Sleep Desperation

It’s only spring, but summer weather is already here. Sun and heat drain the color and vigor from living things while fevered breezes pulse through the air like dragon breath. My view is full of flowers and butterflies, but everything has a dusty cast that turns it into a faded nature film from the 1970s.

I @#$%ing hate summer.

I should be asleep right now. When my kids were younger, graveyard shift was tricky because I wanted to be awake when they were home, or at least awake enough to take them to and from school, or wherever else they needed to go. Friends and neighbors would help but it never lasted, either through fault or circumstance.  I thought this time would be easier since my kids are adults now.



I try to keep a similar schedule to my normal daylight time, just 12 hours later, but it’s so hot, you guys! *cry* It’s just so, so hot!

And I forgot about how, when you work overnight, you develop this desperation to get enough sleep. If you fail, no amount of coffee, pills, or energy drinks can help you.

Sometimes you get lucky and work with a crew who understands, who lets each other nap while keeping watch or picking up the slack. The trick to maintaining that dynamic is to not take advantage; make every effort to stay up and pull your weight.  That was my favorite thing about graveyards, that camaraderie we had, watching out for each other, keeping each other afloat. It was temporary, but it was good while it lasted.


Like little sailboats of friendship.

Now, however, I’m a trainee, and no such dynamic is accessible even if it does exist. So it’s especially important to be prepared for that nightly journey into darkness and through to the sunrise at the end.  This heat, though! It’s impossible! Every morning I scarf down breakfast and go to bed as soon as possible to catch the cool air.  I wake up 3-4 hours later drenched, stay up through the heat of the day, and take another 2-3 hour nap in the late afternoon. Then it’s a mad scramble to eat, get ready for work, swing by Starbucks, and catch my train. So far I’ve managed it into a doable routine, but that sleep desperation hangs over me like a little black rain cloud, always.


Too bad it can’t give me some nice cool rain.


Thoughts, Three Weeks In

So. My first three weeks.



My first three weeks were a double-timed, whirlwind orientation combined with whatever early-phase training the powers that be had a whim to throw me into. Four days in I felt the need to put my foot down and demand some structure, which I received along with the wrath of our manager.  Alas, it lasted a whole two days…the structure, that is. The wrath will be harder to shake.

drawing 1

Let’s take deep breath and enjoy some art.

Most days went something like this:

  1. Show up when I’m told.
  2. Report to whom I’m told.
  3. Am asked one of two questions:
    1. “Why are you here so early?” by the person who set up my schedule
    2. “What do they have you doing today?” by the person who’s supposed to tell me what to do today
  4. At some point, treated like a misbehaving child for not being where I’m supposed to be, despite:
    • being given misinformation
    • being given no information
    • engaging in a self-assigned task because I’ve already been waiting over an hour for some direction
    • actually being where I’m supposed to be.
drawing 2

And again…breath in, breath out, enjoy this interpretation of a happy face sun.

I felt like tennis ball: volleyed out of every court I landed in.  It was the most disorganized, disjointed, unprofessional “training” I can recall dealing with, and somehow I was wrong for expecting better.


Let’s distract ourselves with a video this time:

But it’s okay, friends. Now I’m on the graveyard shift with one specific trainer who believes in the power of structure, so I’m thriving. I’m still being treated like a child, but at least now I’m a well-behaved one. I think I deserve a cookie.


And a nap!

And on my last day of that awful first phase I wore my new uniform for the first time.  It’s an icky polyester that requires an extra layer, and my body shape is completely at odds with its tucked-in shirt and belted pants.  So much bad. Still, when I saw myself in the locker room mirror I got unexpectedly emotional:  I felt like I was part of the team again.