Successful Shifts in Sleep Schedules

After months of dread and an incredible amount of anxiety based on that dread, I’ve finally made an important change to my sleeping habits and pre-sleep rituals. Previously, I would do about thirty to sixty minutes of calming activities, take my nightly meds, wait fifteen minutes, take my melatonin, and then play my sleepy-time game (currently Animal Crossing) until I felt sufficiently tired. Then I’d go take care of various brushing, cleaning, and pre-bed sanitation tasks, put in my retainer, and then go to bed. It worked about ninety percent of the time, and usually the times it didn’t work involved me getting lots of sleep multiple nights in a row, days of inactivity, or a disruption to the time I usually spend calming down and being inactive before bed. Now, I still do the inactivity time, but I’ve shifted things so that I am taking my melatonin before doing all the “nightly cleanup and preparing myself for bed” stuff so that I hit the pillow about twenty to thirty minutes after taking it.

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Beating The Heat Through Extreme Inactivity

As much as I hate humidity and struggle to sleep when it is warm out, I have to admit there is a certain appeal in the sort of languid relaxation I do after going for a hike or something similar on warm summer days. There is a degree of freedom that comes with knowing it doesn’t matter if you’re sweaty. When you know that you can just go change or cool off or rinse the sweat away whenever you like and yet you choose to just be still as the gentle, warm breeze slowly wicks the sweat away while you lay unmoving in the heat. It is more restful and comfortable if the breeze is cool and the sweat has already been cleaned away, but I still enjoy the moments of transition between the two when it is my choice to experience them.

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700 Posts and Counting

The post that went up today (the day I’m writing this and a week prior to this post going up) was the 700th post on my blog (which means this is post 706). I have no idea what the average word count is on my blog posts, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet that my blog is the longest thing I’ve ever written, in both terms of word count and in reference to the passage of time. What an accomplishment, right? 700 whole posts! That’s so much stuff! Probably a lot of interesting stuff and some absolute drivel. After all, they can’t all be winners and I used to have a far less rigorous process for weeding out dumb or bad posts. Still, the sheer volume is worth celebrating. Turns out all I needed to be this productive was a task that had no real end goal other than continued activity. Can’t finish a book to safe my life most times I try, but I can do this without end.

Given how long this past winter felt like it lasted, it feels strange to realize I’ve been updating this blog six days out of seven for nine months. I’ve made it through almost another year of posting without the stress and obsession it took me the last time I tried to update this regularly. My, how I’ve grown. I still wish I had the capacity for more creative work each day, but given the rise and fall of my personal stress levels due to factors mostly at my day job or tied to the world at large, it feels like I should just be grateful I’ve managed to keep this up without falling behind or scrambling to get a post up long after my usual posting time (which happened A LOT the last time I did this). And, you know, I actually am. I feel like I’ve gotten better at working incrementally and applying personal discipline to every aspect of my life except cutting myself off of video games at a reasonable hour when I’m playing something that scratches my “control” itch.

At the same time, it feels like nothing has changed. Which is demonstrably false, given that I’ve spent a bunch of time thinking about myself and my life, resulting in a decision to use different third-person pronouns. There’s more, but I’m not really into sharing personal information on that level these days and honestly the pronoun thing was a pretty big deal given that it took me thirty years to convince myself it was worth considering something that would only serve to make me feel more comfortable and happy with myself and then most of another year to actually take action on it. That feels like enough to be writing about publicly, you know? All the other stuff is my personal business and literally no one else’s.

I talk a lot about how I feel on this blog. I do a lot of processing, exploration, and expression here, putting my feelings out into the world in hopes that they resonate with other people. Who I am, how I identify, my sense of self… All of that is my own business and not something I feel comfortable pinning down by writing it out. As some of my poetry indicates, I’m happy to allow myself to leave most of that stuff without a clear definition. After all, people grow and change frequently, maybe more so than we would like at time, but enough that I feel like codifying myself is only ever going to be a disserve to my future self.

Which isn’t necessarily to say that I won’t ever write about myself in that way or that I won’t ever talk explicitly about identity and myself on this blog, just that I haven’t yet and might never. I’m not committing to anything at this point because the future is a wild, unknowable thing and I honestly couldn’t have imagined being in the position I am now, a year ago. But it sure feels nice to reflect on my blog, the past year, and how much has changed (and, you know, to choose to focus on the positive changes in my personal life, specifically). Maybe a year from now I’ll be doing the same thing and wondering why I ever hesitated on some thing I can barely even allow myself to consider right now. Just about anything is possible.

Sunshine Feels Nice And Warm Winds Lift My Spirits

I lack the words to describe how nice it was that the weather had been in the 60s, that there’d been a decent amount of sunlight, and that I’d been able to comfortably wear shorts. Nevertheless, that’s what the rest of this blog post will be about. It just felt so nice, you know? I wanted to exult in it for a while, enjoy the end of my seasonal depression and bask in the gloriously chilly but still comfy weather we had for the few days it was here.

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Recording My Thoughts

One of the most important lessons I learned as an adult was how to create physical representations of the way I think. Not how I track information or go about ordering my mind for effort, but specifically the way that my thoughts move around my head as I explore ideas, consider information, and create. Honestly, I think tracking information and ordering one’s mind is largely the same for most people, given that we are (generally speaking) currently only capable of doing on thing at a time, thanks to our limited number of appendages. Sure, there are people who can do two things at once, but they’re pretty rare once you filter out all the people who claim to be able to do it but are just really good at dividing their attention between two on-going tasks that they pursue by rapdily alternating between them. But where people differ is how thoughts unfold in their minds and how they build these thoughts and ideas.

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I Wear Shorts To Spite The Weather

I used to be one of the people who wore shorts even during the depths of winter. I’m not sure how it is in other parts of the world, but in the Midwest of the US, it is fairly common to see such folk, frequently masculine in appearance (but not limited to that by any means) trudging through blizzards and all but the worst wind chills. It always made sense to me, given that I spent most of the winter indoors, in buildings with their heat set for people who needed a higher external temperature to be comfortable. I didn’t want to attempt to change the ambient temperature for my comfort alone, so I started wearing shorts and upperbody layers that were easy to remove (zippered hoodies, mostly) so that I could be comfortable. It wasn’t that I was immune to the cold outside, just that I was willing to endure a few minutes of being uncomfortable in order to spend two hours in class or at work without needing to fight off sweat or the sleepies.

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The Price of Too Little Sleep

One of the worst parts about not sleeping enough over a long period of time is how divorced from reality that level of exhaustion can make you feel. Going without any sleep can rapidly turn bad, making you more susceptible to getting sick or even causing you to hallucinate if you go long enough without just collapsing. Definitely not going to deny how awful all that can be or imply that just being chronically short on sleep is worse than getting zero sleep. I think it’s just a different kind of hell, though. One that varies based on how much sleep you’re missing out on, as compared to what you need to feel functional.

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I Don’t Usually Remember My Dreams And Today I’m Glad I Don’t.

I rarely remember my dreams. I’m not sure why, though I’d bet it has to do with my various sleep issues and how rarely I feel properly rested, but this has been my experience for my entire life. I can’t remember a time in my life that I recall waking up with the details of a dream in my mind more than once in a long while. Most of the time, the dreams I do recall are bad ones, full of negative emotions and unpleasant images perhaps only still present in my mind because the experience of these dreams was so awful that I shook myself awake from them. The rest are a general smattering of the sort of odd, disconnected ideas and sequences that seem to form most dreams and are utterly unremarkable in any way other than their rarity.

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Readying Myself For Summer

Even after nearly a decade away from anything resembling the US school year, I still find myself thinking that the coming of summer heralds a shift from my busy and exhausting days to a time when I can take a load off mentally and physically. I haven’t had more than a week away from my labors in nearly a decade and I still find myself mentally preparing for the coming warm months and the freedom they once brought me. It’s a weird mental space to be in. I know I won’t have any extra time off or a chance to enjoy being outside in the summer without much restriction, but I still find myself hoping for it just as fervently as I did when I was a student.

I haven’t actually had a summer break in much longer than that, though. When I was in high school, my parents forced me to find ways to fill my time. Either by getting a job of some time, by doing chores around the house (usually gardening on behalf of my mother), or by taking care of my younger siblings who needed minding while my mother did other stuff. In college, I had to work since I couldn’t return to my parents house and I needed to pay for summer housing at my college. Even before high school, I was usually occupied with some form of household chores or other work assigned to me by my parents, so I really can’t imagine why I expect a chance to rest and relax.

What the summer has actually brought me is change. In college I shifted from work and school to just work, and in high school I could stay up and sleep in as late as I wanted. My schedule shifted from what was demanded by the world I lived in to one that I could largely set for myself. Sure, I had to be at work at specific times, but the other sixteen hours of the day were mine to spend as I wished. Nowadays, though, the only change the summer brings is how generally sweaty and gross I feel at the end of the day. And I supposed the number of blankets I keep on the bed also changes, so there’s that too.

When I graduated college, I wanted to eventually get into academia in some form, probably as a college professor, so I could stick with that schedule. And, you know, because I loved what I was doing with my degree and wanted to keep doing that kind of stuff (still do, honestly). I eventually realized that a career in academia was likely not in the books for me, given my already substantial burden of student loans and the need for more loans if I wanted to continue my education, not to mention the generally sorry state of academia today. I used to keep up on articles about what was going on in the world of academia, tenure, and literary studies, but that effort was what eventually convinced me I would probably be happier sticking with work outside of academia and writing in my time away from my occupation rather than as a part of it (in an academic sense, specifically. I still think i’ love being a full-time writer of fiction)

Still, as the grey, chilly April days come to a close and we head toward whatever the hell May has in store (it has been unseasonably cold and cloudy thus far this spring, so all bets are off), I find myself planning vacations I’ll never take and looking at my life for whatever big changes I might make. I don’t really have any right now, since I’m trying to work on feeling more at-home in my apartment (rent is rising too quickly to make it worth moving this year, at least at my current income), but I keep taking stock of my life in the hope that something will jump out at me. I’m already making slow but steady steps toward most of my goals, so there really isn’t much to do other than stay the course, keep up the life maintenance, and keep my eyes peeled for any opportunities that show up within my reach.

Walking Away From Pokémon Go

For the first time in what might actually be years, I logged into Pokémon Go. Once I updated the app, remembered my password, and waited several minutes for it finish loading up on a phone that wasn’t new four years ago when I got it to play Pokémon Go (my previous phone overheated and died within an hour of starting the app which made it intolerable for the special events), I was in. Before I could do more than register that the app had forgotten my preferences for zero volume and no vibration, I was inundated in notifications, pop-ups, and notifications that there were activities to explore that didn’t exist the last time I opened the app. It was a truly harrowing five minutes as I felt like my phone was going to melt through its case because the game was demanding so much from my poor “old” phone, but eventually I cleared everything and the app settled down enough for me to look through the many Pokémon I had collected in a surprisingly bittersweet stroll down memory lane.

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