Monday, April 18, 2011

Kicking this Sleeping Habit

A sleepy blond walks into her college history class and her neighbor says, "You look like you're dead."

That's it. There isn't really a punchline. My looks reveal that I have been reduced to such a state of near somniphobia. Or at least semisomniphobia. (P.S. have you ever googled phobias? Highly enjoyable activity. There is even a fear of slime. Actually it has TWO names-blennophobia and myxophobia. Someone was really scared.)

But I clearly have a problem getting enough sleep. So I am staging an intervention upon myself. This will mostly take place in the summer, because I have so much to do in these next few weeks that I otherwise don't know how I would fit it all in. But after that I am going to start standing up, saying my name, and how many hours I slept at night. Negative points for sleeping during the day, and triple negative points when this day time sleeping is when I am supposed to be paying attention to someone.

(So I had written that all last April and sadly did not post it. Fortunately tonight I was alone and tired and feeling like writing and I thought to myself, I should write a blog post. And finding this forgotten article was a blessing in disguise.)

I have learned many things in the two and a half years I have been in college. I have learned that I manage to break my backpack every fall finals week, necessitating a raid of Mom's 72 hour kits for spare backpacks (I'm on my fourth for college). I have learned that I burst into tears at inopportune moments. I have found that I love making pancakes, french toast, rice pudding and sharing them with others. I have also learned that I can sleep anywhere. And I usually do.

It all started out innocently enough. To demonstrate my enthusiasm for my professors and their stimulating lectures, I would give a deep nod. A very deep one. The day that nod became so deep I missed part of the lecture, I left class, called Mom, and cried. And then I am pretty sure I emailed everyone in the family as a support group for the emotionally trying experience I had just gone through, and asked for testimonials that graduating really was possible even though I had fallen asleep in one lecture.

I was such a rookie in those days. Soon I had collected a series of stories for sleeping in class. The highlights are:
  • Freshman Year: History. I woke up to see a very complicated graph disappear from the screen. And I may or may not have vocalized my shock. Loudly. The random neighbor I turned to and asked if I could quickly borrow their notes looked embarrassed to be seen talking to me.
  • Sophomore Year: Math. I am just about to fade into the comforts of dreamland, leaning against the fortuitously placed wall, when I hear my teacher (who I was unaware knew my name) say, "Hey Genevieve, is that wall comfortable?"
  • Sophomore Year: Etymology. A day after I found out my professor had requested me to be his undergraduate teaching fellow for the class the next year (which I am currently doing), I woke up to find him lecturing right next to me. As in obviously right next to me. As in speaking loudly right next to me so that I would wake up.
  • Sophomore Year: History. Setting: the final. I walk in, sit down, answer my multiple choice questions and then turn to the page for the long, well-developed, in-class essay. I wake up twenty minutes later to discover all my friends have written a page and a half of essay and I haven't even chosen my topic. I was the last one finishing that final. My professor, who knew me rather well beamed at me and said she could tell I was taking a lot of time and she looked forward to reading my essay.

But it is not enough that I had a couple classes where I was only awake the entire time the day that we went over the syllabus. What developed was the equally traumatic experience of sleeping through class. I know that this is a terrible fate we have all shared. But it was really traumatic the first time I slept through class.

Freshman Year. I was roommates with Jessica. There was a shelf running above our heads the length of the room. As Jessica fondly recalls, it was easy to tell when I was awake because I would sit up, knock my head into the shelf, causing my dictionary to fall over, causing my picture board to fall on top of me, and pictures to fly everywhere.

So Jessica thinks it is simply a normal day and turns over to go back to sleep.

But I look at the phone and realize it is 9:10. I have just slept through my philosophy class. And (and this is not a joke or an exaggeration) I burst into tears and after struggling to get out of my bed, I run out of the room. I am on the couch, sobbing furiously, and in desperate need of comfort for this terrible travesty. So I do what I always do. I call Mom. She didn't answer. So I called Dad.

Dad answers. I am sobbing so uncontrollably that it is hard to understand what I am saying. So in halting, weepy tones I tell Dad I slept through philosophy. The following is a transcript of that conversation. The ... indicate where I simply couldn't speak for the sobs.

Genevieve: .......

Dad: What's wrong?

G: ....I...just...slept......through...phil..o..sophy.....

D: Was there an exam?

G: ...........No.

D: Was there a paper due?


D: Was there an assignment due?


D: Does he take attendance?


D: (the concern has been replaced with increasing bewilderment as the conversation has progressed) Does anything happen to you because you missed class?

G: ..I...just...don't....get... the....know-....ledge!...........................

At this point, Jessica had walked into the kitchen and was staring at me in disbelief. My roommate Leslie also walked out of her room and as I hung out in concern asked, "Did some boy break up with you?" This became even funnier last week when I went to Jess to deal with my first boyfriend breaking up with me and after randomly remembering this story and telling it to Parker, I realized I cried more about missing philosophy then I did at getting dumped.

I think that makes me a nerd.

But, just as my first deep nod in class brought tears, and a need for consolation, sleeping through class became a lot less stressful, dare I say, regular. Until that memorable time last year.

Last year I lived with five other girls and shared my room. I also shared my walk-in closet. It was late on a Tuesday night. I had a Greek exam in the morning. Not just any exam. The midterm.I was studying with furious panic when Kelly came in, ready to go to bed. Usually in this situation I migrate to the kitchen table. But that was really awkward because my roommate and her fiance were there....

My second choice is usually the hall by the bathroom mirrors. Sadly, our wonderful plumbing had overflowed, onto the carpet that day, and though we had scrubbed it with vinegar, the smell was still very much present. I know they say that smells can help with memorization...but I decided to pass.

In desperation I contemplated other locations to study. About to give in to the suggestion of using one of my five mini emergency flashlights under my bedsheets inspiration struck with a wonderful genius. My walk-in closet! Knowing that it was equipped with a light, I stealthily snuck a blanket, my Greek text book, my Greek homework, my Greek flashcards, my Greek pencil and my Greek whiteboard into the closet, sat down and prepared for an hour or two of study before going to bed to wake up in time for my Greek class which started at 8:30.

I wake up in my normal befuddled state to find something continually hitting me in the stomach. Contrary to every other walk-in closet in my apartment, Kelly and my door opened inwards. And I was lying on the ground in a bevy of Greek, preventing the door from opening.

Groggily I sit up and try to figure out what is going on. I peak out the inch of open door space and stare up at Kelly in surprise. She is never out of bed before I leave in the morning.

"What's up Kelly? Why are you up so early?"

"I'm not."

And all of the sudden, just like an electric shock, my mind becomes focused on what is looking like an increasingly terrible nightmare. After asking the time I know my mind has inadequately prepared me for the worst.

It's 9:06. And Greek ends at 9:20. And it takes 17 minutes to walk up the hill. And it was a midterm.

I quickly scoop up my mound of crumpled Greek, throw them on the bed, grab my laptop, and send a desperate plea to my professor, telling her it was an honest mistake, that I wasn't trying to get extra time to study or anything, that I was asleep in my closet, far from my alarm's dulcet tones and that even though I had four other classes in a row that day, if I could take my exam at my first break at 3:30 I wouldn't do any studying and I was really grateful, et cetera et cetera.

And in fear of the worst, I ran to my next class.

My professor replied that that was the most ridiculous story she had ever heard and if had been anyone but me she would say they were lying. And she let me take the test.

It wasn't my best test, because lets be honest, closets are not conduits to passing Greek class.

And that my friends, is why I am staging an intervention. I think I used up seven years good luck on that one.

Speaking of sleeping through class...I should probably go to bed sometime in the very near future.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Bucket List Side Note

As some of you may know, I have cherished the dream of climbing out a window with a bed sheet ladder. My life is rather devoid of romance so I feel that this one ridiculous-ness will serve me well later in life.

But my practical voice insists upon chiming in. After all, there very well may be a fine, or even an actual law, for escaping apartments via bed sheet. Clearly what is needed is a house, covered in ivy, hidden from the road, that comes with magical springy grass should I fall.

But there are other considerations. Such as, is this possible, or even the stuff of true fairy-tale legend? Did bed sheets have a wider historic context? Did Guinevere first start this tradition or was the bed sheet or did an actual person escape in this laudable way? So being an undergrad at a research university, I decided to do a little research on the matter. Research on childhood dreams is a very precarious situation. If one reads too much the magic is gone and the dream becomes an unmemorable copycat of misguided zeal. If you don't do enough research, you could die. You could be dead. And the bed sheets could be equated to the rooftop killer.

So I set out to do a perfect amount of preliminary research. I found some gems online, which I would include pictures of (my next post will have some pictures), but I wasn't sure it was entirely legal, but I found a bed sheet ladder you could buy. It was a wooden ladder, specifically designed to hold bed sheets. That takes all of the fun out of the ladder.

After flipping through cartoon images and other random pictures and myths, I found what my heart must secretly have been craving: "How to" instructions. Clearly this was my destiny.

The directions seemed extremely interesting, and I was not entirely sure that it would serve as a life or death situation safety ladder, when I got to the bottom disclaimer:

"Never attempt to descend or ascend a large area without the use of a proper ladder. Ladders constructed from bedsheets are for decorative purposes only."(Having this makes me feel more legal. After all, I would never dream of phrasing the concept this way and I want to give full credit to the original authors).

Let us take a moment to reread that quote: "for decorative purposes only." I will never be one to claim brilliance in the field of fashionable interior design, but I had absolutely no idea that bed sheet ladders were in. I now feel that my room is incomplete without a cut apart sheet dangling elusively over the window.

Research proved, once again, to be a valuable commodity in my life. I look forward to all of the decoration possibilities I now have for my apartment next year. It's like a travel theme, but with bedsheets and other really trendy and flashy escape devices.