Borders of the Land of Naps

23 July 2001

Boy, did that not work.

I tried staying up really late to try to wear myself out so that I could sleep in in the morning. Heh. Three hours of sleep later, here I am. And this may be it. I don't know why. I'm going to try to get more sleep. If I can't, I'm going to try a second time, after Mark has left for work. If I still can't, we will have crossed over into the territory of the nap. In which I am a foreigner, and not allowed to go.

I just need to get the never-ending stream of stuff I want to do to calm down long enough that I can sleep. That's what it is. Because it's not that I have that many things other people need me to do on a deadline. It's all me. If I wasn't the type who would keep doing the things that are all me, I don't think I could make it as a freelancer. But this is craziness. This is too much of an extreme.

I like bed, is the thing. In theory, I really do. At night, when I go to bed, it feels nice. Mattress. Sheets. Blankets. Comforters. It's lovely. Mmm, bed. (No, I didn't leave out pillows. My pillows are scarcely worth mentioning, and I like it that way.) It's staying there that's the problem. All of a sudden, a scant few hours later, bed is odious to me. My body starts claiming that it's really time to not be in bed. That it's really time to be alert and deal with the world. Or, more accurately, the worlds. That a little more sleep would be fine, but that I'm not going to get it, so I might as well get up, rather than lying there and jumping every time a sprinkler comes on.

It was a good day yesterday. And the day before that, too. Do you know what I've been eating? Besides cloudberries and Godiva? Lappi. It's a type of Finnish cheese. I bought it figuring, well, we needed cheese, and I'm writing a book. It's a little bit tart, tangy; pleasant, soft, and white. But what it is besides that is another time machine. I took a bite of it and was back when I was just barely 10 again, on the morning we got off the ferry to Finland. There was almost no food on the ferry, despite it being a cruise-boat shaped thing. When it was not time for the evening buffet, there were wan yogurts and musli at best. (My spellchecker says that musli is not a word. I know it needs an umlaut, but I claim that it's not a breakfast, either, so it's perfectly fine if it's not a word.)

So we got off the ferry in Finland and got -- I had forgotten this until I tasted the Lappi -- openfaced sandwiches with this tart white cheese on them, and two bananas and three apples, which we shared around. And then, as we wandered in Helsinki, reindeer pockets. You know, like a Runza, only with reindeer meat? Oh, oh yeah, nobody outside Nebraska gets Runzas. (Be grateful.) Well, you know pizza pockets? Like those. But with better dough, and cabbage and onions (which I hate, but these were good) and ground reindeer meat and spices, who knows which spices.

So few of my taste/scent memories have a chance to be this unpolluted. If I like things, I have them again. And scents, you can't avoid scents, although sometimes I try. But the stuff we did when we were on our Scandinavian trip -- most of that hasn't been duplicated. People talk about how cosmopolitan the San Francisco Bay Area is, but they always mean someone else's cosmos, because you can't buy reindeer pockets here and nobody has even heard of lefse. But it's not just the Bay Area. I lived in Minnesota for four years and never thought to buy myself Lappi at the store. Haven't had smoked salmon dill sandwiches. Haven't had caviar with the metal tang of the spoon standing out against the salt taste. One of the few guaranteed flashbacks to Norway was at Long John Silver's: they fried their chicken in the same stuff as their fish, so it tasted like fish. Which is how it was in Norway, so I bought some from Long John Silver's sometimes. But it wasn't good in Norway, either, so I stopped.

College food, I suppose, will be like that. Caf croissants. Cheese boats. The omnipresent chicken strips. Crunchy pears. None of this shows up in my real life, and for the most part I'm glad. I'm just wondering if I'm going to be 30 and wake up one morning and take a bite of a croissant and feel 17 again for a minute or two.

After much deliberation, I have decided what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be Mark's Grandpa Lyzenga. Mark, who is now awake, says he doesn't think the position is open, but that doesn't really matter. I knew why I loved Grandpa Lyzenga right away when I met him, but I didn't really have a good sense of why he loved me right away, too, except that he's really good at loving people. But now I think it's that we're crazy in some of the same ways.

Or else maybe I'll be my own grandpa. You know, Grandpa is always busy. Always has something he wants to do. Often has stuff he wants other people to help him do. But, as far as I know, he doesn't wake up at 5:00 a.m. to make sure it gets done. He's retired. He doesn't have to do that (and didn't when he wasn't retired). He always has stuff he wants to do, but he manages to get good sleep anyway.

Oh, in case you're wondering, Grandpa is recovering quite well from his surgery, and all of his post-surgery check-ups are turning out okay, but he's not walking like he should be. I mean, he's walking and all. He just isn't going out for walks the way his doctor wants him to. He's being a pill. If he had e-mail, I'd ask you-all to encourage him; instead, I'll probably do it myself, probably call him when I'm hovering on the borders Napland. Or is that a racist term for the country of the naps? I am, I'm afraid, not very well acquainted with the naps, so I can't tell you what they prefer to be called. Sleeplets, perhaps. I don't know.

See, you all are lucky that I'm writing this for you in the sleepy morning. Because all the nouns and verbs are in roughly their usual places. When I'm tired in the mornings, all is well. When I'm tired in the evenings, I sometimes sound like I've taken a couple of years of spoken English in college -- and gotten C's.

And nobody has written me e-mail. This is unusual. Usually I wake to e-mail that takes me more than a minute to answer. Michelle wrote to tell me she had found a taxi and was not walking back to her friend's apartment, three miles in the middle of the night. This is good to know, although I am a bit dismayed that it took a bit of cajoling from her Scott to convince her of this course of action. ("It's *Orono*," she told me in e-mail. I pointed out that nasty things happen in Ralston, NE, and that I am thus inured to towns' claims of innocence.) Other than that, though, I've got a letter from an old friend whose e-mails I hate to answer too promptly, lest he feel guilty for his busier schedule. And that's it. Everyone, most likely, is saving up to send me birthday wishes. I'm sure that's it.

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