Posted by: Chelsea Novak | February 22, 2006

I am Sisyphus and doing the laundry is my rock

In which our heroine comes up from Olympics watching for a breath of air, gets “the dress”, ponders if her insomnia is actually an existential crisis and wonders if it was having to dry socks that made Camus and Satre so jaded…

Okay, does anyone else get choked up when they watch an athlete who’s won gold singing along to their national anthem or am I one step away from becoming a Hallmark-loving, minivan driving, sap? Perplexing.

Anyway, a few updates while I’ve turned away from the three stations showing Olympic coverage…

Last Saturday my mother and I purchased my wedding dress in under 20 minutes. Of course the two weeks of pondering the options didn’t hurt my decision abilities one bit. We got out of the bridal salon just as a total princess bride (and I mean that in the pejorative way) walked in. You have to wonder who exactly agrees to marry people like that. But I digress. Pretty dress procured. Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.

I’m still not sleeping anywhere close to enough. I did sleep on Saturday after having a very long and active day. And I napped the whole way through Sunday. Hopefully that will be enough to get me through this week.

I am trying to get out of this sleeping headgame. I now turn my alarm clock away from me so I can’t count the minutes and hours I’m not sleeping as they pass by. The cat waking me up an hour before my alarm goes off is not a great deal of help either, but such is the life of a cat owner.

Friends and readers have given me a lot of good suggestions and have tried most of them (save John R’s suggestion of turning off my alarm clock. MADNESS I tell you!) and they’ve only made me more awake so far.

The problem is that I simply cannot get my brain to stop and even when I’ve lulled it into relative quiet, I’m shaken out of sleep by noise or a cat. And the things I think of… so random and from all the time periods of my life. Things I’d totally forgotten, embarrassing moments I’d blocked out…I try to think of pleasant serial memories and I do and then I’m off on a series of mental tangents that get my brain whirring again.

I haven’t gotten my hands on any relaxation CDs yet, mostly out of consideration for M. I tried to bring the owl with me to bed one night and M found the tone and melody creepy, citing that they use that kind of music in horror movies for a reason. The reading thing just gets my mind going even more (granted I’m not reading fiction as I haven’t been able to read fiction in almost two-and-a-half years). I’m about to start a book on the history of Japan. At least this bout of insomnia has been educational.

As for the anonymous poster’s suggestion, that’s truly an avenue to being totally awake for me. Thanks though.

Because of the way I have to spread out the pills I take during the day, any calcium I take a bed time would counteract the iron supplements I seem to constantly have to take. Not that being off iron makes me sleepy, no, just listless. Also I just don’t want to take anything like a supplement to sleep. It’s taken me a long time to get my pills into working and effective balance and I don’t want to throw that off with herbals that, generally speaking, are poorly regulated and not in truly predictable doses, at least here in Canada.

So what’s left? Drying socks. I have been doing laundry in this dryer for more than two years now and I still have not figured out the right balance of clothes to get M’s socks dry in a single dryer cycle. Like having to do laundry once a week isn’t annoying enough, but to have this perpetual failure! I take laundry far too seriously.

Today’s sing-a-long song: “As The Days Are Long” by Tory Cassis



  1. What the heck are his socks made out of that they won’t dry with the rest of the clothes? Jenn O.

  2. Evil, clearly.

  3. Socks of Evil…that a premise for a great comic book…

  4. I’m telling you, as someone who has gone through this same thing, and all the same wacky relaxation methods and potential curatives (though I admit, I did not bring any birds to bed with me), turning off the alarm clock was the silver bullet!

  5. I haven’t checked to see if anyone else suggested this, but what about reverse psychology? Whenever I know I have a big day coming up and need a good night’s sleep I invariably lie awake watching my window of sleep-time ticking away. Whenever I try to stay up to read course material or manuscript submissions, mark up proofs due the next day, or see the end of a boring movie, I immediately long for nothing more than to give in to slumber. As someone who has suffered from insomnia since about age 2, I can sympathize. It does tend to come in spells, so hopefully yours will wear off soon …

  6. When John R says “turn off the alarm clock,” does he mean don’t set it at all?

    I can’t imagine how that wouldn’t cause more stress from worrying that you wouldn’t wake up on time, thereby causing you to wake up every hour even if you did fall asleep.

  7. He does! Isn’t that just madness. 🙂

  8. Has anyone suggested red wine? Or red wine and a pasta meal, taken together?

    I’m not the thinnest girl alive, but I am well rested, lol.

  9. That IS what I mean. Turn off the alarm!

    Believe, most of what (I believe) Chelsea’s kind of insomnia is about math, pure and simple.

    “If I fall asleep now, I’ll get 6 hours, 22 minutes sleep…. If I fall asleep now, I’ll get 4 hours 15 minutes sleep, and I’ll be SO tired…. If I fall asleep now, I’ll get 4 hours and 12 minutes sleep, and I’ll have a headache all day…”

    Over and over and over.

    I went through the same thing myself for years.

    Turn off the alarm, and trust your body that you’ll wake up.

    I’m not saying you should do this the night before you’re giving the big presentation to the board of directors or anything. Pick some night when the world isn’t going to end if you’re a little late for work the next day and try it!

  10. Hey, Chel, wanna come over and do laundry at my place? The clothes come out hot! Even the socks.

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