The Bitter Watches of the Night


My cold has moved into the annoying nagging cough stage, and so it was I coughed myself awake at 3:00 this morning after about four hours of sleep.

I’m a weird sleeper.  I can’t have dead quiet.  Even white noise doesn’t seem to do the trick.  I need intelligent noise.  Music, television, conversation, something that’s the product of thought.  Otherwise my mind starts to wander and my own thoughts will keep me awake.  I think it stems from when my dad used to work nights when I was a kid.  He’d get home late and turn on the TV, and I’d hear it on and know Dad was home, everything was okay.  And now I prefer to have the TV on as I drift off.  It’s just comfortable.

So there I was awake at 3 AM.  I wasn’t so awake that I couldn’t have just rolled over, closed my eyes, and fallen back asleep.  But I had to go to the bathroom.  So now I was up and walking around, and that was too damn close to getting up in the morning, and before I knew it, I wasn’t tired.

Back in bed.  Eyes closed.  Trying, but the sleep just wasn’t coming.  I grabbed my tablet, hoping to make my eyes tired, but Jillian had messaged me while I was asleep, and this article looked interesting, and there were unread Facebook posts, and an email had just come in, and now it was after 3:30 and this just wasn’t working.  So I turned on the TV.

Now here’s the funny thing about my TV sleep:  unless I’m ready to pass dead out, whatever is on has to have just the right balance.  It has to be interesting enough for me to want to watch it — or at least listen to it — but not so interesting that I’ll fight sleep to keep watching it.  The various nostalgia channels I get over the air on my HD antenna have been a godsend in this regard, since that nostalgia hooks me in, but the often shoddy quality ensures I won’t stay too hooked.

Only last night, that balance eluded me.  Most of what I found was infomercials, and that wasn’t going to hold my interest long at all.  Not that I’m against making money by flipping real estate or opposed to a really good set of cooking utensils, but under these particular circumstances, that wasn’t going to cut it.  My nostalgia channels were letting me down too, but in a fascinatingly bad way.  Half an overwrought episode of Peter Gunn, and some bizarre movie about General Custer back when people still tried to play him as the victim.  The actor playing him totally looked like some blissed out California hippie, and there was too much MST3K-level entertainment going on there for me to reach my sleepy equilibrium.

My only hope was Good Very Early Morning America.  Okay, it was really called America This Morning, but it was ABC’s overnight news show.  Pretty droning faces should do it, right?  No.  Because they kept teasing stories I found remotely interesting.  Like the autistic kid who just wanted a bunch of birthday cards, and reaction to the new Cinderella, and things that by the light of day I wouldn’t think twice about but now suddenly found inescapable.  And the clocked rolled on past 5:00.

Finally, the local news kicked in.  And this is the part that really worries me:  the lead story about a woman attempting to run some people over at a paintball park is what finally did it.  That was the aural comfort food that finally let me drift off for a scant two more hours of sleep before I had to get up for work.  I’m not even sure how the story ended, so I really hope those people aren’t offended that I couldn’t stay awake long enough to see if they were all right.  But it wasn’t like I was driving the car.

Tonight I’ll repeat the routine, hopefully without the intermission.  I’ll have the TV on, likely the Carol Burnett re-run seguing into Perry Mason, perhaps switching over to The Avengers if need be.  Just don’t try to sell me any cutlery.  I really need to get some sleep tonight.

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