I Am Not Sleeping at Night

And I Hate Myself Just A Little For It

Who sleeps at night? People with schedules. When we are without schedules, what do we have then? I don’t know about other people, but I revert to a nocturnal system. Even before the stay-at-home orders of March, even before the record unemployment rate, even before the online transitions, I have always preferred night.

But now, I live with people I actually spend time with. Now? I can’t sleep the day away so much. Granted, there’s not that much I need to be doing, but there are still the chores of grocery shopping and the occasional eye appointment or dental cleaning or, God forbid, visitors when the waking hours are preferred, if not required. I’ve never liked it. I’ve said for years now that I’m training for my future life as a hermit, but I’m still in my twenties and I feel the dread of regret in the back of my mind like a dead tooth. I want something to look back on, something maybe resembling fun, but have yet to find my people. I truly believes that the TV show Friends set unholy expectations of both metropolitan living and friend groups. Who has six friends? It’s pulling teeth to name six people!

So, What Is My Plan?

I don’t know. I want to travel, but I would be alone, isolated, and forbidden from museums and operas in this time of crisis, not that I could afford it any more than I could when places were open. Granted, the world is slowly opening, moving on to what America has called Phase 2 or 3, but Europe has grown keen to our negligence and will eventually close borders to Americans because it’s impossible to hold them accountable for public health. It’s despicable, but I agree with Europe.

Now, I’m biding my time. I’m working on a home career, on freelancing, on saving and crossing off my adulting to-do list, like learning to drive and buying a car. I think in waves of “I should probably do this” and “who gives a shit,” about my weight and learning German and French, and reading the books I’ve accumulated over the years for this very excess of time. These are all things I’ll be glad to have done as an old woman, but I don’t do them! My self-discipline is in shambles, and I need to remedy it all. I’ve worked among people, very dedicated people, who are jealous of my eloquence and pointless body of knowledge who can get up, easily, at 5 AM and go running. I’m the jealous one!

Step One: Find a Method

So without work and meetings and classes to kick my sleep schedule back to rights, I need some way to regulate my waking hours to best benefit me. There are so many time-management methods out there, just look at Pinterest, but I’ve found one that requires a little gadget: the Pomodoro Technique. The “core” of this technique is 25-minute increments with 5-minute breaks, all based on the efficiency and simplicity of the Pomodoro, or a tomato timer. I LOVE gadgets. I love little stupid things that have a particular purpose and functionality, and this seems like a good way for me to get hooked. I can’t even begin to express how pointless timer apps and smartphone calendars are at keeping me on task and on schedule, you can consult my two wall calendars and stacks of post-it notes about my inability to care about Google Calendar or the Notes app. I’m an analog girl! I have a wristwatch for Christ’s sake! And now, at this very moment, I’m typing on a classic keyboard connected to my little tiny MacBook Air. I could make a whole new post on my analog lifestyle (and I probably will) but that’s not the point. The little timer is perfectly sensible.

Step Two: Test the Method

Next, of course, you test it out. As I don’t have the little tomato timer yet I will have to test it at a later time, but this is when you try for a day or two to measure your life in 25-minute increments. Don’t want to try it right now? Read this article in the New York Times, which is where I learned of the technique myself for the first time. There are other articles about the Pomodoro Technique from Forbes, The Muse, Lifehack, and Business Insider.

It might take some time to get into the groove, but don’t give up just yet.

Step Three: Is It Successful?

Do you wake up with a task in mind? Are there more hours in the day? Is the anxiety still there, but, like, less and not so much about your life but for the world in general? Mood. Whichever technique you’ve chosen, just might be working! Self-discipline is a suspicious word as it means different things to different people (everything from dieting to exercise to studying to rehabilitation) but whatever your definition is, just know that getting out of bed is so, so, so important. Don’t get me wrong, being in bed is fantastic. Take a nap, why the hell not? Just remember that the world is still turning. It’s still waiting for you to succeed, whatever that means to you, and you’ll thank yourself later.

How Coronavirus Might Have Saved My Life

It sounds ridiculous, I know. As I’m writing this, there have been 120,000 and counting COVID-19 related deaths in the United States, there is no sign of relief, and I’ve been stuck in the house for near four months. How, you must ask, has my life been saved? 


Remember the panic of March? Do you recall the closures and the fear and the purgatory of “will I lose my job?” and “how soon will I get unemployment?” For those whose mentalities have not been scratched by this classic worry, congratulations, but for the millions who are still currently out of work, I stand in solidarity. I lost my job in March as an intern at a production company with duties like “go mail this” and “take notes there,” I didn’t have a lot of hope that I would ride out this wave of firing, but it was an unfortunate blow. It was the first time I have ever been fired, and while I wasn’t truly fired (my position was eliminated) I felt more disposable and unnecessary than ever before. Just days previously, my school campus closed and all classes were held online for the rest of the Spring semester, and that same day I’d been told officially to work for my boss at home. It seemed simple enough: classes met on Zoom every Tuesday and Thursday morning, and I could read for work in between. I wasn’t thinking of my living situation, which was most unsuited to this transition. 


I moved to Los Angeles as a college drop out and dreamer with big plans to be a casual actor and screenwriter. I even got on stage at the Comedy Store once. My living space was a shared room — shared between four or five people at a time — with four other rooms divided between just as many. There could be, maybe, fifteen people living in the house at one time, but I was never the wiser. I, also, didn’t really find it that strange or upsetting. My mother was a transient, a mentally ill woman who was always on the move — from what, I don’t know — and all my childhood I’d been living with strangers. Either it was the other down-and-out families in the homeless shelter, or the losers my mom befriended and housed when we, ourselves, had a home, or my grandparents who intervened sometime in my teenage years. Bottom line: I had low standards of living. A twin-sized bunkbed, a third of the closet, and a communal bathroom for $450 a month was how I lived in Los Angeles, and honestly I didn’t hate it. 


But, with the oncoming of Covid, I realized the shortcomings of my situation. I couldn’t go to the library, or campus, or work. I had no desk space, no privacy, and, above all, I didn’t use the kitchen. There wasn’t any room, honestly, and it either had rats or human thieves in the cupboards. My diet consisted of street food, Denny’s, Postmates, and the occasional non-perishables I could stash in my bed for a long weekend in bed. Suddenly, with the stay-at-home order, everyone became a cook, and I was stranded in the hoopla of stockpiling where I was unable to hoard or cook anything. Luckily, I called my grandmother to update her on my conformation to the local mandates. 


The fear of death had gotten to her quickly, and it had a lot to do with living in Hawaii. The islands were hypervigilant about invasive species and diseases — and for good reason considering smallpox, leprosy, and colonization of the late 19th century — and were quarantining anyone traveling from the Mainland. She, herself, was a news buff and loved her New York Times and CNN morning reports, so it wasn’t surprising that she cancelled travel plans to my Aunt’s house in southern California in fear of contracting the disease and dying. It was a surprise, but when I told her about my classes going online and my work-from-home order, she suggested (I would never say plead, and you wouldn’t either if you met my grandmother, but it was close) that I ride out the virus with my Aunt and cousins, move into her guest room, and help them adjust to a new norm that none of us could have imagined. Also surprisingly, I agreed.


I normally distance myself from people not so much because I don’t enjoy company (that’s definitely a reason, but it’s not the reason), but because I prefer alone time so much I prioritize it. And being alone in Los Angeles is quite a trip — so it surprised me how readily I packed up (horribly, I’ll add, because I took a carry on bag of clothes, a pair of rain boots, my computer, and nothing else) and took the train down to San Diego county. There, my Aunt was finishing up her last few shifts as a waitress and faintly wondering if her 13-year-old son would have to participate in online classes. In the end, he did need to and, just as we expected, he didn’t do a very good job at all. Regardless, he’s filled to the brim with the ego of an eighth-grader already. 


Back to the point, I suppose, of how Coronavirus saved my life. Simply, I moved out. My lifestyle could not handle the remote working and eventual job loss, nor could it facilitate my needs as someone who never cooked or needed space to breath and study. Now, in my Aunt’s kitchen with a fridge and a stove and pantry and counter top, I cook almost every day and I’ve gotten rather good at over-easy eggs, although they aren’t as good as the ones made at Denny’s, while finishing the Spring semester with a flourish of A grades. Some days, when I roll out of the guest room’s queen-sized bed that I still believe is too large for a single person, and shuffle to the kitchen, I wonder what would have become of me in Los Angeles. I took the bus and lived shoulder-to-shoulder with lackadaisical actors and musicians who were reckless with their health, I starved between meals I couldn’t really afford at McDonalds or Dennys, and I was, at the core, miserable with my situation when I got a chance to stop and breath. Now, I have almost too much air. I don’t know what to do with the space, but as I look around the room, I see my art supplies, calendars with test and submission dates, and a desk I’ve made my own. I can conform to any space without much issue, but I have finally gotten a space I can make up to my needs. Behind me, there is a door that closes and I possess an inherent authority as the one who can close it. This, to me, is brand new. 


Rest in Power all who’ve lost their lives to Covid-19. I am sorry for your loss, but it might have been the best thing that’s happened to me. I was forced to make a decision I had no idea would affect me so dramatically, and I am pleased to say that despite the contentions within my Aunt’s house, I have a freedom I’ve never once experienced. I suppose now I understand Virginia Woolfe’s famous A Room of One’s Own