Monthly Archives: April 2015

Does this insomnia make me look fat?

My son is getting married next weekend. This makes me so happy. Mostly because I absolutely love the woman he’s engaged to and they’re perfect for each other, but also because being the mother of the groom is way less work than it was being the mother of the bride. Pretty much all I have to do is show up. Well, that and dig out old pictures of my son, because what is a wedding without the parents embarrassing the bride and groom? I’ll scatter a few of them throughout this post. Spread the joy.

He was such a happy baby.

He was such a happy baby.

So, of course, my main concern has been trying to lose a bit of weight before some maniac with a camera tries to get within shooting distance of my personal space. Have I mentioned how much I hate having my picture taken? I’ve hated it all my life, even when I was oblivious of judgments. People hear this and invariably say some version of, “But you look good!” That has nothing to do with it. It’s a visceral aversion. I remember running away from my own father when he tried to make a home movie when I was a child. And my father was not a scary guy. Well, unless you tried to date one of his four daughters, I guess.

My parents and my children. See? Not scary at all.

My parents and my children. See? Not scary at all.

As an aside to those of you who might be interested in calorie tracker things, I recently discovered MyFitnessPal and I love it. It has been helpful and a real eye-opener to write down every single thing I eat each day, to see exactly what those foods contain in terms of calories, carbs, fat, protein, sugar, sodium. Plus, it’s free.

A boy and his best friend... until his sister came along.

A boy and his best friend, Baxter… until his sister came along.

But I digress. This isn’t a post about weight or even about torture-by-camera. It’s about sleep. Okay, it’s also about how sleep, or lack thereof, affects weight and my ability to snarl politely.


First of all, you should know that I’m pretty much nocturnal. I am certainly capable of waking up before noon, but I won’t be happy about it and probably I won’t be fully functional at that time of day. On the other hand, it’s no big deal at all for me to stay up all night writing. It’s just easier to focus when the rest of the world is dark and quiet.

The three of them were inseparable.

The three of them were inseparable.

My ideal schedule would be to go to sleep between 2 and 4 AM and sleep for eight hours and wake up between 10 AM and noon. Never mind that if you admit to sleeping until noon, people assume you’re being lazy. No, I’m getting eight hours of sleep.

The trouble is, I got into a routine earlier this year when I couldn’t fall asleep, no matter what time of day, or night, it was. And when I did sleep, it was only for a couple hours and then once I woke up I couldn’t fall back to sleep. Serious insomnia. It was horrible. It’s also a direct result of being deeply immersed in writing a story. My body gets tired, but my brain won’t shut down enough to sleep. It’s not the first time this has happened, but this time was lasting a lot longer than it ever had before.

Long-term lack of sleep makes me snarly and crazy. I’m normally pretty even-tempered and have a very long fuse. It takes a LOT to make me angry. Unless I’m sleep deprived.

Yes, I tried all the usual “strategies” for easing into sleep, although I drew the line at warm milk. That’s just disgusting. Nothing worked. And I refuse to resort to sleeping pills.

The beach has always been his favourite place.

The beach has always been his favourite place.

Then my daughter mentioned that her husband the MD was having similar trouble sleeping during a stretch of weeks working the night shift. What he found that helped was taking melatonin. I was surprised because he’s even more opposed than I am to taking medicine — I know, irony, the doctor doesn’t want to be medicated — and this sounded to me an awful lot like taking sleeping pills. But my daughter said no, it’s just giving your body a natural substance that it probably isn’t producing enough of. So you could sleep.

I was skeptical. But I was also desperate. Experts claim that a good night’s sleep is critical to all sorts of things, including losing weight. Never mind that, I was starting to growl at inanimate objects that weren’t even cameras.

So I tried it.

The first time, it was 5:30 AM and I’d been tossing and turning for hours before I finally got fed up and took a pill. I’m not sure when, exactly, I fell asleep but I slept soundly and woke up at 3:30 PM and decided maybe melatonin worked a little too well.

The next night, I took it earlier, at maybe 3 AM, feeling like one of the three little pigs going to market earlier to avoid the big bad wolf. And again I slept soundly, waking up once to use the bathroom and then going right back to sleep. And woke up at 3:30 PM.

Sigh. That tactic didn’t work for the pigs either, if I recall correctly.

More sports. More smiles. I'm so lucky my kids like each other.

More sports. More smiles. I’m so lucky my kids like each other.

Don’t get me wrong, it felt awesome to sleep that soundly. It was such a huge relief. But I really did not enjoy waking up in the middle of the afternoon. Even I would categorize that as being a bit lazy.

Well, I’m nothing if not stubborn and I wasn’t ready to admit defeat. Plus, I’d been sleep deprived for weeks and weeks at this point and wasn’t willing to give up the bliss of somnolence, even if it was excessive. So I kept trying, taking it earlier and earlier, hoping once sleep became a regular occurrence rather than a rarity my body would adjust to normal. Well, normal for me. And it did.

I now take the melatonin sometime around midnight and fall asleep around 2 or 4 AM and sleep for eight (or seven, or nine) hours. It’s awesome. And the best part is that it hasn’t negatively affected my ability to write. I was worried about that. I was resigned to never sleeping well, ever again, if it messed with my writing.

So I’m back to feeling well rested and somewhat human again.

Unfortunately, I have not noticed a huge drop in weight as a result and I still want to gruesomely mutilate anyone who points a camera at me, but at least I no longer have the urge to throw a kitchen chair through the bay window every morning before caffeine.

I think this is my favourite picture of them, ever.

I think this is my favourite picture of him, ever.

I’m curious about what will happen if I stop taking it. I seriously doubt it’s habit-forming in a narcotic way, but perhaps it has the potential to become a psychological crutch. I wonder whether my body has adjusted well enough that I no longer need the supplement. I think I’ll hold off on that experiment until after the wedding. No need to test my capacity for sleep-deprived civility.

What about the rest of you? Are you nocturnal? Have you had similar trouble sleeping? Got any tried-and-true tips for conquering insomnia? What about tips on how to smile convincingly when it is the absolute last thing you want to do in that moment?

Scan 42



Filed under health and well-being, parenting

Words, words every where, nor any post to link

Of all the April Fools jokes out there on the interwebs yesterday — well, of the limited number I saw, since I was mostly offline — I think the one by WordPress announcing AutoMatton was my favourite.

Here’s part of their pitch for this awesome new blogging tool:

Writer’s block? No problem! Announcing AutoMatton

As becomes easier to use, one piece of unanswered feedback keeps nagging at us: blogging is hard! Not only do you have to think of something worth saying, you have to take valuable time out of your day to write those things down in an appealing, easy-to-read way! Improvements to can speed up things like load times, but we simply couldn’t remove human nature from the equation… until now.

What is AutoMatton?

AutoMatton uses a simple machine learning algorithm to predict the posts that you will write, taking predictive text and auto-correct to the next level.

Yeah, they got me. It took me way too long to realize they were kidding. I tell myself this gullibility was because I was skimming through email not long after waking up and before a significant amount of caffeine had hit my bloodstream and I was still feeling pretty groggy . . .

But honestly? I really really wanted to believe this was an actual thing.

You see, I’m having a tough time coming up with appropriate blog posts. I’m not sure when, exactly, I started worrying about being all appropriate over here, and maybe I should knock it off, but every time lately I feel a thousand or so words bubbling up in my brain it’s usually about the drama du jour and . . . I just can’t make myself write the post.

It’s not that I don’t want to. Holy guacamole, do I want to. After all, I have Something To Say. I feel compelled to point out that People Are Missing The Point, Dammit. On all sorts of topics, Things I Feel Strongly About, including but not limited to:

  • Politics
  • Civics
  • Conformity
  • Decorum
  • Anonymity
  • Ethics
  • Pseudonyms
  • Hypocrisy
  • Courage
  • Privacy
  • Feminism
  • Religion
  • More Politics
  • More Civics
  • Common Fucking Decency

But then I stop and ask myself: do you really want to be that person? One of the usual suspects who weigh in on everydamnthing, who love the sound of their own voice above all others? One of those who jump in just to see how big a splash they can make? One who, be honest, has nothing new or interesting or enlightening to add other than their own ire or cynicism or questionable wisdom? Do you really want to get sucked into the latest internet quagmire?

And the answer lately has been, invariably, “no.”

Oh, look! Here’s a diversion picture of The White Ninja, nodding off to sleep on the back of my recliner.

A small break from her ninja activities

A small break from her ninja activities


But . . . but . . . I should write a new blog post and don’t know what to say! And WordPress’ AutoMatton would have made it all so easy! Just fill in a topic!

How is the content created?

AutoMatton’s job is to figure out the words that you would use given a specific topic to write about. It scours your existing words, fills in the blanks, and checks its own work. Each post AutoMatton writes is compared to your canon of work, old report card grades, everything written by Kurt Vonnegut, and Terms of Service documents from the top 500 most visited websites. AutoMatton then feeds this information back to itself to improve the accuracy of its predictions. It’s like magic.

Actually, the words aren’t the problem. I’m a writer. I can write any number of words, probably too many words, on any given topic, especially the ones listed above. The problem lately has been finding a topic. An appropriate topic.

All this self-restraint has been killing me, leaving me without words. You’d think I had killed an albatross.

And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was withered at the root;
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.

Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.

from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Oooh, and here’s another diversion a sign of Spring! My purple-leaf sand cherry tree blooming against a Carolina blue sky.

The honeybees love these flowers

The honeybees love these flowers


Whoops. That was from last week and already sadly outdated, not unlike the latest kerfuffle. Here’s one from yesterday afternoon: blooming redbud branches poking through the holly bushes and catching the last rays of sunset.

Yes, the redbud blossoms are purple, not red

Yes, redbud blossoms are purple, not red


It’s so much easier, and far less controversial, to just keep my head down and go back to writing stories. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Giving voice to things both great and small through fiction. Not sure how much longer I can maintain that ruse, but for now that’s my strategy.

What have the rest of you all been up to? Anything inappropriate you want to discuss? Anything untoward got you all hot under the collar?

Come sit over here by me and spill it. We’ll use our indoor voices.



Filed under blogging, deep thoughts