Hello again, insomnia

I suppose it was going to come around sooner or later. The old toss-and-turn. The “how long until daybreak”? The sinking feeling I’ll still be awake when the dryer stops.

Happily, this bout of insomnia is not steroid-induced. It was spousally inflicted. This afternoon, J was working from home, and I was working too. (Did I mention I’m a translator now? So I was translating.) I asked him if he’d make us some coffee, with the tacit agreement that it would be decaf. I took my little slug of decaf espresso from a sweet hand-painted demitasse from Portugal. And I got back to work! I really plowed through this thing! I was motivated. I was brilliant. And, as it turned out, when J sheepishly confessed his mistake later on… I was caffeinated.

He’s sweetly asleep next to me, now, and I’m as far from sleep as possible, and now I can hear a neighbor snoring. What better time to pay my blog a visit than the present?

Corinne Marchand in "Cléo de 5 à 7," directed by Agnès Varda

Tonight we watched a movie I had not seen in a long time: Cléo from 5 to 7, directed by Agnès Varda. It captures two hours in the life of a singer who is waiting to hear results of a biopsy. (That it captures two hours in a mere 90 minute runtime is something that had eluded me until this viewing. Varda is very cheeky. It is one of my favorite things about her.) Each few minutes is its own chapter, starring either Cléo on her own, or with others.

She is simply stunning, strutting down the streets of 1961 Paris as though she owns the sidewalks, leaving scores of men literally stammering in her wake. She is anxious and weepy at first, and then utterly self-absorbed (“As long as I am beautiful, I’m alive”) and she’s trying on what seems like every single hat in a hat shop, before settling on the first one she’d put on — a black fur hat in the middle of summer. She goes into a café, puts one of her own songs on the jukebox, and is dismayed when the only reaction to the music she hears is one of annoyance. Eventually she meets a soldier on leave from the Algerian war who finally gets her to put things in perspective. She gets the test results from her doctor, who says with two months of chemo she will be just fine. (To me, that sounds ominous. Two months of chemo in the early Sixties doesn’t sound as promising as it might today.) She is serene and even happy after hearing the news.

It makes you think. It makes me think, anyhow. How self-absorption can envelop, protect, shock-proof us. But it can also take an external force to help us put things in perspective. I definitely feel that way, especially these days. These days of bigger fish to fry. Fish so big the pan hasn’t been invented yet to fry them. The frying pan. The fire. I’m going to run the dryer again. And then, hopefully, sleep.

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