Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


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I follow the directions offered up by the sleep doctor in today’s newspaper. Don’t work in the evening. Don’t watch TV close to bedtime. Don’t read in bed; bed is only for sleep and sex. No vigorous exercise after 6. No spicy foods or large meals in the evening. Stay away from the News. Take a hot bath with aromatherapy oils. Make sure the bedroom is dark. Turn off phones and LED lights and electronic devices.

Check. Check. Done.

So how come I’m lying here in bed, basted with fragrant oils, pell-mell thoughts and re-creations of the day swarming in. Head squashed into the memory-foam pillow, I’m raring to go. Someone didn’t tell the sleep area of brain that it is time to call it quits.
Don’t just lie there hoping for sleep, the doc advises. Get up, put on your dressing gown and go into another room and read a book.

I confess that I’ve never once done this, in years of facing bouts of insomnia. I have another approach: if sleep refuses to arrive then it’s time for the tribe of the sleepless to make themselves known. We toss away our C.D.s of ocean noise and Amazonian rainforest, ditch the pills and Valerian drops and hot milk and crisp new sheets – and while the rest of you are snoozing your lives away, the real conversation begins. The stories we share are precious, a bit wild, verging into melting -watch territory. Night is opportunity, the streets slick with rain. We know each other, eyes that are too bright, speech a little too sharp. We are the midnight dog walkers, the 3 a.m. singers and writers and knitters, thoughts buzzing through the overhead wires. One language.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Ann Ireland

Ann Ireland is the author of A Certain Mr. Takahashi, The Instructor and Exile. Her most recent novel is The Blue Guitar. She lives in Toronto.

Go to Ann Ireland’s Author Page