Thursday, 26 February 2009

What does growing up entail? Insomnia. As a child I lulled myself to sleep by imagining myself into the fiction worlds I inhabited by day. I was Ishmael and Frodo and I was Luke Skywalker and the Great American Hero. I visualized myself to sleep through my teens. Every night I strengthened my muscle's memory by ceaselessly starting my swing: load the back leg, close the front shoulder, keep the head steady, uncoil the hips. Again and again until a zen-sent sleep settled down like rain. College was spent perfecting my jump shot: turn the knees in, center the thumb, cock the arm, roll off the index finger. Sleep came quick and stayed sound. Insomnia took me when I started grad school. How could I inhabit a fiction after years of being trained to do exactly otherwise? What use was practicing swings never swung or shots never shot? My nights were spent studying the ceiling while writing essays or chapters in my head. I would exhausted but awoke with plenty of material. Now I simply brood about that which I can't control: students, budgets, jobs, Darfur. When I do drift to sleep I dream I'm at a Halloween party dressed as an uncle's experience of last year's Christmas party after the LSD kicked in. I am Rudolph in the body of a psychedelic Christmas tree. Its needles chafe my skin. On my nose is a bright hot bulb and I have tied a menorah to my head for antlers. The bulb glows brighter and hotter and the world fades into crimson. I am awake. It is 2 a.m. I drift off again and am late for class. I arrive to see my students armed with bows and arrows. They want to win this archery competition but I have yet to teach them which is their dominant eye. I stare blankly at them. I know I know nothing of archery and so do they. But they play along because they want to win their grade then everyone is screaming because someone has shot someone and there has been a death because I didn't teach them what they needed to—and I am awake again. It is 2:30 a.m. I study the ceiling and wonder how other scholars manage sleep. I tell myself I should write a post about it . . .

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