ON MONDAY MORNINGS, THE RIVER LETHE RUNS DRY

The importance of insomnia is so colossal that I am tempted to define man as the animal who cannot sleep. Why call him a rational animal when other animals are equally reasonable? But there is not another animal in the entire creation that wants to sleep yet cannot.

– Cioran, On the Heights of Despair

Insomnia is in itself no mnemonic impairment: it is your capability to forget that is damaged and damaging. As your eyes though closed grow more beady and dry at 4:30 AM: so the river Lethe stops thin and almost disappears. Sunday was working on music for six hours straight, skipping a nap and reading session: would it have been The Uses of AdversityThe Fun Parts, or perhaps some of Cioran’s A Short History of Decay in anticipation of the night’s battles? Sunday was strong coffee carrying you into that familiar lack of breath around 11 AM over the day already slipping away: eventually there was the onset of an inevitable Niedzela panic. Must consume: the newest Momus Tumblr posts, articles on Russia and Ukraine, another Podsiadło poem, another piece of carrot cake, the newest Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, a YouTube video on the Hutterites, and some chicken soup (it is Sunday, after all)! Must produce: more synth lines, emails, Tai Chi practice, and text! Must take: a walk to Massolit, a bike ride to the woods below Kopiec Kościuszki, this Skype date, and a nap (after all, it is Sunday)! Look ahead to five more days of listening to cough-into-hand and clear-throat-in-C# at work: heartbeat quickened, breath shortened, eyes beginning to burn.

After the typical blank nervousness of a Sunday evening, you go to bed later than usual: after 11:30 (or was it 10:30: when did the time change come into effect again?). Check the clock at 4:32 after having been awake for at least 20 minutes: ultimately rise from bed at 5:44. Cycle to work as the dawn approaches with its always troubled-looking sky: clouds like smoke from peat fires. Plenty of Krakowians already moving: but slowly, even barely so in furs and with bulk. A burly Jacek on the corner in a dirty coat with a wild Carpathian mustache: you see the green beer bottle of a Lech or Perła in his hands and a cigarette as you fly past. That is no apparition, just a requisite Kraków scene: get to work at 6:58, sweating, turn on the computer at 7:03.

Insomnia humbles you with a sweet spot of energy maintenance devoid of aggression and even assertiveness: there is at least that level of forgetting engaged to keep you relatively tranquil through the day, during which any ambition that arrives is registered as a virtual shock. Jestem w szoku: you converse with your insomnia minute by minute while struggling to keep your eyes open in front of the screens. Meanwhile you drag along the same mnemonic weights that pulled you awake so early: this and that task-question-deadline-rating-document-meeting. No doubt you lost some of the weekend’s memories that were not consolidated in your fitful Sunday night sleep: isn’t that what the neurologists say happens? But it is the forgetting with which you are most concerned: you drag yourself back towards oblivion, towards the lethatechniques that induce a healthy dose of sleep.

All of the waiting is remembered: for the Sunday to be over, for reluctance to spill over into regret. Waiting for supper, for the salsa and guac: for the cooking smells to vacate the kitchen. Waiting for the hour to determine if it is alright to have a highball: remembering that you are trying to not drink on Sundays and then having one anyway. Waiting to watch a movie: then deciding whether to squeeze in a season 3 Seinfeld episode before bed. Waiting to fall asleep: waiting to decide whether to check the blasted blue time once awake. Earlier to work, earlier home: a seemingly clever equation you can never quite beat. Waiting for the Monday to initiate the stiff ride, heavy trod, and pathetic parade into the office: after which is initiated another period of waiting for compensated time to be over and free time to bring its sweet illusion of relief. Waiting for the memories to dissipate: waiting for restoration of a mode of oblivion on Monday night.

Let another week of forgetting commence.

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