Sorry, this entry is just logistical work. :)

I’m giving myself permission to write now, instead of mindlessly scanning my archives.  I have a couple more things I need to read before tomorrow evening, some backed-up readings in my Usability class, and some stuff to read for Web Design.  Tomorrow…should be full of reading, for me!

Luckily, reading isn’t the hard part.  Putting the pieces together after the reading is done, is the hard part.  The positive thing is that I should be working on all my classes tomorrow, and it should mostly be passive, meaning, relatively unintimidating.  Though I should also work on editing the document due Friday.

The day after that should be Monday, and I should be working intensively on my Web Design homework.  I think the other things that are due, aren’t due until Friday.

I also need to upload some images…not the most fun thing to do, but; when it needs to be done, you know, it just does.

Tuesday will probably be taken up with finishing the Web Design homework and searching for information on a content management software package that I may need to know more about.

And, I think, Thursday will be when the next round of material is due in Usability.

This stuff just backs up when I take time for myself.  *sigh*  Actually, I’m fairly certain that staying up extra late on Wednesday night/Thursday morning even though I was tired and likely had been exposed to a virus, just basically ruined the following two days for me.  And I’m thinking that I’m going to need to learn to expect surprise extra assignments from being involved in group work.

On the bright side, I got some new shoes!

(…)

Okay, so…what makes sense, to do, right now?  Take a shower, take meds, get ready for bed and probably, go to sleep.

That doesn’t mean that I want to.  Even though I can wake up early tomorrow and just hammer away at this work.  What can I do to help myself stay out of bed, tomorrow morning?

I can eat, then check here…and maybe start in on my Web Design study.  I think that will help — I actually enjoy the work for that class.

Then I can work on my Archives readings, check in on my group work, and see where to go from there.

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Weight gain and strategies to manage sleep without Prozac

It’s been a longstanding thing with me that I’ve wanted to get off of one medication in particular, due to weight gain.  When I began it a number of years ago, it was because I was having great difficulty with wakefulness — a side effect caused by another of my medications.

I realized that weight gain was a likely consequence, but I didn’t bet on constant, steady, highly sensitive weight gain, meaning that I would have to constantly monitor what I was eating and drinking (particularly with sugars; ironically, although I can drop weight with a high-fat, low-sugar diet, one Frappucino will make me gain about a pound), and whether I was moving around enough, just in order to maintain my weight at a relatively steady level.  This is even though I have a metabolism which is normally high, I’ve never before had to manage my weight or my food and drink in my life, and 135 lbs. was heavy for me, at one point (actually, my previous high was 120, but I was 20 years old, so that doesn’t count).

Recently, I unintentionally missed my morning dosage for three days in a row; and realized that the belly bulge I’ve been fighting, significantly flattened.  Although I have been maintaining my weight (just not putting back on the ~4-5 lbs. I lost when I was last sick — which is hard when your body thinks food is scarce and that it’s starving), I have been doing this without the benefit of constant exercise.  If I exercised more, I’m sure I would lose weight — but I’d lose a lot more of it if I stopped the troubling medication, and exercised.

Not to mention that I’ve recently lost the definition in my chin and throat.  The next step is to gain a double chin, and that is not what I want.  And although my blood sugar numbers have been good, I can’t bet on that continuing, if I continue to gain abdominal fat.  And I really, really don’t want to become insulin-resistant or diabetic, both of which can be caused by this medication.

Not to mention that it’s harder to exercise when you’re trying to move around 35 extra pounds and you get winded from walking up a slight grade.  My doctor had wanted me to go down to 135 from 145, last time I saw her.  Right now I’m at 161, to be gentle about it and not include the weight I’m at after I’ve consumed anything.

Against certain advice, I’ve written to my doctor about wanting to titrate off of this (i.e. gradually lessen my dosage until it’s nil), sooner rather than later; and I do admit to being angry about letting her convince me to stay on the medication, when I talked to her about stopping it six months ago.  The reason to talk to her is to gain her assistance in stopping this in a safe way.  I don’t want to relapse, which stopping cold-turkey invites.  I have titrated off of medications before, though.  I’m just not certain that taking it off-and-on (I only have one size caplet) is really the best way to reduce the levels of medication in my bloodstream.

If it is possible, though, it might be useful to take the pill on two days and off one day, and then reduce that to 50/50, then off two days and on one day, then totally off; or something similar.  (I’m just extrapolating this from past experience.)

But what I wanted to write about here, really, was what I’ve learned about managing my sleep, during the time that the medication was ostensibly helping me not be groggy all the time.  I think I’ve been on this medication for at least three years, though I’m not sure of the details.  Over that time, I’ve learned strategies to manage my sleep and wakefulness cycles, which I didn’t know of when I started it:

  1. Take night medication at a scheduled time (9 PM) with the aim of waking up early the next day.  Taking sedating medication at 11 PM or later will ruin the next day by making me groggy until evening (~5 PM), which encourages staying up late (3-4 AM, at times) to try and catch up on all the functionality that was missed in the daytime.  That, in turn, throws off my Circadian rhythm.
  2. Get ready for bed immediately after taking medication.  I don’t have to go to bed directly after this, but getting knocked out by sedating medication (this is not the stimulant medication) often means that I become too tired to wash my face, shower, floss, or brush my teeth before collapsing.
  3. If the prior two things are set in place, I don’t have to worry about getting enough sleep, when to go to sleep, or my personal hygiene.  The medications will knock me out in about 1.5 hours (10:30 PM), most nights.  This also means that by 7:30 AM (the earliest I rise), I’ll have gotten a full 9 hours of rest.
  4. Leave the shades open a bit so that morning light can enter the bedroom as the sun comes up.  This is in lieu of a mood light (full-spectrum/daylight lamp) in Winter, though in the latter situation, I may need a daylight lamp on a timer.  The sunlight aligns my biological clock to help me be wakeful at or before the time my alarm goes off.
  5. Don’t stare at computer/e-reader/smartphone screens too long late at night; either this, or wear anti-blue-light lenses when working here late at night:  the blue light seems to make the brain think that it’s daytime when it isn’t.
  6. Don’t nap in the late afternoon (after ~4 PM), and don’t lay down for “just a rest” at 9 PM (especially without taking care of hygiene):  just go to bed, or try and tough it out until you do.  If I lay down late at night without planning to go to sleep, my body takes it as a power nap and may not fall asleep until 1-3 AM.
  7. Green tea (or oolong, if I’m really tired or want something brisk) is a good, gentle stimulant for me.  Paired with the sedating medications I’m on, it doesn’t stop me from falling asleep at night (or even in the day, sometimes), either.  It helps with energy and wakefulness.
    However, coffee and caffeinated beverages (e.g. cola) aren’t good for me — they can cause heart arrhythmia, palpitations, and nosebleeds.  And when I drink tea as a stimulant, I need to drink real tea, not bottled sweetened iced tea (it saves on calories) — and second-brewing and on is much lower in caffeine.  In addition…there are some teas, like fermented Pu-Erh teas, which are supposed to help avoid weight gain.
    Yes, this means I am using the tea especially for its medicinal/drug-related properties, although as I state above, caffeine alone does not have this effect.  I’m at peace with my use of this, at this point, though I have to remember not to overuse the tea:  it will cause cravings (sometimes at inappropriate times, like late at night/before dawn) and addiction.  To avoid caffeine addiction and keep the tea useful in helping with wakefulness, I need to abstain at times, even if it’s hard.
    A caveat:  it’s good to use a whitening toothpaste after drinking tea, because even green tea will stain one’s teeth (I haven’t tried white tea).
    Another caveat:  Holy Basil (Tulsi) tea also has stimulating properties, though may interact with certain medications.  If I get addicted to camellia sinensis tea, I think Tulsi acts along a different channel.
  8. To be wakeful in the daytime when it is hard to rouse oneself:  give yourself permission to do something other than work or sleep.  I’m surprised how often this one works.  Sometimes it’s not that I’m tired, so much as that I don’t want to face my work out of anxiety (and/or I’m hungry), and I feel bad overtly opting to do something other than work, or sleep.
    But doing something other than work gives me a reason to get out of bed, and may lead to work later on, after I’ve satisfied the drive to live (instead of work).  In any case, it’s better to be active in the daytime and asleep at night, if I can help it:  I don’t work night shift.

I’ll try and tag this in a way so I don’t forget it, or I could add it as a curated post to one of my Pages.

And yes, I do want to make a “Tea” entry now, but I think it’s best that I get ready for bed…

I feel silly for posting this, but:

I do keep talking about the Japanese language study, and toying with handwriting, and this.  So…it could be interesting for me to log my progress on the writing front.  Maybe it will help motivate me to keep going back to the books.

vertical lines of Japanese text read "watashi wa genki desu."
(by the way, this just reads “I’m healthy/in good spirits,” over and over again.)

I’m shrinking the size of this down just to make it clearer.  As this is on my screen, it appears to be almost at the size at which it was written (yes I used tiny pens).

I was seeing what I could get out of my pens, in addition to practicing kanji (some of which, like the “-ki” in genki), I’ve not totally gotten a handle on, yet.

And…I’ve realized why nib sizes in Japanese fountain pens run narrower than in Western-style fountain pens:  at a certain point, writing with a thick nib means you can’t write kanji legibly at a small size.

So…I’m pretty sure that the tiniest of these (rose and green) are Copic .003 Multiliners.  Then I tried a .005 and a couple of Microns (the latter of which made the sepia-tone marks on the left), along with an ultra-micro Uni-Ball Signo.

I’ve also got to remember to store my pens horizontally, not vertically in a marker stand as I had been doing.  I had a couple of Pitt metallic markers which totally lost their opacity and sheen (one of which made the aqua-colored writing in the center, there), possibly from the ink separating out.

Also…it appears that Gelly Roll pens have a shelf life (my silver one died and wouldn’t make any mark which wasn’t largely suspension fluid).  And I had to toss a white Uni-Ball Signo because the ink was doing something bizarre (the rollerball would divide all the lines it made).  I’m not sure why.

Japanese writing in light colors on a black background.
Large characters read “Tokyo dialect;” the rest are variations on, “Am I healthy?/Are you healthy?”

The good thing is that now I know what I have, and I still have some sweet stuff.

I tried not to blow up the image to the right too much, because most of it was written tiny to begin with.  This is the back of my Supracolor swatch, which I repurposed into a test paper.  (Trust me, no one will be able to tell.)

And — hey!  The Photoshop Levels adjustment makes black tone appear deeper, too!

I’m pretty sure the four phrases on the right are all Derwent Graphik Line Painters (the ones with the hollow nibs which I’m not sure will continue to be made).  I think “Snow” is the white one and “Fox” is the silver one on far right (I love how opaque that one is!).

As a note, when Japanese writing is vertical, it reads right-to-left, although I was writing stuff down wherever (and tend to still write — and habitually read — left-to-right.  I’m getting better, though.)

The bit saying “Tokyo dialect,” or tokyo-go, as my friend put it (see upper left corner of the above image), was written with one of those metallic Pitt bullet-point markers:  one of the ones still viable, that is.  My teal one turned transparent on black paper, where it should have been opaque, as above.  I didn’t think it was worth keeping.

And then there are a bunch of Uni-Ball Signo metallic gel pens that I have, that still work awesomely even if the gold doesn’t, say, look like it’s actually made of gold.  🙂  At least I don’t get weird ink flow issues like I did with the odd white one, which I think I may have ruined by drawing with it on top of a watercolor painting.

Come to think of it, that could be why my white Gelly Roll pen died, too (I’ve just gotten a replacement).  Hmm.

I should probably do some schoolwork or go to sleep, at this point…although!  I’m nearing the end of Unit 1 in my Kluemper text!  (I found this out randomly last night.)

Yeah, I should study:  I have assignments (that have to actually be turned in) coming up, soon…

But I do want to note to myself:  don’t use water-based marker on watercolor paper and expect it to dry quickly.  That’s what happened with the smudgy section in the first image, which is bordered by red lines.  The red lines are fine; the fact that I got a fistful of ink on my hand when I tried writing on my paper — after a decent amount of time — is not.  I’m just thinking that the paper absorbed the ink so much that it trapped the water and didn’t let it dissipate at a normal rate…

Toyed with FW inks, last night:

I have a little time to write, here, but am not entirely sure of how much use I’ll be.

Yesterday, my godmother came over for a visit, so most of my waking hours were spent with her and M.  I did manage to get in some time to play with colors, but I ended up toying with the acrylic inks instead of dealing with jumping directly back into the watercolors.  (It’s probably because of the packaging, I’m not even kidding:  the FW inks kind of beg to be used in those little glass bottles.)

fw-play-3706w
Taken in filtered daylight
fw-play-night-3698w
Taken under fluorescent lighting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have done a bit of an experiment, here, though, with the photography.  I took a bunch of pictures of my work (most of which isn’t up here, because all it is, is my practicing Japanese writing [mostly, the same sentence] in multiple colors and nib sizes), and realized today on upload that I used the wrong lighting setting.  I should have used the “Tungsten” setting instead of the “Fluorescent” setting, as the latter leaves a lot of cleanup work.  The former blues everything out, but it doesn’t leave a heavy orange cast over everything like the “Fluorescent” setting does.

Anyhow…I did the above play last night and was curious about what it would look like under daylight today, so I took a second set of photos.  Both of the photos above have had Levels adjustments applied to them in Photoshop, though surprisingly, the night photo appears a bit clearer in relation to color.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t take the daylight photo under full daylight?

In any case, these are FW acrylic inks, as mentioned above.  I started out playing with “Rowney Blue” (PB15) + “Yellow Ochre” (PBk7/PY1:1), then — if my memory is correct — expanded to “Dark Green” (PG36) plus “Brilliant Yellow” (PY3/PY83).  There is probably a definite reason to use Brilliant Yellow over Yellow Ochre, given that the former is a slightly more brilliant hue than the latter, and that I’ve read that PY1:1 is to be avoided, as it’s apparently fugitive.

But anyway, I was curious as to what would turn out if I started blending colors which were not adjacent on the color wheel.  Rowney Blue is the nearest FW ink I have to Cyan (though they do make a Process Cyan color) — that is, all the other ones are either more green, or less saturated.  What I did find interesting is how quickly the blue ink tinted to deep green on contact with the Yellow Ochre ink.  I’m not used to a yellow reacting so quickly, visibly and strongly with a blue.  My gradation in this respect is found in the marks which appear to look like a tail, in the above photos.

I also did find with these, though, that if you want a stronger green, you may have to pull in a different pigment.  This is why I started using Dark Green, as I could make some nice greens with the former colors, but they were slightly grayed out.  Dark Green added some vividness, and along with Brilliant Yellow, made some really high-key greens that are visible above the “tail” section, above.

I did find, though, that like acrylic paints, these things dry extremely quickly; and so if you want to get color bleeds like you can in watercolors, you have a very limited time frame (seconds) to do so, before the first layer sets (at top left in the photos, I was moving too slowly).

It’s surprising to me that I was able to get such nice greens out of these colors.  Usually when I think about colors like Hansa Yellow Deep, I don’t think of making excellent greens with them.  To my eye, the yellow leans towards orange; however, maybe my eye is a bit off? and orange-leaning yellows can make saturated greens.

Anyhow, got to go…

Giving myself a break

The time crunch is loosening up a bit.  I don’t know how long it will last, but I’ve got some breathing room, now.  Tomorrow, I want to work with my watercolors a bit in the daytime.  I have that one abstract plaything that I never finished…

3513w
I’d like to pick this work back up again.  From July 5, 2017.

I was thinking about going off tomorrow to take a three-hour impromptu workshop on watercolor fundamentals, but realistically…well, there are other ways to get that information (and save the fee).

Also:  I just took a look at a different set of watercolor workshops, and the workshop I was thinking about attending tomorrow is relatively overpriced (about $23/hour?).  For $5 more I could get two extra hours of assistance, and not deal with being given supplies that I don’t need.  My major issue at this point is how to envision things that don’t exist, not how to copy things that do (although I’ve gotten the point that the latter may be much easier using blocks of color rather than line).

I also need to work on my use of positive and negative space.

I have a rough idea of how I want the above play to turn out, but the thing is, I could do a series of these and have them all be different.  That is, the patterning isn’t hemming me in, here.  And I can see some of the next steps, already (though granted, I saw some of the next steps a few days after reaching the point you see above).  The reason I stopped here?  I felt I might have been overworking things, and I ceased to be able to see what would come next.

Relatively speaking, the ability to “see” where to put my next mark is a bit frightening for me, but now that I have some study of creativity and the brain under my belt, I think that the issue is that I get into a “Flow” state and don’t understand it, so I tend to avoid it.  It isn’t necessarily that I’m being directed by something invisible (other than myself); it’s that I’m tapping into a brain-state that I normally don’t experience…which can lead to the explanation that I’m doing something metaphysically-based, when I may not be (or probably am not, but I’m leaving some wiggle room for the unexplained, here).

I just seem to be one of those people who enjoys using their creativity, but is always scared when embarking.  For me, in a sense, it’s like skydiving (not that I’ve skydived, but):  it may be exhilarating on the way down, but I’m scared to get on the plane and I’m scared that my parachute may not open.  Even though it’s been OK, pretty much every time so far.  And I’m not going to die if I can’t solve a creative problem during whatever time I’ve allotted myself to solve it.

My actual problem seems to be in using my creative faculties to whip up reasons not to use my creative faculties.

(*cough*)

In other…arenas, I took a sketchbook with cheap paper (which I had been journalling within) to work, today.  I felt a little disappointed with myself when I started practicing kana with my Pentel Pocket Brush Pen instead of designing a block print, like I had intended (although I realized I again lost offhand memory of some of the kana — though I would probably recognize them if I read them)…but then I started writing a new journal entry to myself.  That book has been with me for years — the better part of a decade, I’ll say — and the entries are sparse but intriguing (to me, at least).

I’m not sure what the draw to language means, if it means anything.

And the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen is vastly better for Japanese writing than is the Sakura Pigma Micron Brush Pen.  The former has bristles; the latter…I’m not sure, but it’s stiffer and squeakier, with less line-weight variation.  The big drawback to the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen is that it is so incredibly sensitive that you need a light touch and almost need to hover over the page (though there is still some tactile feedback of the bristles).

I should get out of here and get ready for bed…

Okay, I think I’m feeling a little overburdened…

…Thank all the people who worked so hard for ADA accommodations…

I’m not entirely sure what’s going on except that I’m getting tired of treading water and am starting to sink, a little.  Well, that; and I had surprise group work for one of my classes, which feels like it took up two free days.  I can’t tell exactly, though, because I’ve been too occupied to keep records.

I do remember, however, that Sunday I had a teleconference; then next day (Monday) I had surprise study time because of surprise group work from the teleconference; that same day, my glasses broke and I had to get them fixed; then the next day was a group meeting (Tuesday), after which was grocery shopping plus fabric and lace stores (see below), and coming home to bed.  Today (Wednesday) was work plus sleeping.

It doesn’t help that the death in the family which I spoke about some time back is still being worked through — I had surprise family obligations after work on the previous Saturday night, and worked on Friday, which I shouldn’t have done, as I didn’t have energy to do much when I got home.  I also shouldn’t be working into my breaks and lunchtime at work — this cost me time I could have used to get caught up on homework, today.  That left…what, Thursday to do a week’s worth of actual solid-deadline assignments?  (I was working last Wednesday, and Tuesday I had likely spent working on last week’s Web Design homework.)  I also spent some time in there trying to plan out classes for the next three semesters.

Realistically, writing here (conversation, not so much posting) has been one of the only things I’ve been doing for myself — although I did manage to snag some stuff for a sewing project, which I should not forget:  my fabric and pattern are stored with my yarns.

So, the fun thing:  I visited a lace-making supply store for the first time, yesterday.  That place is a wonder!  We were in the area, so I dropped by a local fabric store to pick up a pattern (which they didn’t have).  I was able to find out that the lace store carried the pattern I wanted, by going to the pattern homepage and finding out all the places that carry the brand.

The person who helped me was very kind.  I’ll be going back, if I have the option.

I think a big issue that I’m having is that I have commitments and deadlines that others in my household don’t have to deal with.  And I know it’s my job to keep on top of them, but when most of your down-time has been spent, literally, asleep (because you’re worn down) — meaning you have had little time and energy to do anything you actually have wanted to do (and you feel guilty for doing things you want to do, which makes it easier to spend time asleep) — sometimes you don’t want to actually look at your obligations, and then it becomes too late to do the prep work so that you can respond appropriately.

So I am behind, a bit.

I am, however, optimistic that even if I can’t be a Librarian (I am questioning my ability to keep up and not drop below a 3.0 GPA right now — albeit somewhat foolishly [I have good grades and accommodations in two of three classes — I haven’t touched the third yet]), I can be a Web Designer.  (I doubt I need a graduate degree, for the latter.)  It isn’t that hard for me, even though we are moving quickly.  Right now I’m in the middle of learning HTML5 and CSS3…which is like…magic.  😛  I had an introduction to XML via my Metadata class last semester, and these are, so far as I know, the three things one needs to make functional web pages and sites.

I still need to work out what to do for the next two semesters, at least:  some of the classes that I was told to work into my schedule are no longer required; and there is at least one new class which is “foundational.”

Seriously.  Right.

Anyhow…I went to bed earlier tonight because I couldn’t concentrate on my reading.  Tomorrow I should work on my Web Design homework (I think I should be able to get to it after the reading), plus the reading and lecture for my Usability course.  It will probably be much easier for me to work on it if I do it in a place where there is not a TV on.  Meaning, not in the kitchen…and not around family.

It’s kind of a surprise to find getting lonely to be a problem, for me.  Usually, I’m OK.  Then I work too hard and miss people…

Recovering:

I feel like I should write something here…I haven’t written in a week, and that’s largely because I’ve not had the energy or time to do so.  However, I’m cutting back on hours at my job, meaning I’ll now have five complete days to work on homework (and lectures, and other things) instead of four.

What happened is that I became so exhausted from the increase in work after Labor Day (Sept. 4th) that Thursday (the 7th?) and Sunday (the 10th?) were spent largely asleep — and that left me with two days (or 48 hours) to do a week’s worth of work for three classes.

Last night, I was up very late to get a number of assignments done by their deadlines.  I do have accommodations, but I prefer not to use them if I don’t have to.

So today, you know, I was catching up on work and found myself falling asleep towards the end of a lecture.  Actually, as I’m writing this, I’ve woken up from the second time I’ve fallen asleep, today (I had to take medication and brush my teeth, at least) — if you don’t count falling asleep around 3 AM last night to be “today.”  I then fell asleep once before dinner, and once after dinner.

On the bright side, I’m nearly caught up with everything.  I did realize, however, that I had been neglecting my Archives class…there weren’t a lot of deliverables there, so I worked on what I needed to turn in.  Accordingly, I think I missed an Archives lecture (I’m missing notes on it) — but I can deal with that.

I think the biggest takeaway from this is that I do need quiet study time, without the distraction of the TV or family.  I have been largely able to avoid playing around on the computer — this is because I know I only have so long I can sit here and not get spine issues.

Also…I seem to be settling around what I’ll do with my spare time…though it hasn’t panned out yet, because I haven’t had much spare time (other than time used for sleeping).

I’ve realized that I can create my own clothes, for one thing.  I feel relatively motivated on that level, because I’ve realized that I can do the same thing for my wardrobe as I’ve done with my jewelry:  make a bunch of customized stuff that I wouldn’t feel bad wearing.

As I wrote elsewhere…creativity may be my way out of the gender dilemma I’m facing.  I don’t, that is, have to rely on store-bought clothing and jewelry which doesn’t get across who I am.  And sewing — hand sewing, at least — does seem to calm me.

Then there is the fact that I still want to learn Japanese language.  I found a number of books on this which look fairly awesome — and I’ve realized that reading things in romaji (Roman letters), although it doesn’t help with character memorization, allows me to recognize words faster.  If I see something written in romaji, that is, I can easily tell if I comprehend the sentence or not (and most basic-level sentences, I do comprehend).  This recognition isn’t there when reading kana and kanji, though it is nice that the kanji give the meaning of the word — though they don’t tell you how the word is spoken.

And then there is graphic design research…making things, you know?  At this point I’m unsure if I want to go into Web Design (though that honestly looks awesome — except for the pay scale) or become an Adult Services Librarian with a tech component — say, in Virtual Services.  I have both paths open to me, now.  If I take the set of classes I’m thinking of, I could only have three more semesters of substantive work ahead of me, including Summer.  The semester after that would be devoted to Culminating Experience, and then I would be done.  There is a complicating factor here, of finances:  I will need to talk to people about that.  Actually, I should approach counseling on three fronts:  Academic, Voc Rehab, and Financial Aid.

As for the Art practice:  that’s pretty much just not happening, though I have an idea as to why, now.

I think my cognizance is burning out.  I should go back to bed.