How scientists determined dung beetles use the Milky Way as a guide.
My roommate and my boyfriend have both been out of town, they’ve been out of town for a while. In that spanse of time, that spanse of while, the apartment has gone through a pendulous—maybe manic is a better word—cycle of cleanliness and pig-sty-ishness. Right now is a pig-sty-ishness phase. There are shoes everywhere. The cushions of the couch are all awhirl because I’ve been sleeping on the couch, closer to the air conditioner, with cats all curled up in various crevasses—my kneepits, my soft, snoring belly. I’m brushing my teeth in the kitchen, occasionally I leave my toothbrush on the butcher block next to the sink.
All this is to say: tonight, on the way to my apartment from the train station, on my way home from work, I stopped at the grocery store and I picked up one of those one-person meals. A little plastic tray with two rolls of sushi and a bit of seaweed salad. One of those one-person meals. The single-woman’s dinner, that sort of thing.
This simple act, this $8.89 investment, filled me with a joy I can’t explain. My stupid commuter’s shoulder bag weighed down the entire right side of my body, my one-person dinner in a plastic bag in my left hand: I felt the happiness creep up my arm onto my face till I was grinning wildly the five and a half blocks and four flights of stairs up to #18.
For my entire life, whenever things have been sad or hard or stressful or painful, I’ve gone to sleep. It’s a quality I share with my father, for better or worse. When I had my first serious break-up, I slept for twenty hours before waking up, peeing, and going back to sleep for another thirteen. I remember feeling so good when I woke up. ”Heartbreak is so refreshing,” I thought.
During the 1989 earthquake, when my mother was stranded her office building in San Francisco with no way across the Bay and no way of contacting us, my dad ate some ice cream and went to sleep. My mother’s friends were stunned at his apparent callousness when we didn’t know whether she was among the hundred trapped in collapsed buildings, but my mom was touched. He must have been so upset he couldn’t stay awake.
In the almost two years since my college graduation and my father’s diagnosis. I’ve slept (away) an entire lifetime. I rarely feel acutely depressed, but I have been amazed at the ease and frequency with which I can sleep until two, three o’clock in the afternoon. In Australia, I was painfully aware of how the family I was staying with had lived full days by the time I emerged sheepishly from the bedroom. I’ve built an entire romance on a shared faculty and enthusiasm for sleeping, napping, hitting “snooze,” resting, hanging around in bed.
A funny thing happened to me a few weeks back: I got a job. One of those jobs where I have to be at a place, and I have to be at that place in the morning, and I have to be at that place five days a week. When I told my mom I’d found a job she congratulated me, and added “You’re going to be really tired.” No kidding.
The other day, on the phone with my dad, he told me he’d been feeling down. ”Like sick or like sad?” ”I can’t really tell the difference anymore. I’ve been sleeping a lot.” My eyelids hung into my face. I considered reserving the small meeting room––I could say I had a phone interview––and taking a nap. But there was work to be done. There was work to be done, and I had to do it, and I couldn’t go to sleep.
You have to stay awake. You have to grow up, and you have to stay awake.