The Insomniac, or Polishing the Teapot (4)

Week 4/6 in the Stanford Sleep Clinic Insomnia Workshop.

It's been up and down. Some days I think all this attention to sleep patterns (keeping a sleep diary, for example), not to mention my innate (it seems) wish to  meet the teachers' expectations, makes things worse, not better. My old problem is waking up in the middle of the night, not really falling asleep, except in crisis situations. But I've been crazily sleep-deprived, yet the minute I hit the pillow I'm electric.

So, as instructed, I get up, I try to do something calming. Turns out the most calming things, for me, are physical, not the obvious: reading. I empty the dishwasher, I do the ironing, I polish the old pewter teapot that has turned dull over years of neglect. Method for polishing a pewter teapot in the middle of the night, unplanned: take a Brillo Pad (thanks Andy Warhol) and scrub. Of course your hands will be a mess after, but since you still aren't sleepy you can spend some time massaging cream into them, and while you're at it, why not pamper your feet, those oriental objects of desire?

The teapot was a wedding present. There's a poem about it in my book White Sheets: when it looked like we were going to be spending more time in California we bundled it up and brought it over here, so we'd have a least a few familiar objects around. It has a nice shape: round but flattened, like a curling stone. I have now bought proper polish and some very fine steel wool and it glows on the kitchen counter. It has a history, it has a pleasing shape, it is mute but it speaks to me.

What was I getting at? The reason I'm writing all this is that last night I slept straight through, seven hours, so I'm feeling elated. I'm going to practice positive thinking all day long and maybe I can have two nights of good sleep in a row. Also this afternoon is the seminar on Augustine's Confessions,a highlight of the week, and I'll be awake enough to appreciate minds bouncing ideas off other minds.

Oh, and Downton Abbey: I've been rewatching Season 4 to relax before bed (yes, it's a whole system, I know how obsessive I am). What puzzles me is what Lady Crawley's role in the day-to-day running of the house is. Does she ever meet with the cook to discuss meals? It's hard to imagine the cook and Lady C sitting down together. It's hard to picture that scene, yet I'd really like to know the link between the kitchen scenes and the dining room scenes.