Thursday, August 30, 2012

Exotic Basement Living, Part 1: I'm a Commuter Now

Note: I haven't blogged for nearly two weeks. School started two weeks ago for me. The learning curve is straight up right now. I DID however, write a blog about Rock Center's special hour-long broadcast on the Mormons...but when it was finished, or when I thought it was finished...the Lord didn't. So I didn't post it. Not sure what was wrong with it yet...just felt wrong at the time. Maybe later. 

August 28th, 2012

Every morning at 4:42 or 4:43, I get up automatically. My brand new alarm clock is set to go off at 4:45. But...I have never heard it go off because at 4:42, or three, one eye pops open, one arm staggers off the pillow and I am able to click it to the off position before Andy has to hear it too.

I'm not able to hit the snooze. I'm terrified that if I don't sit up immediately, I will not ever get up...ever like two-weeks-of-sleep ever. Like coma ever. One morning I tried to just lay there for three more minutes...but I almost had a heart attack. I imagined that I had gone back to sleep, slept until noon, 2014, and when I woke up I was skinny (because I hadn't eaten since 2012)...or maybe I was skinny because I lost my job and we could no longer afford to eat. Probably the latter.

I had a sleep test in 2010. It was interesting. Andy encouraged me to do it right after we got married because he didn't understand why, even if I went to bed at five in the morning, that I got up and moving sometime around 8. It concerned him that I could exist on so little sleep over long periods of time. I think he just wanted a doctor to tell me that I needed to sleep more, so that he didn't feel guilty about sleeping til ten. Right? But once the light of day's over for me. There are things to do. Never mind that I can't focus, have been known to fall asleep at the computer like a narcoleptic and  can't keep my eyes open if I sit down. The logic defies gravity, I know.

The sleep test revealed that I don't have sleep apnea, but I do have a very active mind. In fact, the doctor said, "what kinds of things are you planning all night?" And Andy laughed right out loud. He said, "do you wake up with good ideas and have to write them down?" I was amazed! "YES!" I said. "Do you wake up with anxiety or guilt that you slept, when you could have been doing things on your lists." I said "what lists?" He said "the ones you write in your sleep. "Yessssss....." Sleep makes you feel guilty? "Yessssssssssssssssssssssss." I hung my head in shame.

That was when I was introduced to Ambien.

Half an Ambien is all it takes to get me to sleep. But three hours of sleep means that the five hours after I wake up... I walk through an Ambien fog reminiscent of Season One of The Walking Dead. Do not say anything important to me during this time. This strange habit created what my friends like to call the SEVEN DOLLAR NAP  I blogged about it so long ago, that the price of the nap has gone up to $8.50.

We left two full time jobs in exchange for one full time job and three part-time jobs. W.o.r.t.h. i.t. But now Andy works at Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts in the morning, Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts in the afternoon and Olympus High School in the afternoon doing an acting gig for our good friend Robin. American Fork AM, Salt Lake PM. I work at SLSPA from 7:30AM to whatever PM daily. I'm very lucky and the people we work with are such stellar artists that we felt it was worth it to get our toes in the door, hoping one day it would be full time for both of us.


Because gas costs more now than tickets to Wicked, we decided that I would take public transportation to Sugarhouse each morning and Andy would drive up later from Pioneer, teach at SPA, and take me home. It's working out really well. Except for the fact that I now have to take two buses and a train to work which I haven't had to do...well...I've never had to do it. I also have to wake up at the butt crack of dawn...4:45(2) in order to get to work at 7:30. Still, we don't feel that we should move to Sugarhouse quite yet...I feel like something is in the hopper for us. We are blessed to be able to live in my mom's basement until the planets align, I guess. We really have no idea how much money we will be making with this hodge podge of jobs, so until we do...exotic basement living it is!

Public transportation in Utah is relatively new compared with most states. But I think we're catching up. We have a really fast train now called the "Front Runner" and it's an express that runs along the Wasatch Front (hence the name) and only stops three times from Provo to Ogden. It's similar to Japan's Shinkansen (the bullet train) which I used to ride once a month to go into Tokyo when I lived there. Fun, fun!

Let me tell you what happened this morning on my "commute." Cuz' I'm a commuter now.

I woke up at 5:03! The alarm was ringing but it was a pleasant sound I didn't recognize. Oh wait! Because I had never heard it before!!!! I need to change that sound to something more akin to a jet landing, or someone being run over by a train. Something more urgent than the cheerful default bells. Don't the alarm clock people know about Ambien? I had wrestled with the Rock Center Blog until...far too late the night before. Like...2:30 late. My fault. So my heart was racing when I got up to shower. Blow dryer, teeth, underwear, work clothes, bus pass, bag, wake up Andy, cereal, Andy drives me to the first bus stop where I catch the 5:50 to the Sandy Trax station.

We raced to the bus stop just in time to see it pull away. I wanted to throw up. I contemplated just going home and getting in my car and driving up, but I was a danger to the public at that point. Andy knew that too so he followed closely behind the bus until it stopped again two miles down the road. I got out of the car while it was still moving and waved my arms at the bus like I had just walked across the Sahara without water. I'm ridiculous like that. Andy was probably crouched down in the seat with embarrassment. But I got on  just before the doors shut. Relief! My blood pressure was probably sky high but I felt like a Charlie's Angel.

Since I had skipped the cereal step to make the bus, I sat down and fished through my giant bag to see what I had floating around in there that would save my bus buddies from my stomach acid breath. I had three or four Jolly Ranchers left over from an object lesson I had given the week before at Teacher Inservice. Hurray, an all candy breakfast! Mmmmm...Jolly Ranchers.

In about 10 seconds I was fast asleep with my head bobbing up and down over my bag and still very conscious of the fact that if I didn't hold myself up, I would C.R.U.S.H. the small college student next to me. I call this horrible sleep state "bus napping." Miserable self-torture. How do you know when to wake up?

I did however get up when the lights came on at the Sandy Trax station. My next stop. I tapped my pass at the kiosk, transferred to the nearly empty train, and was asleep again in about 15 seconds. That train stops about nine times before I have to get off again and transfer buses, yet again. But I was so tired, I don't even remember if anyone sat next to me. I was OUT. When I woke up the train was packed and stopped at 21st South. MY STOP. I saw the doors shutting as I lunged for them and missed the bottom step, throwing my bag toward the platform and just barely missing a full swan dive into the path of the oncoming train. My blood pressure was so high, no sleep, no food, I was in that state where your teeth feel like tin foil and your creating a lot of saliva for no reason. That state.

The near fall really woke me up though.

I blinked a couple of times and started staggering toward the next bus station. Because SPA (Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts - my new school) has open enrollment, a lot of the kids also ride the Trax trains getting on at various points from all over the valley. We all meet up eventually at this last stop where our school bus picks us up and takes us 20 blocks East to our final destination. It's tricky, right!? Better the three transfers than falling asleep in morning traffic.

I made it over to the crowd of kids. I've only known them two weeks but it feels like a year. They are great kids. Everyone says "Hi Jan!" and I close the gap hoping I can lean up against the Best Buy wall and keep myself upright. A few kids are talking about me I think. Too tired to focus on what they are saying. Probably auditions, I think. One sweet girl looks at me. Then looks back. She looks at me a few more times and then comes over to me. I thought she might need to ask the millionth question about auditions (Legally Blonde auditions are next week) and was trying to get up the nerve. I said, "Hi," and she said "Hi. Um....Um..." I wish I knew her name. "Do you have a question about auditions?" I asked. "Noooo, " she says.

Pausing... more pausing...hmmm... I wonder. Well, what then?.....

"You, you have a Jolly Rancher stuck to"

I look down.

Oh hell. There it was. A sticky, green apple Jolly Rancher was stuck to my upper left breast. Luckily, it wasn't two inches lower. I thought back over the morning...when did I eat a Jolly Rancher? Today? I vaguely remember popping it into my mouth clear back in Lehi. It must have been wearing it all morning.

I slapped my hand over it and laughed. "Oh my heck! Thanks for telling me!" I said as I pulled it loose. She smiled and melted into the crowd. One kid was playing the guitar, several were singing, a girl was warming up for her first period dance class. No one cared that I was wearing a Jolly Rancher.

New trend?

The point is, and I do have one....

I was missing the Tuacahn kids terribly yesterday because they were all reacting to their Shakespeare Company cast list on Facebook. I was not going to be their coach this year. I am no one's coach this year. First time in 23 years. I didn't know I would miss it so much. Or maybe, I didn't know I would miss the Tuacahn kids so much. I thought about the individual kids as they posted, and I knew what they each needed, I knew what struggles certain kids would have with that language and I felt an heart-broken...but I'm so busy I didn't even think about it until I saw the kids posting and reality finally hit. I didn't know how it would feel when they started getting cast in another coach's shows, no matter how much I like that coach. It tore me up all day and all night. I hope they remember everything I taught them.


There I stood, being held up by the wall at the Best Buy on 21st South waiting for the school bus, holding a slobbery piece of candy in my hand, when it hit me....

Kids that attend arts high schools don't care if you wear Jolly Ranchers, but they cared that I might care. So someone was nominated to come over and tell me...but no one even noticed how mortified I was about it. I just stood looking at those great kids and the girl that was brave enough to quietly tell me...she was talking up a storm to someone else. I stood there with a Jolly Rancher in my grip and no place to throw it.

I looked around. No one was even looking at me. No one laughed. There was no pointing. The song was still going strong. Two girls were now warming up together. A girl was confidently wearing a flower in her hair, bigger than her head. One kid was reciting his audition piece just loud enough for me to hear it, on purpose. Yep. These were my people. I found my people, again. Thank you Heavenly Father, for these kids. And thank you for this job. And thank you for letting me really sleep on the train. I needed that. 

I'm going to be okay here.