New York Challenged: Insomnia in the City That Actually Sleeps


Mario Weddell, FCLC ’12, wastes countless hours attempting to master something that no one cares about. (Mario Weddell/The Observer)

These past two weeks I have not slept very much. I’m not sure why; it’s a combination of things—work, procrastination and impulsive desires. Being awake is a strange feeling though. It’s like Ed Norton said in “Fight Club” (I really need to start referencing things like Winnie-the-Pooh instead), “With insomnia, nothing’s real. Everything is far away. Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy.” It’s odd. You think about the weirdest things when you’re delirious with sleep deprivation.

For example, was there ever a time when Winnie stuck his arm in the jar of honey (excuse me, I mean Hunny), mouth drooling and belly quivering, only to pull it out and wonder why he had no fingers?

What about the City That Never Sleeps? I was disappointed to discover that New York does sleep. It’s just the city that never turns off its lights. I went out for some cross-town halal at 4 a.m. with my roommate on a Wednesday, and the streets were completely empty.  But where do people get that impression of city-wide insomnia? Is it because the 10 insomniacs who are out and about at night are too delirious to realize that normal people are asleep? Who allowed these people to give the city a nickname?

Personally, I wouldn’t have minded The City That Goes to Bed at a Reasonable Hour and Doesn’t Feel Tired All the Time.

What were my reasons for not sleeping? Work, procrastination and impulses. I guess they’re all kind of the same. One night I was trying to write this column and I impulsively decided that I was going to learn to solve a Rubik’s cube instead. A Rubik’s cube, or just Rubik’s cube? Rubik, I will solve your cube.

So that impulse turned into work, and I stayed up all night learning how to solve it. I did not feel smart at all. Instead, I watched a series of videos where some guy told me what to do, and I memorized the videos. I’m pretty sure that’s what most nerds do, more or less. They don’t have divine inspiration. They just memorize the algorithm and go through the motions allowing them to reach the correct solution. The same is probably true for calculus and sex.

Only the true geniuses are innovators. The rest just fake it.

I don’t have trouble falling asleep. I don’t have true insomnia. I could honestly sleep at any moment. My bed and I have a special connection; my bed always welcomes me with open sheets. That might just be because I rarely make my bed.

Anyway, a true insomniac wants to sleep, but can’t. I could sleep, but I don’t want to because there are so many things I could be doing if I didn’t need sleep. I’m sure we could have destroyed the planet by now if the need to sleep didn’t interrupt our endeavors.

Has Winnie ever wondered why Tigger is completely naked? I doubt Tigger has ever wondered, because he probably has other things on his mind. I have a feeling he doesn’t get much sleep either.

I am happy to say that when I don’t sleep, I usually do something productive like watch endless videos of freestyles by dead rappers. The other night I applied to three internships and received a job offer by 10:30 the next morning. This was the same night I tried to solve the cube of Rubik. I never managed to solve it, because I was too tired to memorize the last combination of moves to get all the top squares the same color.

When you can’t be a true genius, and you’re also too tired to go through the motions, you need to be a different kind of genius. You need to be a hustler. That’s the guy who first decided to just take the stickers off Rubik’s stupid cube and rearrange them to his liking.

As far as Winnie-the-Pooh goes, I always considered Roo to be the original hustler. I can’t even think of anything crafty that he did to earn the title. I guess sometimes it all comes down to your persona.

Guys who stay up late solving Rubik’s cubes are probably not considered hustlers in any way. Due to the self-indulgent nature of this column and of myself (now I’m indulging in jokes that no one but me appreciates), this has become a rant.

I think I’ll go to sleep now.