I have always stayed up late at night, working or, back in my teenage days, watching Don Kershner’s Rock Concert. Those hours were always generally surprisingly creative and focused. But this year, now that I’m approaching my mid 50s, I thought it best to start caring for myself, and so I try to get to bed by midnight or 1 AM at the latest each night. Terrible decision. Now, instead of those productive hours, I wake up by 2:50 every night with a jellied mind and no hint of feeling tired.
For the first few nights I thought I would be able to just slip back into work mode. I would send a few emails or frame up a blog post. The hour or two of sleep that I had gotten though had driven away any hint of logical thinking. Reading my writings the next morning was much the same as watching some kid on YouTube after she had her wisdom teeth taken out. I committed to design a new Website for $7.48?? I try to picture Obama writing speeches or foreign policy this way.
3:15. Sneaker is lying on the hardwood floor beside my bed. She has a pillowy soft dog bed beside her, but prefers the hardwood so her toenails can morse code to me the meaning of her dreams. In one she seems to be running at full gallop, her toes clicking with amazing speed and rhythm.
In another her nails sound like she’s a typist with one of those 200-lb old Underwood typewriters, the ones where you need to hit the keys deliberately, as if you were shouting the words. Doing fine here, Mother. Send Milk Bones.
She has a recurring dream that she’s the principal ballerina with the Bolshoi. I can tell from the clicking that tonight it’s Swan Lake. She’s quite good with her plié but her knees are out all over the place during her pirouette. Embarrassing form. I shudder to think of the money and Saturday afternoons I spent waiting with the other parents during her lessons.
3:35. I am always too warm, so every night I have my bedroom window open while I try to sleep. They’re casement windows, the kind where you turn a handle and they pivot out from one side, like giant house ears capturing every sound from the great outdoors and funnelling it into my bedroom. I never dreamed so many people were out walking at 3 or 4 AM. And they’re never alone, which I guess is smart. And never silent. Walking in wooden shoes and always talking about their idiot boss or whether the red boots would look better with that new outfit. Nameless conversations, but after a while you get attached. I lie here sometimes for an hour afterwards thinking about the latest snippet. Do I know that boss? She wouldn’t actually get the red ones, would she?
Some night, I’ll lean out of the window while wearing my nightcap, calling out in my best olde English to ask if the corner store still has that turkey hanging in the window, then throwing shillings and telling them to run buy it and deliver it to Bob Cratchit.
3:48. I asked a friend yesterday if she ever lies awake at night, and she said that whenever it happens she uses that time to pray. I like that. Still, my 3 AM prayers seem a bit muddled and maybe dangerous. God knows what we pray for even when we can’t find the words, but still, He’s got a great sense of humor. I wonder some days if He sends me exactly what I prayed for the night before, just to see the look on my face.
4:10. I’m wondering if I should hit Publish or leave these words for me to find in the morning and wonder who wrote them. A new friend I found on a dating site a few nights ago asked me why I have a personal blog. Good question. I hadn’t really thought about that before; I just thought everyone had one. Still, at times like this, I see the wisdom in her question. You can spill your thoughts out onto the Internet without even knowing what you’re saying, like tripping while carrying tomato juice as you walk across a white carpet, and suddenly everyone for years to come will know what you were drinking that day. She’s right. Being so careless with your unfettered thoughts would be dumb.
4:17. Where’s that Publish button?