Is it always “or”
Is it never “and”

– The Baker’s Wife, Sondheim.

I’ve forced myself to run. Forced myself to move through the morning asanas. I’ve had a good breakfast for the first time in weeks: real eggs and homemade salsa, instead of a plastic cup of protein powder and tap water. And still I have to force myself to sit up straight at the desk. And force myself to write.

These days staying healthy is taking all the discipline I have. And then some.

Take a deep breath. Shoulders down. Let the back expand.

I am ten again and swimming in a spring somewhere in Nevada. And  matter how bright the sun is shining on the surface, cold currents bite at my ankles, like tiny monsters.

These are deep days. I believe most writers will admit to being seduced by their own darkness: when everything appears flat, the tug of anxiety and the welling of tears from somewhere unknown can actually be a comfort: there is still a bit of dimension, a form of sorts.

And tiny monsters can be muses. Unreliable, but they tap you on the shoulder just before you wake, and they whisper things to make your heart beat hard enough to force you to take notice: Your heart is beating.

20161008_142349_dde2f9aaI’m never more in touch with everyone I’ve ever been, than when I’m on the edge of drowning. All memories are comforting memories, seen from at least one perspective. So knowing this too will pass is a comfort–and not.

In the photos I take on hikes, the light and the shadow interplay, but is it difficult these days to experience both at once.

To engage with one, without losing sight of the other.

I really hate giving up on things. But as I sit here, half past five p.m. in a haze, I am calling it quits.

After 11 days of the two-sleep experiment, which was supposed to run 30 days, I have to stop. This morning during a lecture, I said one thing to the students while writing the opposite thing on the whiteboard.

Which would have been a really cool trick, had it been intentional.

Perhaps this “natural” sleeping pattern is tapping into my creativity, but unregulated creativity is not particularly helpful in the world.

Not my world.

E. described the past days as beginning well, but deteriorating each day. He hasn’t felt creative, just increasingly stressed-out.

I have lived the past 5 years or so with a pretty good routine. I run and get at least a half an hour of writing in before leaving for my day job that begins at 8. This past year, my partner and I have also tried to make sure that we dedicate time each day to be together in the same room, actually paying attention to each other.

What began as a way to address my insomnia and to free up time for peaceful, quiet contemplation (which I sorely miss, having had experienced it o the plateau this summer), became a fractured, anti-social, and military-like schedule of alarms and interruptions.

img_20160831_194911I am celebrating the end of this experiment with a glass of wine, frozen grapes, and Dr. Bronner’s Oh-So-Holy Soap for body and soul. Lavender.

I’ll be in bed at nine-thirty and up at four: happy to greet the pre-dawn as my good-ole, familiar, insomnia-plagued self.

A pseudo-scientist has to know when to call off the experiment for the sake of the health and well-being of the subjects involved. It is best for everyone.

Imagine: I might even stop snapping like a turtle at every gadfly on social media.

I just might begin blogging for real.

What I will take with me?
The darkened rooms, and the candlelight after 8 pm. 

A warning for anyone with bipolar disorder. Do not do this. That is all.
Talk to your doctor. 

An update because a few people are wondering.

No. The words are not pouring out of me at the witching hour.

That is the simple conclusion I am making now at 00:22 on Wednesday morning. E. has staggered up to sit in the chair here in the library and work on equations, and the old lady has moved from her bed in the hall to the rug near my desk, and dropped her body with a loud complaint. She’s whistling now as she breathes, but is likely too deaf to be aware of it herself.

This is only the 10th night of biphasic sleeping. The first week I woke easily at midnight. Sometimes right before the wake-up music started playing on my phone. I could think of it that way then. Tonight it very much felt like an alarm.

The idea of having to wake to an alarm, abruptly and from a deep sleep twice a night is discouraging. Though I am not sure I would be having this idea if it were for my visit to the acupuncturist yesterday afternoon. For someone whose a woman whose business is definitely “woo-woo” in most people’s minds, she is terribly conservative. I once explained that, lying there with the needles, I had felt like a champagne cork had popped from the top of my head. She laughed. I was half-hoping for some explanation of my chi having undergone some kind of fundamental and transformative catharsis of its own.

Yesterday, when she asked if my sleeping has improved, I (reluctantly and) very quickly tried to explain biphasic sleeping. But my acupuncturist is a Gyn from China and is completely unimpressed by my busyness and the fact that I teach & write & translate & train for marathons, & … She keeps chiding me for creating my own stress. Yesterday: “You shouldn’t go to bed knowing you have to wake up half-way through the night.”

Yeah, yeah, just finish putting puncturing the inside of my knee, and turn down the lights please.

I am not sure what I think of acupuncture. I have been going twice a month for a while now. At first it was amazing. My pulse would drop to 47 on the table and I felt refreshed. I figured if it is all just a placebo, then it is still worth the money to have a good 25-minute meditation in the middle of the day. The last two months, I haven’t felt that pop or sensed that wink of possible transformation.

IMG_20150928_095444For an experiment, there are far too many variables to draw conclusions: whether I’m thinking about acupuncture or the two-sleep project. I have been edgy the past three or four days. I have also had moments where I feared I might topple into a slightly manic place, after all these years of relative stability.

I feel creative most of the day, observant and calm. I have what seem like constructive and realistic ideas for new approaches to writing projects that have been languishing in the drawer.

But the at same time, I am suffering from a crisis in self-confidence; concerned that I am only adding to the noise in the world. There has to be a way to re-frame that thought. The music in the world? But I am feeling all too dissonant for anyone’s good.

For now, I will keep it up – this two-sleeping project. I’ll be patient, and hope for a pop of inspiration.

20160722_175130Knowledge is knowing that there is a difference between the undulating black mounds of the lichen, and those of the frozen moss.

It is knowing that the latter will provide you with a good grip on the smooth granite, and the former, a swift fall to your ass.

Wisdom is knowing that,
with knowing that,
it’s my own fault when I fall.

It’s kinda simple.

And what goes for the lichen and the moss? That goes for people, too.


Five days filled with the immediate moment, the eternal present. Now.
No question: negotiating the  wild is a form of meditation.
If your mind wanders, your feet get wet in the snowmelt, and that’ll bring you back to the moment fast.

One of the disorienting things about being up at midnight (to write before the second sleep) is the way these 90 minutes are seemingly untethered from normal time.

14139337_337903373213924_369997056_oWhen I sit down, pen in hand, and begin to write the date in the upper left corner of a new sheet of paper, I am not sure what to write. Technically, it is tomorrow already. The events of yesterday, are – well – yesterday. But I will sleep again soon, and rise at 5 to run and “start the day”.

This is the 5th night of biphasic sleeping. The first of falling asleep easily. Maybe a sign that my body is learning what to expect in this new (or very old) pattern. But the weekend is coming, and with it the obvious anti-social aspect of this whole concept: to go out for a glass of wine after work will be like trying to shoehorn an elephant into a toolbox.

Who crawls into bed at 8 p.m. besides toddlers and hermits?

Will a month of routine reprogram the norm, so that a night without a first sleep won’t send my body reeling?