I desire nothing more than a deep restful sleep.

Writing aside, the one thing I always want to do is sleep. I crave the feeling of burrowing deep into a thick blanket on a rainy day, with nothing to do but relax. Yet, just like writing, I hardly indulge myself with a good night’s rest. Even on weekends and holidays I am up as early as possible to tackle the day’s tasks of staring at my phone for hours straight, then taking a break to stare at my television for the rest of the day. I find it difficult to do the more productive things like writing, reading, pondering my life’s existence; all I do is stare at a screen.

Thankfully, everyone in the world is going through the same thing. The netizens have come up with a term for this: Revenge Bedtime Procrastination ‘bàofùxìng áoyè’ as the Chinese refer to it. This term describes how people who do not have much control over their lives and schedules during the day refuse to go to sleep so as to gain some sense of control and freedom at night. I definitely understand this. I have a poster in my room which boldly shouts “Stop waiting for Friday!” which is really easier said than done. I work all day and all week, and when I get off work I just want to do whatever. The problem is that I am sacrificing sleep for temporary pleasure, and it is getting harder to ignore the negative effects. I deleted Instagram for Lent, and before I did I would spend hours, way past my bed time, mindlessly scrolling through pointless posts on the explore page. Did I really need to go down the rabbit hole of what celebrity is sleeping with who? Did I care about the pointless e-fight between people I don’t know? Animal videos, tik-toks, every damn thing. I would lay in bed with my eyes burning and yet I could not tear my eyes away and go to sleep. The effect of this is that I was often tired and forgetful. I never truly felt rested, and would wake up tired. I would chastise myself for wasting all that time that I could have spent sleeping, but yet when nighttime came I would do it all over again. I deleted Instagram but quickly replaced it with YouTube, watching tens of videos each day, wildly swinging from broody hens to notable dictators to my favourite crime videos.

I recently saw a video about the importance of getting adequate sleep and how detrimental less than 7.5 hours of restful sleep is to our health. Of course I already knew this, but still I spent the time watching it on YouTube after getting a good 5 hours of sleep. The interesting thing was the roles phones, laptops et al play in our raggedy sleep schedules. The blue light emitted from the screens increase cortisol which makes it difficult for us to go to sleep. Again I know this and I always promise myself that I will put away from my electronics an hour before bedtime and I almost never do.

Not to keep banging on about loneliness, but this is yet another way loneliness shows up in my life. Years of living alone with no one to have a regular conversation with has made me deeply addicted to my phone. Most days, the only voices I hear are from my phone or telly. Tragic. If I had regular human contact with people I actually care to talk to, I reckon I would be less dependent on my phone. A couple of weeks back I kept my telly off the whole weekend and read a book instead. At first I was racing through the book so I could turn on the TV and faff around, but as time went on I decided to not watch tv until I was done with the book. I thought to myself “The TV and the shows in it are not going anywhere! Just take a break and relax.” It was actually weird to see how dependent I am, like a child with no self control. I did take some YouTube breaks to reward myself for reaching milestone pages, but still it felt good to do something else with my time (and my eyes were thankful for that).

I am not going to end this with another nonsensical declaration about how I will throw my phones away and sleep more, because I probably won’t. I will try though, because it will be sad when this pandemic is over and we are all back to commuting and I realise I did not take advantage of my time at home by sleeping enough. On Sunday, after spending the whole of Saturday on YouTube, I woke up early as usual, quickly perused YT and forced myself to go back to sleep for a few more hours. It felt good.

The takeaway is this; binging on YouTube is as terrible as my sugar binges. The videos and shows will still be there, and I need to pace myself. Sleep tight!

Five years later…

Sometimes I wish I could peek into my life 5 years from now, to see how things will be.

Five years ago in March of 2016, on the one year anniversary of this blog, I wrote a post in which I wondered what my life would be like in 2021.

What will my life be like 5 years from now, I wonder? Will I be happy and fulfilled? Will I still be alive? Will I have fallen victim to a maniac suicide bomber? Life has this way of being completely unpredictable, tossing you in directions in which you never expected. Whatever happens, I hope to be alive, I hope to be happy, and I hope to always have a reason to laugh.

Well I am pleased to say that I am still alive, to the glory of God, and I have not fallen victim to a suicide bomber (or pandemic or a crazy flat-mate or food poisoning). I am not however, happy and fulfilled. Far from it. I am trying to remember what I was doing in March 2016. I had finished university and National service, and was sat at home, bored as hell, trying to figure out my next step. I would end up applying for a Master’s degree and move to a different continent by myself. In 5 years, I have completed my Master’s Degree, started a job, and finished a professional qualification. Personally, I am in the same comfortable rut that I have been in for over a decade. It makes me a bit sad that I am still waiting for my life to begin, and as I get older I get more nervous that it will never happen. In five years I will still be here waiting for my life to begin. Terrifying.

Sometimes I scare myself by thinking: what if nothing changes? What if I am in this exact same spot, daydreaming about the same things and watching life pass me by? Change is scary, but even scarier is remaining the same.

Sigh. I haven’t the foggiest clue how to move my life forward and make my life more fulfilling. I have to put down my phone and sit with myself for a while. Things haven’t been all bad; there have been moments of laughter and fun, but they are not enough and they have no long lasting effect on my heart-once the moment ends, the feeling disappears as well.

One day I will come back and write about how happy and fulfilled I am. I’m over the whining.

All the light we cannot see.

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.

First off, I have to say how proud I am of myself for completing this book in February- yes I only read two books last month but it is the shortest month so give me a break. In my last book post I did say that it would probably take me the rest of February to finish this book, and it almost didn’t happen. See, it is hard to read with all the distractions available so I actually did not pick up the book until Saturday the 27th of February when I was suddenly hit with the desire to keep my word and finish the book in February. At 10pm February 28th, I did, and it was the only thing I managed to achieve that weekend. The book has over 500 pages and it became a mission; read 100 pages take a break, another 100 pages and you can watch a YouTube video. It is amazing how much one can achieve when one turns off the television and focuses. I’m realising now that the tv will always be there, and it doesn’t hurt to turn it off once in a while and do something else. Anyway on to the book.

All the Light We Cannot See is a book by American writer Anthony Doerr. Published in 2014, the book went on to win the Pulitzer and numerous other accolades. Set around world war two, the book simultaneously follows two people; Marie-Laure, a blind French girl living with her Locksmith father in Paris; and Werner, an orphan German boy living with his sister in a Children’s home in the coal mining town of Zollverein. Marie-Laure is doted on by her father, a locksmith who works at the Museum of Natural history, who builds a model replica of their street so she can be familiar with her surroundings, and buys her books in braille so she can satisfy her incessant thirst for knowledge.

Three hundred miles northeast of Paris, Werner and his sister Jutta are enchanted by radio. They find a destroyed radio which Werner manages to restore, and from it comes a French voice talking about light and science. Werner, described as a small pale boy with hair whiter than snow, is exceptionally bright and preternaturally skilled at repairing radios, and he soon receives acclaim as the neighbourhood repairman.

Reality is shifted when Germans invade Paris; Marie-Laure and her father flee Paris by foot in a long torturous journey. They are not alone, in his pocket is the sea of flames (or a replica)-an extravagant diamond from the museum which is rumoured to be cursed. They end up in Saint-Malo in her grandfather’s childhood home where her great uncle still lives. Her great uncle is a veteran and victim of World War I; a shell-shocked recluse whose days are marred by hallucinations. Here, Marie’s ever doting father sets out to build her a model of Saint-Malo, similar to the one she left behind in Paris. He is picked up and sent to a prison in Germany.

On the other side, Werner’s skill gets him noticed and he is sent to a National school and from there to the war where he and other people ride across Europe detecting and intercepting enemy transmissions. Werner puts on a brave face and does not publicly questions anything, but inside him are seeds of doubts and confusion-are they doing the right thing?

Eventually their paths cross, and it is radio that brings them together.

There are other notable characters- Madame Manec, the maid who has lived with and tended to Marie’s great uncle since he was a boy; Claude something- an opportunistic parfumier who profits from the war by selling out others, and of course Von Rumpel, the sergeant major who is on a quest to find the sea of flames and will stop at nothing to get it.

I found the book interesting enough, and very well written; It could be argued that the writing is better than the story itself. The story is unique enough but it is the writing that elevates the book. The writer eloquently conveys the sadness, fear and confusion that war brings, as well as the little triumphs and pockets of joys that we manage to find in the midst of the storm.

“…yet everything radiates tension, as if the city has been built upon the skin of a balloon and someone is inflating it towards the breaking point.”

The book is split in thirteen parts which oscillate regularly between time periods. I found this quite unnecessary. It may have helped build the suspense a little but I felt it wasn’t needed. By the time I returned to a time period I had to remind myself of what is going on. The chapters are short, some only a page. This was fine especially as we are moving between time periods and characters.

I liked the main characters and found them both interesting to follow. Despite the trials and tribulations life has thrown their way, they are both gifted and passionate about their interests. Both Marie and Werner liked to learn and I wish there was something that fascinated me as much as radio did for Werner, and the ocean/mollusks did for Marie.

The crux of the novel is that Marie and Werner live different lives in different places, and their paths meet in a stroke of fate. I read the book eagerly awaiting this meeting; it was almost 400 pages in before their paths crossed, and when it happened it was brief and unsatisfying. The writer avoided the wartime romance cliché, and perhaps it is better that way, but I wanted more. In short the book was nice but it was not as gripping as some other books I’ve read and enjoyed. There were times when I was just reading it to finish, and there were times when I had my heart in my mouth. I wanted more. Werner’s sister could have been utilised better. The story of the diamond and Von Rumpel’s search for it was initially interesting, but after I while I tired of it and thought why is this man still here?

I am now fascinated by radios and how they work. I have never given much thought to them and I cannot remember the last time I actually listened to a radio, but now I am enthralled. The fact that anyone can send out signals and depending on how strong they are they can be heard by others far away is so interesting. I wonder if I can create one in my room.