Saturday, October 7th, 2017

We used to let our cats sleep with us, but after we brought Scooter home from the Dane County Humane Society two Christmases ago, we had to lock them out because Scooter wanted to sleep on our heads.

I don’t like a cat sleeping on my pillow. Anywhere else but my pillow is okay, but for whatever neurotic reason is buried deep in my hind brain, I get squicked out by cats on my pillow. It might have something to do with waking up with a cat butt parked next to my face. Ew.

My Darling B doesn’t mind having a cat on her pillow, but Scooter isn’t satisfied by just curling up on top of her head and going to sleep. He also wants to shove his nose in her ear and purr loudly while kneading the back of her neck with his razor-sharp talons. This, for obvious reasons, does not fly with B.

So we locked him out, which meant that we also had to lock Boo out. I felt bad about that, because she never bothered us. Well, she never bothered me. She usually sleeps curled up next to B’s butt, and I’m okay with that, but B says she’s like a hot-water bottle, and B doesn’t need a hot-water bottle. I’d like that, but I like sleeping under five or six layers of quilts.

The downside of locking Scooter out is that he usually scratches at the door in the middle of the night, whining to be let in. B can sleep through that. I can’t, so I have to lie there, wide awake, until he gives up and goes away, and then I have to lie there a while longer until I fall asleep again, or until the alarm clock starts to bleep, whichever comes first.

So it was either let him in and get squicked out when I woke up and found his butt parked on my pillow, or lock him out and lose an hour or more of sleep a night. Waking up with a cat butt in my face was worse, I figured, so we kept locking him out.

My job required me to hit the road almost every week starting in July. I drive to the farthest reaches of Wisconsin, so far away that I sometimes have to stay there overnight before driving back. When I’m gone overnight, B lets the cats into the bedroom at night, to keep her company. Scooter still climbs up on her pillow at night to knead her neck and give her a wet willie with his cold nose, and Boo still curls up right next to her and turns up her thermostat until she’s red-hot, but B seems to think the comfort of having the cats in bed with her is worth it. Oddly, Sparky does not feel the need to crawl into bed to join the party.

Just to see what this was like myself, I left the bedroom door open last weekend. I figured I wouldn’t lose any more sleep than I would when Scooter came scratching at the door, and if he planted his butt in my face, I’d just scoop him up and chuck him out. He’s got white fur; he’s not hard to find in the dark. To my amazement, I slept through the night. Best night of sleep I can remember having in a long time. When I mentioned this to My Darling B, she said something like, “Sure, ’cause Scooter and Boo were all over me all night.” I said we could go back to closing the door if she wanted. She said it was up to me, so I left the door open again, and again I slept through the night. *bliss!*

And they’ve been sleeping with us ever since. Sparky still doesn’t climb into bed with us. I’m still not sure why. He’s probably just used to sleeping on the sofa, but I get the feeling that if he ever does decide to join us and discovers just how warm it is, especially in winter, that’ll be the last time he sleeps alone.

sleepy time | 9:57 am CST
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Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Okay, seriously, I’m begging you for suggestions here: How do I stop a cat from waking me up in the morning? I’ll try just about any non-lethal method you suggest that doesn’t involve broken bones or blood.

I thought I’d come up with a pretty good method myself: Feed them both just before bed and leave a bowl of kibble out for them. It’s worked so far, but they must’ve gotten awfully peckish last night because the bowl was empty when Boo-Boo got me out of bed this morning at four-thirty.

And before you ask: A twelve-pound cat can absolutely make a grown man get out of bed. If you don’t believe this, you’ve never tried to sleep in the same room with a cat who is determined to get you out of bed.

There’s no way to herd them out of the room when they wake me up; they just hide in a dark corner and wait for me to go put food in their bowls, so this morning I resorted to the old trick of getting out of bed and walking toward the kitchen. They go running past me when I’m about halfway across the living room, at which point I turn around and go back to bed, shutting the door behind me. That buys me about ten more minutes of sleep, maybe fifteen, until they start scratching on the door.

B wants me to throw them in the basement when they do that. It’d probably work, but it sounds about as easy as, well, herding cats. I want a method that doesn’t require much conscious thought or effort, because, remember, it’ll be about four o’clock in the morning and I’ll be hitting on three cylinders. Ideally, I’d like somebody or something to chase the cats out of the room for me, but I don’t see that happening unless I get a puppy.

scratch | 6:28 am CST
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Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

snore snoringIf you thought you heard someone snoring in your house last night, it was probably me. Even if there’s someone in your household who snores, my nose was stuffed up so badly that, more likely than not, I was overpowering them. My snoring was cranked up all the way to eleven last night. I’m pretty sure that astronauts on the space station woke up in the middle of the night wondering what that noise was.

I even woke myself up a couple times. The first time, at three o’clock, my nose was so stuffy I could hardly breathe and I laid there gasping like a fish for five minutes or so because I was too stubborn to get out of bed at that hour. I thought about trying to sleep sitting up in the recliner, but the bed was so warm and I didn’t want to get up, dammit! So I rolled over to the right and, about five minutes later, the left half of my sinuses cleared just enough to let me breathe. I must have fallen asleep shortly after, because I woke myself up again at around four.

sknxxx! | 6:06 am CST
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Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Bonkers sucked all the heat out of his cat bed heater. I’m not sure how he did that. From what little I know about electricity and stuff, the juice is supposed to keep coming out of the wall socket for as long as I have the thing plugged in, but Bonkers seems to have violated the laws of physics, or overdrawn his electron account. The thing was nice and warm for a month or two, then it went stone cold.

Twice. He sucked the life out of the first one we got him and I wasn’t happy that he went back to sleeping on my head, so we got him another one and in just a couple months he killed that, too. Two heating pads were enough to get him almost all the way through the winter, though, with just a few weeks of chilly evenings when he would sneak into the bedroom early and curl up on Boo’s bed, which went on being warm. Sometimes she’d let him sleep on it all night but sometimes she wouldn’t. She probably knew he’d steal all heat from hers, too, if she didn’t chase him out of it.

When winter weather returned and Our Humble O’Bode began to get a little frosty around the edges at night, Bonk climbed right back into bed with us, having no warm bed of his own, and could not be persuaded to sleep anywhere else, not with a polite nudging, not by not-so-politely shoving him, not by picking him up and dropping him at the foot of the bed. He’d wait until we were settled and starting to drift off to sleep again, then tiptoe his way back up to his favorite spot between our shoulders and wedge himself there, stealing all the goddamn covers.

Until Tuesday when the new cat bed heater that I ordered after spending too many sleepless nights was waiting under the mailbox when we pulled into the driveway after work. I got a tingly feeling all over from opening that box. It was just like early Christmas. Couldn’t even wait until after dinner to unpack it and stuff it into Bonk’s cat bed. I wanted that thing toasty warm before the house started to cool off.

Worked like a charm. He was a little upset at first when I picked him up and plopped him in his cat bed. I suppose he assumed that, because it was not Boo’s bed, it was not going to be as warm as he expected it to be, but he caught on almost right away that things were different and was curled up like a big rollie-pollie soon enough. I made sure I got the king-sized bed warmer this time, big enough for a dog, really, so it should take him at least six months of round-the-clock cat naps to suck the life out of this one.

OMFG more drivel about cats? | 1:04 pm CST
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Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Okay, I’m up too early on a Saturday, but how else am I going to experience the maximum wonderfulness that is the weekend? A guy’s got to start early or he’s going to miss something.

And I owe my early rising once again to the cats, of course. The oldest one parked his fat blob of a butt right between my shoulder blades. Took him about ten minutes to do it, not because he’s a fat blob but because he’s always taken that long to find just the right position that will satisfy his feline needs, one of which must be to make sure I’m awake by the time he finally settles in and goes to sleep. Maybe there’s some kind of somnambulistic transfer going on there. I should contact the AMA and ask them to do a study.

He starts by slowly making his way to the upper end of the cleft in the bed covers between My Darling B’s shoulders and mine. I emphasize slowly. He moves like he’s stalking something. It’s very unnerving. Sometimes he’ll wait until I’m fast asleep and don’t even realize he’s there, but sometimes he can’t wait and begins his creepy crawl as I’m just beginning to doze. When I’m in between the land of the living and the near-death of sleep, nothing’s more unnerving than the realization that something is softly creeping toward my head. No matter how many times he’s done it already, I’ll still jerk awake the next time. He seems to take no small amount of pride in that. The little bastard’s probably keeping track on a scoreboard in his secret lair. “Scared the Human Awake for 1,736 days straight!”

When he finally arrives at the end of his slow-motion journey he picks his spot with great care, turning round and round, trying it with his nose in B’s face, then in mine. Or maybe he wants to park himself butt-first in my face tonight. It’s all relative, and every angle has to be evaluated. Sometimes he gets distracted by the need to noisily wash his face for way too long. That goes especially well for him when he can slop some drool on my forehead. I’ll bet the squishy old fur ball’s got a scoreboard for that, too. This stage of the process is done when he dumps all fourteen pounds of himself very suddenly on me. Ever been on a plane when the overhead compartment popped open and a carry-on bag fell into your lap? Me neither, but I imagine it’s kind of like that.

His collapse against my shoulders accomplishes two things: Wakes me up one more time with a firm punch, and steals even more of the bed covers than he already has up to then, exposing me to the chill of the night. This part’s actually not so bad, because it gives me a chance to give back a little of what I’ve been getting by grabbing the edge of the quilt and, with a quick jerk, launching him in B’s general direction. If he’s good with that, I can get back to sleep right away. If he’s not, he starts circling again, kneading his spot back into compliance, slobbering on his paws some more and, with a final flourish, punching me between the shoulders.

Sometimes this goes on all night, and then sometimes, like this morning, I just chuck it, get out of bed and spend way too much time wondering why we even have cats.

cat bed | 7:45 am CST
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Thursday, September 27th, 2012

image of a pirate skeletonA nap seemed like a good idea, until I laid down and my sinuses filled up like a trash can left open in the rain.

I need to be able to lay on my side in bed again. I used to be able to, before I got all flabby and started injuring myself just by having bad posture. That’s what a physical therapist said I was doing, anyway. Mothers, when you tell your kids to sit up straight and they ask you why, tell them the story that my physical therapist told me: When you slump over, the tendons in your upper arms get dragged across the ball joint in your shoulder and pinched between it and your rotator cuff. The result: Reaching over your head to put on your shirt will cause such exquisite and enduring pain that you will whimper like a whipped dog. There, that’ll give the little tykes nightmares, won’t it?

The physical therapist said sleeping on my side had the same effect as slumping over and that I would seriously injure myself if I continued to do it. Trouble is, I’ve been sleeping on my side for so many years that, even when I make the conscious effort to sleep on my back, I still wake up in the middle of the night curled up on my side and, not surprisingly, I’ve got the shooting pains down my arm that sent me to a physical therapist in the first place.

But I can’t fall asleep on my back. If I try to, and I go through that state between wakefulness and sleep when all the muscles in my body are going slack, my tongue slides down my throat and feels like it’s trying to climb out of my head through my nose. Of course, it’s impossible to breathe when there’s a tongue crawling into my nose, so my lungs will kick the suction all the way up to eleven, I guess in an attempt to dislodge the blockage. Which is, in fact, what happens, with a sound that’s a cross between a snort and a gunshot.

As if that wasn’t enough to make me into a chronic insomniac, sometimes my own subconscious will mess with me and I’ll have the dream about an alien garden slug the size of my forearm crawling into my mouth to tunnel its way to my brain so it can possess my body and walk among you all. Try falling asleep after something like that.

So that’s why I miss being able to lay on my side: Invasive brain-eating aliens. If you can come up with a solution for me, I’ll brew a batch of beer for you. I don’t deliver, though, so you’ll have to come pick it up.

invasive brain-eating aliens | 1:37 pm CST
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Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

image of clockCouldn’t sleep in this morning. I was trying, but when I crawled back into bed after a quick trip to the bathroom during the wee small hours, I heard a ticking or scratching sound, very faint but very persistent, in the bedroom. There was probably a mouse behind the book case or poking around in the closet, or maybe the house was settling. It was a pretty cold night.

But the noise was so annoying that, after ten minutes of listening to it, I sat up in bed to see if I could figure out which direction it was coming from. My attentiveness must’ve unnerved My Darling B. I thought she was asleep, but after I sat there for a minute she asked, “What?” in her wide-awake voice.



She paused, trying to decipher what I’d said, decided she couldn’t, and asked: “Bat?”


“No, that.

Pause. “Fat?”

“T, H, A, T: That. That ticking noise.” I laid back down and tried not to think about it. “Probably just the cat.”


“Great,” she said. “Now I hear it.”

I gave up sleeping, got out of bed and went to the kitchen to brew a big pot o’ joe. Felt pretty bad about leaving her there to try to sleep through the ticking, but I didn’t know what I could do about it, other than lay there, wide awake, listening to it myself and getting more annoyed by the minute.

As I sat in my basement lair, doinking around with the internet, I heard her get out of bed and cross the living room. Obviously, she hadn’t been able to deal with the ticking noise any better than I had. I went upstairs to apologize.

She was waiting beside the kitchen table with one of my many clocks in her hand. “There’s your ticking noise,” she said, then headed off back to kick the cat out of the warm spot on her side of the bed.

There must be a word for the thought that gets stuck in your head and becomes so persistently annoying that it won’t let you sleep. Until I find out what it is, I’m going to call it batfatthat.

batfatthat | 6:36 am CST
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Thursday, September 6th, 2012

It was a dark and stormy night – “stormy” in the sense that there were many rumblings and flashes of activity. Somebody seemed to be having some trouble sleeping. Not me so much, but My Darling B was doing a lot of tossing and turning in the middle of the night. During the part of the night that I was awake for, she would do this thing where she would turn over, start to doze off, snort herself awake, turn over, start to doze off, snort herself awake again, turn over and so on. If I counted the bells of the clock in the front room right, I think I was awake for about an hour of that.

I don’t think she was doing that all night long. She seemed to be sleeping more or less soundly when my alarm went off. That’s perfect timing, eh?

With all that going on, I don’t remember having any dreams, oddly enough. Night before last, though, I dreamed I was trying to parallel park a Toyota Tundra in an underground parking garage where there was no room to turn around. The Tundra’s a honking big SUV with a turning radius of about ten miles. I wouldn’t take one into an underground parking lot, or ANY parking lot, for all the VW Beetles in Wolfsburg.

rough night | 5:50 am CST
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Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Three o’clock in the morning, I woke from a dream in which I was the only person wearing clothes in a room with about a dozen naked people. It turned out to be more uncomfortable than the dream where I’m the only naked person. I didn’t know where to look. I didn’t feel like I could look at anybody, but whoever I talked to acted as though I was being stupid if I averted my eyes.

Awake, I blundered through the darkness to the bathroom to relieve myself. I had a bad case of gas but couldn’t fart it away no matter how long I lingered on the throne after I peed. When I started to doze off, I got up and stumbled back to the bedroom.

But with my head on a pillow again, I fell back into sleep and the naked people returned. It was so startling that I snapped awake. I rolled over and settled into another position because, you know, that chases the dreams away, right? Wrong. More naked people, and again I snapped awake. Reposition, doze, naked people, awake! Once, it was a room full of naked robots that looked like people, walking past me without saying anything. Between that and my grumbling tummy, I didn’t doze off again.

By the time the clock chimed the half-hour I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get any more shut-eye before sunrise, but I wouldn’t admit it to myself until after four, when I finally got out of bed and grabbed a book off my bedside stand. I read three chapters of The Cat From Hue, John Laurence’s memoir of reporting for CBS news during the Vietnam war, before I got up again at five and started the ritual of making the morning pot o’ java.

naked | 6:38 am CST
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Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Woke up at about four o’clock this morning to a massive downpour, lots of thunder and lighting and cats walking across my face, not technically part of what one would normally consider a downpour but it was happening, so I note it. Okay, just one cat. The other cat was taking up all the space at the foot of the bed where my legs would normally go, so that I had to dangle my legs over the edge of the bed. I still don’t know why I unconsciously make room for the cat like that. It’s my damned bed.

Anyway, water was falling out of the sky by the truckload this morning. Why doesn’t anybody say that ever? Why buckets? Truckloads are way more impressive. They’re bigger, for a start, and they’re mechanized. Buckets are smaller and they’re a lot of work to carry around. Who likes buckets more than trucks? And I see trucks carrying water all the time. It’s not like they’re rare. From now on, I’m not saying rain came down in buckets. It comes down by the truckload. Who’s with me?

truckloads | 5:58 am CST
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Sunday, May 20th, 2012

It’s four-thirty in the morning. I’ve been lying awake since three. Guess I might as well get out of bed and make some coffee.

We went to bed last night after running the air conditioning in the evening to cool off the house. The mid-day temperature hit eighty-eight and humidity was sauna-like, making it impossible to feel comfortable indoors unless we were in the basement, lying flat against the concrete floor, so B switched on the central air about an hour before dinner and left it on until bed time. When I hit the hay at around eleven last night, the house was still cool.

I couldn’t figure out at first why I woke up at three. The cats weren’t fighting. I didn’t have to take a leak. But as I slowly came fully awake, I realized I was hot as a tinfoil-wrapped potato on a Weber grill. I clawed my way out from under the covers, but it didn’t help. The air in the room was absolutely stifling. Laying on top of the sheets in nothing but my skivvies, I was still burning up.

I rolled out of bed and checked the window: closed. Tried to jerk it open, had to unlock it first. Most nights, we sleep with the windows open, but when B closes a window she locks it to keep the axe murderers out. I had to unlock every window as I went around the house, trying to get some fresh air. Then, before I climbed back into bed, I switched on the ceiling fan.

Didn’t help. I was nice and cool, but I was wide-awake after all that roaming around, and I never did get back to sleep. I must have dozed off once or twice, because I never heard the clock in the living room chime four bells, although I did hear the half-hour bell at three-thirty and four-thirty. And a couple times I slipped far enough into sleep to swallow my tongue and snort myself awake.

But as the night dragged on to morning and I could hear the birds begin their morning songs through the now-open window, the idea of getting up to make coffee sounded better and better. And here I am. Hiya.

ADDED LATER: B correctly points out that, when closing the windows, the top sash often drops open. When that happens, the locks on the windows don’t work, so when she closes the windows she also locks them to make sure both the top and bottom sashes are closed tightly. She’s just making sure we’re not sending our air conditioning out the window, not trying to lock out the axe murderers. So noted.

insomnolence | 5:18 am CST
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Friday, April 13th, 2012

I was so beat yesterday that I went to bed at 9:20 and I believe I was asleep at 9:23, maybe 9:22. That’s my best guess, anyway. I was asleep and couldn’t look at the clock.

When I did look at the clock again, it was 3:28, and that was after I laid awake for several minutes asking myself lots of dumb questions, then answering them. Why am I awake? I don’t know. Are the cats prowling the house? No. Do I have to go to the bathroom? No. Is there an axe murderer in the room, hovering over me? No. What time is it? 3:28. WTF? Why am I awake at 3:28? I don’t know. And so on. Eventually I bored myself to sleep and didn’t wake up again until the alarm bleeped at five. By then, the cats were on the prowl.


happy happy | 5:52 am CST
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Friday, January 20th, 2012

I made it through the whole day and managed to stay upright somehow, even though I woke up at two in the morning when the cat started horking and couldn’t get back to sleep while he cleaned himself. Noisiest damned cat ever. How loud do you have to be to clean yourself, anyway? Pretty damned loud, it turns out. Loud enough to wake everybody in the neighborhood, anyway. Then, at about three o’clock, the water softener started doing its very loud thing and that killed about another hour of sleep. Also, My Darling B kept snuggling up to me. Kept me awake, but I didn’t mind that so much.

awake | 9:16 pm CST
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Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

The most frustrating thing about lying awake is having to listen to everybody else sleep. The cats snore, My Darling B purrs, even the house seems to be relaxing as it settles on its foundations, creaking and popping. I’m the only one lying still and quiet.

If insomnia’s good for anything, though, I get plenty of reading done. I knocked off a couple chapters of Promised The Moon, the book about the Mercury 13 I found at St. Vinnie’s last week. Really good stuff, so I didn’t mind so much having all that time to read it.

listening | 6:07 am CST
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Thursday, December 29th, 2011

I had a little trouble sleeping when, around three o’clock this morning, various thumps and bumps around the house woke me up and I couldn’t find my way back to The Land of Nod. It happens. I thought briefly about retreating to my basement lair to search the interwebs for some noteworthy drivel to read, but returned to bed after promising myself that, if I didn’t fall asleep in a half-hour, I would retreat as aforementioned and surf.

When I wake in the middle of the night I know precisely how long I lie there not sleeping because the house is filled with clocks that chime every half-hour, and at the top of each hour they tell me exactly what time it is. Well, all except for the one in the living room, which goes a little insane every couple of days and clangs out twelve bells every hour. I think it might need a spot of oil.

After curling up under the covers and waiting for that half-hour chime, my alarm clock took me completely by surprise by bleeping me awake. So going back to bed had been the correct choice. I make them every once in a while.

All this by way of explaining why I took a nap today, although now I see that it doesn’t really make as much sense as I thought it did when I started telling this story. I thought I needed a nap because I woke up in the middle of the night. And maybe I did. Or, maybe, it was because I was wrestling armor-plated filing cabinets in the basement all morning. Nahhh.

I nap like this: Lie down with a book and read until I get drowsy. Put the book aside and “rest my eyes.” Swallow my tongue. The nap is over at that point, but it’s apparently all I need because I feel pretty good when I get up. I could do without the dream about giant garden slugs climbing down my throat, though.

swallow | 4:01 pm CST
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Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Woke up at three thirty this morning. My alarm clock is set for five. When I wake up that close to the time when my alarm clock is going to start bleeping anyway, I just lay in bed and wait to see what happens. I waited for an hour before I gave up. Sort of dozed once or twice, but it wasn’t worth staying in bed for.

Bonkers followed me into my basement lair, where I surfed the internet for a while. I could have written some drivel, which would have at least been sort of productive, but I read web comics and news about the planet Mercury instead. News about planet Earth was too depressing today.

Even Bonkers was restless this morning. He sat at my feet and cried for five or ten minutes before jumping up into my lap, where he couldn’t find a way to sit down that satisfied him. Kept getting up and turning around, first facing right, then facing left, then facing forward, then right again, then left again. He gave up after ten or fifteen minutes and went back upstairs, probably to hack a hairball on the recliner seat.

Now the coffee’s drunk and the hour’s getting late. Off to the shower. You don’t have to wait.

wakey | 5:21 am CST
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Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Started off as such a good night …

After work, we stopped by Star Liquor to pick up some cool, refreshing libations for the weekend, then swung over a couple blocks to visit the Old Sugar Distillery for a snort before heading home. My Darling B was delighted to learn they were now distilling a whiskey made from sorghum. I thought it was waayyyy too potent for my delicate sensibilities, but B seemed to like it. I could see her trying to figure out what it would mix best with.

Back at Our Humble O’Bode, B made a salad for dinner, a little toasted bread on the side with two kinds of pesto and a little diced tomato for toppings, and – make a note of this, it’s important for later – fresh mozzarella balls. I love mozzarella and can normally tolerate it as a topping if I down an anti-lactase pill or two, but the last time I had fresh mozzarella balls the results were not pleasant, so this time I only had two and took two anti-lactase pills, one before we ate and one after.

When I finished cleaning up after dinner, B mixed a nightcap for each of us – mango mojitos, yum! – and we settled down together on the sofa to catch up on the episodes of The Daily Show that we missed this week. Then, sufficiently serensified, pleasantly buzzed, comically relieved and end-of-the-week tired, I turned in just before the clock struck ten and fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Midnight. Woke up. Stomach bloated like there’s a midget in there. A big one, but a midget none-the-less. He’s pounding on the walls of my stomach like he’s throwing a tantrum. I rolled out of bed to dig up a couple of Gas-X caplets from the storehouse of OTC drugs in the bathroom, tottered off to the kitchen to down them with a glass of ice water. When the pounding felt like it was fading about ten minutes later I went back to bed, but as soon as I laid down I knew I was still too bloated to go back to sleep, so I crawled back out of bed and sat up in the living room for a while, reading stupid crap on the internet.

By one-thirty I was feeling almost normal enough to take a stab at going back to bed. When I got there, though, I found B right smack dab in the middle of it and Bonkers taking up most of the rest of what is normally my side of the bed. I was left with just enough to lay on if I curled myself into a tight little fetal ball with my butt on the very edge of the mattress. If I had managed to fall asleep that way, I would have probably found myself snapping awake on the way to hitting the floor just after the first time I twitched. Cuddling up as close to B as I could, I found room to stretch out a bit by shoving the cat aside. Shortly after that, B rolled over toward her side of the bed and I finally had enough room.

I also had something in my eye. I tried to ignore it, but it was like laughing in church. Whatever it was felt like it got bigger and bigger until I was sure I had a tree in my eye so, bowing to the inevitable, I trudged to the bathroom to get it out. No matter how long I looked I couldn’t find anything stuck in my lower lid, where I thought I felt it, or in my upper lid, where I was sure it had to be after failing to find it under my lower lid. Banged into the wall on my way back to the bedroom because my night vision was completely gone after staring into the bathroom lights. Stubbed my toe on a laundry basket in the bedroom, too.

Almost drifted off to sleep when one of the cats – Bonkers, I think – rolled over and the tip of one of his ears just barely touched my ankle, went twitch twitch twitch until I rearranged myself so his ear wasn’t touching me any more. I must have roused Boo from her slumber, because she yawned and stretched and caught one of her claws in my shin.

And on and on the night went, with me getting lest restful the longer I laid in bed. Some time shortly after I heard the clock chime three I said fuck it and got out of bed again. B didn’t seem to be having too much trouble snoozing while I tossed and turned, but I was starting to feel the ultimate frustration of sleeplessness after lying in the dark wide awake for hours.

And how was your Friday?

bloated | 3:36 am CST
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Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

God damn, I hate going to bed but not going to sleep.

The weirdest thing about sleeplessness is that it’s so goddamn boring, and yet somehow not quite boring enough to make me nod off. I’ve been in staff meetings so boring that I can’t keep myself awake no matter how long I hold my breath (a remarkably effective method for staying awake, even if you’re being PowerPointed to death; you should try it). But apparently lying motionless in bed while trying to breathe deeply and evenly isn’t quite as boring as an hour-long lecture on cost-benefit analysis.

The first hint that I’m going to be spending more time awake than asleep is when I realize I’m breathing backwards. When I’m ready to fall asleep, I take long, deep breaths with a pause after exhaling, but when I’m lying awake trying to get to sleep I take quicker, shallow breaths with a short pause after I inhale, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t switch it around. It just happens.

What the hell’s up with that, anyway? Shouldn’t there be a manual override for the switch that changes how I breathe, so I can flip it when I need to get to sleep on a school night? I’ve got a long laundry list of poor engineering features built into my body, like why can’t I stop myself from dozing off during boring meetings? Okay, it’s boring, but why do I have to nod off? Why can’t I give myself a jolt of adrenaline to stay awake? No, for some reason that couldn’t be a good thing, so I’m stuck with trying to remind myself how embarrassing it is to wake up with the boss glaring at me because I interrupted his PowerPoint presentation by snoring.

As if the backwards breathing wasn’t bad enough, I also fall asleep backwards when I’m having a sleepless night. Every so often, just as I begin to doze off, the little man in my head realizes that I’m dozing off and shouts, Hey! I’m dozing off! Finally! And then I wake up because I realized I was dozing off. I’ve tried to strangle that little man every way I can think of, but no matter how tightly I clench my fingers around his windpipe, he just. Won’t. Die!

The final straw fell on the camel’s back when my stomach started growling just as the clock struck four this morning. I finally gave up, climbed out of bed and feasted on a big bowl of granola while simultaneously brewing a big pot o’ coffee. I’m gonna need lots of that today.

Wakey Wakey | 5:02 am CST
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Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Well, here we are again so soon. Feels as though it’s been only two or three hours since I sat here banging on the keyboard, and Hey! It has! I have no idea how much sleep I ended up getting last night – judging from the way I feel right now, ten, maybe fifteen minutes would be my guess – but I do know how much I’m going to get between now and four-thirty this afternoon, and that would be none. As soon as the quittin’ bird squawks, though, there’s no telling how hard my eyelids will slam shut, but – and I’m guessing here again – it ought to register on the Richter scale, so when you look up from your desk this afternoon and ask the guy in the cubicle next to you, “Did you just feel that?” check the clock. I’m pretty sure it’ll be my conscious self shutting down.

Barely here | 6:19 am CST
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When I slide into a bed heavy with quilts on a cold winter night and curl up for my voyage to the land of nod, the thought that runs through my head should not be: Oh crap, am I going to have a sleepless night? Because when it is, chances are pretty good that it will be one of those nights, and as much as I enjoy finding extra time to catch up on my reading, or writing more drivel, the middle of the night is not where I want to find it. I want to find sweet slumber. I want to enjoy the sonorous rhythm of My Darling B’s respiration, or even her snoring. Mostly, I’d like to be sawing some lumber myself. But no.

The trouble began the moment I laid down and my stomach went Urp! I’d half-expected that because, between you, me and the lamp post, I ate a little too much at dinner, but it was such a delectable meal and I was enjoying such delightful company that I didn’t want it to end so I kept packing it away, even though a nagging voice in the back of my mind warned me that I’d probably end up on the sofa at one in the morning, telling you about it. And here we are, just as predicted. I wish I could do that with the winning lottery numbers.

I dozed for about an hour, waking every five minutes or so to the thud of my pulse playing my gut like a timpani drum. The pounding grew stronger each time I woke until I finally gave up trying to sleep and rolled out of bed, just as the clock struck midnight.

Every time I do this, I promise myself I’ll cut the portion in half next time. The thing was, it was a surprisingly reasonable portion, very much unlike the heaping helping most restaurants routinely dump in front of me. One look at it and I thought, That is exactly as big as I am hungry! and I tucked into it like a dog at his dish. A big dog, with a dish of Alpo. Nom.

I didn’t realize I’d overdone it until we were home again and enough time had passed that I realized my innards were never going to digest all that food before lights out. Too late to do anything about it by then but dose myself with Pepto and wait for the growling to stop. Too bad I didn’t think of that before I went to bed, but I really hated to sully such a fine meal by topping it off with a shot of Pepto-Bismol. This is one of those cases where “Better late than never” just doesn’t apply, though.

Note to self: Halve the portion next time. No, really. Do it.

Urp | 1:37 am CST
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Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

After a scalding hot shower and a hot cuppa java, I think I may once again return to the class of warm-blooded creatures. Last night was about five million years long and it was all because the cat in the middle of the bed kept hogging the covers, keeping me awake most of the night. It’s very difficult to sleep when half of you is toasty warm but the other half of you has become a meat popsicle. This has got to stop.

I didn’t used to mind. I’ve tolerated a cat in the middle of the bed for as long as I’ve been married. My first cat also used to sleep between us, and that was back in the days when we slept with our arms around each other and our legs all tangled up. We’re not any less in love now, it’s just that our bones are not that flexible any more. Catface was usually somewhere else when the lights went out, but in the morning she would be well and truly wedged deeply between us. We never did figure out how or when she did that.

Our current cats also creep into bed sometime after we curl up and start sawing logs. This feline stealth mechanism has got to be come kind of evolved self-preservation technique. They’ve learned that people can’t stay awake all night to keep them out, so they wait until the snoring starts, then crawl in. Or they think we’re purring, and it’s irresistible as a siren’s call.

But I’m pretty sure it has everything to do with staying warm on these long winter nights, and now that we have two of them, we have twice the problem of cat-wedged-ness. If I don’t come up with a self-defense mechanism of my own, I’m going to end up frostbitten and bloodshot-eyed.

Bloodshot | 6:18 am CST
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Sunday, September 12th, 2010

image of cat

How the hell do you keep cats off your head when you sleep at night? I’m desperately serious. Some people have bedbugs, we have cats. Now that I think of it, we got them almost the same way you get bedbugs: We brought them home with us in a valise. The difference was that we meant to, although I sometimes wonder why.

The fall season is one of those times. The weather’s cooling off at night and the cats have determined that the warmest place in the house is curled up on the bed with us. At first they were content to curl up at the foot of the bed, like good little kitties. Made a nice little Norman Rockwellish picture.

But it’s been getting cooler each successive night, and while the temps have gone down, the cats have moved up from the foot of the bed to our legs, then our hips, then snuggling in between our bodies, and last night Bonkers spent the night as close to my head as he could get. I found out when he announced himself by vigorously scratching his ears, then shaking his head, his flapping ears making a noise like a machine-gun. Coming awake from deep sleep, I just about jumped out of my skin when he did that.

Since he was awake anyway, he felt the need at that moment to noisily clean his feet. I scooped him up and dumped him at the foot of the bed, hoping he would finish his bath there. I think he did, but I found out later he had stealthily crept back to settle in at my shoulder. I woke up less than an hour later to the sound of Bonkers yawning in my ear. He can noiselessly stalk a mouse but when he yawns, he sounds like ten pounds of wet spaghetti dropped on the kitchen floor.

This can’t go on. I need to sleep. I don’t need more than just a few hours of undisturbed slumber, but I can’t get it when cats are camping out on my head, making scary noises. Locking them out of the room is not the solution; they sit outside, scratching at the door and crying like the worst kind of spoiled brats, which I guess they are. I’ve tried breaking them of that but haven’t been able to. That’s just not an option. Neither is throwing them out for the night. I can see why some people take the easy way out and do that, but it’s not fair to the cat or my neighbors. There’s got to be a way to teach them to stay at the foot of the bed without hog-tying them and dumping them there, although I admit that sounds like a very good idea right now.

A guy walks into a bar with a cat on his head … | 9:49 am CST
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Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Crap crap crap crap. I had a crappy night’s sleep. Really crappy.

For starters, I couldn’t fall asleep. I still don’t know why that happens, but who does? I was dead tired before I turned out the lights, but immediately after I turned out the lights, and in the hours that followed, I just laid there, wide awake, growing more frustrated with each passing minute. Yes, I knew what time it was down to the minute – I could actually feel the minutes go by, as if they were marching over my face wearing hobnail combat boots.

Second, the cats jumped up on the foot of the bed, and not incidentally my feet, too, then jumped back down to chase mice or each other or ghosts or something, then jumped back up on the bed. If they stayed on the bed for more than five minutes it was only because they were possessed with the urge, as cats everywhere will do at odd times of the day, but especially when you’re trying to fall asleep, to vigorously cover their fur in their own spit. They would do that for twenty or thirty minutes if I didn’t send them a pointed message by kicking them right off the end of the bed, which I did repeatedly last night. It didn’t help me get to sleep, but it satisfied me in a primal way.

Third, when I went to bed the night was cool and refreshing, yet as the sleepless hours wore on the room became a sweatbox. T-Dawg says the best way to combat this is to get a packet of blue cooler ice from the freezer, shove it in a lunch bag and hug it, but I was doing that stubbornly lie in bed all night routine, so getting up to go to the ice box, or to do anything else that might have made sense, like turn on the overhead fan, was out of the question. Stubborn people, take note. I get extra points for that.

It wasn’t until sometime after two-thirty in the morning that I finally got a little bit of sleep, and that was fitful, catching a few winks here and there between feline lickfests and increases in the sauna-like temperature of our room. When my alarm clock finally began to bleat at quarter til six, I felt as though I’d spent the night lugging a backpack full of sledge hammers to the top of Mount Everest.

I was desperate to take a nap this afternoon and, after finishing up a few chores, stretched out to see if I could manage to get a little shuteye, but it still wasn’t happening. Except for that first dozing moment when my cheeks puff out on the exhale and I swallow my tongue and wake myself with a loud ZAWP! I didn’t get any real sleep.

So tonight when I go to bed I’ll be scared absolutely shitless that I’ll pass another night without sleep. Either that or I’ll be so completely worn out by nine-thirty that I’ll fall asleep on the sofa.

Redeye | 6:49 am CST
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Sunday, July 18th, 2010

image of sleepy cat

Sleep was not coming easily to me last night. A passing squall woke me up with its lightning and thunder. Do you usually hear people say “lightning and thunder” or “thunder and lightning?” I think “lightning” should come first, because that’s what you see and what you get when a storm comes along. But the way I hear people say it, “thunder” comes first. Doesn’t that seem odd when you think about it? Thunder follows lightning as tomato follows bacon & lettuce. (Don’t even think of telling me you would desecrate the perfection of a BLT by leaving out the tomato. I couldn’t be responsible for my actions if you did.)

After the squall passed and the thunder let up, a gentle rain began to fall. I thought, This’ll be sweet, falling asleep to the sound of the rain on the roof. But no. It was a gentle rain for about ten, maybe twenty minutes until the wind kicked up. And that was not entirely a bad thing after a day of scorching temperatures and a sticky-hot night. The cool breeze felt good, but because the windows were as wide open as we could get them each gust slapped the window blinds against the wall. I walked around closing the windows to a small gap and adjusting the blinds, but by then it was too late to undo the damage. I was wide awake.

So I laid in bed wide-awake for about an hour listening to the wind buffet the trees outside the bedroom until I just couldn’t stand it any longer and finally rolled out of bed at about four-thirty to stumble through the darkness to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee and write drivel. Good morning. And how are you?

You may have experienced a brief outage if you tried to visit this blog last night, the result of what I might call a server migration if I felt like trying to bullshit you. If I weren’t, I would tell you that the server itself was traveling cross-country in the trunk of my brother’s car. We spare no expense to bring you this drivel every day and I noticed Big Pete had the server up and running again when I started poking around on the internet at oh-dark-thirty this morning. Thanks, Pete! rules!

Rain. Not Rain. | 5:06 pm CST
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Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

The cats let me sleep until around three in the morning, when Bonk let out a tentative wail, then ran into the bathroom to hide. He hasn’t done that in months, not since we bought robot cat feeders. After he woke me up, Boo walked across my face, the same thing she used to do when she was hungry and wanted me to get up and feed her. What the hell?

Sometimes it takes me a while to figure these things out. When enough of my nerve endings were fired up, it came back to me that one of the things I tried to remember to do before bed, and utterly failed at, was reload the robot cat feeders. They hadn’t even seen kitty kibble since the dish spun it all away at nine-thirty the night before. Since they weren’t about to let me go back to sleep, I got out of bed, trudged through the murk to the kitchen and reset the feeders so they could have a little after-dark snack.

After that, a passing storm kept me from getting back to sleep right away, and when it finally let up I think the change in pressure made B roll over and start sawing lumber. I spent the rest of the early-morning hours alternating between dozing off and whispering, “Turn over, dear.”

kibble? | 7:47 pm CST
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Saturday, May 29th, 2010

12:30 a.m.: Insomnia has struck again. This is just the weirdest affliction ever. It’s chronic, but only in the sense that it inflicts itself on me once every six months or so. There is no pattern to it that I can discern. For long stretches I can sleep as normal, and then bing! I wake up in the middle of the night for no reason I can put my finger on and simply cannot get back to sleep. I usually suffer it for just one night, very infrequently two nights. I don’t recall suffering it for three nights in a row or longer. And I don’t have entirely sleepless nights. When I wake up in the middle of the night and realize I won’t be able to get back to sleep any time soon, I get out of bed to read a couple chapters of a book or surf the internet, something quiet that’ll help me pass a couple sleepless hours. When I start to feel tired again, and I usually do some time between sixty and ninety minutes later, I head off to bed and fall asleep fairly easily. I almost feel guilty about calling it insomnia, because I know that some people suffer insomnia that keeps them awake all night, night after night, but I’m not sure what else to call it, other than a fucking nuisance.

Worst thing about it tonight is, I’m supposed to help someone move house tomorrow. I can just imagine how bright-eyed and chipper I’ll be, round about mid-afternoon.

no pattern | 2:14 pm CST
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Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Time for a few stray thoughts. I haven’t done this in a while, and I can’t come up with anything but complete randomness right now, so the timing seems auspicious:

Granola. I eats it. I didn’t used to because I thought it was ucky, and I thought it was ucky because it was pretty bad granola. Dry enough to suck every molecule of moisture out of every cell in my mouth and gritty enough to use as traction if my car got stuck on the ice. I don’t know who made that stuff or why, but as granola it was crap. Or maybe that’s just the way granola was made back then, and now they know better. We started bringing it home from the co-op when Tim asked for it, and as he asked for it more and more I started eating it, too. Crunchy and sweet, it’s pretty tasty stuff and comes in more flavors than the multicolored plastic stuff they sell to kids as breakfast cereal. There was a spell after Tim moved out where we didn’t bring much home for a while, and then a while back we started stocking up every week because both My Darling B and I were eating it for breakfast in the morning, and neither one of us are breakfast-eating people. Or weren’t. I guess we are now.

We practiced our dance steps last night and we were freaking AWESOME! By our standards. And the bar’s still set pretty low, but only because we’ve been at it for just five weeks, folks. It’s not for lack of trying. We’ve got all the steps down, for instance, but that’s about it. Grace, poise, timing, that’s all stuff far in the future. BUT WE’VE GOT THE STEPS DOWN, OKAY? That’s gotta count for something.

I thought we’d be able to get an uninterrupted night’s sleep now the weather’s warmed up and the cats have wandered off to find other places to bed down for the night, but the recent cold snap brought them right back to cuddle up alongside us like a couple of heat magnets. Last night they had me pinned to the mattress like Lilliputians pinning Gulliver to the ground. They were purring like great big furry purring things. They were just like another metaphor that I can’t recall right now.

We had one of those weekends where we didn’t go out much and it seemed as though we didn’t really do all that much. I mean, we weren’t inert blobs of protoplasm; we washed some clothes, took out the trash, cleaned the kitchen and unblocked the bathroom drain, things like that. Stuff got done. Also, I finished a book I started last weekend (no prize for guessing what it was about) and My Darling B got herself up into the biggest snit ever talking to me about the book she finished.

And some of us had plans that were dashed by the cold snap that brought us that one last dump of winter (at least I’m hoping it’s the last dump). B wanted to break out her roto-tiller and turn over some soil in her garden so she could plant lettuce, and I think she may have been just a teensy bit bummed out that she couldn’t. With temps in the fifties all week, she was living in anticipation for too long not to be utterly gobsmacked by the change in weather. I’m pretty sure my head would have exploded, but I’m a little more excitable than she is.

strays | 5:59 am CST
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