Friday, July 14, 2006


For three nights in a row, I've barely slept. This has the intimations of something Biblical already, I can see that now. As if I'm wallering in the bowels of a giant whale at sea. (I might be. It is awfully humid around here. The air is so damp that the pages in my book are turning limp and frowsy.)

I don't have an explanation for this. Sleeplessness is not a side effect of any medication I'm currently taking. I don't do crack. I don't have infant children in the home. I no longer imbibe caffeinated coffee.

It's true that my boys do like keeping me on my toes. They throw things at me throughout the day after only one warning shot across the bow. ("LOOK ALIVE!" -- and then I duck.)

Even after I've read them their two bedtime stories (in varying accents) and tucked them in and turned out the light, I sit up nights in bed, jittery and baggy-eyed, jiggling one foot and looking furtively over my left shoulder like a gangster. What's that? Do I hear something?

And I don't mean the dog. The dog you can't miss hearing. The dog has the annoyingly persistent habit of trailing me from room to room and panting, slurping, snarfing and chewing at himself. He got poison ivy after I walked him out in the country, but only on his genitals. (You can tell me he didn't do it on purpose. You can believe that if you want to. I don't.) I can't stand it. I can't stand listening to it. I throw pillows at him in impotent frustration. "STOP! STOP IT!"

He pauses and looks up from between his legs at me, in this most detached sort of way, as if I am a science experiment or a small, unfriendly cat.

Then resumes panting, slurping, snarfing and chewing at himself as if this conversation never happened. I hate dogs.

There's also this. I can't sleep in the dark. I'm 37 years old and I still hate the dark. I have to have a light on somewhere. I just do. It doesn't even necessarily have to be in the room. It could be down the hall, or in the basement closet, or somewhere in India. I just need tangible proof that somewhere, somehow, light exists.

I really, truly fall asleep at 3 a.m. and then I am awakened at seven by one of the children at exactly the moment when I was about to drop off into deep R.E.M. and relieve my mind of the various subconscious imageries that accumulated over the past 24 48 72 hours.

And so the treadmill continues.