Sleep Mask

Not long ago, a travel reporter from the Washington Post contacted me about a story she was working on. The topic was tiny lights in hotel rooms—the annoying little beams emitted from TVs, smoke detectors, alarm clocks, air conditioners, and so on. Many hotel guests find this constellation of artificial twinklers unwelcome at, say, 3am. 

The reporter reached out to me because I’m a travel editor in my day job, and I had once put together a collection of 3 Simple Hacks to Make Your Hotel Room Darker for Better Sleep. Thus was I credentialed to opine to the Post

Here’s my cameo in that august newspaper’s tiny-lights report

To be clear, light leakage isn’t the only problem travelers have when it comes to hotel rooms. Frommer’s managing editor Zac Thompson said he is often flummoxed by complicated shower systems and multiple switches for standard lights.

“You basically have to solve an escape-room riddle just to fall asleep,” he said. He described “little lamps everywhere,” some of which have wall switches and some of which have no obvious way to control them.

“I’ve gone to sleep with one light on, because I can’t figure out how to turn it off,” he said.

What I appreciate about this passage is that it reveals two essential truths about me: 1.) I tend to stray off topic (notice how my quoted remarks don’t quite relate to the ostensible subject of the article) and 2.) I don’t know how to do things. Can’t figure out light switches, can’t get the hot water flowing, can’t do nuthin’. 

As a matter of fact, you could argue that my digressions and my general incompetence are basically the two major themes here at indirect Objects, a blog in which I use my belongings as a springboard to discuss my struggles to complete simple tasks such as shaving, using scissors, completing a jigsaw puzzle, keeping houseplants alive, and telling time.

“Flummoxed by complicated shower systems” is maybe the most accurate summing-up of me in five words that I have ever read. 

If that doesn’t dissuade you from following my 3 Simple Hacks, allow me to impart a fourth way to block out light when you’re trying to doze: Wear a sleep mask.

There is, however, one potential drawback to that plan if, like me, you happen to have a large head. The elastic band that secures the mask to your face is likely to be too short, resulting in a tight fit that will become increasingly uncomfortable throughout the night until, at some point, you’re liable to pull the mask from your head and hurl it across the room. 

I know about this possibility because I’ve been going to bed with a sleep mask for the last couple weeks. I’ve decided the bedroom is too bright on account of the blinds on the windows and I haven’t gotten around to shopping for blackout curtains in the, oh, 2 years or so I’ve lived in this apartment.

I have yet to make it through a whole night with the mask on my face, so I don’t know how much good the thing is doing. 

But fortunately I am very comfortable with ineffectual solutions.

Incidentally, “very comfortable with ineffectual solutions” is another pretty good five-word description of me. 

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