These days I’m sleeping more than usual. I often get nine hours of sleep at night and then take an hour’s nap in the afternoon. I’m sleeping a lot because I can. With the pandemic lockdown keeping me isolated at home, I have plenty of time for rest.
My enjoyment of sleep these days reminded me of a series of blog posts from several years ago. So I present them here as a rerun with only slight editing to bring them up to date:
I am the unchallenged master of sleep. I can sleep at any time of the day no matter where I am.
It started in my childhood. My mother was an alcoholic, my father in prison. Sometimes I had nothing to eat. By age eight, I was out earning money so that I could at least buy a candy bar or a dinner roll if there was no food at home. From then through the end of high school, I always had a job. I delivered newspapers, worked as a pharmacy delivery boy, stocked shelves in a department store. After I got my driver’s license at sixteen, I most often worked in gas stations, pumping gas, greasing cars, and cleaning. Sleep was a luxury I couldn’t always afford.
Then came college. The tuition at UC Berkeley in the 1950s was just short of sixty dollars a semester, an amount I was able to accumulate by fasting and hoarding. I worked twenty hours a week while attending classes to support myself. I usually found a job in restaurants. Sometimes I washed dishes; sometimes I waited tables; once in a while I acted as a chef’s helper. I specialized in restaurant work because I got free meals.
I had long since learned how to go without sleep. I had to attend classes, study, and work. I found I could push myself beyond what I thought were my limits. My undergraduate college grades were below average. That met my expectations. High school advisors had warned me that I wasn’t intelligent to go college. But I was determined to do it anyway. I loved learning, and I wanted to escape from poverty.