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Day 20. in which Alex elaborates on journaling and sleep-eating.

For most of my life, I have kept journals of one kind or another. In grade school, they were mostly three-ring spiral-bound notebooks. In high school, they tended to be cloth-bound in which I would paste souvenirs - movie tickets; school dances; four-leaf clovers - into the inside of the covers. In my twenties, I upgraded to combine both functionalities - spiral and cloth-bound notebooks. All of these contained mostly a lot of indecipherable nonsense, full of random notes to myself that I left much of the subtext out of to protect my privacy should the notebooks ever be found and read by someone other than me.

Most of these books are gone now, except a handful of ones I maintained in my twenties. However, since they are encoded, I'm afraid I don't clearly remember many of the moments I attempted to capture in a journal. Fuzzy memories.

In my late twenties, I decided journaling my reality wasn't exactly exciting. It was a lot of philosophical angst, mixed with drawings of stick people and my Thurber rip-offs. I thought it'd be funny to start journaling my dream reality instead, thinking it might seem interesting to my theoretical grandchildren someday when they discovered it.

"Look! This is when Grandma must have lost her mind!"

This still kind of cracks me up. It just seems like a funny`kind of joke to play on the future grandchildren when I'm no longer around to actually do it. Likely, they could do some sort of psychological analysis and figure out more about Grandma than they ever really wanted to know.

So, for over a year, I meticulously recorded my dreams into a spiral-bound, cloth-bound journal for the curiosity of my future, unknown ancestors. (What exactly is the word for a 'future' ancestor...?)

Recording dreams for over a period of a year brought forth many themes I likely would not have noticed if I didn't read back through the year and piece the links together. Since I very often forget my dreams shortly after I wake up, with even the weird ones seemingly wiped from my memory after a few days, it was interesting to notice certain themes entwined through out my dream reality.

For better or worse, I'm starting to note some realities in my life that I suppose I should have noticed, but of which I have really not been aware.

I have several bad habits which I cannot help but ignore because they seem to keep popping up in my writing:
  • I waste a lot of time trying to watch TV but not actually watching anything.
  • I tend to mindlessly snack before bed.
  • I am terrified when I drive a car. (OK, this last one isn't exactly an epiphany...)
In regards to food consumption at or near bed-time, Dana is often the instigator. He has this amazing metabolism, and can afford to eat cookies and chips before hunkering down into bed...although I wouldn't recommend this behavior for anyone, because it certainly isn't healthy, no matter how thin you may be!

The worst experience I had with night-eating is shortly after Liam came home from the hospital. The two of us slept in the living room downstairs for awhile so the others wouldn't wake up from the baby's frequent feedings. I have a vague sense of the nights we passed together. There wasn't much sleep happening then. This was also during the time Dad had just moved in, and was having problems acclimating, especially during the night. So, if the baby was not waking me up, Dad was waking me up. So, I think it makes sense that I have no recollection of going into the pantry sometime between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. one morning for cookies. However, I woke up with part of a cookie in my mouth, and the other half of it crumbled on my chest. It was a bit unsettling, needless to say.

Of course, I've always had issues with sleep. When I was pregnant with Seth, I once stuffed my pajamas - literally crammed them - into the toilet. I woke up completely naked. My brother came home from work (we lived together at the time) after working the night shift, and woke me up to ask me what the hell my pajamas were doing in the toilet...They had not simply fallen into the toilet. They had been deeply lodged into toilet.

I'm not sure what all of this means yet, other than maintaining a daily record for the next year may indeed illuminate a lot for our family! I spend a lot of time looking closely at everyone around me right now, listening to the interesting things they say, or thinking about what has transpired in the day's day. In some ways, it seems like I'm paying attention for the first time in awhile. I mean, really close attention. It's almost like, um, living! And while I want to focus on the positive, it's good to see the negative, too. If you can't see the negative, you can't make it positive, because you don't even recognize the negative for what it is.

This year, I hope to wake up. (while I am eating would be a good place to start...!)