Posts Tagged With: Shakespeare

The Joys of Sleep

When I was still working, sometimes it seemed that the only time I could really sleep was on weekends, or at least one day of the weekend, the one where I wasn’t running errands all the time.  Otherwise, I awoke to an alarm clock that went off far too early to suit me.  Of course, I stayed up quite late, often till past midnight.

But then, I am a night owl.  I think I always have been.  It’s not just that I enjoy staying up late, but that I really function best late at night.  But the world runs on a different schedule, and as a working member of society, I had to comply and fit in.  Of course, as an academic, I found a schedule that was more flexible.  I rarely had 8 a.m. classes — 9 a.m., perhaps, but not earlier, not if I could help it.  It would take me forever to wake up.  But then I was managing on 6 hours of sleep at best, and only during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina did I finally get a sleep study which established that I did indeed have sleep apnea, a rather severe case.   I’d get 6 hours, but I awoke constantly,and I rarely achieved REM sleep (I averaged about 5% per night).  Then came the CPAP machine, which provided me the REM sleep I was deprived of.  What a difference that machine has made!  Within days, I felt refreshed and clear-headed.  How I’d managed to function still astonishes me.

Adapting first to sleeping with a full mask that covered my nose, and then to a different mask with nose pillows, I began to refer to my nighttime gear as my Frankenmask.  When my sister and one of my cousins and I are all together, we can compare our CPAPs.  Clearly the literature is accurate when it recognizes that sleep apnea often “runs in the family.”

Now I sleep through the night.

Just how valuable sleep was became so clear to me while I was living with Dad.  During the last 6 months or so of his life, I rarely got more than 2 hours of sleep at a time if I were with him.  I really used weekends, when my sister Kay came in, to sleep.  A lot.  And for months after his death, I slept often and long and late.  I’d spend entire days sleeping and reading and sleeping more.  As though I could make up for all the hours lost, I took advantage of the opportunity to sleep whenever I felt like it.  That was, I’ve come to believe, not just for the physical loss of sleep but for the emotional losses of months.  Healing takes a long time and comes in many different guises.

And in retirement, I don’t have to set the alarm clock if I don’t want to.  I can simply stay up until I’m ready to sleep, and wake when I want to.

Sometimes that’s exactly what I do.  Of course, that means that I might not get up until 10 a.m.  But unless I have a meeting or an appointment, I can set my own schedule.  Just what schedule works for me is something I’m still exploring.

If I simply stay up and read until I fall asleep, that might be 2 or 3 a.m.  Then I sleep for 7 hours or so, rise and dress and go about my day.  The problem is that sometimes I don’t want to get up at all, and simply decide to make a really lazy day of it and stay in bed, read, and sleep in a cycle that owes nothing to the clock.  That’s okay, too, but not for too long.  I could easily become a hermit, following such a non-schedule schedule.  My own body-clock seems to revert quite easily — and quickly — to this pattern.

Instead, I have decided perhaps it’s best to get up by 8 a.m. and spend an hour or so reading the papers, then spend some time writing.  This still surprises me, and I’ve yet to see if it works, but I’m going to give this semi-schedule a shot.

Even so, the seduction of sleep is often difficult to resist.

Naps were not things I usually took, not during the school term.  Maybe occasionally, maybe during semester breaks, but not usually on a work day unless I was really, really tired.  In summers, though, which I spent in Greece, I quickly adapted to the daily afternoon nap.  And now I find myself napping if I want to.  When I was a child, certainly before I entered school, my mother made me take naps.  Why do we stop that lovely habit?  Just because of work.

Some days, naps are absolutely necessary. Some days, they’re not.  Today was one of the days when one was necessary.  For whatever reason, I felt tired and drifted off while I was reading.  Of course, I did get up for an 8 a.m. meeting, and then had coffee with a friend after that.

Sleep, though, has become such a pleasure.  With the CPAP and REM sleep, I dream often.  Spectacularly, at times.  Vivid colors, wild plots.  Sometimes the dreams are so real I awaken and am not quite sure where I am or what’s going on.  Sometimes the dreams are science-fiction wild.  At times I keep a dream journal to record them.

I don’t have to wait for weekends to indulge an all-night reading orgy followed by an all-day lie in.

But tonight?  It’s only about 10 p.m. and despite a lovely nap this afternoon, I am yawning and feeling the need to crawl into bed.

My dogs are sitting at my feet as I type this.  But the minute I get up, they’ll be right at my heels, following me.  They’ll jump into bed when I get in, curl up on either side of me, and drift off as I read a bit.

Shakespeare has Macbeth speak of sleep as

“the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravel’d sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast-”  (Macbeth, Act II, Scene 2, lines 36-40)

And that’s just what sleep does — daily it is the “death” of each day, resting us from “sore labor’s bath.”  It is balm to hurt minds.  I love that it is “great nature’s second course,  /Chief nourisher in life’s feast.”  This really emphasizes the vital role sleep plays in our lives.  It is not time wasted, not at all.  It’s when we recover so that we are ready for the next day.  When we’ve suffered through great physical strain and emotional turmoil and loss, it provides a depth of healing and restoration that sometimes we think we’ll never truly get.

So even though my day hasn’t been especially difficult or even full, I am ready for a new night’s feast, for my second course.  My Frankenmask awaits.

As my mother used to say to me, “Good night.  Sleep tight.”

Dream well.

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What’s in a Name?

Shakespeare nailed it:  “That which we call a rose /By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Yet perhaps Shakespeare failed to consider the consequences of some name choices.

Names are words, words to which we attach meaning from some (often shifting) external context.

And so it was when my siblings and cousins Barbara and Jim were born into a family named Ware.

Yes, we grew up with all of those jokes that seem to follow the name Ware:  Do you have anyone in the family named Stone (Ware)? Corning (Ware)?  You get the picture.  You probably can come up with any number of other humorous quips to hurl our way.

When I was maybe 2 or 3, when we lived in Humble, Texas, outside of Houston, my dad’s working partner, Buddy, had me convinced that my name was other than Cheryl Lynn Ware.  Like another father to me until the day he died, Buddy loved to tell the story of how he had me responding to anyone who asked what my name was:  Cheryl Lynn Stinkpot Ware.  I was working at university when Buddy died, but that story still makes me smile.

Perhaps my most embarrassing moment, though,  came in high school, when my Chemistry teacher had me go to his Physics class to make up an exam (I think those were the classes, anyway).  Mr. Miller — he of the wonderfully wide and welcoming smile– waited until I was through with the test.  There I was, surrounded by august seniors.  Especially the guys.  And then Mr. Miller aimed the smile at me, announcing that if my middle name were Sunder, and then if you said my name really fast altogether, I would be CherylSunderWare.  Everyone laughed, of course. I blushed.  I wanted to sink through the floor.   I still get variations of this one, even now.

And any time we were on a bus for a class trip, the jokes continued:  Cheryl?  Ware?  Where?  Here, I’d pipe up.  Ware/where?  they’d respond.  Cue laughter again.

The last name seemed obvious for its possibilities.  But what other possibilities were there?  Consider our first names — some of us, anyway.

Barbara Ware:  B Ware.  Hmmm.  Got it?

Cheryl Ware:  C Ware.  I don’t need to explain any more.

But my poor brother Philip had the worst time:  P Ware.  Yes, Pee Ware.  Really embarrassing to him when he was a shy little boy.  I was most often the guilty party in taunting him with this, of course.

My own name, C Ware, has continued to be a source of humor over the years.  It’s handy, even a shorthand of sorts for a way of viewing things.  Hence the name of this new blog:  C Ware in the World.  Not a single meaning, but ambiguity results with that combination, and as a literary sort, I like the ambiguity.  It opens up rather than heading in one direction.

Names are so strange.  We attach meanings to them.  Even at Dad’s funeral (actually, afterwards at the farm), my Aunt Jean was recounting to a friend how I got my name.  When Mother was pregnant, she had a baby shower — and a naming shower.  Everyone had to contribute a name.  My mother’s first choice (Cheryl Ann, I think) was something she shared with a co-worker who was also pregnant.  That woman gave birth first.  And guess what her girl was named?  Yep.  My mother was not happy.  Her “friend” had “stolen her name.”

So Cheryl Lynn I became:  Lynn from the name of one of my dad’s first cousins.

Of course, there’s another twist to my name.  Since Dad belonged to the Church of Christ and Mother was Roman Catholic, when it came time to have me baptized, the Holy Roman Church wouldn’t recognize my name as acceptable.  There were no Saint Cheryls, no Saint Lynns.  Hence I was baptized Cheryl Lynn Maria.  That satisfied the requirements for a saint’s name somewhere in a child’s name.  When it came time for Confirmation, I had to choose yet another name.  I chose Theresa.  So as far as the Church is concerned, I am not Cheryl Lynn Ware.  I am Cheryl Lynn Maria Theresa Ware.  Or if you’d believe the 3-year-old me, Cheryl Lynn Stinkpot Maria Theresa Ware.

My brother and sister had acceptable names:  Philip Franklin Ware (St. Philip, of course); Kay Darlene Ware (Kay from St. Katherine). They didn’t have to have names trailing.  And since neither of them chose to be confirmed, they didn’t have to pick another name.  OH well.

Over the years, I simply learned to play the jokes too.  Why fight it?  After all, words are only weapons if you let them be.

Indeed, when I came to adopt Greece as a second home, I wondered whether in fact names had destined me for a Mediterranean self.

First, my own religious names, especially Maria — a very common name in Greece (and Italy and Spain).  But if you look at my parents’ names, and even my maternal grandmother’s name, other ties emerge.

My mother’s name:  Irene. In Greece, Irini is a common name, derived from the word for peace, Eirene.

My father’s name — or at least his middle name, usually simply designated by the initial for reasons soon to be obvious:  Theophilus.  Theos (God) + philos (friend).  Friend of God.

And my maternal grandmother?  Ella.  In Greek, ela : Appropriately, her name is a command form of the verb come, indicating come here!

Cheryl?  Derives from the French, Cherie, and has the meaning of darling. Lynn?  Depending on the source you look in, it derives from Irish, Gaelic, English or even Spanish, with meanings ranging from ruddy complexion to lake or water or pretty.

A mishmash of cultural heritages are thus blended in the name Cheryl Lynn.  Appropriate for someone who is herself a blend of many cultures, including French, Cajun, Irish, Scots, German, and English.

I figure it could have been worse.  If I’d been male, guess what one of the name choices was?  Henry Theophilus, after my dad.

I’m so glad I’m female.  Even Dad only used T rather than his actual name.

So much for names.  But here you are, in my first post for a new blog.  Join me to cwareintheworld I end up.  To cwareintheworld, see Ware in the world.

Whatever.  I’m on my way.  Ela!

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