talked to my sister? Can I get everything in order before my vacation to San Diego so I can leave guilt-free? Will I remember to pay attention to Kaylee if she – quiet middle child – doesn’t demand it? Chelsea will be 18 in five months. FIVE MONTHS. What can I do to shove her down the right path? Radio interview tomorrow. Bands coming up. What was I thinking? I missed a Bay District meeting last night (tonight? yesterday?), too burnt out and needed by my family – finally back together after days of being scattered – to attend. How am I going to cover? I made a few debit card transactions despite my goal of spending only from cash. Did I screw up my account? Why have the student loan people not taken the payment out of the bank yet? How the hell did I accumulate $16,000 in student loans? Will my back ever stop hurting? Will I ever sleep again?

I imagine everyone else I know sleeping soundly, undisturbed by worry. It’s just me unable to figure out my life, right? Or if they are lying awake and worrying, they do so over real problems. It’s just me that’s so neurotic. JM cracked me up once when I was obsessing on about some random, trivial life issue; in the midst of it, he stopped me – “Jennifer!” he said. “Why does it matter so much?” My brain screeched to a halt. Huh. Good question.

I decided last month that September would be all about doing things right. Physically, emotionally, intellectually. Less drinking, more taking care of my body. Shedding unproductive thoughts. Making sensible plans and sticking to them. Sort of like New Year’s resolutions, only for fall – I need to be in top physical and mental shape if I want to keep surfing through the next several months. I can’t falter in my quest to have been a decent mother at the end of it all. Eleven days in, and I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve had umpteen cups of tea instead of wine (an improvement that’s made an unfortunately notable difference), refrained from stress-related snacking, fit into my skinnier jeans (“fit” as in I could pull them onto my body, barely), surfed as much as possible, hit the gym, walked the dog, caught up on bills (YAY), scheduled an overdue vacation, finished 90 percent of my accumulated bureaucratic paperwork, met some short-term goals at both jobs (trying to keep’em real with original content), covered for T while he was on vacation, connected with a few old friends I’ve missed dearly and managed to keep the kids well-fed and reasonably happy amid their own complicated lives (being an adolescent is no piece of cake).

Whew. I feel better now. If only I could go back to bed. But the alarm’s set to go off in 17 minutes – and Bobby and I plan to hit the Jetty for a quick surf while the wind’s still down.