Dear Diary

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sleeping and not sleeping, stalagmites and stalactites, and good/bad news for Dylan.


I’m writing this at night, and thinking about all the different feelings that nighttime can hold. How some nights can feel free and some stay stuffy and stifling.

Often from my bedroom I can hear a motorbike engine roaring somewhere in the distance, slicing through the silence, and I like to imagine riding down empty roads with orange streetlights and sleeping buildings. There is some irony in the fact that I am scared of the dark, but I do love night. I imagine moving so fast that I don’t notice the dark.

When it was hot last month and the nights were cloudless, I noticed some of my neighbours having a last-chance end-of-summer barbecue. It was a small bubble of activity while the rest of the neighbourhood remained still. I decided to have my own little celebration of the strange weather and lie on the dank ground under the stars. My body felt tetchy, on edge because of so much blackness, but lying on the ground it’s like you can feel the curve of the earth, and it’s easy to forget yourself, to feel like a tiny speck in the universe. When I put myself in perspective this way, human emotions aren’t so overwhelming, even though it feels like they could sometimes fill a galaxy.

Sometimes I get insomnia, and then the nights are everlasting. Music is too stimulating on nights like this, so I always resort to talk radio. In the early hours of the morning BBC World Service takes over and I drift in and out of a light doze, imagining there are other people awake and listening, potentially anywhere on earth. A bit later on there is the shipping forecast. Someone out there must be on a boat jotting down notes to remember, hearing and seeing something completely different from me. I imagine this careful fisherman, and the night doesn’t feel so lonely.

Tonight is one of those rare nights when the moonlight is so bright that I can open my window and see traces of clouds and branches and the wide lawn of my garden. In the deep winter I can open my window and see my breath and make my mark upon the nighttime. Just open a window and you are a witness.

I love the glow of lights at night—flickering in windows, illuminating leaves. Shadows. Places to hide. When all the lights are finally off and the night is at its darkest, that’s the easiest time to feel alone. I find this kind of solitude liberating. I am alone with whatever, or whomever, I want to be alone with.

Usually it’s my thoughts. On the cusp between awake and asleep, reality and dreaming, I think about the vastness of time, or stare at my ceiling and pray. Dawn and dusk, the bookends of night, remind me that there is change. When the night has been full of worry and dreams anxiety-ridden, there is nothing like that blue transition to assure me that there’s always a new day, that the fog has lifted. Sometimes it’s good to lie on your bed when the sun starts to go down and not turn on any light until it’s pitch-black outside. A clear dusk has a rainbow of colours and it’s like nature’s own mood lighting.

In the last week I realised it’s much better to happy about what you have got than sad about what you haven’t got. For me, this kind of self-realisation only happens at night.

I feel like this song is relevant:


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  • Marguerite October 19th, 2011 7:19 PM

    NO SUCH THING AS BERMUDA TRIANGLE – I LIVE IN BERMUDA AND HAVE NEVER DIED! also i love redwall! i always liked the squirrels and otters best :)

  • aliceee October 19th, 2011 7:42 PM

    REDWAAAAALL!! I totally spent all of fifth grade on the Dibbuns Against Bedtime site pretending to be a mouse. But I too succumbed to boringness…

  • Angie Bitchface October 19th, 2011 7:56 PM

    who’s never heard of Redwall? there are only 500 million books in the series.

    I’ve noticed that when I’m really stressed or upset, my dreams seem to be more vivid, like my brain is trying to distract me from real life. maybe your dreams are boring because your life is boring, like you don’t have any big goals to work towards or something. just throwing ideas out there?

    • Anaheed October 19th, 2011 8:10 PM

      I had never heard of it, and neither had Tavi! I am old but Tavi has no excuse.

  • Pippa October 19th, 2011 8:02 PM

    Redwall! I think i’m gonna have to go dig out mattimeo now.

  • Marisa October 19th, 2011 8:14 PM

    Thank you so much for reminding me about Redwall!! Soo good!

  • Sarah October 19th, 2011 8:14 PM

    I love redwall! When I was in fourth grade and my brother was in fifth, we dressed up as redwall characters for halloween. I don’t remember their names but my bro was a rabbit with a sword a shield and I was a mouse with a mace.” Trick or treat!” “Oh, what have we got here…Fighting woodland creatures….how nice…”

  • diny October 19th, 2011 9:22 PM

    katherine, i feel it too. my time is divided between uni tasks and sleep. that is so boring.

  • Bean October 19th, 2011 9:42 PM

    I love the bay area!! I graduated from high school last June and when my older sister had graduated my mom took her to Chicago because she had always wanted to go and as soon as I knew I was getting a trip for a graduation present I had said it would be California. Specifically San Francisco because I get San Fran, Oakland, Berkeley, and the big selling point, the Winchester Mystery House. It’s just so amazing there and beautiful and if I could I would go back right now. It’s greatness still exsists in my dreams though and that is good enough, for now.

  • ButterflyFeminist27 October 19th, 2011 9:49 PM

    That’s a beautiful song with a message that I really needed! Thanks so much, Naomi!

  • Maddy October 19th, 2011 10:27 PM

    I only know Redwall because this kid a few years back at my school stood up and gave a weird essay/speech about how the Redwall books changed his life and no one knew what he was talking about.

    • Anaheed October 19th, 2011 10:30 PM

      That is how I felt when I first read Katherine’s piece.

  • Hedwig October 19th, 2011 10:28 PM

    Redwall is such a good book/tv series!!!

  • isabelleisa October 19th, 2011 10:52 PM

    I LOVE that song. It’s true that being lone isn’t always bad, it can make you feel stronger.

  • epleata October 20th, 2011 7:08 PM

    Don’t worry – you will get back the time to explore and just do what you want – you just have to slog through high school, college, and your twenties. The thing people never tell you about becoming an adult is that, at a certain point, you finish all the required work to actually get where you want to be in life (i.e., high school, college, and graduate school are done, you’ve already been promoted out of entry-level positions). And then it’s all up to you. This actually happens pretty early for most people, so, as long as you don’t have kids super young, you’re free to do pretty much anything you want (and actually have the money to do it, which you lacked when you were younger). Also, once you move up high enough in your job, you can be as weird as you want and no one questions you! I know so many people talk about how awesome high school and college are, and how crappy the “real world” is, but I pretty much live exactly as I did when I was a little kid, except now I’m calling the shots. It’s truly glorious. Just wait – you’ll get it back!

  • Mom October 21st, 2011 12:37 PM

    Dylan I love your insight at the end of your post. very important thing to know and freeing to realize there is never the perfect solution at any given moment. your last line is awesome.

  • rhymeswithorange October 21st, 2011 8:49 PM

    Naomi I absolutely love your writing. It resonates so much with me!

  • Elizabeth October 22nd, 2011 4:37 PM

    I’ve had a lot of dreams about being Buffy so now I’m secretly convinced that I’m the next slayer and these are my special slayer dreams like the ones she had of her past lives in the movie. They’re the best ever.