Posted by: Mary W. Farkas | July 15, 2010

Night passages

I am an insomniac. For medical reasons too numerous to list here I can’t take sleeping medicine. So, when I can’t sleep and don’t want to make noise to wake my spouse or bother the neighbors, I web surf. I look at online shopping, imagining an unlimited income and a larger space.
I don’t need anything. I need to find the things I have.
In February, 2008, Jim and I moved into this apartment. Long story short, the movers came a week earlier than I expected. They threw everything into boxes, taped them shut, and dumped them in the new apartment space. Anger, depression, inertia, and a whole slew of other physical and emotional states have kept me from doing much about it. Last Friday, a darling friend and her teen age sons came to spend the afternoon helping us clear the living room. They made endless trips to the dumpster (mostly junk mail) and were just wonderful. The boys want to come back and help again. These are special people.
Other friends have chimed in and want to help.
It’s taken me all of this time to even be able to admit to myself that there is this issue. My dear sister has talked to me about it, and I have listened, but I never really heard. Hindsight is 20/20, they say. They say a lot of things.
So, in my happy optimist world, we start from here.
Back to the theme of this post: how to pass the night when I don’t sleep.
I read. I am reading a biography of John Steinbeck. He is one of my favorite fiction authors. There is such a variety in his work. I can read a novel, story, play, or news article of his again after years and find whole new meaning, nuance, and joy. He wrote his words to be read aloud. His words still sing and make images.
I read all kinds of other authors, too. But John Steinbeck has always been my go-to guy when I need to get through the night and desire to read something that won’t require all of my brain. It isn’t there…not without any sleep.


  1. Hi Mary, I don’t know how but I just stumbled into this post. Funny because I was just thinking last night how frustrated I felt trying to stay awake whilst reading in bed. I’m not an insomniac so I sympathise with you, but I am often kept awake by a toddler who likes to play trampoline at 1am.

    I haven’t even heard of John Steinbeck! I’ll have to look him up. Bio’s are my favourite genre, though I find many of them ‘celebrity life’ dull, or far too political.
    Best wishes,

  2. Socialpaws, thank you for commenting on my post.
    The best known works of John Steinbeck are from the 1930’s and 40’s: “The Grapes of Wrath” “Of Mice and Men” “Cannery Row” and his masterpiece, “East of Eden.” I think his best writing may be in his story of a trip he took alone with with loyal poodle, “Travels with Charley”. Look for John Steinbeck (winner of the Pultizer and Nobel prizes) in the fiction section of your library.
    [I was laid up for about six months when I was 18 (two broken arms) so I read everything John Steinbeck wrote.]

  3. Seems to me most of the women I know between about age 45-60 sleep very little, or otherwise have related concerns. I’ve always been a night owl, as are my sons. One of their father’s greatest frustrations was his early to bed and rise rhythm.

    Steinbeck is good. No Hemingway for you. But I’m into a fascinating little tome, Cranmer and the Reformation Under Edward VI. Oy.

    I write at night. My brain relaxes and poetry pours forth. And I am so freakin’ thankful for blogging, the net with backlogs of TV shows, shopping (like you, as a fun but futile exercise), and research. Lots and lots of research resources. Divine.

    Santa’s helpers will return. Maybe Monday? Awaiting eldest spawn’s work schedule.

    You are loved.
    Musical Milliner

  4. I have signed onto a Kaiser Permenente insomnia relief coaching program. One week, personalized.
    I will do a sleep diary.
    I know they will tell me I need to drink less coffee.
    Cheeky ba@#$rds.

    • Hi Mary. I’ve had sleep trouble for years and finally went to the REM Sleep Center in Northgate and got tested and sure enough I have sleep apnea – an involuntary obstruction of the larynx that causes a shortage of oxygen to the brain, so as a result the brain keeps “waking up” the larynx, even though the sleeper does not become fully conscious, usually. My apnea is mild/moderate – I “wake up” 15-20 times per hour. Anyway I want back to the REM Sleep Center and spent the night with a CPAP mask, slept like a baby and felt like a new person the next day. I’ve heard stories of CPAP masks basically changing people’s lives as a result of being able to get deep, restorative sleep. There’s been a lot of talk in the medical community of late about the benefits of such sleep. I hope the apnea issue is at least explored in your insomnia relief program – it’s not just fat old men that have it!

  5. I don’t read much but I do alot of surfing the net for info…can’t get enough and one link leads me to another thought so I have to search that one and so on. My husband goes to bed early and gets up by 6 or 6:30 so he’ll be up soon so I’ll try to go to bed soon before he gets up and then I will get up later on. Let me know how the coaching program works but I need my coffee and diet coke to get me through most days.

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