Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Insomniac

You sleep. You feel tired, you put your head on the pillow, and moments later you're asleep. You sleep all night, you wake up to the alarm. Occasionally you have a bit of trouble sleeping because of an illness, or a squalling infant, or some annoying situation keeps your mind racing for a while and you can't shut down. Mostly, however, you sleep.

I hate you. Mostly, I can't sleep. I think my Nordic genes are fucked--they expect 24-hour day and 24-hour night and I can't get on cycle at this latitude. The only cure for my insomnia is bong hits, and I really can't be snapping those daily at 36.

Occasionally, but not daily.

My wife sleeps. She lies down, she closes her eyes, and not even a minute later she's deep into it. I can touch her, I can push her over on the mattress, I can do jumping-jacks and turn the light on and off, and she won't wake up. That amazes me. When I do find my way into sleep, if a dust-mote grazes my cheek, if a leaf falls against the window, if a sock settles in the hamper I'll snap awake.

Once I wake up, I can't sleep again. I never go to sleep immediately.

While my wife sleeps I lead the nocturnal life of The Insomniac. Sometimes I read, but often I'm too tired for that. Try being too tired to do stuff and yet unable to fall asleep. You think you got problems? I hate you. The Insomniac watches lots of pointless TV, roaming the channels at night. Animal Planet is good, but there can be crying over injured puppies and such. The Insomniac wears his emotions at the surface. Infomercials about mattresses are ironically entertaining fare. I prefer the Swedish mattress with an enormous metal piston bouncing on it as they discuss its durability, and think lacivious thoughts while watching it. Porn is good, too, as are The Cartoon Network, The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, and the Jesus Channel. I really enjoy watching Paula White at 3am, because I feel in that vulnerable goofy brain-dead state like I can almost understand how people fall for that balderdash. Early this morning Paula was on a riff about sending in $66 as "a seed, a planted seed, a seed that sprouts, when the Devil is beckoning you've got that seed, it's growing and building this ministry, the Church, you're building your own invulnerability to sin, just $66, and plant a new one each month, these seeds they grow." You've heard of "Do-Me" Feminism? Paula White specializes in "Do-Me" Evangelicalism. She has a big rack and slightly-less-than-awful Evangelical hair and makeup, she wears stiletto boots and sometimes skirts, she works up an appealing rhythm and back-and-forth with the podium, teasing it like a stripper's pole. I'm sure most of her contributions come from junkies, depressives, perverts, and insomniacs.

Ingmar Bergman is great fun for The Insomniac. Nothing makes one feel as insubstantial, as existentially vulnerable, as bleak as a severe case of insomnia. Bergman will take you places you've never dreamed of in that state--and mostly because you don't sleep and therefore you can't fucking dream. Last night I watched The Silence and well howdy-doody I don't ever need to sleep again after that.

Back to bed. Wife snoring. Try to read, too tired. Sleep not coming. Sleep still not coming. Body aches with tiredness, brain buzzes along. Sleep, slithering frangeable Protean sleep, slipping out of my grasp. Hmmm. Maybe on this side, with the legs drawn up? No. Maybe on the back? No. Tummy? No. Perhaps on the other side? No. Maybe if I flip the pillow to the cool side? Fuck, no. Up again.

Back downstairs, I stare at the fish tank. The cichlids are fuckin' weird. Polly, the big red Blood Parrot, and Jellybean, the small Jellybean Parrot, used to fight viciously. Now they've moved in together in a small fortress of rocks I call The Love Cave. Polly has dug all the gravel out of The Love Cave and moved three sizeable glass marbles in there. I guess he likes the colors or something. The other day Polly stole an algae wafer from Borax the pleco and moved it in The Love Cave. He and Jellybean picked at it until Ajax, the other pleco stole it back. Naming fish is insipid, by the way. And yet Leviathan, Ophelia, and Einstein in the goldfish tank practically named themselves.

I like watching the tetras school. Winkin Blinkin and Nod are translucent and are pink, pinkish, and blue in descending size. We also have three black striped tetras named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Cha demanded to know where I got those fucked-up names, and I told her "You Catholics amaze me. Read your Bible." I played her the Beastie Boys song too. After staring at the fish for a half-hour I feel dreamy and catatonic. I rush upstairs and hop into bed. Still no sleep. The sun is coming up. The room is brightening. The sun is up. Cha's alarm is going off. She's up. She doesn't know I'm awake. I watch her searching for socks, earrings, panties. I watch her ass. She sneaks too close to the bed and I grab it. She laughs, kisses me, but feels guilty and says "I'm sorry, I woke you." Ha, I think. I wish you'd woken me, I wish it had been possible.