The Sleeping Game

“Britney, go to bed,” my mother would say at half past 10. Reluctantly I would stash a book under my pillow and smile innocently.

“If you keep reading, I’m going to take your book!” she would say. While this was a vile threat, I hardly much cared if she took my novel or not. On the occasion that I was actually caught twice in one night reading (which, with my clever ear for footsteps, was not often!) Mom would simply take the book and toss it on the floor of the hallway.

I would hear thud, thud, plop…thud, thud as she walked into her room and closed the door.

Wait 5 minutes, I would think to myself, manually counting the seconds. Then get your book!

Some books that followed me to NYC

The clock on my wall had died months ago, and I had never changed the battery. Nor did I for the majority of my childhood. That way I would never know exactly how much sleep I was or wasn’t getting, leaving my reading time plagued not by time restrictions, but rather complete exhaustion. Only when I nodded off mid-page did I know I was done for the evening.

Apparently parents do not follow the same rules.

Craaaaack…. The door to my room opened slowly and I would hear my dad breathing. He was watching me, looking for the smallest movement in my facial expression or the faintest flutter of my eyes.

This is the performance of your life! I would repeat over and over again in my head. The melodramatic actress inside myself tried to fool my mouth into not moving. Don’t smile. Don’t smile. DO NOT smile. Most nights I passed the test.

You see, it was far worse for Dad to take my book. An insomniac in his own right, he would wonder downstairs to the television with my story in hand. Retrieving books from the hall was a sinch… but from the kitchen counter? That was a much more difficult mission. Not to mention putting it back without waking up the dogs!? No, if Dad took my book, recovery efforts were often foiled.

I find now, when I am much older, I still procrastinate going to sleep with a page-turner. Even as I complete this blog post, it’s nearly 4am. One of the clocks in my room is wrong – not that I need it anymore. My internal clock knows the truth about my horrible sleeping habits.

But a new book has been calling to me, like a siren at sea. You'll agree when I say I was lucky enough to stumble across the 767 page “Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis at the Strand Bookstore yesterday while shopping near Union Square. And the price for this classic, one might also ask?


I couldn’t resist the temptation, even though the day was about buying Christmas presents for others. You can’t even call that a splurge!

Unfortunately, new books have unhealthy side effects such as: distraction from everyday life, restlessness, sleep deprivation, anxiety, loss of short-term memory, and more. See doctor for details.

Anyways, I just finished the first 150 pages. Maybe it was healthier when I had parents to interrupt my escapism?

Then again…

I could always justify “breaking the rules” when Mom snatched up my novels. She made it far too easy for me to get them back. Except for the extremely rare occasion when she would take my book into her bedroom, she must have wanted me to keep reading. Why else would she have left forbidden passages about fairies, detectives, and imaginary worlds within my grasps?

The answer is obvious.

Yes. We’ll go with that.

Believe it.

Looks like its previous owner left a mark.