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Monday, November 24, 2003

Insomnia redux

I think I actually preferred the enemy I knew. At least I knew what to expect. The old insomnia let me hit the edge of sleep then nudged me into hours of wakefulness. Over the course of 30 years, I learned to deal with that. I actually got some of my better work and thinking done during those long nights.

This new insomnia is the dangerous kind. It's the kind that pushes you just to the edge of the nutso cliff then holds your head over the summit. In the cavern below you can see your complete insanity riding the whitewater of the river that carved the canyon.

In short, it'll make you pretty crazy.

Here's how it works: You get tired much earlier than you should. Like 3pm. You fight sleep as long as you can then drift off about an hour earlier than feels right. That's when the first dream starts. It's usually a doozy. Something with huge weather systems that threaten to kill you or, even better, a long run from madmen down Springfield, Missouri's Chestnut Expressway. Just as the tornado or automatic weapon is in your face you shake yourself awake. You've only been asleep for 30 minutes.

The dog wakes up with you, indicates a willingness to take the blame for your being awake and goes outside to take a pee. After that and twenty minutes of shaking the F-5's and M-16's out of your head, you drift back to asleep. How nice.

That's when you open up door number two. Now, you're still a target of those bad things, but you've found some sense of courage. That's good, because it is now your responsibility to take care of someone else. Sometimes it is a kid. Sometimes it is a family member. But more often than not, it's some dainty little granola girl who has spent her entire life acting tough and is now scared out of her mind. She holds you around your neck and buries her eyes in your shoulder. The storm or bullets fly. You get glass or shrapnel in your face and she survives without injury. She looks up to thank you for saving her life and--boom--you're staring into a dark room and wondering why you're about to sneeze hard enough to see your sinuses.

You've been asleep for one hour and two minutes and now even the dog doesn't care that you're awake.

It would be different if the dreams didn't seem so damned real and you didn't feel sort of guilty--sort of like you've cheated on your wife or something--for feeling so protective of this girl. You roll over in bed and look at your wife. You want to apologize, but she is asleep. You remain awake for another 30 minutes.

This continues off and on for the next several hours. Either a dream or the sniffles wake you up about every 45 minutes on average. You're never really asleep. Every time you drift off, you get involved in some very real dream.

By 6am, it's not even worth going back to sleep. You've been shaken awake by either a dreamt death of a family member or some hugely inappropriate but very erotic nightmare.

And so you get up and make a pot of coffee. You get online and research advertisement songs and the bands behind them. You wonder if you're going slowly insane or if your body is actually waking up from a long period of hard sleep and denial.

I'll put it this way: The only good night of sleep I've had in the last week came after several hours of drinking. There's gotta be something wrong with that.


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