This past week of sleeplessness wasn’t only my experience. I heard my students complain about it, my coworker, friends, posts on Facebook and Instagram all talked about this sleep illusive week. I had a break just a week ago, and I already can’t even remember the feeling of being well-rested. Of dreaming sweet dreams and waking up with no alarm other than a kitty headbutting my face so I will get her breakfast. A rare warm week of 70-degree weather and no rain. That was my April break. This week we had drizzle, fog, and snow. More typical of the season and a reminder of winter and the desire to crawl back under the heavy covers. And yet, we couldn’t sleep.
For me, I was shaken awake by nightmares of pre-teens zombie attacking the overnight summer camp where I met my husband. I had an oar in my hands, trying to fend them off, just hoping my vaccination worked. Oh, by the way, one of the two jails I teach in is locked down due to a COVID outbreak. Every staff member who is sick had refused to get the vaccine. About half the inmates have tested positive, and more continue to pop up. I guess the dreams make sense, but they aren’t helping me feel less cranky.
This lack of sleep reminds me of what it was like a year ago when it was setting in that the pandemic wasn’t going to end in two weeks. I’m reading with my little booklight clipped to the back of Get In Trouble by Kelly Link, which reminds me of Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell. I love odd stories. It’s making me think I need to read more of Kelly Link’s work this summer. My reading list for this summer is growing—good distractions from the fatigue of the moment at hand. I appreciate the good little distractions. I live for them. I’m too grump without them.
Grad school has been my joy these past few months. It’s also a lot of work, and I was already working hard. But it’s good work. It fits me even better than I remembered. It’s been so long since I’ve been in school that I forgot how much I love it. I loved being a student when I was younger. But there’s something about being older, having survived a life-threatening illness, and spending the days inside a jail with adults, some of whom are learning the basics of reading and writing and getting a job, that makes you appreciate and want to savor the experience of grad school. I’m having fun. I’m rusty and way behind my classmates, who are amazing, but so what. I feel privileged to have this experience. I feel that way about all my writing adventures, workshops and residencies, and trips. I’m lucky. I’m exhausted and only hope for more seep this coming week, but lucky.