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First Step: Open Your Eyes!

January 19, 2010

I got 4 hours of sleep last night. I was dreading this morning. Now, I feel more fulfilled than I ever have. Let me tell you why.

I was out very, very, very late last night. Maybe that wasn’t a good idea. Okay, actually, DEFINITELY it wasn’t a good idea, but hey! I’m in college! BACK OFF!!

Anyways, I’m in my friend’s dorm, its 4 AM, and I realize that I have to wake up at 8:30 AM to cover a huge demonstration downtown for the newspaper. Things I realize I need to do as I’m lying awake…trying desperately to go to sleep:

1. Shower! I had just gotten back from a tribal party, and I had paint all over my arms and face. My hair and clothes wreaked of whiskey and Miller Genuine Draft — and I knew NO ONE would take me seriously if I showed up like THAT to do an interview.
2. Get my computer. Yes, I had left it in my dorm on South campus, a MILE away. Not a bright idea, but then again, last night I wasn’t necessarily thinking too clearly.
3. Get interviews … BEFORE the demonstration.
(At THAT point, I decide that its absolutely necessary for me to wake up a half hour earlier…just for good measure)
4. Find out the directions to where the actual demonstration will be taking place. That one is obvious — needs no explanation
5. Somehow find the strength and willpower to wake up in the morning, leave all of my friends, and embark upon my day that is so unbearably uncertain I almost can’t face it.

It’s now 8 AM. I am overwhelmed. I am lying on the floor, tired out of my mind, and thinking. I’m thinking of ways I can get out of this. Should I call my editor and tell her there’s been a death in the family? No…bad karma. Although, I must admit, I came very close. Should I simply sleep through it? No — there is NO WAY I’m not getting fired or looked WAAAAY down upon if that happens. Then, I think, well, maybe, just maaaaybe, if I wish hard enough, everyone will forget about the demonstration and I won’t have to do it anyways! But then I remembered: I live on planet earth. Magic isn’t real.


At 8:30, I get up after a half an hour of toiling in my own mental misery, gather my crumpled clothes, and make my way to my dorm room, clad in pajama pants, cowboy boots, a stained Bob Dylan t-shirt, and a leather jacket. Teeth unbrushed, hair uncombed, face unwashed and running on 4 hours of tortured sleep, I made my way in the 14 degree cold to my dorm, whereupon I began making calls.

9 AM: At the dorm, get upstairs, get my computer, my cell phone charger and my phone book, and begin making calls.
10AM: I have all my sources — I start transcribing interviews
11AM: done with that, I begin writing the article.

At 11:30, I realize that the demonstration begins at 12:30, and my videographer and I need a taxi to get there. SO. Now, I find I have no time to shower. I get on a pair of long sleeves (to hide the paint on my arms), slather myself in deodorant and perfume, get a coat, grab my notebook and get out the door.

In the taxi, I’m thinking, “Oh my god, I just want to be asleep. I just want to go to my bed, and curl up in a ball and drift away. The last thing I want to do is go out into the cold, brutal world and ask people questions they don’t want to answer.”

My day feels like a mess, I feel like a mess. Therefore, my life is destined to be a mess.

I get to the demonstration, and the moment I step out of the cab, everything changes.

I start meeting people, I hear their stories. I learn things, I see things, I feel things. I spoke to a young girl with a sign saying, “sav ar liberries” (translation: save our libraries). She was 3 years old. She drew a picture of clouds and gave it to me when the interview was over.

I met an old man with eyes bluer than the music of Muddy Waters. He stared at me with an intensity that didn’t match his age, and told me stories about his life. His charisma blew my mind, and his spirit lifted mine.

I walked through the crowd, witnessing acts of selflessness, of pride, of passion, and I thought, “Did I really want to miss out on this? Really? I wouldn’t miss this for the world!” I knew that I was doing what I was meant to do. I was reporting the news. I was watching news happen. I was going to tell everyone what happened here — in the form of print.

And I knew that I was where I was supposed to be. I knew that I wasn’t meant to be getting those extra hours of sleep. I forgot about that. I didn’t notice the cold. I didn’t feel the pressure of the deadline approaching. I’d get the article done. Everything would be fine. My day went from being absolutely uncertain, to the surest thing I had ever felt.

Everything was right. All I had to do was open my eyes, get up, and get out that door.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2010 1:50 am

    Glad to hear you made it to the demonstration. But sleep is definitely a critical thing.

    Let’s remember what Macbeth said about sleep…

    “I heard a voice cry, “Sleep no more!
    Macbeth does murther sleep” -the innocent sleep,
    Sleep that knits up the ravel’d sleave of care,
    The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
    Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
    Chief nourisher in life’s feast…”

    Macbeth was not getting enough sleep, And you know what happened to him.

  2. January 26, 2010 9:33 pm

    “bluer than the music of Muddy Waters” – lovely!

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