Friday, October 1, 2010

Sleepless in Cincinnati

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (for at least the next semester), I am out the door by 6:30 a.m. to take my brother to ROTC training.

Now, what part of that sentence seems odd?

The night he came home in uniform!
If you guessed the part of me being out the door by 6:30 a.m., you are correct! If the above statement was in an article, it would be extensively fact-checked and supported by a quote because, in terms of Julie trivia, it is widely known and accepted that Julie is not a morning person.

And yet, here I am, many, many hours and 3 cups of coffee later, being productive and in a good mood. It may be further baffling to learn I volunteered to take Mikey in the morning. I am hoping it is the proper motivation I need to help get me into a cycle of waking up earlier and sleeping better at night. This is technically the second time I am voluntarily up at such an hour, so we shall see! (I took my sister to summer rowing practice by 6:30 a.m. during high school.)

On top of being a night owl, I am a notoriously light sleeper, which I can assure you is a bad combination. Last night was particularly bad, and then Heidi came into the guest bedroom (where I’ve been sleeping until my room is in complete order) and took up a sizeable chunk of the bed. Thanks, dog.

"A heart enfolded in Divine love cannot remain inactive."

Today is the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as St. Therese, the Little Flower. She was a Carmelite nun who died of TB in 1897. Without getting into too much detail, she was a temperamental, emotional and sickly child who learned to control her emotions through prayer and a childlike devotion to Jesus. She entered the convent at age 15, wrote a diary now read by millions of people as a spiritual classic (The Story of a Soul) and strove to please God in all ways, especially small, because she believed she was never going to be important in this world. She said, "What matters in life is not great deeds, but great love."

Her Christian witness motivates for me to do better in menial aspects of my life. Last night, for example, I was organizing all my books (into fiction, academic, anthologies, spiritual, writing & grammar, etc.) when my dad called me downstairs to help him in the kitchen for a half hour. I didn’t want to go downstairs. The request irritated me. (As sung in Veggie Tales: "I'm so busy, busy, dreadfully busy!") Nevertheless, I decided to offer it up and complied with my dad's request. I ended up helping out for over an hour, talking to Dad and making fun of Heidi (who was watching me cut raw chicken into strips very, very closely). We were later joined by my sister, who shared a few Shel Silverstein poems, and then I helped her with Chemistry.

The hour spent downstairs was enjoyable, but I kept thinking about what would have happened if I had said no. (I have lots of time to think while not sleeping.) Nothing I did was urgent. It wasn't necessary. It was helpful and anyone-old-enough-to-use-sharp-knives could have done it. It was not a big or grand gesture. But I still did it. I still took time to help another. From the perspective that I didn't complain either, my willingness to help made it a happy environment, which drew others into the fun familial fellowship. I acted from love for others, opposed to satisfying my own want of organization. And gee whiz! It felt damn good. 
 And what does this have to do with my sleeplessness? Excellent question. I’ve used my sleeplessness to my advantage, for the most part. Late nights of hanging out with friends; late nights of studying and graveyard shift; late nights of reading and discovering. But not sleeping still takes its toll on the mind and body. My mom has taken me to doctor a couple times, but their suggestions have never particularly helped me. My dad told me that if I’m still having problems sleeping, I’m obviously not drinking enough.

They comment  because they care. Not sleeping can make Julie pretty crabby and, if provoked, I can descend southward of a 5-year-old child. In college, I was able to take naps. This opportunity has vanished in Big Kid world. But like that particular Sunday morning sophomore year, when I realized Jesus didn’t make me drink the night before and, therefore, I needed to go to mass irregardless of how horrible the idea of sitting/ standing/ sitting/ standing/ kneeling/ standing and actively participating sounded that early in the morning—the same goes for sleep. I need to control myself, even when I can’t control the situation.

St. Therese died when she was 24. That’s 1 ½ years away for me. That's quite young. Yet by loving God in her small way, she was able to project his greatness to the rest of the world. I don’t see myself reaching that many people, so at the very least, I can at least reach my own family and maybe a few friends too, along the way. If I can make them happy in this lifetime, and keep Christ at the center, there’s few else one could want—except maybe a few hours more of sleep. (Is that so much to ask? Ah, well. There’s always the weekend!)

Have a great weekend, folks! May it be full of fall activities, like crunching leaves, drinking apple cider and wearing plaid flannel.


  1. Your enthusiasm for life in every blog post is both impressive and an encouragement. Props J-Rob!

  2. I'm sorry you're a light sleeper! I love sleeping :) But it's great that you have such a positive attitude. What an encouraging post. Thanks, Julie!

  3. Julie! Wish I could have some late-night-sorry-you're-not-sleeping advice...but the truth is, I'm a natural morning person who loves the hours of both 5am and 6am for being awake. So, in place of advice/commiserating, I'll pray for you :) Thanks for the uplifting post about St. Therese