Tuesday, May 15, 2012

night owl: a blessing and a curse.

I can't sleep.
Exactly a month left of teaching before "summer vacation" (a.k.a. returning to my past life of retail a few days a week and painting constantly), and my night owl ways are creeping back quickly as though they've been summoned by my impending months off.
This whole week, I simply have not been able to sleep.
I am a night owl at heart, something I inherited from my artist mother that is perpetuated by my own feeling that there is always something to do, a painting to be painted, an essay to be written, a book to be read, quiet to be absorbed. 
I cherished my nights last year especially while painting for "Depending upon the nature of the beast." I would stay up till 4, 5, 6 in the morning painting. The thing is, I usually don't get to sleep late after doing this. I'd have to get up and go to work and go about my day as though I'd slept all night. But, somehow, I'd be fine.
Something switched this year. My wonderful new job managed to retrained me sleep-wise, and all year I have been in bed by midnight and still found time to do all the things I needed to do. I don't know if I could exist on 3 hours of sleep a night anymore if I tried.
All this week, though, I cannot sleep. Maybe I still haven't gotten back to normal after spending two weeks "six hours ahead" in Switzerland. I'm not sure if it's insomnia or if, subconsciously, I am planning on returning to night owl status as soon as school lets out.
This isn't my plan. I like getting a full night's sleep and getting up early and making the most of the day.    But part of me feels nostalgic for late nights in the summer.
They began with watching I Love Lucy marathons on Nick at Nite's Block Party Summer with my mom and sister.
In recent years, they include painting with the windows open to the city-dark, navy and glowing with street lamps, the faint sound of cars and insects and train whistles.
Sleeping with the windows open is so beautiful, I want to be awake to enjoy it.
There is a subtle thrill to seeing the sky change from dark to pastel and knowing that you spent all that time making something.
I once read that people are born pre-dispositioned to be a night owl or an early-to-bed, early-to-rise type. I believed that statement until this year, when I was so convinced that I had retrained myself to adhere to a completely new schedule. I'm beginning to wonder if I believed too soon, though, and am thinking that this summer will be the true test.
So what about you - are you a night owl? And if so, what do you think compels you to be that way? Are you an artist? A musician? Or just someone who loves the night? I'm really curious.
So I'm off to try and sleep now. Sweet dreams!


www.juliadenos.com said...

I love your description of the "night city" with the windows open...I can feel it! It's neat you've "inherited" your sleep owl status.

I've always personally felt cozy about night time too...I like to stretch it out in stories, when I was little I always wanted to pretend it was night in games...it's so true that you want to stay awake to feel how it is to sleep with the windows open: love that!

In real life, I was always afraid to see the dawn change over. It always feels like something magical I'm not supposed to see (haha that sounds so weird!)

I hope you get a few night owls this summer :) You could paint a whole night owl series!

PS. Welcome back! (sorry so long)

John Lechner said...

I'm a night owl too, though I still need 7 hours of sleep in order to function at work the next day. I used to stay up all night painting in college, but that was twenty years ago and it's a lot harder to spring back now.

I seem to be more focused at night, when there are less distractions. And I know if I put things off until tomorrow, something else might get in the way, so I try to get as much done at night as possible. Of course, I procrastinate a lot during the day, which is why I always have so much to finish at night!

Amanda Laurel Atkins said...

Julia, I love what you wrote about dawn changing over! It doesn't sound weird at all to me. :) It does seem like a sacred time. Staying up late enough to see it always does have a kind of eerie feeling, and it doesn't happen very often for me so it has this incredible feeling of rarity about it! Thank you for my welcome back, I hope i get to see you soon!! <3

John, I agree with you about less distractions at night. I think there is something about...owning the period of time before you go to sleep. It's that until "sleep," that time is all yours. After work, after obligations, it's the time when you can focus your energy on whatever you want until there is sleep. And so sleep gets put off as long as possible. I, too, need at least 7 hours now or I can't function. And I am also a huge procrastinator! :)

A Painted Journey said...

Oh my gosh, I feel so guilty if I have passed this on to you! And now I'm the one getting 8-9 hours of sleep a night, thankfully! I hope you're just off schedule from travel and that you're able to get back to a 'normal' schedule, honey!... Love, Mommy