Thursday, January 22, 2015

Memoirs of a Night Owl

6:21 AM

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Some people see the nice pastel gradient color bursts of sunrise and think of stuff that’s either poetic or beautiful. Like candies, or springtime, or the cliché as well-worn as someone’s favorite sweater, the one about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I used to think of the sunrise in that way, before, when I was a little slip of a kid who believed in nice, simpler things like times tables and friendship actually being magic. But right now...

Right now, whenever I see the sunrise, there are only two things I can think of.

Option one: “Wow, it’s light out, why did I only wake up now, I have a couple pages/couple chapters/ten gazillion cases to catch up on, time is of the essence.”

Option two: “Wow, it’s light out, why am I still awake, why did I not actually fall asleep.”

The first one is actually a new thing, something I picked up from my recent college years. (Whoever said that this stage of life was a cakewalk has some serious issues with cakes. Not that I’m saying that someone actually told me that, but still.)

As for the second one, though, this is actually a bad habit of mine — something going way back to when I was in elementary. I could probably connect the dots on my own and come away firmly secure in the fact that fandom was the root cause of all my erratic sleep problems. This all started when I was in fourth grade and terribly besotted with Cardcaptor Sakura – but that wouldn’t be fair to her, really. I brought it upon myself.

Or rather – if I really have to point fingers at anyone – ISP Bonanza brought it upon me. Fandom was just one of the things that happened to be there at the time, an incidental element, so to speak.
An explanation, seeing as this was around ten years ago now and I’m pretty sure that’s quite a while by now – ISP Bonanza is this dial-up Internet card that past me probably thought was the key to the gates to heaven. To those more used to the endless depths of Wi-Fi, what was the big deal? Such fawning reverence would make no sense at all – it’s a fixed rate net connection that was slow as tortoises compared to the Wi-Fi that one could now easily immerse oneself in by a quick trip to the nearest coffee shop.

There’s one thing that set it apart from all the rest, though. For quite some time – a stretch of time long enough as to irrevocably wreak havoc on my formerly ‘healthy’ sleeping schedule – they run this promo offering unlimited internet for, here’s the catch, twelve midnight to twelve noon. The hours where people were supposed to be sleeping and not going on the Internet, like normal people do – from a marketing standpoint, it does sound like a good, economically feasible idea.
From a parental standpoint, however... well.

Let’s just say that I believe my parents were quite happy when the promo eventually went belly-up and presumably dissolved into the murky depths of obscurity.

It’s not because of the old-time worries about one’s children fraternizing with serial killers on the Internet, though I imagine that would also be a very pressing (and unfortunately valid) worry for them to bear. Besides, I was a fandom lurker first and foremost – it wasn’t until high school when I decided to give actual fandom participation a try, much less actual fandom interpersonal interaction (read: honest-to-goodness talking to the people I shared fandoms with) – so that wouldn’t be their worry, no.

Their worry lay in one more basic, more crucial thing – that I never seemed to sleep much, if at all.
This was how grade-schooler me pulled it off, to the best of my recollection – after a normal day of school and homework and meals with the family, I would excuse myself for the day, under the guise of falling asleep. I say ‘under the guise’ because what I would really end up doing was take a nap, at most, seeing as I would only wait for my parents to fall asleep, for the clock to tick closer to twelve midnight, like some kind of reverse Cinderella.

Unlike said runaway princess, however, there would be no magical transformations, or pretty dresses, or spectacular balls. It would just be me, the electric fan whirring as quietly as it could go, and our old clunky desktop computer running on Windows XP, as I went about reading the newest chapter of so-and-so’s Sakura x Syaoran fic, downloading some new theme song, and a bunch of pictures.

Nothing much, really, especially not when compared to the stuff one can now get up to when one traverses the internet nowadays, but for a little kid like me in an even littler town (okay, city, but this used to be a town in the outskirts of Manila, does that still count?), those little things felt like freedom.

Okay, so maybe that sounds a bit more poetic than I intended it to be, but there’s really no other way for me to say it. I was a kid with rather ‘weird’ tastes, in the eyes of society – this was way before the big anime boom and the popular cosplayers, where openly liking anime and manga got you into more trouble than you should really be getting into – and for me to see all these people online, liking the same thing I did, getting into it so much that they’d offer all these stuff for me to end up seeing and getting immersed into, it was an epiphany.

Not that I ever needed an epiphany to settle into my fandoms in the first place – by the time I had begun searching for stuff about them over the net, I would already have been into them, hook, line, and sinker – but, still, it’s always a help.

I liked to think that I lived some kind of double life. Super-serious, aloof academic by day, not-so-serious member of so-and-so fandom by night. Maybe, in some way, this carries on to right now – despite the fact that I do wear my 49 Days teardrop necklace all the time and put my actual university ID in a Gekkan Shoujo holder, I do like to think that my fangirl-ness puts no damper on my actual Serious Academic Mode – only this time, I never bothered with the formal time frames anymore.

And maybe, seeing as people’s reactions to me have always been the same, whether I choose to keep that part of myself obscured or not (which is to say: mildly unnerved and hesitant to approach), I never really had to.

At the very least, if I never had the belief that I could only revel in fandom for a certain arbitrary time period – which happens to coincide with the stretch of time when I was really supposed to be fast asleep – I would’ve probably gotten a lot more sleep. And, well. Probably would’ve gotten taller, too.

So now here I am, college student and sometimes-writer and, to be quite honest with you, sometimes too many things that I ought to be, all at once, and I look back on those years with a faint twinge of regret. Not because of the fandom thing – despite the fact that I wrote really bad, really embarrassing fanfic back then – but because of all those potential sleeping hours past me had oh-so-carelessly wasted, thrown to the sands of time, never to be seen again. Sometimes I’d look up from some lengthy assignment or doorstopper textbook or auditing problem and think, what I wouldn’t give for another hour of sleep.

Have I learned my lesson, though?

No, I don’t think so, not actually. For these words stem from my fingers at around one in the morning, the day after I polished off a rather massive set of exams, hot on the heels of a movie date with my mother. By all means I am supposed to be out like a light right now, slumbering, thinking peaceful thoughts and fueling up for the day ahead. But I’m not.

Despite my stubbornness as far as proper sleeping habits are concerned – I’ve really got no choice but to succumb to the majesty of age, however. Not that I’m saying that almost-twenty is in any way the pinnacle of oldness, but – well, I can’t pull off those two-hour, three-hour sleeping schedules anymore. One day I’m pulling an all-nighter, another day I fall asleep at the dinner table, in the family car, and in one rather outlying, rather egregious instance, in the middle of a conversation.

Somewhere in the middle of these erratic sleep patterns, I’ve found myself settling on a rather nice medium. It’s a schedule one of my most busy professors swears upon, herself – from 10pm to five in the morning. It’s a good seven hours, late enough that I’d be able to sneak in a little reading or Tumblr before bed if I wanna, early enough that, if my alarms actually go off this time, I’d be able to see the sunrise from outside my bedroom window. Like with all other kinds of changes, my body clock, already used to the times I’d fall asleep in after an Archive binge or K-drama marathon or cram session, tends to resist a hell of a lot, but for the most part, I’d like to think I’ve slowly become better at actually following through with that schedule.

But for the meantime – so what if I sleep really late most of the time? It’s kind of normal. I’m a college senior! And I write stuff! Things could get really busy, and sometimes I have to be awake for longer. It’s really nothing to lose sleep over.

Except, of course, for the part where it kind of is.

Article by Trish
Art by Maia
Trish is an accounting major who keeps getting mistaken for a little girl. (She blames the height.) In her increasingly rare stretches of spare time, she writes fanfiction.

Maia is a 19-year old Fine Arts student who wouldn't be a Fine Arts student if she didn't think that creativity could lend the world a big hand.


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