Reading and Sleeping and Childhood

reading and sleepingThis is a post about sleeping, childhood, and the evil and the glory of the internet.

It has been about two month since I mostly gave up sugar (especially ice cream) in an attempt to get my liver in shape. I have hepatitis C and for the most part feel great but at fifty-two with two young children, the realization has dawned that it might be time to pay a little attention to my health.

There are no issues to speak of, other than the twenty pounds of extra baggage that I carry around, though this spare tire has been with me forever (hello husky section at Hy Friedman’s). My physical downsides are Hep C and Bell’s palsy. The upsides are being the only one in my immediate family who doesn’t take pills for blood pressure or other related ailments.

One big thing I would like to see change is that I don’t sleep nearly as well as I would like. For the past six months I have been waking up one or two times a night for no particular reason—at the same exact times—either 3am and/or between 4 & 4:30.

Waking up and seeing the same time each night is pretty eerie, reeking a bit too much of Groundhog’s Day for my taste.

The changes I have made in the last two months to correct this have been to cut out sugar which has helped all other aspects of my life immensely, and to cut out my afternoon coffee (I am down to one delicious cup in the am). Trying to get to sleep before midnight is more aspirational at the moment.

Neither of these changes seems to have helped so I decided to make a third shift in my daily habit and that is where the internet and childhood come in.

I work too much and most of my work these days is on my computer so I am often sucking up the blue light of the screen before going to bed and reading on my tablet. But it is pretty well established, as I have written before, that the blue light of the computer and tablets mess with our circadian rhythms and sleep.

So I decided that I would read a real book before bed. And that is where the glory of the internet comes in. My daughter, much to my delight and dismay, can’t keep her nose out of a book. I was the exact same way and now, as in so many parallel things, I can understand the frustration my parents felt when I wouldn’t respond to questions, or get out of the car, because I was too absorbed in a page.

My son on the other hand doesn’t care that much about reading. When I was his age I was reading every sports book I could get my hands on. There wasn’t a biography of Willie Mays I didn’t read, and there was a series of books that I read called Strange But True. There was one for every sport and I read them over and over again.

A quick trip online and they were all in my shopping cart for a penny a piece (plus $4.00 s &h of course). The covers of the books brought back such intense memories and I was so psyched to see that my son was really happy to get them.

I also bought something for myself. In my early teens, just as sports was leaving my life for rock and roll and Hunter Thompson I read a book of short stories that rocked my world, called the Roar of the Sneakers. There are numerous stories within that I remember vividly to this day. The Roar of the Sneakers cost me $1.24 and is now my bedside reading for when I go to sleep. The tablet will remain for novels but I am so excited to revisit this book at night with a reading light for a while.

Looking at this book now it makes perfect sense why I loved it so. It is quite the group of writers (Budd Schulberg, Don DeLillo, Larry McMurtry, and Nelson Algren etc.) and they tell of a slightly dark and subversive side of the sporting life.

The first story opens with a small time boxer lossening the laces on his glove to be able to whip the end into his opponent’s eye. It is no wonder that I loved it so.

Eating With Ones Hands
Sunday Morning Music: The Mekons