In Which Ella Pulls an All-Nighter

As I’ve said before, I love the nighttime. No one is up or moving, and I have the world entirely to myself.

So in an attempt to fix my very unhealthy sleep behavior, I am pulling an all-nighter tonight. I know that it sounds incredibly strange, but if I force myself to stay up for so long, I’ll be able to fall asleep at a normal time tomorrow and start waking up at eight and going to bed at eleven like I should. It works out in its own weird way. I need to foricibly restart my internal clock for it to begin to work properly again.

But for now I’ve got the night stretched out before me, a bottle of seltzer at my side, and an endless amount of forms to fill out, college application essays to write, and Christmas cards to address. It’s going to be wonderful.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

Go to Sleep, Ella

My desk and dresser in my bedroom are in what used to be a long closet, and there is this space on the wall above the doorway that I’ve long considered to be the perfect place for posting something. The question has always been what.

I’ve got framed pictures on my bookcases, a “French the Llama” poster (A cartoon llama wearing a baret and smoking on a French Flag) above my dresser, two framed close-up photographs of flowers and a shadow box of pinned butterflies above my bed, and three bulletein boards with collages of photographs, postcards, and hand-drawn or painted cards. The room is pretty dolled up as it is, and yet I still feel the need to fill that empty space.

As of yesterday, I think I may have a winner. I think I should paint “Go to sleep, Ella!” in large letters.

I came up with this idea at four thirty in the morning, an hour I’ve been having a torrid affair with for way too long now. Like I’ve said before, I love being up late at night, just check the publication times of these posts, but it doesn’t do me much good in the long run. Falling asleep in the basement at ten in the morning with my head against the washer isn’t a good habit. Neither is taking one-hour naps at around four o’clock almost every day. And those urges to stop my bike rides to nap on an admittedly sodden piece of grass in the park are really quite terrible.

So this really would be the perfect thing to fill the space. I could use stencils and a nice shade of blue to paint it.

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t fit with my mission to make my room look less like the room of teenager with way too many books and more like an adult who lives in a space that actually adheres to her favorite decorating styles  (check out my tumblr or a CB2 catalog if you want to get a feel for what I like). But until I get my act together and fix this book situation, because, dear Lord, is it a huge problem (Also, Santa, another bookshelf for Christmas would be VERY nice.), it probably wouldn’t hurt to cut the letters out of cardstock and tape them to the wall.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

In Which Ella Dreams of Moose-Elk and Jack the Ripper

I woke up at five in the morning screaming and convulsing. I haven’t had a nightmare that bad in months. I was able to recognize that I was dreaming, but unlike most nights, I couldn’t wake myself up and relax. I was just stuck in this state of semi-consciousness, aware that I was violently shaking and yelling, but entirely unable to physically control my body and make myself stop. In my thrashing about, I managed to kick all three cats off the bed and badly tangle my feet in the sheets.

Needless to say, I am not very enthusiastic about going to bed tonight. I’m bad enough at keeping my emotions in check while I’m awake, and it just gets worse the moment I drift off. And the biggest problem with that is that there is nothing I can do to reign in the terror. I just have to wait until I wake up, completely spooked, to calm down, and usually by that point, I can’t even fall back asleep again. It’s a very lousy pattern.

But talking about dreams and sleeping is almost always boring for everyone except the person telling the stories. That is, unless the people listening were in it*. And sadly, none of you were. I would have much preferred you all to the murderous creatures that decided to haunt me!

But, as Laini Taylor so kindly and helpfully reminded me on Twitter, dreams can inspire some really excellent stories. And I think that because the dream was so humorous in retrospect, I’ve got some excellent material for writing later on. A murderous moose-elk would get me a laugh, right? Maybe Jack the Ripper could be his trainer, and they’re planning on letting him loose in Alaska to terrorize the citizens of Anchorage. Or I could go the much more conventional and likely route and have a character go through my experience. What do you think? I haven’t written anything delightfully silly in months now, perhaps it is time for some humor.

*Pippa once had a dream where I was pregnant, and she woke me up very, very early in the morning to ask who the father was. After I got over the fact that it wasn’t even seven yet, we had a good laugh.

You can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing. I’m more of the book, quotes from books, architecture/interior design, fashion posting type. There are some television show, movie, and space posts thrown in as well. It’s a happy place full of pretty, pretty things.

In Which Ella Declares Her Love for the Night

Oh for goodness sakes am I tired. My eyelids burn, my head is heavy, and I want nothing more than to lean over, bury my head in the pillows, and just sleep. For hours and hours and hours. But it’s not exactly an option.

It is night, and I hate to waste it sleeping. These dark hours are my favorite. It’s as if I am the only one alive in the world, and I can do whatever I want without anyone ever seeing or knowing. I do my best writing after midnight, and I’ve grown accustomed to the clock showing one, two, even three in the morning before I drift off. But the exhaustion is worth it just to have those quiet hours where it’s only me and the crickets chirping.

Perhaps it’s because bad things never happen in the middle of the night, and you don’t have to deal with all of the sucky parts of the day. You’re running away from them, but this time it’s okay. You can’t be expected to fix an argument or stop being so depressed because everyone’s asleep and every place is closed. So it’s okay to pretend that everything is alright and that you’re gonna be okay.

And the cats are always up. They climb up on my bed. All three of them. Rolley fur-balls, nuzzling their wet noses and mouths against my hand and settling down in the most inconvenient places, forcing me to contort my body in order to share the bed. But I don’t mind. I think they might be the best companions in the world. But people are still pretty good, too.

Sometimes, you don’t have to share the darkness alone. Sometimes, there’s someone there with you to talk to and say things you never would if it were light out. The night makes life feel a little more safe to let down all of those barriers. I love talking on the phone, leaning halfway off my bed, seeing how close I can get my head to the floor before I overbalance and have to grab at the sheets to avoid falling. I love talking to people at sleep-overs until the wee hours and when they fall asleep in the middle of an answer, leaving me wondering how lucky I am to have friends like them.

But most of all, I love how not so many people like the night as much as I do. It’s my time, all for me, and it’s rare that I ever have to share it. I get to be horribly selfish with absolutely no consequences.

But as much as I’d like to, I can’t stay up until all hours tonight. I really ought to go to bed. Because tomorrow morning, I’m going on an adventure.

I’m taking my self to MoMA and to a book launch for Maureen Johnson’s In the Name of the Star. I might go my favorite book store and to nerdfighter MJ party. Maybe I’ll take some pictures to share. I’ll write in a park and make up stories while I’m riding on the subway. It’ll be amazing.

But when I come home, it’ll be dark again, and I’ll have these wonderful hours just to be, exactly the way I like it.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

I Have a Confession to Make: I Sleep With Books

Hello. I’m Ella, I’m seventeen, and I sleep with books.

It’s kind of a problem, you know, such hard rectangles do not make very good pillows, and they are often wont to leave curious red marks on your face and body when you lie on them for too long. Beds are made for people and animals, not things. Besides, wouldn’t it be so much better, if you didn’t have to worry about rolling over into a face full of paper?

Ah, but you don’t know what lovely bed-mates books make. They don’t snore or kick*, and they don’t hog the covers. They stay where you want them until you decide to move them, and they don’t wake up really early in the morning and leave you all alone**. They don’t even get annoyed when the cats sleep on top of them! And whenever you wake up or can’t sleep, they’re there, ready to do your bidding without complaint until you drift off again.

Right now, I’ve got four books neatly piled next to the pillows and three cats curled up on the bed. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to fit, but we’ll make it work. We always do.

*About five years ago, Pippa and I had to share a bed at an hotel over Thanksgiving, and I woke up in the morning to discover that she had put her pillow on top of my bottom and was sleeping on it. I kid you not.

**It always freaks me out when I wake up and discover that whomever was in my bed when I fell asleep isn’t there anymore. In those first groggy moments of wakefulness, I become panicked that they’ve been abducted or abandoned me for good. Thankfully, the kidnappers tend to leave them in the kitchen, and the abandoners always seem to end up there, too. It must be the hip place to be at six a.m. I hear it’s got coffee and yogurt.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Ella and the Slippery Mattress

My bed* at the beach does not have the world’s best mattress. It’s old enough that my dad can’t remember when it was new. Unlike most ancient mattresses, this one hasn’t become lumpy or springy. It’s just solidified into solid sedimentary rock. I’m going to do a very vigorous jig when it gets replaced.

But until that happy day, my mom and I have been coming up with methods of making it softer. Yesterday, when I moved into the room after two nights on the extremely comfortable** sofa on the porch, we decided to put two sleeping bags on it. It seemed like a great idea–sleeping bags have a cushy layer of down–but we forgot that the outside of them is made of slippery material. The bottom sheet won’t lay flat, and every time I roll over or shift, I slide with the sheet. It’s a very strange feeling, and it’s very hard to relax when it feels like you’re going to fall out of bed because the bottom sheet won’t stay still or even tucked under. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like trying to sleep on top of one of those sacks you use to slid down those garish inflatable slides at school carnivals on the platform right before the slide itself.

It’s too late tonight to really justify remaking the entire bed, and not having a cushion of any sort would probably be just as bad, but fixing this problem is at the top of my to-do list for tomorrow.

*Of course, every other room’s is perfectly comfortable.

**I’m not being sarcastic.

In Which Ella Becomes Unknowingly Sleep Deprived

When I woke up this morning, I thought that it was Monday. I got out my therapy binder,* did my Monday morning routine, and got ready to go to Clara’s. In the car, I said something about it being Monday, and my mom gently corrected me.

That’s strange, I thought, It really does feel like the beginning of the week. Why am I so puzzled?

The whole time I was at Clara’s, I found myself getting really bewildered about what time it was. It just felt a whole lot later than what the clocks were telling me, which was weird because the exact opposite always happens when I’m having fun.

Ever since I’ve gotten home from Clara’s my confusion has only increased, and I’ve also become rather exhausted. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why it was going on. I’m normally very good with dates, times, and putting together coherent thoughts, and I definetly wasn’t on any medication that would have messed with my cognitions.

And then I suddenly remembered that I had decided that it would be a really good idea to stay up until five thirty in the morning watching TED Talks, reading articles about how new social media is changing just about everything, and searching for the best news sources on the riots in London. This coupled with a similar decision involving two memoirs and Ze Frank the previous night, clearly was the root of my problem.

I think I read somewhere once that sleeping improves mental functioning, but it could be a lie. I mean, look at how well I’m doing with four hours of sleep a night! I can sleep when I’m dead–I’ve got so many fascinating things to do in the meantime!

I’m funny.

Ss much as I want to stay up until all hours reading the Guardian’s coverage of the London riots, I’m going to go to bed before eleven. It seems like the right choice.

*Filled with the ridiculous handouts I sometimes get given with acronyms like DEAR MAN GIVE FAST. Because apparently odd and annoying phrases work better than writing out the actual skills to improve interpersonal effectiveness. I’m just stuck with weird mental images of writing letters and passing off batons in races.

In Which Ella Is T-I-R-E-D

Tonight feels like a good night for finishing “The Year of Living Biblically*” and going to bed before nine. Having so many people at the house kept me incredibly busy, and I am now very, very exhausted. I love my bed.

*In which a mostly secular man, A.J. Jacobs, tries to follow all the rules in the Bible–both the old and new testaments–for one year. It’s funny and a very interesting exploration of the Bible.

Sleeping Through School

Last night, for the third night in a row, I couldn’t fall asleep. I laid there, staring at the wall or mindlessly rereading favorite books, until five a.m., when I finally drifted off.

It’s frightening to not be able to sleep. The hours drag on, and you’re tangled in the bed sheets, hoping that you’ll be able to get enough shut eye to function the next day. The later it gets, the more the fear and anxiety worsen until all you can do is calculate how long it will be until you have to get up.

At one, I finished the first book. At four, I finished the next. And at five, just when the sun was turning the corners of the sky pink, I drifted off. The whole night I had been focused on getting into school today, drilling the idea deep into my mind. I was not going to lose today. I just wasn’t. Graduation is soon, and I can’t leave if I don’t finish my classes. I will not repeat my senior year. I’m way too smart for that.

My mom woke me up at seven. I was tired and alert all at once, and somehow managed to heave myself out of bed and down to the kitchen for breakfast. When I got into the library at school, I immediately put my head down on the table and dozed off. The same thing happened in second period and during the end of forth. At lunch, I went to the nurse’s office to sleep. Sixth period, I put my head down and hoped that I’d absorb math through osmosis. I stayed alert during French, and by the time I got to therapy at two thirty, I was quite delirious.

It’s terribly frightening to be unable to stay awake in school. I can be conked out with my head on someone else’s desk in the middle of a loud debate or cabinet meeting. I can sleep through someone balancing things on the back of my head. You can even write on me, and I won’t notice. I miss so much. Social interactions slide by without participation. I miss out on learning the lessons. I look like an idiot who is totally uninterested in school. But most of all, it just scares me to have so much happening and not to be aware of any of it. I’m entirely lost to the world.

Maybe tonight and tomorrow will be better. Maybe they won’t. But the fear and anxiety of sleeping in school refuses to dissipate, and I can only wish that it will motivate my body to act as it should. I will not stand for today’s behavior.

So here’s to my afternoon nap and going to bed early with the hopes of being alert tomorrow.

Post-Debate Syndrome

Today, like most days following long stressful trips, was a “dark day.” I stayed in bed, feeling depressed, reading Wikipedia, and staring at the walls from seven in the morning until three when I left for therapy. The grey cloud of sadness drifted nearer and began making ominous thundering sounds in the late afternoon while I watched Youtube videos about various charities and quietly cried.

It’s night now, my back is throbbing, and I’m ready to go to sleep. Getting out of bed again, let alone going to school, seems almost impossible, but I’ve got my Penn tee shirt draped over my desk chair, cheering me on, and I will not accept defeat. Besides, if I am capable enough to win a Golden Gavel, I can certainly make it up the front steps of school tomorrow morning.