This is what I hate about insomnia | Column | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | August 5, 2017 5:00 pm
Last Updated: August 2, 2017 at 12:32 pm
Every night I say, “I’m going to bed,” and then spend 20 minutes untangling my hair, washing my face, moisturizing whatever I can reach, brushing my teeth, doing sit-ups and knocking back a sleeping pill. Then I crawl under the covers with a good book.
Widdle Baby joins me one, two or three hours later, depending on whether there’s a “Mountain Men” marathon on.
I know what time he comes to bed because I’m still awake when he does. Wide. A. Wake.
Oh, I get sleepy. My eyes get heavy and I switch off my little book light, fluff the pillows and curl up on my side, headed for dreamland. Except sometimes there’s a five-car pileup on the road to dreamland, and I can’t go to sleep. Suddenly I’m awake enough to do calculus, and I slept through calculus in high school.
After lying there for a while—and this is what I hate about insomnia—I start reviewing every mistake and bad decision I’ve ever made, and trust me, there are plenty.
The other night, I stared up at the ceiling with curled toes, wondering why I went home crying from Sabrina Marshburn’s seventh birthday party.
I don’t remember if I went to Home Depot or Lowe’s yesterday, but I recall the plaid wool jumper I wore to that party. Maybe someone made fun of my Coke bottle glasses, kinky hair and teeth like piano keys. Maybe I sneezed on the birthday cake. Or maybe I’m overthinking what nobody else even remembers. I tend to do that.
After 20 minutes of such self-torture, I give up and start reading again. Then I get hot and throw the covers off, followed minutes later by a chill. I pull the covers back up to my chin and feel sleepy again. Again I turn off the book light, roll over… and listen to my heart pound like a jackhammer.
Eventually I just give up, and let my mind wander. Here’s where it wanders to:
• What was the name of the actor who played the oldest brother on “Eight is Enough”?
• Should we raise meat goats? Widdle and I have tossed this around. As a non-meat eater, I waffle about raising an animal for slaughter. On the other hand, they’d be happy, pasture-raised goats. Before they, you know, got shot.
• Does anyone actually eat goat meat?
• I feel bad about my neck. Norah Ephron wrote a funny book by that title, and it’s true. The first thing to go is the neck and chin line. Last thing to go is shoulders and legs, which is why every woman over 45 owns a cold-shoulder top.
• Why do I hate Florida so much?
• Should I write my own obit?
• I don’t care how trendy it is, gray hair on a 19-year-old is jarring.
• What’s the difference between seals and sea lions? This actually made me get up and stagger to the computer. (Sea lions have visible ear flaps, in case you were wondering.) I realize I wouldn’t have to stagger to the computer if I kept my phone on the bedside table, but that’s a bridge I refuse to cross. It stays in the kitchen charger all night, because my phone isn’t the boss of me.
• What were my mom and I arguing about in the produce section of Publix in 1995?
Finally, finally, I start to drift off… just as Widdle, who came to bed five minutes ago, lets loose with a series of ear-splitting, trumpet-like snores.
No rest for the weary, my friends. None.
Julie R. Smith, who’s already tried valerian root, magnesium and wine, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.