Tuesday, June 17, 2008


One of the cool things about being a "full-time author" is that you can pretty much set your own schedule. You can write when you want, eat when you want, sleep when you want and you can bathe whenever. (Or not at all, for that matter.)

Occasionally, you might even write something.

Unfortunately, this freedom is also one of the worst parts of being a full-time author. And it was really tough for me the first few months after I returned from Japan. Aside from the reverse-culture shock and the crushing depression, I also had a lot of trouble transitioning from the rigidity of a Japanese lifestyle ("Matto-san, here is your schedule for the next 8 months. Please be punctual. Endure!") to basically that of the unemployed. ("Today, I think I will try to make toast using only sunlight and willpower.")

I found that the best way to explain this to people (with jobs) was through the following analogy:

In high school, I was on swim team and we used to train 6 days a week in an Olympic-sized pool with lanes. At first, I couldn't go very fast and I always seemed to drift into oncoming traffic. But, the more I swam, the more comfortable I became. I got used to where the lane lines should be in my field of vision. I learned how to breathe. I also learned how to take advantage of being able to flip-turn and push off of the wall every 25 meters. Eventually, I reached a point where I could swim for hours with no problem. That's what Japan was like.

Yet, put me in the ocean and I felt like a beginner again. There was no structure. No walls to push off. I felt, quite literally, out to sea. That's what coming back to America felt like.

So, I slept. A lot.

A lot.

And I found that, when the sun wasn't setting at some ungodly hour (which is often the case here in Seattle), my body took to a natural sleep schedule. Of, course, I didn't realize it was natural and used to beat myself up for still wanting to nap in the middle of the afternoon despite a full-night's sleep but, hey... who knew?

Well, now, you do. And it's all thanks to The Boston Globe who have just published a great guide on how to nap.

Shame they didn't publish it a year ago.

UPDATE: I'm not sure what constitutes fair-use anymore - especially with AP getting all in a tizzy about bloggers lately - but here's the image from the site in case the link dies:

(Text by Jennifer Ackerman, graphic by Javier Zarracina)

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