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Reflections on Sleep, Writing, and the Mild COVID Shutdown Here

It’s quite a busy year. Most of the recent news didn’t affect me directly, until now. There were fires in Australia, pipeline protests (and confusion) in Canada causing railway goods and transport shutdown, and now there’s this virus that’s shut down a country, and working its way though more. My own life had been relatively unchanged. I looked deeper into things, as I usually do. Learned that (it seems anyway) the Australian government didn’t do too much about the fires. The Wet’suwet’en people are divided in a sense, against but also for the pipeline. But info on all that is, perhaps, best sought elsewhere. This blog is to be something of a more personal endevour.

Image: meme. Family at dinner, with toilet paper poorly edited onto the plates. Text says: "mom why don't we have any food?" "Margaret shut up and eat your toilet paper"

The really big thing right now, I think everyone has realized, is toilet paper. We must all go out and buy toilet paper. Well, I think that topic is quite tired by now. The people who wanted reserves have already bought it, and the people who think it’s a dumb response to a virus (how are disease and toilet paper related?) have already said so loud and clear through various social media platforms. it’s even made it into memes, a few of which I’ve shared.

My Experience with COVID-19 in Canada

More seriously, the COVID-19 virus had been as distant to me as Australia or the pipeline. I took to the side of not panicking, and going to my university classes as usual. I shared updates from news people and doctors telling people not to panic. But now Canada has taken action. Public schools closed, but my university still ran until…the email came this weekend. Friday, really. It read, in essence:

“We are cancelling classes Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Instructors will figure out how to move forward in that time.”

I was not impressed. I really like my classes, I learn about interesting things and have great profs. Plus, class sort of helps keep my sleep schedule in check; having something to wake up for. Actually, on that note, let’s take a few steps back and then we can return to where I am now.

Issues of Sleep

This semester has been a real struggle for my sleep. Sleep is something I’ve been fighting with for a long time. I won’t catalogue my life story, but here are a few key points. As a kid, I always had a hard time falling sleep and that got worse in high school.

I tend to be the kind of person who I would snooze and sleep in later and later, setting alarms later, skipping breakfast and arriving to work or class on the nose of the hour. Then, arriving a minute late here and there. Maybe some can relate. Luckily, for the most part, things tended to stop there, with me being mostly just barely on time. (Or maybe a few minutes late to a class.)

I’ve never properly solved this problem though as most of my work, being a university student, is summer jobs. So things end and I get a reset for school. At school, there’s the winter break after semester one’s exams; another reset. When I have classes though, things tend to get stickier. I am not someone who skips classes. As I said above, I tend to really like my courses. But, around two-thirds into the semester, chronic late nights build up and I come in late, or worse…wake up dead tired, with the greatest urge to just stay under warm blankets and shut my eyes. And I am clever in the morning. I’ll not only shut that alarm off and sleep through my first class, but I’ll justify it by setting a new alarm right before the second class.

Last school year was treacherous for its own reasons. (My brain was going through some intense mental reconstruction.) This school year, it seems my sleep issues have taken center stage. I didn’t recover that much over the December break, and actually things have gotten worse. I’ve pulled more than one nighter so far this semester. Reading weeks are fun week off for some, but they’re really tough for me, especially this last one which hurt my sleep schedule further. Oi!

Problems, Combine!

And then, the day after the university email about the COVID shutdown, I get emails from professors essentially stating,

“We are moving away from in-person meetings.” “We won’t have anymore face-to-face classes.” “Classes are cancelled.” “There will be no more lectures”

But also,

“Hand in essays via email.” “Keep up with course content.” “This week’s mid term is cancelled. I will be developing an alternate method of evaluation.”

So this is all very difficult. I’m not sure exactly what they will do about the exams in April. But on top of this, I am quite worried about my sleep. Just for reference, I am writing this very late, and last night I didn’t sleep. Maybe there’s a stress element in this…but, despite the sort of negative build up here, this isn’t a blog about despair. (Though I am quite unhappy it’s being written so late.)

It looks like classes are out, but many of my assignments and essays are still due. It is as if classes have become a sort of spectral element, and everything else is going on as usual. It’s strange, but I am on my own now (in more ways than one—most of my roommates have gone back home). I’m not obligated to wake up for anything, but also possibly more important, I’m not obligated to stay up late for anything—except this blog post, and perhaps assignments.

The Present, and Moving Forward

I want to talk about this weekend, because there is some good news. It started as kind of a blur. I was up all of Friday night (right after the first email…hmm), and so Saturday mostly felt like the same day. I spent a lot of that period hoping that after the three cancelled days, we would return to classes. Then I fell asleep around 11pm Saturday night, and woke up at 7am briefly, and then 2pm. So 15 hours of sleep.

I woke up today, Sunday. I thought, “Ah, I have all this extra time, a weekend three days longer, I’ll take advantage.” So I listed all the things I had to do, chose what to do today, and went off to the library. I had two things on my list, first was to do readings. I did that, and it went pretty well. Second was to write a short story for this blog.

I’m actually behind. I had changed my weekly release date to Sunday (technically now it’s early Monday morning), meaning that this post is technically late. But, at the same time, I’ve been releasing on Mondays for a long time. Either way, I wasn’t about to post something weird in my all-nighter state, so here we are. You might also notice that this is not a short story. I actually worked for a couple of hours on a story involving Avvarice, but wow did that take a lot of planning and adjusting. By the time I came home from the library, it was late and I was very tired, and the planning was incomplete. So instead, I’m here talking about it. It requires a little less creative brain power.

What I Wanted to Release Today

Avvarice is a character that featured in two short stories I wrote three years ago. They are a little weird, and I sort of forgot about them, but the character appears in The Solune Prince, so I figured I would return to her. You see, Avvarice had a very strange, lecherous lifestyle, and her narrative is framed in a way I would like to change. Namely, I’ve considered removing Walllace and putting someone else there. But I didn’t have time for all that, so I started focusing on what happens afterwards.

Anyone who has read what presently exists of The Solune Prince will have encountered Avvarice as a side character around chapter 31-33. She’s in charge of the rail transport system. Her short stories end with her having the brilliant idea for it. Perhaps a sort of “rags to riches” story. What I had (and still have) planned is something regarding her inspiration, and her beginning the project. There’s another person or two she’ll meet as she brings her plan to fruition. By the events of The Solune Prince, the rails are up and running and well established in the city, so ultimately Avvarice is successful. I hope to release a short story on some of this in next week’s post.

Plans

So, with classes cancelled, I hope to stay on top of everything. Assignments first, (certain) readings second. At the same time, there should be (almost) nothing keeping me up. So, after tonight I guess (seeing as it’s now far past midnight), sleep should fall back into line. (Maybe I’ll hide all the clocks and follow the sun! Haha. Too bad computers and phones have clocks though.) Finally, I’ll have an Avvarice short story (or something) up next week. Hopefully Sunday, but if not, Monday.

You can probably tell by all the parenthesis above that I’m not exactly confident. That’s true. There’s a lot going on, and while I may be something of a dynamic person, I like it better when the world around me isn’t shifting so much. So I’m not exactly confident, but I am fairly optimistic.

Daniel Triumph.

Some say a bad event is a call to action.

P.S.

Here’s the original, unfixed story…

P.P.S., it has been said;
1. It is all from God
2. It is for the good
3. It has a purpose

This entry was posted in Writing.
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