Friday, August 1, 2008

Do I Have To

The Sunday Scribblings prompt for this week is “Do I have to?” And because I am trying to get things together for a trip to Oregon next week to attend the wedding of my grandson. I will not try to answer any weighty questions such as “Why do I have to pay taxes to support wars I don’t approve of?” or “Why do I have to pay taxes so that big corporations can have their taxes cut?”

No, I will answer a more personal question: “Do I have to go to sleep when it’s dark?” Oh, I stay up late at night, even into the early morning, but only in well-lighted spaces. As soon as I turn out the light, I go out - well, out like a light!

One of the most embarrassing examples of this “have to” occurred several years ago when Otto and I, long past our own university days, decided to take a course in astronomy from one of the most charismatic professors on the campus, the noted astronomer, Dr. Alexei Filippenko. His lectures were clear, often funny, never anything but fascinating. Our problem (“ours” since Otto has a lot of that same “have to”) was that the lectures took place in the great, elliptical, partially underground, windowless, physical sciences lecture hall.


Note that word “windowless”. After the flocks of students trooped down from the entrance to find a place in the arced tiers of seats, the general lighting was turned off, leaving only the pool of light at the lecturer’s podium or the occasional beam from the projection room as slides were shown.

Otto and I at first stayed near the back of the hall. In the darkness our eyelids would droop, and we would lose consciousness until roused by some burst of laughter. We would try again to concentrate on the podium, but at the end of the class and the return of the general lighting we would wake up, heads leaned precariously against one another.

We decided that something must be done to correct this situation. It wasn’t that we weren’t enjoying the course. Dr. Filippenko left copious notes that we could access at the library, the assigned problems were challenging. But we wanted to hear his lectures!

We decided to sit far down the room practically under his nose. We wouldn’t dare to fall asleep there, would we? Yes, we would! The question of “Do I (we) have to sleep when it’s dark” was answered!

We studied hard, but Prof. Filippenko must have been surprised that we ranked second and third in the final exam for that humungous class. Otto ranked #2 and I ranked #3. A Japanese student was #1 with a perfect score. Maybe he had heard the lectures.

27 comments:

Laini Taylor said...

Great story! I love the visual -- and I too remember the drowsiness of darkened lecture halls! My Achilles heel is driving -- my parents took me for a drive every evening as a baby to get me to fall asleep, and to this day, 36 years later, cars are like a lullaby to me!

(Have a great time in Oregon! Where are you going?)

Devil Mood said...

hahah funny story, Granny. Unfortunately I do not have that problem, my problem is not falling asleep sometimes, even with no lights on. ;)
Hope you enjoy your trip and have a joyful wedding. I must say your blog is looking very fresh in blue!

keith hillman said...

A lovely story. I can - and do - fall asleep at the most ridiculous and inappropriate times often causing great embarrasment!I also have a wedding to attend next week, my daughter marries on Friday.

linda may said...

Yes I do it too. I could never stop getting the nods at staff meetings and inservice lectures when I worked at Junee hospital. It was such a struggle.My worst time of day is in mid afternoon which was when such things were always held. lol.

Michelle said...

I can totally relate!
I have sat in meetings with the president of our company, (with more caffeine in my veins than should be legal for a human being) yet, with the soft dim lights, and comfy chairs - no matter how compelling the speech - my eyelids would beg to stay closed longer and longer with each blink to soothe the stinging in my eyes!

Greyscale Territory said...

What a great, unique story.

You have brought back memories of days at Sydney University where there was an airless, windowless, semi-underground building. It was called the Bosch building! How I dreaded the Psychology lectures in there, spending the whole time fighting the odd cat nap! And I loved Psychology!

Shyam said...

Oh absolutely! :) darkness = sleep :)

Leonard Blumfeld said...

Perhaps it's true after all that one can absorb knowledge while sleeping! Lovely.

anthonynorth said...

Yes, I can relate to this. I have situations where nothing will kee me awake. Like you, I seem to have to.

nonizamboni said...

Great blast from the past, Phyllis! And living with a husband who has narcolepsy I can sympathize and laugh myself silly.
I enjoyed how you and Otto persevered and rose to the top.
Wishing you well on your jouney to Oregon and wedding and the warm embrace of your dear family. Take lots of pictures for your other 'family.'
xxx
mary ann

gautami tripathy said...

I am insomniac. I thrive at night. I am most alive at that time!

Beth said...

Thank you for a post that began my day with a smile and reminded me of college days when late nights of studying led to those sleepy moments in class. Today, my students were as likely to be working graveyard. I forgave them their snores!

Autrice DelDrago said...

A darkened lecture hall will lull me straight to sleep. Yet I can lay in bed all night with a bout of insomnia despite the room being pitch black!

danni said...

many nights i have lain awake cursing the dark and begging for sleep - and many nights at work i have cursed myself for nodding off when i've had a whole day of sleep - guess there's no fighting one's own bio-rhythm sometimes --- safe trip and many new memories - bon voyage!!!

tumblewords said...

Have a great trip to Oregon! What fun it will be! This story is charming - still grinning!

Kamsin said...

I've always found it really hard to sleep anywhere, even in bed at night when I'm really tired sometimes, so I always find it strangely fascinating when people can fall asleep in public places like that! Here in Japan people seem to sleep anywhere and anytime (so that Japanese student may not have heard the lectures either!). It seems like people live such busy lives and commute such long distances as soon as they sit still for any length of time they fall asleep. I just can't do this, although sleep does come easier the older I get!!

forgetfulone said...

I only wish sleeping were so easy and essential for me. Lights off, eyes open! I'm so impressed that you and your dear husband took that class, and obviously made grades that put the youngsters (except one) to shame. Way to go!

b said...

I cannot tell you how I loved this. Anyone that has fought their way through late classes or, in my case, 7 AM classes can relate. It made me smile. As for me I guess I can go to sleep, dark or no dark!!

b

totomai said...

really great story and the memory seems so fresh just the way you have narrated it.
and dont ask me about sleeping as i always do it even at work, LOL!

congrats on your grandson's wedding too

Rambler said...

oh I remember those droopy eyes from my university, I was always one of those guys who listened to every single word however bad the lecturer was..but have couple of classes where i have struggled to keep my eyes and ears open :)

Nita Jo said...

Oh my, that had me laughing. I can relate. I haven't gone to a movie theatre in two years. I fell asleep during two of the Lord of the Rings movies. I loved them. They were loud and full of action, but it was dark and the chairs were comfy... so I had to rent them later on DVD. Thanks for a great story.

Lucy said...

haha this was such a cute story Granny!
You apparently listen very well while sleeping to be able to do so well!
HOpe your trip to Oregon is Wonderful :)

sarala said...

Great story. I have slept through many a class. Doesn't inspire too much confidence in a doctor does it?
My Gross Anatomy class had only 8 of us in it and I would still fall asleep. Some of us just need a lot of rest.

Overeducated Twit said...

I can completely identify--that reminds me of a biology course I had to take for my undergrad gen eds. It was early in the morning, delivered in a monotone in a room dimmed to accommodate the Powerpoint slides the instructor used... that was a struggle to stay awake.

mgirl said...

Oh my goodness I love the imagery, you two must have looked so cute. What used to put me to sleep was the sound of a projector in a dark room. I hope you a wonderful safe trip to Oregon. Thank you for your words of inspiration on my new blog, Granny.

Bear Naked said...

I love the photo of the bell.
It looks like a painting to me.
All those photos are wonderful and a good story also.

Bear((( )))

Tanya Gwen Minnick said...

Indeed a great story, made me cringe to think of the big lecture hall I so often sat in, trying hard to pay attention to the prof..
Also, I hope you have a safe and happy trip to your grandson's wedding :)
be well
t