The Afterglow of Insomnia

I still can’t get to sleep. Don’t get me wrong: I slept last night, but only for a little over five hours. I don’t know why it is that I haven’t been able to get to sleep before two o’clock in the morning. I’m going to try to avoid taking a nap today, but I make no promises, for insomnia is a harsh mistress. But at least last night I managed to be moderately productive. After being inspired by a comment about a mistranslation, I sat down and busted out a cheesy grunge-inspired song. Well, the lyrics anyway. I’ve now passed them over to Bad Leon Suave, who will add some music and turn it into a proper tune- I hope. But there is so much left to do to get the apartment into shape before our company arrives. Even I, the bastion of not giving even the slightest crap about home maintenance, have begun to feel a little urge to get stuff cleaned and/or put away. And considering that I will be attending a fast food protest/strike tomorrow with my wife, I guess that means we have a lot to get accomplished by the end of the day. I just wish that I wasn’t so exhausted.

It’s not like this is my first bout of insomnia. I’ve been unable to get to bed at a reasonable hour for most of my adult life. Part of that is due to the fact that I’m naturally a night owl, and part of it has to do with not having time to myself to finally decompress. Yes, Virginia, even unemployed writers occasionally need to blow off steam. I thought that I might be able to fall back into a more normal rhythm (at least for me), switching to full-on nocturnal once I was no longer working. But things kept coming up, and now I’m basically on the same schedule that I had when I was working, give or take an hour. I will say that getting my son ready for school and out the door is a far greater challenge than just getting myself ready and off to work. I have a good autopilot system, and would usually finally begin to feel the hints of consciousness somewhere halfway through the BART ride. Being responsible for another human being in the morning is mind-numbingly difficult, especially if it seems like that person is doing all he can to sabotage the whole endeavor.

Me: Come on, get up and get dressed.

David: Ugghhh…. Why?!

Me: School.

David: (angrier) Ugghhh! Fine! I’m not going!

Me: Dude, come on! Let’s get changed out of your jammies and put on your clothes.

David: I need to go pee.

Me: You don’t need my permission.

David: (goes to bathroom.)

Five minutes later, with no sounds whatsoever resembling the flow of liquid…

Me: You done in there?

David: No….

Me: Come on, let’s get a move on!

David: (opens door unexpectedly, wearing only his tank top) Uggghhh….

Me: Dude! Pants!

David: Do I have to?

Me: No one likes wearing pants, but it’s cold outside, so just do it.

David: Fine! But I won’t like it!

Me: I accept your terms. Let’s go.

David: (gets dressed slowly, attempting to raise my blood pressure, not finishing for another five minutes)

The rest of the morning is just more of the same, and it isn’t until I finally let go of his hand when we’ve arrived outside the school that he seems to remember that he knows how to do things. I’ll try to give him one last smooch, and tell him that I love him, and he’ll wipe his face and look around to see if any of his friends have seen him. He’ll tell me goodbye with the finality of a dismissal, and then walk toward the door to disappear inside so that he can go and play. And then, just as he’s about to pass through the doorway, he runs quickly back and throws his arms around me, and tells me, “Last hug!” without a trace of the self-consciousness which wholly consumed him not a moment before. I hug him back, and tell him that I love him, and that I believe in him. And to have a great day. He then runs back inside, still my little boy, but growing up all the same. I can see from time to time, glimpses of the person he’s becoming, and I think to myself that maybe he’ll turn out okay.

And then I come back to my quiet home (everyone else will be sleeping in ’til noon), power up the laptop, and try to think of what I want to say. Don’t tell my wife, but one of the reasons that I love walking her to work is that it usually gives me a little extra time to mull over things when I’m sipping coffee on my walk back. There’s something beautiful about the world in that hour before dawn, and while I would never set an alarm to see it, I’ve spent many nights awake in eager anticipation of its arrival. There are hardly any cars, and I can wander down the streets and work out the first couple of paragraphs in my head, playing with the narrative while talking to myself. I’m not afraid of what other folks may think, and the best way to protect yourself from those who might seek to harm you is to appear exponentially more batshit crazy than even they can manage. We can smell our own, you see. And after spending a night wrestling with insomnia, it’s really not that much of an act.

This e-cigarette just isn’t cutting it. I need the rich, full flavor of combusted tobacco product. I’ve been really bad about staying away from the real thing (ultra lights, though they be), and now I’m pretty much back to where I was before my lungs went on strike. I want to keep living like I’m still in my twenties, but my body keeps reminding me that’s not really feasible. One of these days I’m going to wake up and suddenly discover that I have a spark of self-preservation in me, but today is not that day.

Tomorrow I’ll be doing something about strikes and unions, and Thursday will be a series of shorter posts which will chronicle my adventures in the city with my newly arrived nephew.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone!


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