On Not Sleeping

I have not been able to get out of bed since August.

I’ve had insomnia for years, and fatigue forever, but it was August when I stopped working full time and consequently fell into this hazy, open space. Freelancing allows for my situation; for that I am grateful.

But I am still searching for the reason I have been so tired lately, so needy for my bed that when I am out and away from it, living, I fantasize about the sleep I so rarely get.

I suppose it started with the medicines I take, how awful the prednisone is. It certainly has to do with my illness, how so much of my time in bed is spent rocking back and forth in silent pain. It has to do with how much water I drink and how that lends itself to waking from a dream to pee and then padding, barefoot, back to my bed, where the dim light of my computer on the bed stand appeals to me, if only just to check the time.

But once the glow has captured me, my brain repsonds to the light and I have checked Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, nymag.com, the Times and looked at an entire photo album of a long-forgotten friend’s baby. I am tempted to leave comments here, at this time, 4 in the morning. I ‘like’ things instead, my brain fully jolted awake but my fingers unwilling to type, to write, to make use of this time.

So many of my nights lay in this vast wasteland of time that does not really seem to matter or count because I am not doing much. I read sometimes, articles and beautifully rendered essays recommended by the writers and friends on Twitter. I have at least ten open tabs with stories willing to be read, but most of the time I am too tired to do that.

It is easier to click like than it is to comment and it’s easier to watch three hours of 30 Rock than it is to read something I should read, because it is right and plus, everyone else has.

My days are lost too, now. I sleep but not until the morning sun has invaded my room, lighting up my bed, its tangled sheets proof of my kicking and flailing in my sleep. The pain is easier in my sleep, but it all leads to here, this consciousness that does not fade until seven or eight am. And so I sleep until mid-afternoon.

I’ve been called lazy but this is not just laziness, not all of the time. I wish it was just that, because that, perhaps, is easier to fix.

But I am sick, and I have proof of that to show you, if you wish. I don’t want to show anyone, or explain blood tests and what having lupus and missing a thyroid will do to you. I’m tired of explaining this to people who should know better, and I’m tired of not being the person I want to be, the person who reads more and drinks in moderation. The person who somehow says less and in doing that, says more. I want to be her, the best version of me, the me I am sure is possible, with some coffee and some self-awareness...

But first, I’d really like some sleep.


Dan's Favorite Things of 2011! (He's just like Oprah.)


I totally helped Dan do this.

(I cannot believe he didn’t include the members-only fan clup EP that Hanson released.)

Honorable Mentions: The First Day of Spring, Noah and the Whale; The Whole Love, Wilco; Bon Iver, Bon Iver; Rome, Danger Mouse and Danielle Luppi; A Creature I Don’t Know, Laura Marling

10. Pickin’ Up The Pieces, Fitz + The Tantrums

9. So Beautiful Or So What, Paul Simon

8. Whokill, tUnE-yArDs

7. The Harrow + The Harvest, Gillian Welch

6. I Am Very Far, Okkervil River

5. Strange Mercy, St. Vincent

4. Let England Shake, PJ Harvey

3. Barton Hollow, The Civil Wars

2. Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Girls

1. Helplessness Blues, The Fleet Foxes (“We couldn’t get enough of these guys.”)

FAVORITE MOVIES OF 2011 (In Dan's Words)
Time for @UffishL’s + my 2nd annual top 10 films of 2011. (Actually not our 2nd list of 2011—our 2nd annual list. But I bet you knew that.)

Our strict criteria: We had to really really like the films. If we didn’t agree, @UffishL threatened me. Anyway, the list: Honorable mention: Martha Marcy May Marlene; Midnight in Paris; The Way; Weekend; Young Adult
10. Buck 

9. The Trip

8. The Double Hour (La Doppia Ora)

7. Certified Copy

6. Hugo

5. Win Win

4. Higher Ground

3. The Artist

2. Project Nim. 

And our favorite movie of 2011; 1. Tree of Life. (Editor's note: Kelly concurs!) 

It had Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, dinosaurs—and the meaning of life!

FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2011 (In Dan's Words) 
My #top10books is my fave list from 2011, so @julieklam + I have saved for last the list of books that captured our hearts, etc this year:
Honorable mention: 1861, by Adam Goodheart; Helvetica and the New York City Subway System, by Paul Shaw; State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett; The Tiger’s Wife, by Téa Obreht; Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick

10. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
9. Mr. Fox, by Helen Oyeyemi
8. The Wilder Years, by Wendy McClure
7. The Psychopath Test, by Jon Ronson
6. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
5. The Tragedy of Arthur, by Arthur Phillips 

4. Starting From Happy, by Max Patty
3. Turn of Mind, by Alice LaPlante
2. Zone One, by Colson Whitehead
1. Say Her Name, by Francisco Goldman (Editor's note: KELLY CONCURS AGAIN! READ THIS NOW!)


In Which I Brag That I Can Read

Inspired and a wee bit intimidated by Elliott Holt's 2011 reading list, I sat down today in avoidance of a deadline and set upon the arduous task of listing every single book I read in 2011.

At the start of the year, I hoped to read 70 books. A quick look at my Netflix queue might have you guess, correctly, that I failed. I truly believe the list would be a lot longer if I hadn't wasted four hours watching the Kardashian marriage, if "articles about Zac Hanson" counted as books, if I hadn't watched the entire run of Family Ties on Netflix, and if I hadn’t wasted all that time reading Mormon mommy blogs working.

I reread a lot of old books. Some I revisited out of nostalgia; some out of that itchy feeling that I couldn't remember exactly what had happened. I reread a few childhood favorites when I was in the hospital and recovering. (I ordered a Judy Blume set off Amazon when I was sad/drunk one night.) I made quite a few lifestyle changes this year; that should excuse the two self-help books on the list, both by Kris Carr, cancer pioneer.

I’m a firm believer that what we read shapes and changes us; that investing our time in literature and nonfiction not only makes us smarter, but better, too; that we very may well be what we read. (In that case, I’m an adult child who loves depressing memoirs!)

And with that said, I present everything I can remember reading in 2011. The items in bold are my favorite new reads that came out this year or last. The books are listed in no particular order, except the last few that are currently being read.

I command thee to go forth and read!

  1. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling
  2. Henry IV, William Shakespeare
  3. The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach
  4. Bossypants, Tina Fey
  5. Blueprints for Building Better Girls, Elissa Schappell
  6. A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O'Connor (reread)
  7. Hypocrite in a White Pouffy Dress, Susan Jane Gilman (reread)
  8. Everything is Wrong With Me, Jason Mulgrew
  9. Half a Life: A Memoir, Darin Strauss
  10. Sisterhood Everlasting, Ann Brashares (Don’t judge. I had to see how it ended!)
  11. Maine, J. Courtney Sullivan
  12. The Long Goodbye, Meghan O'Rourke
  13. State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
  14. Bel Canto, Ann Patchett (reread)
  15. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Nick Flynn
  16. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
  17. The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman
  18. Truth & Beauty, Ann Patchett (reread)
  19. Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy (reread)
  20. Say Her Name: A Novel, Francisco Goldman
  21. An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, Elizabeth McCracken
  22. Love at First Bark, Julie Klam
  23. Great House, Nicole Krauss
  24. Just Kids, Patti Smith
  25. A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
  26. The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson
  27. This is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper
  28. Love and Obstacles, Aleksander Hemon
  29. A Widow's Walk, Marian Fontana (reread)
  30. Are You There Vodka, It's Me, Chelsea, Chelsea Handler (Okay, judge me.)
  31. Summer Sisters, Judy Blume (reread)
  32. Other People We Married, Emma Straub
  33. The Ticking is the Bomb, Nick Flynn
  34. Crazy Sexy Diet, Kris Carr
  35. Crazy Sexy Cancer, Kris Carr
  36. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Siddhartha Mukherjee (Shit, I read a lot about cancer.)
  37. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, JK Rowling (reread)
  38. Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose, Adrienne Rich
  39. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, Raymond Carver (reread)
  40. Blue Nights, Joan Didion
  41. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
  42. Sag Harbor, Colson Whitehead
  43. The Summer Before, Ann M. Martin (I wasn’t kidding.)
  44. Fudge-a-mania, Judy Blume
  45. Superfudge, Judy Blume
  46. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume (much better than Chelsea)
  47. [sic]: A Memoir, Joshua Cody
  48. The Two Kinds of Decay, Sarah Manguso (reread for the millionth time)
  49. Complications, Atwul Gwande
  50. Swamplandia, Karen Russell (in progress)
  51. This is Not Your City, Caitlin Horrocks (in progress)
  52. Zone One, Colson Whitehead (in progress)