by Cathy Allie
I am no stranger to Insomnia. I capitalize and personify the word because when you are in the midst of it, he deserves a title, a real name. And Insomnia must be a He, because a She would know that the good women of the world should be sleeping rather than wandering aimlessly through the night, so that we can wake up the next morning and continue our plan for world domination.
I have read articles about him, talked about him to doctors at annual appointments, and empathized with other sleepy women friends who have also become involved with him. Cut caffeine, stop using electronics by 8:00 p.m., drink a warm beverage an hour before bed time, wear comfortable, loose clothing to bed and one million other suggestions are all ones I have tried and rejected to stop his madness. And yet, he persists.
Over the years I have taken advantage of Insomnia to finish projects, to decorate Christmas trees (or sometimes the whole house), to organize drawers, and even to clean my pantry. During periods of sleeplessness, I have had some of my best ideas, that I am of course much too tired to execute the next day.
Those of you on this crazy Insomnia train with me know that an occasional bout is manageable, but weeks of sleeplessness nights results in people suggesting miracle creams for the circles under your eyes, believing you have a terminal illness, asking you to repeat yourself when you have answered them with some unintelligible mutterings, and shaking their heads in disbelief when you doze in church or a meeting. It isn’t pretty.
Age and an incredibly busy schedule that just wear me out have squelched most of my relationship with Mr. Insomnia, and I haven’t been in too much hand to hand combat with him the last few months. Until Friday. And his frontal attack was a doozy.
Sometime between near 1:00 a.m., I was awakened by winds and howling coyotes. I don’t want to brag about my prowess as an outdoorswoman, but my grandparents had a farm, and I know what coyotes sound like. I felt like I was in an episode of Little House on the Prairie…except I live in the ‘burbs, so I spent about an hour ruminating about how to secure my nine pound lap dog from predators instead of sitting with Pa Ingalls by the fireplace with a shotgun across his lap.
2:00 to 2:20 I spent calculating how much sleep I could still get. Math is not my forte, so this 15 minutes was necessary. Oops, I mean 20 minutes. See? No math.
2:20 to 2:30, Betty the Bladder woke up and needed to potty. No, it didn’t take that long to tinkle, but I had to go get toilet paper that literally no one else in my house can remember to replace. Said toilet paper wass in garage, which is all the way downstairs, because why would anyone store it under sinks or in convenient places for early a.m. runs? Garages are dark and cold in the wee hours.
2:30 to 2:45 I spent trying to silently open drawers so as not to wake my husband, looking to find fuzzy socks because my feet were cold from the garage floor. As a side note, I found a treasure trove of scarves and headbands I had been looking for and some saxophone reeds. Go figure.
2:45 to 3:00, I laid awake listening to my husband’s rhythmic breathing as he slumbered peacefully, unaware of my troubles, as if he was, I am sure he would have offered comfort. The last sentence is the Good Housekeeping version. In reality, he had rolled to his back during my bathroom break absence and was making that 700 car long freight train sound that I know from experience would keep me from sleeping at all the remainder of the night. I headed to the couch.
By 3:00 the tiny, edible dog had now taken an interest in my night time wandering, and had decided to accompany me to the couch. He believed it was morning and thus scratched at the door and whined until I let him out.
Fully aware of the coyote infestation, I decided to somehow arm myself before heading out. Weapon of choice? One of my daughter’s shoes that she had left by the front door.
I figured the worst case scenario was I would throw it at the attacking coyote, and he would make off with it instead of my baby dog, and at the same time my kid would learn a lesson about not leaving her stuff laying around.
I put on a winter coat from the closet and pulled up the hood. No telling who else would be out at this hour and my hair was a mess, as I had left the head bands (and the reeds) upstairs…turns out someone was out, walking briskly past the house in a vest with lots of reflective tape, at a crazy fast pace, and sporting an annoyingly cheery attitude. “Hello,” she said, like this was a normal time. Who are these people who take exercise so seriously?
3:3O to 3:45 and back inside the house, I had decided I was too cold to take off the coat, so I stretched out on the couch, in a full blown Nanook of the North parka, with my ‘marked safe from coyotes dog’ still taking up more than his fair share of space, ruminating about that early morning walker.
Seriously!?! Is her husband also blissfully slumbering, and she has just decided she might as well use the time to exercise if she is awake? What should I be doing? Immediately dismissing any kind of exercise, I wondered if this was finally the time to download the Calm App? Sleepy Time stories? Brew chamomile tea? What is chamomile, anyway?
I spent from 3:45 to 4:30 in a beautiful mixture of watching Internet pedicure transformation videos and dozing.
At 4:30, I was awakened by what sounded like a motorcycle backfiring and low murmuring voices that sounded too near to the house. I crept to the window to look out. It didn’t just sound like a motorcycle backfiring and voices… the neighbors across the street were actually full-blown-garage-door-up-trouble-lights-blazing-wrenches-in-hand working on a motorcycle and talking about the weekend. Guessing they are the same ones who mow at 6:00 a.m. on summer Saturday mornings.
I headed back out on the couch and wondered if my home owners association, which governs lots of things and won’t let me put up a She Shed in my backyard, has any noise ordinance or covenants that I could invoke or if my annual dues cover legal counsel for when I bop across the street and hit the offenders with my daughter’s shoe.
It was by then nearly 5:30 a.m. Where did that last hour go, inquiring minds want to know? Well, it took a while to type this out, and I had to do a little research on coyotes. They are awful animals, really, but we have been destroying their natural environment, so they have taken to nabbing suburban dogs.
Don’t they know they won’t enjoy the gamey taste of a squirrel or small deer when they abscond with a city pup for a midnight snack? Suburban canines are just full of peanut butter Dream Bones and refrigerated entrees.
I say all this to say, I am back to dating Mr. Insomnia. The pattern induced by a coyote’s howl is now five days old. My pantry is clean, I have installed heated garage floors, and I ordered a reflective vest in case I ever decide to join Edna the Early Morning Exerciser, Mr. Insomnia’s mistress, on a walk.
Oh, I promise, I am ending it with him. And when I do, please, no one contact me before 2022. I will be napping in a sound proof room.
Cathy is a retired public school English teacher and Public Information Officer.