It goes like this.
I come home from work. I walk the dogs. If I’m too tired for a walk, or if Rosa Parks is unwilling to walk, or if there are hunters in the woods or high winds that could topple trees, we may, instead, take a drive down to Fox Lake. There, I can sit at the water’s edge while the dogs romp around. We walk down the little trail until it fades into the shoreline, then back through the trees to the car. I drive home slowly, windows down, to give the dogs the fresh air.
Home, I hang up my jacket, empty my lunch bag and clean the thermos. I may start a load of laundry, take the papers out to burn in the fire pit, or bring the compost to the garden bin. I prepare my evening meal. The dogs get their dinner between 6:30 and seven o’clock, then I sit down. I usually have a book or magazine to read while I eat. Or – I’m not proud of this – I eat in front of the computer while watching a program.
Cleaning time is next: I set the timer for thirty minutes. First, put the dishes in the sink and cover them with hot, soapy water. If I’ve left dishes to dry in the drainer (almost always), I put them away. Some laundry chore is next: clothes to fold from the dryer, or clothes to move from the washer to the dryer. Then, depending on the day of the week, I’ll sweep through the downstairs, clean the bathroom, vacuum the rug, wipe down the appliances or dust. Bigger jobs, like changing bed linens, washing windows or cleaning out the refrigerator, always wait for a day off. I wash up the dishes then, and wipe off the counters before the buzzer signals that I am done.
After that, the news-magazine gets my attention. At any given time, there are notes to write up into articles, stories to edit and others to write, reminders to fill out and stamp for mailing, invoices to do, letters to answer, bills to pay, filing…the demands are never-ending. Sometimes, feeling overwhelmed, sorry for myself and resentful (didn’t I work all day, after all, and don’t I deserve a break?), I will shelve every task and watch another episode of NCIS, or take a bath, or write my personal stuff. Most days, though, I dutifully plod along, making steady progress, until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer.
I’m usually in bed by ten o’clock. I read for a few minutes, then turn out the light. Then, if I’m very lucky, I fall right asleep, and get a few hours in before my mind starts working again. Sometimes it starts right away: the little note I got from a co-worker, that hinted at displeasure; the work I left undone, spread over the dining room table; the Email I neglected to answer; the meeting I attended that I’ve haven’t written up…or the one coming up that I’m trying not to forget.
Whether I’ve slept a little or not, by two AM, I’m usually wide awake. The dogs often like to go out then, so I have an excuse to abandon my frustrating struggle with insomnia, and pace the floors for a while. I may have a cup of herbal tea; sometimes I try to work; often I read a bit before trying, again, to get some sleep. I know that even an hour or two of good sleep will be better than none at all.
If I can’t sleep, then, I become obsessed with the time. If it’s only four o’clock, I think, it will be worth it to try for a couple hours sleep before the alarm sounds. If it’s five o’clock or later, I’d might as well get up and make coffee. Don’t look at the clock, I tell myself, and don’t think, just sleep. I rarely listen, though.
And on, to another day.