Wednesday, November 16th, 2022

Woke up from a dream in which I was happily singing folk songs while accompanying myself on the guitar. I don’t play a guitar but in the dream it was a lot of fun so I may have to learn.

I woke because I had to go for a piddle. That done, I crawled back into bed and totally failed to fall asleep, even though I tried for an hour. So here I am. *sigh*

folksy | 4:15 am CST
Category: dreams, sleeplessness
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Tuesday, November 1st, 2022

I had to get out of bed early this morning because My Darling B wasn’t making any noise AT ALL. I woke up from a dream, made a quick visit to the bathroom, climbed back into bed and, while I was waiting to return to Slumberland for what I was sure would be several more hours, I realized that B was making absolutely no sound. I couldn’t even hear her breathing.

This is not normal. Normal, on any given night in our house, is lots and lots of snoring. I’m as guilty of it as she is, and I know this because she has made a recording of me snoring so I could hear that I sound like a diesel dump truck downshifting on an off-ramp when I snore. She sounds more like a cartoon Dagwood: SNXXXX! SNXXXX!

So when she makes absolutely no sound at all, it can weird me out. Not always. There are lots of nights when I’m so oblivious of what’s going on around me that I can easily return to sleep after any one of my six dozen visits to the loo in the middle of the night, and thank goodness. Having Old Man Bladder would be a million times worse if I couldn’t.

But on a night like tonight after waking from a dream full of super-creepy twists and turns, my lizard brain sometimes kicks in. “She’s not breathing,” it says to me.

“Oh stop it,” I say right back. “Of course she’s breathing.”

“Can you hear her breathing? No, you can’t.”

“Of course I can’t, my tinnitus is ringing off the hook.”

“Your tinnitus isn’t that loud.”

“Shrieking banshees aren’t as loud as my tinnitus. Quit bothering me.”

“So you’re not worried at all that she’s not breathing.”

“No, I’m not worried, because she is breathing and she’s fine.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you’re right. She’s perfectly fine. It’s just that tonight she’s really, really quiet. Happens all the time”

“No. It never happens. She’s never this quiet.”

“Well aren’t you going to do something about it then?”

“And what am I going to do? Give her a poke? That’d go over well I’m sure.”

“You don’t have to do anything as rude as poking her. Just roll over, yawn, scratch yourself, make a little noise, same as you do every night.”

That’s what I did: I made a little noise, then laid perfectly still to see what her reaction would be. Only she didn’t react at all. She continued to lie there, still as a statue, and made no sound. So I rolled over, yawned, stretched, adjusted the bed covers, did a little cat/cow, farted. Finally she made a tiny snuffling noise.

“There! See? She’s breathing.”

“Pffft. Corpses make a noise just like that when they get gassy.”

“You went there. I can’t believe you went there. How are you even part of my psyche?”

“Your psyche is totally screwed up and you know it. Now give her a poke to see if she’s alive.”

Well, dear reader, I didn’t poke her. At that point I gave up on sleep, rolled out of bed and headed to the kitchen to make some coffee. As I grabbed my pants on the way out, B whimpered in her sleep and shifted the blankets to get more comfortable.

Sleep well, B.

wakey wakey | 4:34 am CST
Category: dreams, falling apart, Farts & Farting, Life & Death, My Darling B, random idiocy, sleeplessness
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Sunday, July 26th, 2020

You want to know what’s been stuck in my head on a loop all morning? Probably not, but I’m going to answer that rhetorical question anyway:

person woman man camera TV

I went paddling on the lake this morning. I put in early, before all the bleepheads started roaring around in their power boats, so I could enjoy the stillness. And I did. It was very quiet, very calming. And the whole time, my brain kept repeating:

person woman man camera TV

I paddled around for about two hours, paddling across Wicawak Bay after putting in on Frost Woods Beach. I used one of the channels through the Belle Isle neighborhood to get to Lake Monona, turned south to cut back across the mouth of Wicawak Bay to the southern shore, then followed the shore to the Yahara River. All around the bay I enjoyed the sight of ducks with their ducklings, turtles basking on logs in the sun, herons sweeping through the skies after launching themselves from low-hanging branches, and

person woman man camera TV


I just want a little peace and quiet on my day off. A day where the idiot in chief doesn’t mess with my head. I guess that’s not possible now.

I even dreamed about him last night. I dreamed we were watching him on TV. He was falling from a great height, many hundreds of feet. I don’t know what he fell out of or why, but the cameras were zoomed in on him tumbling through the air. He wasn’t flailing or yelling or doing any of the dramatic things falling people do in movies; he was falling like a sack of potatoes, tossed one way, then the other by the passing wind. Then, just before he hit the ground, the camera pulled back. We could somehow hear the thump he made, even though he was quite a long distance from the camera.

I turned to My Darling B and said, “You realize this means Pelosi is president now.” She nodded, speechless because of what we had seen. (I don’t remember any part of the dream that would have explained what happened to Pence.)

The dream was so startling that I woke up right after that, and it was so vivid that I almost woke up My Darling B, still slumbering next to me, to ask her, “Did Trump fall out of a plane or something today?” But I was also still so confused by the sudden juxtaposition of my dream on reality that I simply laid there thinking about it for several minutes, and it eventually dawned on me that it was only a dream and Trump was still very much alive.

And probably still bragging to anyone who will listen about passing that stupid test two years ago.

pwmctv | 10:36 am CST
Category: current events, dreams, random idiocy, sleeplessness, yet another rant
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Thursday, June 4th, 2020

I’ve been awake since three oh nine this morning, after a dream in which I backed myself into a grey, airless void I couldn’t get out of. I kind of don’t want to go back to sleep when you can clearly remember a dream about suffocating, so I made myself stay awake for a couple minutes, then a couple minutes longer, and … you know how *that* goes.

Funnily enough, it wasn’t me who got sucked into the void, it was Tom Cruise – I mean, *I* was Tom Cruise because y’know dream logic – and if anybody should be able to escape a nightmare scenario it’s Tom Cruise, so really I should have let myself fall right back into sleep to see how he got out of it. Now I’ll never know.

three oh nine | 6:01 am CST
Category: dreams, sleeplessness
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Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

Author Chuck Wendig asked: “What is a weird or prominent dream or nightmare you can still remember vividly no matter how much time has passed – a real dream, from sleep, not an aspiration or metaphor?”

When I was about five years old, I used to stay up past my bed time to watch whatever television show my parents were watching. It was hard for them to stop me, because my bedroom was right off the living room. All I had to do was sit in the doorway and peek around the corner.

One night, they watched the old Twilight Zone. When I saw the introduction, it scared the shit out of me. That crazy music, weird things floating around in a dark void, a slowly-opening, disembodied floating eyeball – A DISEMBODIED FLOATING EYEBALL!

I had nightmares about eyeballs staring at me from out of a dark void for years after that. YEARS. My screams woke up everyone in the house.

Not long after that, my grandmother innocently got me one of those clocks that looks like a cat with a tail for a pendulum and eyes that wig-wag back and forth as the clock goes tick-tock. My mom hung it in my bedroom because, you know, it was a gift and she wanted to show my grandma we appreciated it. It was on the wall just one day and part of one night. Those big, round eyes constantly scanning the dark room, looking for a soul to eat were too much for me. Screamed for mom, who took it down and probably had to spend at least a few hours with her arm around me, trying to get me to stop crying.

Twilight Zone opening still gives me the shivers.

oldest nightmare | 7:18 am CST
Category: dreams, random idiocy, sleeplessness, story time
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Saturday, December 7th, 2019

Boo let me know it was time to get up and feed her by jumping on my bladder, walking across my stomach and clawing at the box spring after jumping to the floor as noisily as a five-pound cat can. It was quarter to four in the morning. So I got up and fed her, as you do. Six hours of sleep it enough, right?

She was sleeping with us because she’s in recovery after we had to take her to the vet who drained an abscess in her face. Boo’s face, not the vet’s. The vet had to yank five of Boo’s teeth out, too, probably making the whole deal a fairly traumatic experience, so we let her into the bedroom to cuddle up with us while she’s recovering.

We stopped letting the cats sleep with us when they learned that I really hate it when they walk on my face. After they acquired that knowledge, they did it all the time. If you’ve never wanted to strangle a cat with your bare hands, you’ve never had one walk on your face while you’re sound asleep.

They walk on my face because I’m the one who feeds them (somehow that ended up as part of my job description; I need a better union rep) and they know that I’ll get up and feed them if only to stop them from walking on my face. Locking them out of the bedroom restored regular feeding hours. I also got more sleep, which didn’t suck.

After losing most of her molars and one of her fangs, Boo has officially crossed the line into the soft-food phase of her life, and she’s enjoying it. Tiki Cat three times a day! Scooter and Sparky are insane with jealousy.

solid six | 5:46 am CST
Category: Boo, sleeplessness | Tags:
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Tuesday, November 19th, 2019

I spent the weekend with My Darling B doing pretty much nothing, and apparently we needed a weekend just like that because we slept like bears in hibernation.

We didn’t do exactly nothing. We did, in fact, travel to Lake Mills, Wisconsin, to attend the twentieth anniversary party of the Tyranena Brewery (long may they continue to brew the most delicious beer in Jefferson County!), an event where we mostly sat quietly sampling various wonderful brews and noshing on noshies. Low-impact events are our lifestyle now.

The beers that Tyranena makes, though, tend to be very boozy, so we didn’t drink very many of them before we had to lie down go night-night.

We spent all day Sunday just reading or watching TV, and were both in bed by eight. Lights-out for me was eight-thirty or nine, and I slept like the dead until four o’clock Monday morning, at which point my brain said AWAKEN, so I had no choice but to go make a pot of coffee and bimble about the house.

not much how about you | 6:14 am CST
Category: beer, festivals, food & drink, play, sleeplessness, travel
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Saturday, November 9th, 2019

I slept until five o’clock yesterday morning and believed I had successfully readjusted after we moved the clocks back. I was wrong.

reset to zero | 3:25 am CST
Category: sleeplessness | Tags:
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Monday, November 4th, 2019

Wide awake at three this morning, dozed on and off until I gave up & rolled out of bed at four. It’s not insomnia, it’s my internal clock failing to adjust to the tick-tock clocks falling back. It used to be I was wide awake at four, dozed until five. It’ll take my internal clock at least a month to completely transition to this new time frame.

I thought we got all the tick-tock clocks reset yesterday — B even managed to reset the clock in the car, and it took her less than a minute to do it! — but I missed the one in the thermostat, which is timed to turn down the heat at ten o’clock in the evening, then crank it up again at five o’clock in the morning. And that’s why my head asploded when I woke up at three, figured out why I was awake an hour early, rolled out of bed at four to take a shower, then heard the furnace and whiplashed temporally back into daylight savings time for a few minutes until I figured out why the house was warming up an hour earlier than it should have been.

Have I mentioned yet how much I hate daylight savings time?

lagged | 5:16 am CST
Category: random idiocy, sleeplessness, yet another rant | Tags:
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Saturday, July 27th, 2019

Three o’clock in the morning is too goddamn early to start my day, and yet here I am, banging out some more of this drivel after lying awake for an hour, reading several magazine articles, and catching up on some of my favorite Twitter and Instagram follows before making a pot of tea and sitting down at the keyboard. That’s just how it goes sometimes.

My best night’s sleep this week was in a hotel in Wisconsin Rapids where I tried and failed to stay awake long enough to watch all of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Sorry, Sam! I caught most of it, so I hope I get at least partial credit. I’m just not the night owl I would like to be, which is why I normally watch the show on YouTube, but hotels haven’t cut the cable and moved to the streaming era yet, and that’s why I was trying (and failing) not to doze off during one of my favorite shows. When I finally caved, turned off the television set and surrendered to the enveloping darkness, I slept the sleep of the just until my phone bleeped at around six-thirty. My Darling B sent me a “Good Morning!” text.

I was in Wisconsin Rapids because it’s the time of year when I drive in seemingly random circles around the state, stopping occasionally to pop into a DMV office and audit them. It’s as bureaucratically awkward as it sounds but I’m an awkward kind of guy so it’s a job that suits me, unfortunately. Some of us aspire to do great things and some of us pop into the DMV office where you are waiting to renew your driver’s license, grab the DMV employee who was just about to call your ticket number and drag him into a darkened back room for an indeterminate amount of time. All in the name of improving customer service, I assure you.

Wisconsin Rapids was littered with the branches of trees that were shattered by a line of storms that blew through the area last weekend, and I’m not exaggerating in the least when I say “shattered.” I saw oak trees that must’ve been hundreds of years old reduced to broken boughs and splintered stumps. Freshly cut-up branches were stacked along the curb of every road we drove down. I’ll bet the city lost at least a quarter and maybe as much as a third of their old-growth trees. One of the guys I talked to said in his yard alone he lost fourteen trees. He must have a pretty big yard, but still, wow. As if cleaning up all that wasn’t bad enough, the storm knocked the power out for days so a whole lot of people lost all the food in their fridges and freezers.

I left Madison with a coworker at six-thirty on Wednesday morning and drove in a big 350-mile-long circle that wound through northeastern Wisconsin, then across the midsection of the state, and finally down the middle back to Madison, where we arrived at about three-thirty Thursday afternoon. This was my first overnight trip but not my last. It’s surprising how many people I talk to believe I’m living the high life on these business trips. I can’t figure it out how they get that idea. We spend hours and hours behind the wheel of a compact car marked with The Scarlet Letter of government plates, which means we have to drive exactly the speed limit: any faster and our supervisor gets phone calls about how we drive like maniacs; any slower and she gets calls about how we’re a hazard to traffic. We have to book hotel rooms that have the cheapest rate, so we’re always next to an Interstate off-ramp where I’m jolted awake every twenty minutes or so by the explosive flatulence of a downshifting semi truck as it exits the highway. And don’t even try to make hotel breakfasts sound like a perk. I tend to go for the watery powdered eggs and heartburn in a sausage patty, but only because the bananas are usually ripe enough to attract fruit flies.

From The Ground Up coffee shop in Wisconsin RapidsWe do get to pick the restaurants we eat at, thank goodness, and we can even find a pretty good one wherever we go. In Wisconsin Rapids, for instance, we ate lunch at a cozy coffee shop called From The Ground Up. Not only did it have delicious food at a reasonable price and friendly staff who jumped to help us, it had a genuine Volkswagen bus parked on top of the rest rooms. When I asked how they even got it in there, the young woman who took my order explained they cut it in half so it would fit through the front door.

If there’s anything about these trips I might consider a perk, it’s that we frequently see something that is remarkable. On the first day of this last trip, after we’d been on the road an hour and a half or so, we passed by a farmer’s field which was apparently playing host to a meet-up of parasailers. The sky over our car was filled with dozens and dozens of wedges of multicolored nylon turning lazy circles over our heads, and more were taking off. It was magical.

on the road again | 6:51 am CST
Category: business travel, sleeplessness, travel, weather, work
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Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

My monkey brain kicked in at four twenty-five this morning, exactly. I know because my eyes snapped open as soon as I woke up, and I happened to be facing the clock. And I knew my monkey brain had kicked in because my first thought was NOT, “Yay, I get to sleep for thirty-five minutes more,” but was instead, “I’ve got to spend more time working on that audit,” and when I closed my eyes, I visualized spread sheets instead of sinking into the mattress and dreaming of astronauts on vacation in Fiji, or whatever weird things were floating through my brain all night.

Because I knew my monkey brain was activated, I didn’t even bother trying to pretend to doze off. I got up, grabbed a change of underwear from my dresser, and stumbled out of the bedroom to start the day. Hellooo, coffee.

eyes open | 4:55 am CST
Category: sleeplessness
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Saturday, January 12th, 2019

It was a pleasant surprise not to have my monkey brain wake me up at 2:30 am this morning, which I fully expected it to do, so I turned out my light last night with some trepidation. Didn’t open my eyes again until just before five o’clock, so yay me. Fed the cats, crawled back into bed to snuggle up in the still-warm quilts and doze just a little bit until six-thirty when My Darling B’s snoring went from being a soft buzz that lulled me to sleep, to a buzz saw that woke the dead. Seriously, I glanced out the window and happened to see dead people rolling out of the graves they’d been slumbering in for millennia and walking away with that “I give up” look.

a soft buzz | 7:12 am CST
Category: sleeplessness
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Thursday, January 10th, 2019

Okay, I’m awake way too early again. What the hell? I went to bed when I usually do, about nine-thirty. B was already asleep. I turned out the lights and fell asleep right away. Didn’t even have to read myself asleep. My body was tired and my head was settled and I just drifted away. And then, about two-thirty, I got up to answer nature’s call. Still not unusual. Happens all the time. Usually go right back to sleep, only I didn’t this time. B was tossing & turning, too. So we both tossed & turned for a while. Round about three-thirty, B got up. Don’t know why. I heard her walking around a bit. She fed the cats. Boo followed her back, cried outside the door until B let her in. Boo didn’t want to cuddle, though. She only wanted to be an asshole. Climbed up on the dresser & started chewing a plastic bag. B got up, grabbed Boo, took her to bed. That’s when I gave up. Put on water for coffee, poured myself some OJ, surfed the web while the water heated up. Gonna go brew coffee now. Gonna be lots of coffee in my day.

lots of coffee | 4:29 am CST
Category: random idiocy, sleeplessness
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Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

Awake quite early this morning; the clock by my bed said 3:00. It doesn’t say AM or PM, you’re just supposed to know.

Monkey-brain kicked in at 3:02. Couldn’t stop thinking about stupid stuff. Stopped trying at 3:40 and rolled out of bed.

The cat is tapping at the door now, so I’m off to brew a pot o’ joe for My Darling B. It’ll still be hot when she gets up at her usual 5:30. That’s AM. You’re supposed to know.

the longest | 4:27 am CST
Category: sleeplessness
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Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

The doorbell rang at three-thirty this morning. Coincidentally, I was lying half-awake in bed trying to motivate myself to get out of bed and clean up the cat yak that I was pretty sure I just heard Boo leave on the floor right next to me. Half of me wanted to leave it until morning; the other half didn’t want to step in it when I inevitably forgot it was there. The doorbell put a stop to this little internal argument.

B’s voice from the other side of the bed: “What the hell?” My thoughts exactly.

I tumbled out of bed and made my way to the bedroom door, somehow without stepping in any barf, where I could look out the the living room window and see Tim’s car in the driveway. Tim didn’t visit last night so there’s no reason he should have left his car there. After crossing the living room and peeking out the windows of the front door, I could see Tim standing on our front stoop. At three-thirty in the morning. He smiled and waved at me.

I opened the door. “Hi, Tim,” I said, as if there were nothing unusual at all about finding him at our door at three-thirty.  “What’s up?”

He said something like this: “Sorry to wake you, but I wanted to know if you thought I was overreacting before I went to the emergency room.” He went on to tell us he woke up about midnight after a dream that involved punching the wall. His right hand was throbbing in pain and he wasn’t able to move his pinkie or ring finger much; he could move the other fingers, but it hurt when he did that, so he tried not to move any of them at all, holding his hand at waist level, away from his side.

After a bit more discussion about what might possibly be wrong with his hand, I threw on some clothes and drove him to the emergency room. The closest one is on the northeast side of town, almost all the way to Sun Prairie. It’s part of a huge complex of very hospitally-looking buildings we had to drive through on winding roads to get to the ER. The route was pretty clearly signed, by the way, an observation borne out by the fact that we found it thought it was dark and we were half-awake and it was four in the morning. I hope I never have to go there again but, if I do, I’m somewhat comforted by the knowledge it’s easy to find.

A receptionist and a bored-looking security guard were alone at a desk in the lobby. There were no other people around. The receptionist perked up when we walked in, but the security guard kept on surfing the internet without looking up at us. Tim gave the receptionist his medical card and after checking him in, she invited us to wait in the lobby. Our butts barely touched the seats before a nurse called Tim’s name and lead us both back to an examination room. Points for prompt service.

After asking Tim what was wrong, probably to make sure his injuries weren’t life-threatening, the nurse asked him a lot of questions like date of birth, phone number and so on, while another nurse took his vitals. Then she asked him to tell her how he hurt his hand. Tim repeated his story about dreaming he punched a wall, obviously feeling a little silly about it. After she got everything into the computer she said the doctor would be with us shortly and left the room.

We were on our own for maybe five minutes until a doctor showed up, made Tim repeat his story again, and briefly examined his hand. He wanted to x-ray it to make a proper diagnosis and also wanted to get some ice on it and some pain killers into Tim. A couple minutes after he left, the nurse came back with an icepack and a couple capsules for Tim to wash down with some bottled water.  An odd thought struck me: that bottled water is going to be on the bill, and I’ll bet it’s going to cost something like three hundred dollars.

A tech came in after that with an x-ray cart. This is some pretty cool tech. They don’t use film any longer. Tim rested his hand on what looked like a computer tablet, except where the screen should have been, there was what looked like a blank grey slate. The tech aimed the x-ray emitter and stepped back, thumbing the fob to trip the emitter. Each time she did, Tim’s bony hand appeared on a screen on the x-ray cart. When she had all the pictures she needed, she bent over the cart to tap a couple of buttons, uploading the pictures to Tim’s record. From there, any radiologist in town could review them by logging into the network. Pretty awesome.

After ten or maybe fifteen minutes at the most, the doctor came back to let Tim know the fifth metacarpal, the bone in the hand under the pinkie, was fractured but not displaced, by which I guess he meant its jagged ends weren’t sticking out through his skin or something ghastly like that. He put a splint on it with some more pretty cool tech: a white slab of plasticky stuff he soaked in water, then formed around Tim’s hand and forearm and held in place with ace bandage until it set. It hardened after a few minutes, making a split that was molded in the shape of Tim’s hand. Cool! (Probable cost: Ten Thousand Dollars.)

I was texting B the whole time because I knew she was sitting up waiting for me to feed her updates. When I told her Tim had a fracture, she texted: “Is it the fifth metacarpal?”  After freaking out just a tiny bit, I texted back, “How the hell did you know that?” She answered: “5th metacarpal is consistent w/punching injury.  AKA ‘boxer’s fracture.’  Did I forget to tell you I went to med school? Or do I just google well?”  And she included a link to the medical web site she reads when she wants to scare herself.

Tim’s got to call the hospital on Friday to schedule an appointment to get a cast put on; after that, then it’ll take six to eight weeks to heal properly, after which they’ll probably want to examine it again, just to run his bill up a bit more. Meanwhile he’ll have to learn to do everything not only one-handed, but with his non-dominant hand, not so easy for a guy whose work is done mostly on a computer.

broken | 11:20 am CST
Category: O'Folks, sleeplessness, T-Dawg
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Friday, May 20th, 2016

I have this vague memory of sleeping until five o’clock in the morning. I know it happens every once in a great while. I think it may have happened as recently as last week, or maybe it was two weeks ago, but for the life of me I just can’t remember what it was like. Odd.

I went to bed at ten last night after a very good dinner and an evening spent singing along with songs from the musical Hamilton. I was in bed by ten, willed myself to stay awake long enough to read a few pages of Bill Bryson’s latest book before my eyelids started slamming shut, then turned the lights out and settled into blissful sleep. That lasted all of for hours when the n-cat began to stir.

All he did at first was rearrange himself, and My Darling B managed to shush him for a little while, but soon he wanted to groom, and he wanted to do it right next to my head. When I signaled I’d had enough of that by poking him in his side with my elbow, he inched down a bit toward my hip, then resumed bathing himself. This went on for fucking ever, seemingly.

I ended that by getting up to go to the bathroom and making sure that, when I came back, I gave him a good, solid butt-shove. He got the message, dismounted the bed and left the room.

Next up, The Boo, who waited just long enough for me to get relaxed again before horking up a hairball. Bowing to the inevitable, I tramped to the kitchen to fetch the roll of paper towels and the spray bottle of vinegar to clean up her mess. And stepped in a bit of it when I came back, trying to navigate through the darkness by the light from my phone.

It was by this time about the o’clock and I was a profoundly unhappy camper, but I figured I had nothing to lose by going back to bed, so I did. Laid there about ten minutes before my nose stayed to bleed. It’s an old injury from that time I was abducted by aliens that comes back to haunt me from time to time. When I could tell it was a pretty heavy bleed that wasn’t going to be sniffed into submission, I rolled out of bed for the umpteenth time and toddled of to the bathroom to stuff some tissues up my nose.

I did not go back to bed after that. What would be the point? Needless to say, the coffee maker is going to be my best friend today.

Sleepless once again | 5:57 am CST
Category: sleeplessness
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Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

I don’t think My Darling B will be getting up any earlier than she has to this morning. Her alarm is usually set for something like five-fifty, and on occasion she will get up ten or twenty minutes earlier just to enjoy my sparkling company and a hot cuppa joe, but sometimes she will hit the snooze alarm repeatedly and get up only when there is barely time left to gulp her coffee before she has to hit the shower. I get the feeling that this morning will be one of those mornings. Last night, while I was on the way to visit the bathroom at an unknown hour because I don’t stop to look at a clock when I already know it’s time to head straight for the head, I noticed her sitting up on the sofa, reading a book. I thought about plopping my butt down and commiserating with her when I was done but I still felt drowsy and I didn’t want to break the spell, so back to bed. In our house we take our insomnia in shifts; sometimes I have the late shift, and sometimes she does.

shiftwork | 5:46 am CST
Category: sleeplessness
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Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

They said the days would get longer. Why is it still dark outside? Why aren’t the days getting longer? WHAT THE HELL?

Sorry. I’ve been up half the night. I’ll probably be a little grumpy today.

Also: I’m ready for it to stop raining. It’s been raining since November. I could stand a little less rain.

longer | 5:28 am CST
Category: random idiocy, sleeplessness
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Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Sat down in the recliner, caught up on the day’s news (Ferguson in flames, university frat houses chock full o’ rapists; I don’t know how you feel about it, but sometimes I think it’d almost be a relief to go back to the days of the cold war and have nuclear Armageddon hanging over our heads every day). Then I read a few blog posts. And then I did the crossword. Annnd now I’m not feeling even the teensiest bit tired. Whoo man. Gonna be a long night, I can feel it. Gonna be an even longer day tomorrow, too.

snxxx | 9:21 pm CST
Category: current events, sleeplessness
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Sean is flying in tonight to stay with us for Thanksgiving. His plane will be landing some time around eleven o’clock, which means B won’t bring him home from the airport until maybe around midnight, which means I probably won’t see him because I woke up shortly after three o’clock this morning and haven’t gotten any sleep since then. I can barely keep my eyes open to type these words. When I’m done here, I’ll stretch out on the recliner with a book, will probably fall asleep after re-reading the same page a dozen times and won’t wake up until My Darling B emerges from the bedroom where she’s trying to catch a few winks because she woke up at about the same time I did. We’re mutually insomniac now.

If I wake up when she gets up, I’ll switch places with her, curl up under the quilts and try to sleep at least another two or three hours, maybe even as many as four. Or, I may lie awake for an hour or so until they get home, say what the hell and go talk to Sean for a while, then crawl off to bed when they all call it quits and lie awake for the rest of the night because that’s how my nights have been going lately. Just before the sun comes up, B will take me to work, where I’ll drink forty-two cups of tea made from PG Tips tea bags, because there’s no other tea on the planet as dark and strongly fortified with caffeine as PG Tips. Or I’ll just say screw it and fall asleep on my keyboard. Let you know tomorrow.

face dive | 7:17 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, sleeplessness
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Just for the record, yesterday we had the first SUPER MASSIVE SNOW STORM OF THE YEAR that everybody talked about as if it was the end of the world, and when we went out to our car at the end of the work day, it turned out there was maybe an inch or two of accumulation and some ice to scrape off the car. How is it that, every year, everybody forgets what winter was like? We live in Wisconsin! Snow is the default setting here!

I shoveled the driveway this morning, also for the first time this year, also just for the record. I didn’t really have to; our car could have easily driven right over it, but I was insomniac and figured, what the hell, I need some cardio anyway.

In other news …

super massive snow storm | 6:07 am CST
Category: sleeplessness, weather | Tags: ,
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Friday, November 7th, 2014

Ugh, I’ve been up half the night because of a recurring dream in which I’m interviewing witnesses for a court case, which wouldn’t be so bad if it was an interesting case, but it was about something so boring and stupid that I don’t even remember what it was. Every time I woke up I would think, Jesus Christ, that was like a bad day at work, and then I’d lie awake obsessing over every detail, just like when my mind gets spinning about something at work, until I dozed off and had the dream again, except this time with another witness in another place, usually pretty weird. I interviewed one of them while I was sitting on a chair just outside their barely-opened bathroom door while they were having a squat. Even that was dull. If being a paralegal is anything like that, I’m glad I’m not one of them, that’s all I’ve got to say.

witness for the boredom | 4:32 am CST
Category: daily drivel, dreams, sleeplessness
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Sunday, April 13th, 2014

We had a visit from the axe murderer the other night. We were both very sure he was there. He creeps into our house every so often with his double-bladed war axe that drips with the blood of his victims, at least one of which he killed just minutes before he broke into our little red house, and he tiptoes across the floor silent as a cat until he bumps into an end table, or knocks a book off a shelf, or steps on that creaky floorboard in front of the closet, waking us up. Then he melts into the shadows and waits for us to fall asleep again, because the axe murderer will kill you only if you fall asleep. If we lie awake and stare at the bedroom doorway, he won’t kill us. It’s a physical law, like gravity.

A couple books fell off the dresser in the guest room and landed face-down on the floor (I discovered the next morning), making a sound like a gunshot that woke me with a jump from deep within a dream. When I realized it was dark I was puzzled, because the first thought that went through my head was that My Darling B must have knocked over a book by her bedside. She’s got a couple dozen going at once, most standing on edge on the floor, and they make that noise when she reaches for them and knocks one or two over. But it was dark, as I said, and she was lying absolutely still beside me, holding her breath, because, you know, the monsters can’t see you if you hold your breath and don’t move. You’re invisible.

I broke the spell by blurting out, “What was that?”

“Did you hear it, too?” she asked.


“That noise. I thought I dreamed it.”

“I thought you knocked over a book.”

“No, I was asleep.”

We laid there a minute or two longer. Neither one of us had mentioned the axe murderer, but we were both waiting for something like the bedroom door to swing shut, revealing his hiding spot and trapping us within what would be known afterwards as The Scene Of The Crime.

“I’m going to see what it was,” I said, and snapped on my bedside light.

I walked all through the house but couldn’t find anything that looked like it had fallen, so I went back to bed without an explanation. That’s bad. If I’d found a book on the floor, never mind how it got there, it would explain the noise. Not finding the book meant the axe murderer was still in the house.

“Find anything?” B asked hopefully.

“Nope, couldn’t find a thing,” I said as nonchalantly as I could. “I’m sure it was just a book falling. Couldn’t have been anything else.” 

But we both knew otherwise, because we both laid there wide-awake for at least an hour, waiting for the axe to fall. When it didn’t, I fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion. B did, too, and I expect she woke up suddenly just as I did when she knew she was asleep. But neither one of us was killed in our sleep, so that meant the axe murderer must have left. He does that, too: Tiptoes out of the house when we ruin his evil plan by waking up and talking out loud.

a visit from the axe murderer | 7:53 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy, sleeplessness, story time
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Saturday, January 4th, 2014

For two hours this morning I played tag with Bonkers the cat, who thinks I have been put on this earth for just two reasons: To feed him, and to provide him with a warm lap that he may curl up on for hours and hours. Whoops! Three things: And, to scratch his ears. He probably thinks all the other things I do with him – bathe him, squirt him in the face with the spray bottle, take him to the vet to have a thermometer inserted in his anus – are the result of some perverted corruption of the physical laws of the universe that he hasn’t figured out yet.

Another speed bump in his understanding of the big picture is the concept of the weekend. I don’t expect that he’ll ever figure this out, but I do expect him to realize that, when I don’t get out of bed promptly at five in the morning, he should keep his mouth shut about it. Sometimes he does. This morning, he didn’t.

I’m not a total asshole about this. I realize that his brain, already the size of a walnut, was probably damaged when his head collapsed two years ago. Even so, he’s retained enough useful brain cells to know when it’s five o’clock, the time I usually get out of bed and, shortly after that, put food in his dish. So whenever I feel I might get a good trade-off, a little peace and quiet in exchange for tramping to the kitchen in the dark, I get out of bed at five on weekends, spoon a lump of brown cat chow into his bowl and go back to bed. Sometimes that works. This morning, it didn’t.

For reasons that The Google is unable or unwilling to reveal to me, Bonk needs to tell the world when he’s done eating by parading through the house, howling loudly. Usually takes about thirty seconds, then he’s done. I give him a pass on that. It’s his nature. Then he licks his paws until they’re soaking wet because he’s still drooling from the food. He’s had trouble swallowing since The Great Head Collapsing Of 2013. He apparenly doesn’t like having paws that are soaking wet because he continues to lick them until they’re as near to dry as he can make them, which takes fifteen to twenty minutes. In warm weather, he’ll do this in the hallway, but in the winter he’ll park his butt next to the hot air register right next to my side of the bed to noisily lick himself. On mornings when I can’t ignore that, I urge him to find another place to do that by zapping him with the spray bottle I keep by my nightstand to communicate my desires.

After paw-cleaning time, he either settles down and has a nap, or he decides he’s hungry again. If he decides he’s hungry again, he’ll ask for more not with a full-blown meow or by talking like a cat at all, but by saying, “heh” very quietly, waiting about thirty seconds, then repeating “heh” again and waiting another thirty seconds before saying “heh” yet again, and so on. He does that maybe a half-dozen times before adding a sad little whine to it that dips at the end, “Hehhh.” There are some mornings when I can ignore the “heh” and keep on dozing, but the “Hehhh” is just whiny and pathetic enough that I can’t snooze through it. And he seems to know that. He will keep on whining until I either feed him or drop a piano on his head. Or squirt him in the face. Today, I squirted him in the face. Always takes him by surprise the first time. He fully expects that, when I swing my legs over the side of the bed, I’m getting up in order to feed him again, so he comes trotting up to sit at my feet. He doesn’t even seem to notice that I have the spray bottle in my hand until he gets a face full of cold water.

After he slinks off to his hiding place, I have maybe twenty or thirty minutes to doze until he feels bold enough to come out and say “heh” again. I don’t get why he thinks he’s going to get away with that after he’s been warned, but in all the variations of this game, he has never quit after the first shot in the face. When I roll out of bed the second time, though, he’s not stupid enough to come trotting up to my feet. He usually backs off to a corner where he thinks I can’t see him. Sometimes this even works, but this morning there was just enough pre-dawn light to see him cowering there, and he got shot right between the eyes again, sending him out of the room at a trot.

When Boo and I play this game, by the way, she always retreats silently to the darkest corner of the room and tucks her chin into her chest to hide the white bib of fur on her neck. The rest of her pelt is a uniform color of gray that blends in perfectly with even the pre-dawn light, making her nearly invisible and frustrating all my attempts to target her until I started keeping my smartphone on my bedstand to use as an alarm clock. The first time I swept the room with the light from its screen and stopped with it pointing it straight at her, she was so surprised that I had enough time to get off two or three quick squirts that nailed her before she sprang out of the room. They can find me when I’m lost, they can find my cat when it’s hiding in the dark – is there nothing a smart phone can’t do? I’ll let you know when I find out.

The third time Bonkers comes back to say “heh” again, he hardly enters the room. This morning he sat about two steps inside the doorway to whine, and when I climbed out of bed he ran off to his hiding spot, under the stool in the hallway. I say it’s a hiding spot because I believe he has the mistaken impression that I can’t see him when he’s sitting there. Either that, or he thinks it will magically protect him. Whatever his belief, it’s wrong. I don’t even have to aim much, I just indiscriminately spray two or three shots under the stool and he comes bolting out.

If we continue to play this game, he will always run to his hiding place, so it’s not much fun for me any more. I don’t know why it doesn’t occur to him to find another hidey-hole, but it doesn’t. He must think there’s some powerful juju there and it’s gonna kick in at any moment, even though he gets sprayed every time he goes there to hide out. I didn’t continue the game past the third squirting this morning because by then it was seven o’clock, time for me to get up and make coffee, but not to feed Bonkers. He had to wait until the coffee was on.

tag | 8:24 am CST
Category: Bonkers, daily drivel, O'Folks, sleeplessness
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Monday, November 4th, 2013

I don’t know what I did to wrench my back, but whatever I did to it, it’s still pretty mad at me.

I crawled into bed early last night, around eight-thirty, because my back felt best when I was lying flat on it. Sitting up, even in the recliner, was not making it feel better at all. Then when I got out of the recliner I’d have to do a couple deep-knee bends, touch my toes & etc just to restore enough flexibility to my frame to allow me to walk across the room.

Bending over isn’t really the problem. Well, it’s a problem, but it’s always been a problem. I’m one of those people who hasn’t ever been able to touch his toes. I can reach about as far as my shins and that’s it. And even now, my back doesn’t have a problem with that. It’s when I start to bend at the waist that my lower back goes, Whoa! Not so fast there, buster! If I’m standing up straight or I’m bent over, I’m okay, but if my shoulders are just a little bit too far in front of my hips, Ouch!

Much better this morning. I can walk across the room without warming up for it, although I had some trouble putting on my pants.

Pass the Advil.

brokeback | 5:30 am CST
Category: daily drivel, sleeplessness
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Friday, September 20th, 2013

I woke up out of a sound sleep, rolled over to see what time it was, got out of bed because it was five o’clock, the time I normally feed the cats, thinking that I’ll just put a dollop of food in their dishes, then go back to bed. I thought it was Saturday. I continued to think it was Saturday as I stumbled back to the bedroom after feeding the cats, and went drifting off to sleep thinking about all the goofing around I was going to do today. And then I remembered the things I really was going to do today – interview about a dozen people to fill a vacancy, put out a couple of fires, talk to customers who wanted to speak to a supervisor right now, etc etc etc – and my eyes snapped open again. And I got out of bed to take a shower and face the day.

Man, I hate it when that happens.

misfire | 5:47 am CST
Category: daily drivel, office work, sleeplessness, work
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Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Bonkers the Pirate CatA small mammal ran through the rain gutter at about three o’clock this morning. I assume it was a mammal, anyway. Wasn’t a lizard. Could’ve been a bird, I suppose, but it ran awfully fast when it hit the corner of the house like a bomb, rolled into the gutter and ran all the way down to the other end. Squirrel was the first thing I thought of.

Then the air conditioning kicked in and I laid there listening to the duct work pop and moan as it contracted in the rush of cold air coming up the main trunk. It ran for about five minutes. More groaning duct work as it slowly warmed up again to room temperature.

The clock on the wall above my bedside bookcase ticked. It ticks every other second. I counted.

I grabbed the copy of A Mencken Chrestomathy off the bookcase as I rolled out of bed at three-thirty and headed for the recliner in the living room. Snapping the light on woke Bonkers, who had been asleep on the sofa. He got up and stretched as I opened the book at the marker and started reading, and he slowly made his way across the room while I got through a couple paragraphs of some of the most bitingly sarcastic writing ever composed.

I sat reading until about four-thirty, first Mencken, then blogs until I felt drowsy enough to try hitting the hay once again, feeling my way through the murk while Bonkers followed behind. Stretched out on the bed, I was slowly drifting off to sleep when Bonkers discovered there was a mouse in the room, chased it under a piece of furniture and crouched there, snorfling furiously at it for at least fifteen minutes. I didn’t bother getting up to investigate. Let him catch it, I figured.

The sniffing subsided and there was relative calm for maybe fifteen or twenty minutes. I think I dozed off. Then the mouse made a move to escape, Bonkers gave chase and the furious snorfling began again after he trapped it under another immovable piece of furniture. He tried to squeeze under it but I don’t think he could. Much more huffing and puffing, then silence.

I dozed …

At about five-thirty, the mouse finally bet it all and ran for freedom, with Bonkers the Pirate Cat (his full name) in hot pursuit. Judging from the sounds of struggle, followed by a rough-and-tumble that could only have been made by a cat geeking out over a new plaything, the mouse lost the bet.

I gave up trying to get back to sleep at six, even though the house stopped creaking, the cats settled down and my brain gave up nagging me with random thoughts. Make the coffee, drink the coffee, be the coffee and ye shall get through the morning. There’s always nap-time at midday.

surrender | 6:40 am CST
Category: daily drivel, sleeplessness
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Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

I’m gonna go to bed now, and any cats who wake me up at three in the morning, I’m gonna eat em. I’m not even gonna stop to skin em. Just eat em like apples.

midnight snack | 8:31 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, sleeplessness
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Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

I’m up in the middle of the night because I can’t stop thinking about work. Is there a worst-case case of insomnia worse than that? No. No, there’s not. You can’t make me believe there is. I won’t listen.

When I woke up, I promised myself I wasn’t going to look at the clock. This is really very easy for me to do because the first thing I did when I bought that clock was tape a flap of cardboard over the face. It’s got one of those green LED readouts that’s way too bright and there’s no way to dim it. I don’t know why they even make clocks like that. I guess because some people can sleep with bright green lights blazing on them all night long. Some people can, but not me.

To check the time, I have to roll all the way over to the side of the bed, reach my bare arm out from the warmth and comfort of the quilt, feel around on top of the nightstand for the clock, find the flap and flip it out of the way. It’s so insanely complicated for poor little somnolent me to do in the middle of the night that I practically never do it.

And I didn’t tonight, either, at least not right away. I laid there wide-awake for more than a half-hour before I checked. I know it was at least a half-hour because I heard the clock in the living room chime once. That really bugged me, because I was pretty sure it was after one o’clock, but then I had to know, so I flipped up the flap. One-thirty. So I was right, but the answer sucked.

To take my mind off work I cuddled up beside My Darling B and tried to think only happy thoughts, which is not surprisingly very easy to do with my arm wrapped around the love of my life. Then I would begin to drift off to sleep, my mind would wander, and I’d end up thinking about work again. I could put up with that only two or three times before I finally called it quits and got out of bed.

So it’s going to be a coffee day, all day long. Coffee coffee coffee.

worse worser worsest | 3:00 am CST
Category: daily drivel, sleeplessness
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Monday, April 22nd, 2013

One o’clock wakey-wakey this morning. Cats were prowling around, so that might have had something to do with it. For a few minutes, their mad scramble around the house sounded a lot like they were chasing down a mouse, so I stumbled around for a while looking for the corpse but found nothing. When I went back to bed, though, I couldn’t make myself fall all the way back to sleep, so I had to be satisfied with dozing occasionally until the alarm started to bleep, which wasn’t very satisfying at all. Many, many cups of tea got me through the day until an early bed time and sweet slumber.

up and at em | 6:06 am CST
Category: daily drivel, sleeplessness
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Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Is there a movie in which Jack Nicholson gets his head sawn off? Because I just had a dream that was an extended movie trailer for the sequel. In the original movie, Jack got his head sawn off while performing some rather questionable services. He appeared to be hiding under a pile of wet leaves that were heaped up in the back of a panel van, and Javier Bardem dragged him headfirst out of the pile of leaves and sawed his head off with a Bowie knife.

I guess that’s technically more cutting than sawing, but it was still pretty gruesome. You can trust me on that.

So that’s the setup. The movie trailer that was playing in my dreams was about a kid – he looked like Shia LaBeouf – who hatches a plan to go back in time, get Jack Nicholson’s head out of the trailer and reattach it to Jack’s shoulders so Jack can do really scary things to Javier. The kid slips up when he goes back, though, and Javier catches on to the plan. There follow lots of scenes Shia running down dark, rainy streets carrying Jack’s head in a plastic bag with Javier and his foot-long Bowie knife in hot pursuit. Eventually, though, Jack gets his revenge in the scariest, most Nicholsonian way imaginable, with Jack howling at Javier as blood spatters and things go squish. And that’s why I can’t go back to sleep now.

I’m pretty sure I could get rich as Rockefeller if I could get that movie made, or even the original movie that ended with Jack getting his head sawn off. Or both. Now, if only I knew how to make a movie.

Any ideas on how to plug the obvious plot hole that would keep viewers from asking why Shia doesn’t go just a little further back in time and get Jack out of the van before Javier saws his head off?

headless | 5:04 am CST
Category: daily drivel, entertainment, movies, play, sleeplessness
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Saturday, March 23rd, 2013



if {system-time = x:00 and bladder = full}
wake; do {void-bladder}
while cats=[tripping-hazard]
get [the-food]; feed [the-cats]
return [the-food]
return {sleep}
else {sleep}


Wait, what? No, that can’t happen. I was on autopilot. I must’ve put the cat food back.

Yeah. It’s got to be in the fridge, I just don’t remember it. Yeah. I don’t remember putting it back at all. Dammit. Dammit dammit dammit! Well, I’m not getting up again. I’m staying right here in my nice, warm bed. The cats got what they wanted and, if they’re as smart as they act sometimes, they’ll figure out there’s an open can of cat food on the counter top and take care of the problem for me. I’m not getting out of bed. [Monologue edited for brevity; it goes on for almost an hour. -ed.]

LATER, WHILE I’M MAKING COFFEE: What’s that can of cat food doing there?

error | 9:48 am CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, daily drivel, sleeplessness | Tags:
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Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Let’s see, how does this work? Oh, yeah: Wake up too early, make coffee, cat on my lap, type up some drivel.

Mmmm, coffee. Gone back to making it drip. Still like my coffee gadgets, but drip is the way to go. That’s my official word on that. Take it to the bank. Tell ’em I said so.

Man, this granola is the best thing ever. I buy it in the bulk food section of the co-op. Supposed to be good for you. They sell lots of locally-produced, organically-grown food, but this looks like the kind of stuff that comes from a 55-gallon barrel shipped from China by container ship. Don’t care. Has a nutty, vanilla flavor that is now permanently associated in my brain with granola. All other granola tastes like gravel.

Cat is purring like a diesel engine. He can keep it going for hours, but if he starts to fade all I have to do is stroke his chin and he cranks the volume up to eleven again. He won’t purr for nothing. Got to give him a chin-rub, or at the very least let him climb in my lap. Did you know cats are the reason laps were invented? It’s true. If you have a lap, you need a cat.

wakey-wakey part mcmlxiv | 5:02 am CST
Category: Bonkers, coffee, daily drivel, food & drink, sleeplessness | Tags: ,
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Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Out of bed early again after waking up thinking about work. Man, that sucks.

I don’t get why this happens. It’s my damn brain. I should be able to switch off the part of it that thinks about work. Even if that part of it is tangled up in every other part of my brain, I should be able to separate the parts and say to the stuff from the office, That’s enough now, I’ve had plenty of time to think about that and now I want to think about other stuff.

Oh, I see. You’re not at the office any longer. Forgive me. I shall cease and desist processing any thoughts that have to do with office work. Please enjoy the rest of your day thinking about rainbows and lollypops.

That’s what I should be able to do.

Instead, what happens is this:

*doint!* Oh, hey. I’m awake. Is it time to wake up already? Seems like it’s a little early. Crap! It’s four o’clock! Why am I awake at four o’clock?

Because there’s a million things to do at work and here are just a few of them: blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah …

What? Stop that! I don’t want to think about that now! I want to sleep!

… blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah …

It doesn’t even make sense for me to think about that right now! I can’t do anything about it anyway! I can’t even make notes if I somehow happened to think of something useful!

… blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah …

Cut it out, goddammit! I mean it!

… blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah …

Okay, I’m a human being, not a monkey. I have thumbs and a great big brain. I should be able to concentrate on something else. What should I concentrate on? Counting sheep always works for Bugs Bunny. One sheep. Two sheep. Three sheep. Sheep go baaah. Baaah sounds like blah … blah blah blah blah blah blah blah …

What was I thinking? Counting sheep never worked for Bugs Bunny. That was the whole point of showing him counting sheep! One of them would get stuck in the fence they were jumping over, or turn into Hitler and annex the Sudetenland, or a whole flock of them would collect on the other side of the fence and they’d all start going blah blah blah blah blah blah blah …

Oh, for shit’s sake. Honestly, now. Okay, I’m going to think about something mundane, something that doesn’t have anything to do with work. A banana. A banana is yellow. A banana has a peel. A banana doesn’t taste like any other fruit. A banana comes with those stickers that everybody collects on around the edges of their computer screens. What’s up with that? I can’t walk past a cubicle at work that doesn’t have at least one banana sticker stuck to the frame of the monitor. The boss hates that. I had to send a memo to everyone about the banana stickers. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah …

Kill me. Kill me now.

… blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah …

Oh Come On! It isn’t even interesting! The banana was boring but it was more interesting than making a to-do list of all the work I’ve got at the office! At the very least, I should be able to get my brain stuck on something scandalous happening at the office, instead of the office equivalent of a repetitious pop song!

… blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah …

Sex! Nothing beats sex! I should be able to think about nothing but sex all night long!

… blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah …

Fine. You win. Getting out of bed now.

blah blah blah | 5:06 am CST
Category: daily drivel, office work, sleeplessness, work
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Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

In spite of daylight savings time I was in bed by nine last night and couldn’t keep my eyes open past nine-thirty, so why am I awake at four o’clock this morning? Well, part of it is because we have cats, of course, but it’s also because I woke up gasping for air after my sinuses blocked up. I can’t blame the cats for that.

Wait, why can’t I? I can blame the cats for virtually anything. They’re defenseless! They can’t speak for themselves and there’s no one to speak for them! I can lay blame with impunity! They are guilty! Guilty, guilty, GUILTY! Bwah-hah-hah-hah!

Okay, the cat-blaming’s out of the way.

I made a pot of coffee, fired up the internet and started surfing. Ironically, caffeine turned out to be an unclogger of sinuses. After just a few sips I was able to take deep breaths again without being forced to gasp … and then I had to grab most of the kleenex out of a nearby box to wipe up the torrent of snot that was clogging me up until the caffeine, or something, set it loose. Rarely have I ever been so relieved and so disgusted at the same time.

Although I could finally breathe easy, going back to bed after I’ve had a cup of coffee would be pointless. It was an immutable fact of the universe that I was up for the day. There was no more shuteye in my future, only a shower and some breakfast instead. In the words of Peter Green, Oh Well.

ramblin | 5:03 am CST
Category: coffee, daily drivel, food & drink, sleeplessness | Tags: ,
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Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Among the things I will not be doing this morning is shoveling the driveway, even though I set my alarm clock to go bleepity-bleep-bleep a half-hour earlier than usual because the all-knowing National Weather Service said there was supposed to be somewhere between five and twelve inches of snow on the ground this morning. The driveway’s on the ground. So is our car. And when our car is separated from the driveway by twelve inches of snow, it doesn’t take us to work in the morning.

That’s why I gave myself an extra half-hour to shovel it all off this morning. It was a brilliant plan, except that, when I peered blearily out the window at the driveway this morning, there was no more snow on it or the rest of the ground than there was when I went to bed last night. Relieved, I went back to bed, reset my clock and burrowed into the bedcovers, where I laid for five blissful minutes until the cats began to dance on my head.

forecast | 5:30 am CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, daily drivel, O'Folks, sleeplessness, work | Tags: , , ,
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Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

I was awake much of the night.

First, it was because I had to pee. I can usually do that in my sleep: Get out of bed, totter in the direction of the bathroom, pull down my pants, squat (so I don’t have to turn the lights on), fall asleep as I get the deed done, and some time afterward wake up and totter back toward the bedroom. Sometimes I wake up only for the part that requires me to get out of bed, and do the rest on autopilot. This time, though, I went back to bed fully realizing that I was wide awake, but I was determined to crawl back under the covers and shut my eyes anyway. Didn’t work, because …

Bonkers the pirate cat heard me get up, followed me into the bathroom (maybe the little perv wanted to watch, I dunno), then followed me back to the bedroom and jumped into bed with us. But apparently not to sleep. Almost immediately, he began a cat bath that went on for the better part of an hour and was so noisily wet that I wanted to kick him, and would have if My Darling B hadn’t been lying between me and the Bonk. Alternatively, I’d have happily helped him out with his bath by hosing him down, but there’s no hose handily available in the bedroom. I’ll have to look into getting that fixed one of these days, I suppose.

wakey wakey part xvi | 9:34 am CST
Category: Bonkers, daily drivel, O'Folks, sleeplessness | Tags:
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Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

It’s four-thirty in the morning, and it’s time for some coffee, because what else are you going to do if you’re awake at four-thirty in the morning besides make coffee? Everything else in the day comes later. When it’s that early, coffee’s the only thing that matters.

Why am I out of bed at four-thirty in the morning? It was the cats again, natch. Nuff said about that.

I’m pretty sure My Darling B is lying awake in bed as I type these words. She’s much more stubborn than I am, although, if I may say so without sounding like I’m bragging, I was being pretty darned stubborn myself. It was two o’clock when I unceremoniously threw both cats out of the bedroom for violating the No Rambunctious Cats rule, and although I managed to doze off once or twice since then, I was never asleep long enough not to notice that B was tossing and turning in the darkness as well. By four o’clock I’d had enough of that — my own tossing and turning, I mean, not hers — and, grabbing the copy of Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters resting on my bedside table, I rolled out of bed and headed for the kitchen.

I’m using an old Sunbeam percolator to make coffee these days. About a week ago, while tending to my morning duties as the coffee steward of Our Humble O’Bode, I found that I’d let myself run out of paper filters for the pourover cone I customarily use. Whereas in any other house this would be a disaster, in our house it’s an opportunity for me to head for the basement vault and bring an antiquated coffee maker out of retirement.

I love antique coffee makers. Part of this passion is the neurotic result of my hoarding instinct: Humankind has devised so many various and unusual ways to make coffee, and I compulsively want to possess an example of each one of them. If I didn’t check my impulse to hoard coffee makers the way I hoard typewriters, we’d be tripping over them by now.

The biggest part of my love for coffee makers, though, comes from the sheer joy of rediscovering all those various and unusual ways of brewing a hot pot o’ joe. Whenever I end up wandering through the wreckage of a garage sale, I keep an eye open for vessels that appear to have no modern equivalent to any stove-top kitchen appliance in my experience. I don’t know how many times I’ve popped the lid off an innocent-looking jug and found plumbing inside that could only have meant it was made to brew coffee.

Finding the Sunbeam was like that, even though I had my suspicions almost from the moment I spotted what at first glance appeared to be a glass pitcher from across the room. As I closed in on it I could see that the glass body of the pitcher was mounted on a base made of Bakelite, and extricating it from the rest of the jetsam surrounding it on the shelf revealed a sleek Bakelite handle styled in space-age contours.

What seemed odd, at first, about this particular glass pitcher was that someone had incongruously left the basket of a coffee percolator inside it. It wouldn’t be out of the question, given the accumulation of detritus that crowded the shelves of that particular resale shop, to suppose that a passing customer jumbled together two so disparate kitchen items, but that turned out not to be the case. There was a hole in the bottom of the pitcher to stand the stem of the basket in, and a receptacle in the Bakelite base to plug in an electric cord. I’d never seen a glass-walled percolator before and was so wowed by it that I would’ve bought it even if it hadn’t been tagged at only five dollars. It’s almost embarrassing to admit how long I can stand beside it in the kitchen watching the coffee perk. I’ve done it before, and I did it again just this morning. What else was there to do?

With a freshly-brewed cup of mud on the armrest beside me, I curled up on the sofa and read several dozen pages of Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters, while slowly sipping. When I finally felt as though I had the energy to do it, I picked up my laptop, carefully bookmarking Salinger and setting it to one side.

Our Humble O’Bode has been internetless since Sunday morning, when I discovered that the router box was ticking like a time bomb, and that all the green status lights on its face had gone out, replaced by a single red light. I unplugged it from the wall and plugged it back in, but the classic dodge of cycling power that usually fixes other computerized junk only made this problem worse, if it’s possible to make a broken router any more broken. In this case, the slow ticking noise it had been making accelerated from a slow waltz to a crazy-fast Irish jig. The red light was still on, and it still didn’t work, so I’m not sure it was any more broken than it was before I attempted the power cycle, but it was a lot more emphatic about being broken. Just to make sure, I unplugged it again and left it unplugged for about five minutes. When I restored power this time, the ticking was a nerve-racking buzz. I didn’t want to find out what hellish noise it would make if I tried another power cycle, so when I unplugged it a third time, it stayed unplugged.

So what have we been doing without the internet? Well, I nearly finished The New York Times’ Sunday crossword puzzle, just for starters. I can’t remember the last time I had the patience, much less the time to attempt that. It took just about all Sunday afternoon, but I’m still rather proud, if only because I twigged to the theme of the puzzle, “Last Name First,” when I figured out that “Item on a steel worker’s agenda” was “Weld Tuesday.” I solved two more like that before I got stuck on “Smarmy preprandial blessing.” It ended with “grace” but I couldn’t think of anybody with a last name that might also mean “smarmy.” My Darling B was sure it must be Grace Slick, but if “slick” is a synonym for “smarmy” it’s a meaning I’ve never encountered. Neither one of us could get any of the words that crossed through “slick” to check if it fit, so it remains an wild-ass guess, as far as I’m concerned. She’s still dead certain.

I so desperately wanted to know which Grace it was that the first thing I turned to when I got the next day’s issue of the Times was the answer to the previous day’s puzzle. Only it wasn’t. It was the answers to Friday’s puzzle. This must be a new meaning to the word “previous” that I wasn’t aware of up to now. I didn’t know until I could look it up on Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle this morning that My Darling B was RIGHT! Mea Culpa, B. I will never doubt you again.

Although I began this missive at four o’clock this morning, if a text of over fifteen hundred words can be called a missive (it can: I’m giddy with pleasure at being able to google anything again), it’s eight o’clock as I finish this up in a coffee shop on Washington Avenue, where they offer free wifi and there is an electrical outlet within arm’s reach of ever table. (The battery in my laptop went to fuel cell hell many moons ago.) The date is 12/12/12, which the state legislature has officially proclaimed “Aaron Rodgers Day” because what else have our state lawmakers got to do in these times of plenty and peace, right? Oh, dammit, did I leave my soap box at home? Okay, forget I said that.

Aaron Rodgers may have an official day proclaimed by the law of the land, but was he born on the twelfth day of December, so that his birthday falls on 12/12/12 this year? Well, I don’t know. But I doubt it. I can tell you who does, though, and was relaxing at the very moment he typed these last few words in a coffee shop enjoying his day off from work on his birthday. You’ll never have that, Aaron Rodgers.

P.S. I was sitting in the car in the driveway, waiting to drive My Darling B to work and mulling over the things I could spend the day doing, when it occurred to me that Wisconsin state driver’s licenses expire on the birthday of the license holder, and when did I get that thing, anyway? Was it four or five years ago? It would be just perfect, wouldn’t it, if I had to spend an hour or two in line at the DMV waiting to get my license renewed, wouldn’t it?

I dug my license out of my wallet with no small amount of trepidation. Guess which other official document issued by the state of Wisconsin, other than the official proclamation announcing Aaron Rodgers Day, has the date 12/12/12 on it?

up and at ’em | 8:21 am CST
Category: coffee, current events, daily drivel, food & drink, play, sleeplessness
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Saturday, November 24th, 2012

I was up very early this morning. I’m always up very early. I set my alarm for five o’clock when I have to be up on week days but only for backup. I usually wake up before it goes off.

I’m not entirely happy about this. It’s not something I would consider a hidden talent. It’s more like there’s something seriously wrong inside my head to wake me up at that insane hour of the day. My brain clicks on and won’t stop thinking. If it were thinking deep thoughts, like coming up with a plan for world peace, or calculating pi to the trillionth digit, I wouldn’t mind, but it’s usually replaying a line of dialog I heard in a television show, or obsessing over a crossword puzzle clue I couldn’t solve.

Inane mental doodling, is what my brain’s doing. Sometimes I just lie there and let it. The bed’s so warm and comfy that I curl up and promise myself I can go back to sleep if I don’t get up. Mental doodling is what dreams are supposed to be, after all. I should be able to morph those doodles into their sleepy-time equivalent. It never happens.

My plan this morning was to lie there, wide awake, for at least an hour and listen to B breathe in and out, not an unpleasant way to pass the time. It was a good plan, but when I heard one of the cats knocking stuff off the kitchen counter I had to get up to see what was broken.

The cats were both in the kitchen when I turned on the lights and they both slinked under the table very guiltily, but I didn’t find anything broken. Probably they were in the sink, looking for a few tasty morsels to lick off the plates stacked in it. I dished out some food for them. Then, bowing to the inevitable, I made a pot of coffee. So much for the comfy bed.

wakey wakey | 7:35 am CST
Category: daily drivel, sleeplessness
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Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Seems like I am just not going to be awake today. Funky weird sleep last night, kept waking up, would lay awake for at least one gong of the clock in the front room, then fall into dreamless sleep only to wake up again.

The common factor seemed to be a bubble of gas big enough to light all the homes in Cincinnati, if it were properly harnessed. And that, my friends, is the first time I’ve ever spelled “Cincinnati” right without looking it up. Let’s make it The Word Of The Day.

Lucky for me there’s coffee. Lovely, lovely coffee, hot and chocolaty. There’s some in front of me right now. And there will have to continue to be some in front of me all day. Think of me when you quaff a cuppa joe on your break today.

gonna coffee all day | 5:52 am CST
Category: coffee, daily drivel, food & drink, play, sleeplessness
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Thursday, July 12th, 2012

I’m wide awake, and I don’t know why. Well, I sort of know why. I think it might have something to do with the air conditioning running all night. It doesn’t usually bother me but after two o’clock last night I woke up every freaking time it kicked in until I got up at three and turned it off, but by that time it was too late. I was already wide awake. Laid in bed for another thirty minutes but didn’t feel the least bit sleepy.

Also, I was passing a lot of gas. I don’t know what I ate or drank that made me so gassy but there I was, tooting like a foghorn. Fun fact about me: Farting wakes me up. Really. I have to wake up to do it. I’m pretty sure My Darling B will disagree with me on that one, because she thinks I’m asleep when I’m gassing her out of the room. If only she knew. Mwa-hah-hah-hah!

So, not being able to sleep, I got up and brewed a pot of coffee. Seemed like the sensible thing to do. If you’ve got to be up, you might as well be as up as you can get, right? I’ve been brewing some kick-ass coffee lately, by the way. My Darling B bought me a sack of dark-roasted coffee beans as a present for going through with my colonoscopy because that’s just how kind and considerate she is. She doesn’t like dark-roasted, but I’ve been mixing them half-and-half with lightly roasted beans to moderate the dark stuff and the joe’s been coming out just great! I could drink it all day. My eyes would be fluttering and I probably wouldn’t make any sense when I talked, but I really could drink it all day if the side effects weren’t a consideration.

And then I fed the cats. They were crowding around my feet to get me to feed them. How tripping me so I’ll fall and break my face gets them fed is one of those mysteries of the universe that may never be solved.

tripped | 4:35 am CST
Category: coffee, daily drivel, Farts & Farting, food & drink, play, sleeplessness
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Monday, April 25th, 2011

Thoughts that went through my head at 4:30 a.m. after the cat woke me up from a sound sleep by dancing across the bed several times:

Obviously, the first thought was, Aww, dammit! What time is it? Feeling around the top of my bedside bookstand, my fingers found the flap that covers the bright green clock face, lifted it up and read the time, which led to the next thought:

Angel of God, prithee smite mine cat with thy rod and thy staff, repeatedly, until she pesters me no more, amen. In the absence of any smiting I got out of bed to confirm that the robot feeding dishes were full, because nothing’s going to stop Boo from keeping me awake if she doesn’t have her morning kibble. And a good thing I got up, because the tiny little mind of the robot feeding dish thought it was supposed to feed the cat at five o’clock instead of four, the time I originally programmed it to burp up more food. I gave it a manual burp and made a mental note to figure that one out later.

That done, I went back to bed. Three to five minutes later, Boo came back to bed, too, and sat down heavily right between my shoulder blades. Angel of God …

That was at about four-forty. My clock starts bleeping at five. I don’t know what you’re like, but I can’t get much sleeping done in twenty minutes, so I start thinking about stuff, like:

I wonder if it’s raining this morning? I was thinking of biking to work if it wasn’t raining. There was rain in the forecast, but only in the afternoon or evening. I’m only worried about the morning. If it rains on the way home, no big deal, but if it rains on the way to work, I have to sit in soggy clothes all day. Bleh.

I don’t hear water running through the downspout. It could be frozen. It’s not likely, but this is Wisconsin, after all. The guy who announces the weather on the radio in the mornings is still using the word “snow” in his forecast. I think he’s even enjoying it now. He pauses, just for half a beat, to get the right dramatic effect before he says “snow” and there’s a little frisson of glee in his voice as he says it, usually with an exclamation point, like a little kid looking out the window at Christmas. Most other announcers would say it with dread, but not him.

I could stop at the coffee shop if I rode in. Of all the things on your desk first thing in the morning, Is there anything better than a great big thermos full of steaming coffee? Of course there isn’t, don’t even bother to answer that. How do coffee shops make coffee so chocolaty good? I’ve tried all the recommended ways to make good coffee, grinding whole beans, brewing it with a drip cone, and I still can’t make coffee as deliciously yummy as they can at a coffee shop. I suppose that’s why there are coffee shops.

Random | 6:11 am CST
Category: Boo, coffee, commuting, daily drivel, food & drink, O'Folks, play, sleeplessness, work
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Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

I woke at about four o’clock this morning and was at a complete loss to explain the reason for it. I hadn’t had a dream about a bear chasing and eating me, I didn’t have a cramp in my calf strong enough to bend steel, I hadn’t tried to swallow my tongue while snoring. With an hour to go until the alarm clock started having a bleeping fit, I had no idea what had brought me wide-awake … until I heard the sound of a cat moistly cleaning itself. It sounded as if it were inches from my ear.

I sat up in bed. It was inches from my ear! At some time during the night, one of our cats had wormed its way between us and all the way up to a point between our shoulder blades.

Both the cats like to sleep on our bed during the winter months, then go find cooler places to sleep during the warmer seasons. We don’t mind except in a few cases, like when they try to sleep on top of us. That earns either one of them a quick ejection from their comfy spot to the end of the bed or onto the floor. Nobody and nothing gets to sleep on top of me.

And both the cats have tried to mosey on up to the pillow more than once. B thinks that’s kind of cute, but I’m a little funny about having a cat on my pillow. It’s not that I’m worried about them sucking my soul out through my nose. It’s that I don’t want cat hair on my pillow, and keeping cats off it seems to be the easiest and most sure way to guarantee that. Plus, whenever they’re walking on my pillow I’m reminded that, no matter how much time they spend licking their own toes clean, they use the same dainty toes to walk on kitty litter, and that’s something I don’t want to put my head on. Ever.

And I don’t want to wake up at four o’clock in the morning to the sound of a cat licking itself. It’s a great time-saver they’re self-cleaning, and I say this as a guy with enough experience washing dogs that I will pay someone else to do it if I ever have one again. That doesn’t mean I like being in the same room with a cat that’s cleaning itself. It’s such a noisy process. And I don’t want to think about what they’re licking.

So the cat that woke me up this morning – judging from his size and weight, I think it was Bonkers – was rudely grappled and shoved more than halfway down the length of the bed to a less warm spot just behind my knees. And then I rolled myself up in the quilts and tried to go back to sleep, unsuccessfully. Why do we keep cats again?

sleeping arrangements | 7:20 am CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, daily drivel, O'Folks, sleeplessness
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Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

I wasn’t going to get up any earlier than five-thirty this morning to fix coffee for My Darling B, but the cats had an agenda and the first item on it was scheduled at five.

Bonkers jumped into bed first. This is a new tactic. Before this, he would stand at the end of the bed and cry. Now he jumps on our heads and purrs. The crying was so annoying it made my head explode. It’s hard to get mad about the purring. It’s also hard to sleep through. He gets right in our faces and purrs loudly enough to rattle the windows.

Let me modify what I said about sleeping through it: I have a hard time sleeping through it. My Darling B can sleep through an artillery barrage.

And even though her alarm clock is set at quarter till six, she’s been known to hit the snooze button a few times and generally doesn’t roll out of bed until sometime between six and six-fifteen. Hence my desire to wake up no earlier than five-thirty, which would have given me plenty of time to have a steaming pot of coffee waiting on the kitchen counter for her.

That was the plan. Oh well.

the plan | 2:36 pm CST
Category: Bonkers, My Darling B, O'Folks, sleeplessness
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