I can no longer make it through the nights. This is different from insomnia. I’ve had that, though mine always seemed to be about a certain kind of missing out. As if the fact of sleep meant I wasn’t out drinking or dancing or wasn’t up reading or writing. Staying up all night then kept me up the next night or I would sleep during the day when I should be out writing and reading. The worst of this was during my doctoral work. Something about the demands of a job, the demands of a certain shared sociality of employment, pretty much ended my insomnia. Now, no matter how late I go to sleep, I wake up too early. If I have a particularly bad dream then it might be 3am. If not, then it’s usually no later than 6. I wake up tired. Deeply unhappy. My pillow contorted into a lump that I have aggressively dug my head into. Nothing like the images of sleeping people on TV. Their head and shoulders comfortably lying on the soft down or synthetic petroleum-based something or other. They look so good at sleeping. They look so good.
So I wake up and am sometimes as contorted as the pillow. I flip it over, lay it out straight, and try again. For a bit. It usually doesn’t work and I finally give in and look at my phone. A few emails maybe through the night. Occasionally a text message from some far-flung friend who isn’t well. Then the news. For reasons unclear to myself other than a lack of real options, I always go to the Guardian. Until very recently I had harbored hope that I might return to Europe via the UK, life in the US being harder than we are allowed to say. Even-or perhaps because of-the particular sociality of employment. So I look at the Guardian and check both its US and UK editions on my slightly cracked iPhone. The news is rarely good, but lately I check it to see if the worst has happened. I’m convinced that some greater violence is waiting in reserve. Impersonally it will separate me even more from those I love and care about. Will bind me more to those I fear and resent.
I’m not stupid. Or no more stupid than most. I’m aware that such violence and worse affects other people. With the memory of a wooden floor scuffed by the shoes of the four police officers beating a man with the title “father”, I’ve not been untouched by that violence in my life. Despite more adventurist intellectuals giddy over the idea of bringing the war home, war remains hellish and when one is subject to it is terrifying. I suspect we will all sleep less well as the unending war begins to manifest more locally for us.
I wake up after sleeping too little, feeling the anxiety sit upon my chest. And I am tired.