It’s good to be…sleeping

As a teenager I would sleep until mid afternoon. My mother would watch me saunter down the stairs, my hair in disarray, my eyes bloodshot. As my mother would look upon my disheveled form she would say, in a disgusted voice, “I hope you don’t TELL people you sleep this late.” It never made sense to me. Why would anyone care what time I slept until? Was I taking time away from their snooze-fest? Besides, I finally turned off my light and went to sleep around 4 in the morning. So, I was just trying to get my 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. What is wrong with sleeping?

After some intense analysis I realized that my Catholic mother had two problems with my tardy wakening. First, she definitely believed she had a lazy daughter, which was an absolute disability, a handicap so bad that she would never be able to marry me off. Yeah, it was the late 1980s early 1990s, but in her old-ways European life mentality, her goal was all about selling off…ahem…marrying off her daughter to a good family. The second thing was that “sloth” was (and is) one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Not only was her daughter the epitome of laziness, not only would my mom never be able to find me a mate, but when my life finally DID expire on this earth she knew that her beloved spawn would burn in hell forever which ultimately meant she was a bad mother. Everything in my life somehow directly affected her life. That, however, is a story for another day. Actually, it’s more like a novella, but I digress (as usual).

Lazy. I wasn’t lazy. I was tired. Staying up late when the house was nice and quiet was when I got most of my homework done. HA! HOMEWORK! Yeah right. The witching hour was when I would haul the land line phone into my closet and call my boyfriend and we would whisper chat. Or I’d meet my sister by the tv set in the family room at 1 a.m. so we could watch music videos. THAT was definitely banned. One tv in the WHOLE house and limited viewing time.  There were horrible things like “rock videos” and those were very bad because there was nudity (like bald people) and people dressed weird and screaming at you (like Twisted Sister, We’re Not Gonna Take It which was definitely devil’s work. Hmmm, come to think of it, most of the stuff that was FUN was devil’s work. All this banned stuff made sense (sort of), but sleep…being bad?

Now, back to my original tale of my teenage obsession with sleep.  The reason I liked sleeping so much was that I finally had my very own room which contained my very own double (nowadays called “full”) bed.  There were 4 of us children. We lived in a very large 4 bedroom home. Now here is how bed/bedroom assignments worked in our house.  Parental figures had one of the 4 bedrooms.  That left 3 bedrooms for 4 children. Initially my younger brother and I shared a room, but as we went from toddler to tween the whole boy/girl in same room was not an option. So, my parents put me and my sister together in a room.  It was great!  She is 5 years older than me.   At that time she was so excited that her little sister was sharing HER room and asking questions about HER teenage stuff.  And her little sister would not shut the hell up at night because wee sister came alive at bedtime.  Big sister decided that there needed to be some rules:  No more asking questions about her teenage girl stuff.  No talking at bedtime.  No tossing and turning in the squeaky bed.  No looking at older sister.  No using big sister’s stuff.  Little sis allowed in room ONLY at bedtime.  Oh, little sister must learn not to breathe cause that was annoying too.  After a few days of this sisterly love-fest, I got to vacate.  I went from pauper to princess and got my very own room.

(Sidenote:  My older brother…who is even older than my sister, had to share a room with baby brother…9 years younger.  I don’t think my big brother has ever forgiven me for having him displaced from his solitary haven.) 

Anyway, back to my original tale of the zombie teen in the kitchen.  I thought about the whole “lazy” thing and then thought about how the bible actually referred to this particular sin as “sloth”. Sloths were super cool. I had seen one once while watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. (That was the show we had to watch first in order to be allowed to watch the Magical World of Disney. It was a trade off: Learn, then laugh.) But this day was totally worth it cause sloths are incredibly amazing! They look like they are smiling ALL THE TIME! Like a big teddy bear. And they love hugging tree branches which means they love hugs and I love hugs so I was definitely the epitome of sloth-dom.

I tried to explain this thought process to my mother. The whole laziness = sloth = happy animal = GOD LOVES EVERYONE! That last one was always my go to response when my parents poo-pooed people. I used it if my parents didn’t like one of the neighbour kids, “but God loves everyone.”  Or I’d try this one:  Jesus even said to ‘love thy neighbour’.  I could almost hear their eyes rolling at me.  To be fair, I was trained in Commando Verbal Warfare by the best of the best: My Mother.  In the end, I was informed that God could love these people at their own houses and we could love people from afar and sloth and laziness were still bad.  I would still pat myself on the back for the good effort I had put forward.  I wouldn’t win the battle, but hoped to win the war.  Time passed.

As an adult in my partying 20s, I managed to get, maybe 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night. Not sure how I coped or functioned, but I managed to drive my car, do daily work assignments, and basically function like a normal human being. After aging and graduating into the upper echelons of adult society, thoughts of partying were put the wayside because the one thing I cherished most was once again, the nestling of my head into my down and feather pillow and watching my digital clock on weekends as it went from 6 am to 8 am to 9 am to double digits like 10 am and 11 am. Each time I checked the time I would smile, contentedly.  No guilt.  No thoughts of laziness.  I prefer to call it a luxury.  Get it while you can and enjoy it.  Snuggle yourself into your blankets and dream those happy dreams.  No need to get dressed.  No need to run around and think about errands.  It’s the best de-stresser. 

Tomorrow is Saturday.  I have no plans.  Full disclosure, I have one plan:  Sleep in and be happy.



The World is Full of Rings, Dings, Pings, and Beeps…

I was sitting in a restaurant, waiting for my friends and I heard a PING!  I grabbed my purse and pulled out my cell phone.  Nope.  No new message for me.  As I was putting my cell back into the pocket I heard several voices around me say, “Nope, wasn’t my phone.”  I had seen with my own eyes that there had been nothing new on my smart phone.  But…if it wasn’t their phones then….yup, I grabbed my cell again and looked.  Nuthin’.  That got me thinking about how different our society is now thanks(?) to “smart” phones.

Have you ever heard of “classical conditioning” a.k.a. Pavlov’s research with dogs?  Looking around me (and at myself) I see how much we have become like those dogs.  Our phone PINGS and we all grab for our phones.  Commercials on tv that include those text message sounds drive me nuts!  I think it’s my phone and then realize where the sound came from.  How did this happen?

Here is my theory.  When the smart phone first came out it was incredible technology.  The information at your finger tips made us more proficient in our jobs.  We could look up information, share said information, and best of all, we could do this ANYWHERE.  Being capable of doing this at any moment in any place made our lives so much easier…at first.

With such technology in the palm of our hands we were now expected to answer questions immediately.  There was no more leaving a message and saying, “when you get back to the office, can you please send me that info?”  More and more people are now driving and texting.  Why?  There is no such thing as patience.  Everything is about instant gratification.  Everything is needed NOW!  RIGHT NOW!  You can tell people you are driving and they still think they can berate you for not getting them what they want.  This moved on from work to the “fun” stuff as well.  Our phones have become our crutches if we are left waiting somewhere.

Waiting in a restaurant for friends to arrive?  Check out if anything new was posted on Facebook.  There are the gazillion apps so you can play a game.  Doctor’s office?  If you look around you will see the majority of people there are playing on their phones.  If they aren’t, they have given their phones to their kids to play on so that they will behave.  Do you know what used to happen?  Someone would look at you and maybe start talking about the weather or talk about their child’s illness.  There would be this thing called “conversation”.  And there was never any doubt what tone the person was using when they spoke.  Not like text injuries.  You know…the one where you text someone, and you thought you were being smart and funny, and they text back yelling at you because they totally misunderstood your text.  Why?  Text does not do intonation.  I guess that’s why emoticons are used.  Hmmmm, then again, maybe it’s because we have become so lazy in texting that pictures are easier to use.

Ever had this problem?  Your phone has died and you need to call someone.  How do you do it?  You don’t know anyone’s phone number off by heart.  I remember having everyone’s phone number memorized.  Not anymore.

My cell phone pings with texts.  It dings with Facebook and Twitter notifications.  It rings too.  That’s only because Wiseguy prefers to call me instead of texting.  Old school works for us.  We can figure stuff out in seconds rather than texting back and forth.  So, that got me thinking about other sounds that make me react.

My clothes dryer.  I can hear it buzz from anywhere in the house.  No one else does.  But I do.  I have been trained to hear that sound.  My microwave…beep beep beeps when it’s finished rotating and heating my food.  My oven dings 3 times when it has reached my desired temperature.  It dings once when I turn it off.  My car ding ding dings if I leave my lights on or if the keys are in the ignition once I have opened the door.  If you are a pedestrian,  you might have noticed new signal lights at intersections that ding to let you know when you can cross.  When I am grocery shopping, and my items cross over the scanner, each one beeps before being put into my grocery bag.  Those are but a few of the sounds that I am trained on hearing.

It’s true…whenever one of these rings, dings, pings, or beeps sound off I have been trained to react.  Sometimes I love it and oftentimes I hate it.  I hate when I’m otherwise occupied, like watching a movie.  I hear the ping and my body uneasily twitches.  Why?  Because I feel the need to pause my movie and get up and see who has texted me.  One day I decided not to carry my barnacle along with me.   It was liberating!  True, I felt guilty for not responding to my plethora of text messages, but I felt great knowing that I did what I wanted.  I enjoyed my movie.  I didn’t even check my phone afterward.  I waited until the next day.  Crazy?  Maybe.  I also felt…liberated.  I had broken my Pavlovian dog mode and began to decide what I wanted to do and not what my brain had trained me to do.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am addicted to my smart phone.  I try not to pull out my phone when I am waiting somewhere.  I don’t actually talk to people because nowadays people are creeped out when a stranger talks to them.  I WILL say that Wiseguy tried and succeeded in creating a memorable experience by NOT using our cell phones.

We were at a restaurant and Wiseguy and I were discussing something that could have easily been solved by grabbing our cell phones and “Googling” for the answer.  Instead, he asked our server the question.  It became a “conversation”.  A slight debate.  I itched to grab my phone, but no…we waited for our server to come back with an answer.  (It was about colleges and universities in Ontario).  Well, our server came back with the answer.  He admitted he had used his smart phone, BUT….Wiseguy and I did NOT!  We did old-fashioned “question, debate, and final answer” technique.  It felt really good!

This world of ours is full of rings, dings, pings, and beeps, but feel free to unplug sometime.  It’s good to have time for your own thoughts.  It’s good not be “on-call” 24-7.  Take time to enjoy the outdoors without having to take selfies in your environment.  Keep some stuff private so that it feels special just for you.  I love technology and sometimes I regret not taking videos or pictures of events happening around me and then I think how happy I am that I got to see it live and it will live on forever in my memory.  Always vivid…always true…and not documented.  It’s my truth to myself.

P.S.  My phone has not made any noise since I began this article.  The silence is quite deafening, but I think I can used to it.