I do think these “insomnia” posts tend to sound the same. Nonetheless, here’s another.
I figured I might as well get up and do something given the utter lack of sleep I was able to achieve; worry spins my brain through all hours lately. Why do we react to stress with insomnia, creating exhaustion and therefore making the days harder to get through when a good night’s rest would set us right?
Instead of a worry doll, I whisper into the computer, my fingers as quiet on the keyboard as I can manage. Nick’s sleeping on the futon behind me. Hopefully the 4 a.m. correction brings his blood sugar down without sending him low. He’s been high again, repeatedly. Number after number in the 200s, 300s, even 400s. The cumulative effects of high blood sugars can cause blindness and nerve damage over the years. I cannot let that happen.
And then the guilt assaults: I am so busy that my children are only one of many priorities. I scramble for work, seem to work so many hours for what, in the end, isn’t much money – and must, as always, qualify that sentiment by acknowledging I am lucky to have jobs, multiple sources of income, especially at a time when one in six Americans is un- or underemployed. (Do I count as “underemployed” or do the part-time gigs add up to a whole?) Why didn’t I spend my time in college pursuing a more lucrative career? Partly because I needed to be available for my children, ruling out programs that might demand too much of my time. Partly because I had no financial support other than what I could patch together through work, student loans and food stamps – hardly a scenario encouraging rigorous academic pursuit.
I can write and thought journalism would fit better than majoring in English. HSU’s program doesn’t ask much (it must be one of the slackest majors on campus). I could pound out Lumberjack stories during the day and still read Harry Potter to the children at night. Certainly the radio courses helped me connect to KHSU, which eventually hooked me up with KHUM and then KSLG, aided by my identity at the Eye, a job acquired through luck, persistence and enough experience to apply with confidence. But my time at KMUD, my freelance writing for HipMama started me down the Humboldt radio/journalism path. Passion for writing and music stretches even further back than the 1998 move that landed us here.
The whole journey seems to make sense – until the student loan people start calling because the forebearances are up and the payments overdue. If I’m so successful in landing jobs in my fields, how is it I’m in debt double my annual salaries combined? My money management skills fall short of perfect, but I lack a shoe fetish, take no exotic vacations, own little considered of value. The student loans bought me time, time to do homework, time to serve nachos every Friday in Chelsea’s fourth grade class, time to escape to the beach with a surfboard every so often. Not that life flowed easily – on the contrary, even with an “easy” major, simultaneously filling the roles of mother, student, worker, wife and general useful evolving individual very nearly did me in.
At certain points, some of the pressure eases, but the pattern continues. I want to be good, accomplish much, try hard, succeed, find some sort of grace within it all. People point to what I do and say, “You’re living the dream.” Sure, I agree, but what happens when the dream doesn’t pay? Did I go about things all wrong? Did I not aim high enough? Should I have invested more time in learning to work the land and build things? (Absolutely, yes.) My children grow older and still I can’t sleep at night worried about all the ways in which I fail them. Not enough money turns into not enough sleep becomes not enough patience translates into poor parenting moments, which keep me awake even longer.
Perspective, perspective… On a positive day, I approve of my life. I write stories that, people say, inform and entertain. My section of the Eye remains relatively aesthetically pleasing and low in errors. My money columns in the Journal have garnered some of the best feedback ever. Friends enjoy listening to me on KSLG. Our landlords seem content to let us keep living in their well-lit house within walking distance of the Pacific. Chairing Humboldt’s Surfrider Chapter continues to offer opportunities to do good with good people in a realm about which I am passionate. Nick’s diabetes doesn’t keep him from sports or surfing; by the end of the month, his new insulin pump will improve his life greatly. His medical expenses are still covered with only minimal payments from me. Kaylee’s grades are good, her softball excellent enough to have scored an invite to varsity, her exchange trip to Germany looking to happen. Chelsea’s caring for her creatures and loving her job at Ramone’s. Bobby’s making the garden happen and finding enough work to see us through. I have more friends than I have time for – real friends, not just names on Facebook. (Although my “real world” friends are on Facebook, too!) I have a truck that takes me to the Jetty whenever I make the time. Radio perks include a membership at a lovely gym with a merciless trainer who is steadily kicking my ass back into shape. Literally.
But negativity and fear sometimes filter out the upbeat, less tangible view. Some days all I see are threadbare towels, scratched furniture, tired eyes, a questionable future. When the German girl comes to stay with us, will she be appalled at our lack of structure, cluttered house, constant squabbling, dented cars? Will Nick’s diabetes drive him to despair? Rebel? I look around at so many animals involved in our lives now – how long until something goes wrong with one? Will the landlords tire of our less than perfect upkeep and raise the rent accordingly? The bank balance does not indicate this account is being kept by a winner. The world inspires ideas within me, but I am not resourceful enough to make those ideas manifest. Should I keep dreaming of what I want to become when clearly this might be as good as it gets? And if this is as good as it gets, how much of a failure does that make me?
I suppose I could wallow in this self-obsessed muck all day, but duty calls in the form of a varsity softball tournament. At least the wind’s not up (yet). Dawn breaks and with it, my foul mood. The weekend offers much to celebrate: Arts Alive! tonight, an interview with Sandow Birk tomorrow, potential surf sessions, further opportunity to prepare for the German student and further progress on yesterday’s to-do list. A story to write, a couple days relief from the Ferndale commute, time to write a thank you to my dear friend who recently bought me a dress I couldn’t afford for the simple reason she thought it looked great (it does) and she wanted me to have it. Yummy food in the fridge, potential in the garden. I think things will be okay.
Thanks for sharing, and for all the great work that does indeed inform and entertain.
If there is a hell, it intersects with earth most closely in those dark hours from 2 to 5am where staring at the night means staring at all the failures–real or imagined. Thank God for dawn.