87th: Let thy carriage be such as becomes a man grave, settled, and attentive to that which is spoken. Contradict not at every turn what others say.
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RIP VAN WINKLE
20 November 2004
Roz joined the ranks of all the people who stare at me in astonishment when they realize that I can go to bed at midnight and wake up, without an alarm clock, at 6 a.m.
"Don't you ever sleep?" she asked me more than once.
I type reports for the psychiatrist whose patients worry about "insomnia" because they "only" get 7 hours of sleep at night. He gives them pills for their insomnia.
Their "insomnia" is more sleep than my normal night, and I don't think that I suffer from insomnia.
I remember typing a report one time for one of our ob/gyn patients. The provider she saw gave her some sleeping medication because she "only" got 9 hours of sleep a night.
There is a woman I know who can't possibly function on less than 12 hours of sleep.
I started requiring less sleep during the years when the kids were little and I was getting up several times a night for crying toddlers or hungry infants. The most sleep I got during those days was when David was a baby and I gave up all pretense of having a baby sleep in his own bed. David just slept in our bed and I only had to wake up briefly to latch him on to my breast and then go back to sleep while he fed.
When he got older, he could do it himself and I could pretty much sleep through it.
It has been many years since I had infants or toddlers to worry about through the night, but still my "need" for sleep seems less than the normal person.
I went through periods where I would work until 2 a.m. and be up, bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 6 a.m. Now I go to sleep earlier, but I can't remember the last time I set an alarm clock. Once in a great while, I "sleep in" until 7 or later. When I travel, my body clock seems to get itself on whatever time zone I'm in instantly, without even noticing.
I can't relate to those folks who worry about having insomnia when they get more sleep than I consider normal for me.
I remember when Gilbert was alive and how he reported each day how little sleep he would get during the night. That's what I get now and think I've had a full night of sleep.
But occasionally, it all comes crashing in.
Occasionally, I wonder if maybe what I think of as "natural sleep" for me is really insomnia.
Yesterday was one of those days.
I took Sheila to the park and we were there for an hour and a half. I hadn't intended to stay so long, but she bonded with every dog or group of dogs who came in. She hadn't been to the park while I was gone, so she was dying to get there. We were almost out the gate when a border collie arrived and fell right into Sheila's favorite game of "keep away" with a dead tennis ball. The border collie's owner was so thrilled to see him running around with Sheila that I just decided to stay a bit longer, and was glad that I had.
However, when I came home, I felt like I could hardly keep my eyes open. I sat down at 4 p.m., just before Oprah comes on, and didn't even see the start of her program, I fell asleep so quickly.
I awoke at 5 and was awake long enough to take me through Jeopardy, and to get dinner started. Then, while the rice cooked, I started watching "Lost," an episode I'd been looking forward to all week. They were going to have contact with other people living on the island. I lasted 5 minutes. When I woke up at 8:50, a woman was just leaving Sayid and I have no idea what went on. I had to check the show's website to find out.
I told Walt I would get up and fix dinner, only he told me he had already fixed his own dinner and that the rice had finished cooking long ago.
I got up, fixed my own dinner, sat back down again, watched West Wing and before Law and Order had come on, I had fallen asleep again.
I woke once during the night, very thirsty, and got a drink of water, then went right back to sleep again, sleeping through until 6:30 this morning.
By 9 a.m. this morning, I was ready for a nap again, though didn't take one. I felt drugged all day--everything slowed down, desperately wanting to just lie down and sleep.
So I guess that maybe I'm not getting all the sleep I need, despite the fact that I'm so accustomed to having only a few hours each night. I suspect that this inability to stay awake yesterday is my body telling me I should sleep more. But if I go to bed earlier, I wake up earlier, so whatcha gonna do?
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Remembering those exciting nights in Australia....