Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In which I am up nearly all night

Dancer's ballet school hosted a Dance Against Cancer benefit last night. She and I volunteered to help set up the party portion; we were there from 3pm until shortly after 10pm. I'd signed us up to do this a while back, knowing that we couldn't afford to buy tickets, and also knowing that contributing labor is often more valuable than contributing money. I'll admit I was half-hoping Dancer would get to see the performance, too: it was a heady line-up of the very best dancers in the city, in a theater that only holds about 250 people. (And yes, Dancer did get to watch!)

As it turned out, between the time that I signed us up and the time of the benefit, the mother of one of Dancer's teachers died of lung cancer, and a high school friend of mine died of colon cancer. So I was doubly glad to work.

But in the interim I'd also taken on a couple of freelance projects, including a job editing a master's thesis that turned out to be due today. And theses being what they are, prone to last-minute changes and formatting that requires knowledge of the darkest corners of Word, yesterday afternoon there were still edits to be made. A lot of edits.

So I went to the benefit, and gladly fulfilled my duty there. And then I came home to slog through the thesis.

Now some of us are 'morning people' and some of us are 'night people'. My children will tell you that it's generally not wise to expect any profound wisdom (or extended patience) from me once 9pm has passed. So the idea of me doing brain-taxing work at night was pretty ludicrous. But I tried. Round about 12:45 I gave up -- even correcting spacing in a table was eye-crossing -- and went to bed.

I got up again at 4:20. Yes, a.m. And reader, the sad part was that there was no milk for my coffee. Not a drop: I had to drink it bracingly, bitterly black. I sat at the computer and hammered away, making steady progress until about 7am, when I hit a formatting wall that took nearly two hours to burrow through. It was one of those situations where you need to have element A and element B in the same place, but one makes the other disappear. I did eventually figure it out, and I finished the edits, and sent the file off at about 10am.

Then the client called to say the department had changed the required order of sections. Today. Then... well, I won't bore you with the details. But we were finally, completely done by 2pm.

The kids miraculously did their schoolwork unmonitored and without cajoling. And it was a good thing, too. On my way out the door to the pediatrician's office to pick up some medical reports I said something to Dancer, who looked at me oddly and said, "Mom, you just told me that!" Hmmmm. Brain fog. There was something important I needed to tell the pediatrician when I arrived at her office, but my brain denied access to the thought. My head was so cottony inside that I had to keep up a running commentary just to get myself home.

I have another project due, one which I ought to send out tonight. I think I'll wait. There was a time in my life when I could function reasonably well on little to no sleep. (Since Little Guy didn't sleep through the night until he was two, I suspect it was as recent as six years ago.) I can look at my inability to handle life without enough sleep as a lamentable sign that I'm aging. Or I can look at it as proof that, when necessary, I have been able to do things that seem utterly impossible. Perhaps it's a bit of both, no?


  1. You are a woman to be admired and respected!
    Thanks for sharing and for inspiring the rest of us.

  2. No milk for the coffee!!!! That was the part of the storey that made my blood run cold. I don't like the effects of aging on my body either. Isn't it amazing what even 4 hours of sleep can do. I am sorry for the loss of your friend. Working to raise money for cancer research/treatment was a great way to honor her.

  3. Julia, I think you do many, many things that seem utterly impossible and I totally admire you.

    Barb C.