Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Calculus of Light in Seattle

The gift of sleep is again mine! After two nights of sleep, I’m dancing around the house with energy and joy, feeling again up to the challenges of my To Do list. Twice a year the calculus of light in Seattle takes it from me, and each time I fear my congenitally melatonin-deprived body will never again remember how to lose consciousness. I float night after night, utterly relaxed, in a kind of limbo, screening one hypnagogic image after another, occasionally hearing a snatch of unrelated words that marks the beginning of my lateral slide into REM-sleeponly to be jolted back into consciousness either immediately or after one sleep-cycle, usually the only one of the night. Who can be surprised that after a few nights (and mornings of this) I begin to wonder whether my body might have permanently forgotten the art of sleeping?

This year seemed ominously different when the fall episode of my malady struck a month early. Had something new developed in my postmenopausal brain chemistry? (There’s nothing like going through menopause to teach one just how mysterious are the workings of hormones.) But last weekend I realized that the cloud cover this year has been more like a typical November’s than a typical October’s. And I also recalled how the worst case I’ve ever had of my semi-annual insomnia ended with a three-day family visit in Arizona. So I began watching for moments of solar breakthrough and would run outside and stand in patches of sunlight (despite the warning label on one of my meds that tells me to avoid direct sunlight and never to use a sun lamp), soaking the light into body, confident it would make a difference. Did it? Or was it a placebo effect? Does it matter? Not to me!

So now I’m catching up. Here are a few items worth noting:

*Niall Harrison appreciates the short fiction of the talented Rachel Swirsky, who often blogs here and was my student at Clarion West in 2005.

*Jeff VanderMeer appreciates Kelley Eskridge’s Dangerous Space.

*Richard Labonté says in his review of Dangerous Space in his column Book Marks (distributed through the Q Syndicate): “This is the kind of art that the word "queer" fits perfectly. The stories aren't specifically lesbian, and they're not specifically gay, but they render any sexual preference wondrously possible.”

*The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and Free Press unveils evidence that, despite mounting pressure from the public and the Federal Communications Commission, television stations continue to air fake news.

*The National Lawyers Guild calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques, including simulated drowning known as water boarding, exposing detainees to frigid temperatures, and head-slapping. Yes, I know this will lead exactly nowhere---for the moment. But we have a desperate need of voices willing to speak truth to power, to insist that the methods, values, and objectives of the Bush Administration are both unconstitutional and morally unacceptable.

*In another story, a despicable piece of work who used his role as priest to assist the Junta’s torture and murder of dissidents in Argentina’s Dirty War has been sentenced to life in prison. This is a cautionary tale for all the many people (including psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, and chaplains) actively contributing to the US’s torture programs: times can (and usually do) change, and when they do, the impunity of power seldom outlives the change in regime. If you haven't read Jane Meyer’s “The Black Sites: A rare look inside the CIA’s secret interrogation program” in the August 13, 2007 New Yorker yet, I urge you to do so now.

1 comment:

Nancy Jane Moore said...

Timmi, so glad to hear you're sleeping again. Your tale reminds me of why I don't move to the Northwest, much as I love it -- I dread those grey days in winter. For me, it isn't disturbed sleep so much as lethargy and too much sleep. I cannot stand to get up in the dark -- I naturally perk up with sunrise and slow down with sunset. I already find the dark mornings oppressive here in DC (at a much more southern latitude than Seattle), and it's still more than two months until the winter solstice.

So I think about moving to the southwest, despite their water problems and the heat, and the fact that I love the crisp fall days we get here on the East Coast -- fall is our best season. Sunshine is just so necessary and the farther south you go in the US, the more even the days stay between summer and winter. None of those glorious long days of Seattle in the summer (not to mention, say, Fairbanks), of course, but also no short grey ones.

Or perhaps the best solution is to summer in Seattle and winter (or summer again!) in someplace comparable in the Southern Hemisphere -- Buenos Aires, maybe.

Aqueduct should consider a book on sunshine -- so many possible topics there.