Tag Archives: Sleep

Mornings Like This

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Yesterday, a warm wind entertained us.

The temperatures were above normal, the strong breeze felt balmy and – I swear – it smelled like spring.

“This must be our Indian Summer,” one person after another suggested.

A day like that is a pleasure, any time of the year.

In November, it’s a gift.

Today, it’s raining.

After a night of the soundest, most uninterrupted sleep I’ve had in weeks, I woke up early.

Rosa Parks would like her walk. The little dog has made several trips outside on her own already, dashing for the shelter of the wild cherry tree, then running back in to demand her reward. The walk can wait for daylight…and at least one cup of coffee.

I woke up, as usual, with a dozen tasks playing ’round in my head that need to be done immediately. I turned on the computer before I turned on the coffeepot.

I remember, like a happy dream, what my life was like before bookkeeping became such a large part of it.

Now, with the Beacon, my life is filled with record-keeping chores. What did I have to worry about, before spreadsheets and Excel files? What joy, when the only address I had to keep track of was my own!

It is amazing to me how much time it takes to keep track of nine hundred and seventy-one subscribers. If I’m not changing addresses – and it seems that they do nothing but move! – I am updating renewal dates, changing names or altering the manner of delivery. Then there are the problems of issues that don’t reach the subscriber: I need to retrieve the address and send out another copy. Other times, issues come back to me, undelivered. That is a mystery that needs to be solved, as it results in addition postage fees. Wouldn’t you think that the list of subscribers that did not receive their Beacon would match up with the stack of returned magazines? But no.

Advertisers are a separate bookkeeping necessity. Two, in fact, as picture ads are a different database than classified ads. Billing seems complicated and difficult, but even harder is keeping them up to date. Once, a man came into the hardware to angrily admonish me for continuing to run his ad months after the property had changed hands. That was the first I’d learned of it and, though I was sorry, I have yet to identify  which exact ad is his, so I’ve been unable to remove it. Since I’m still struggling with billing, at least he hasn’t been asked to pay for it!

For Dion, the “Mailroom Specialist” who labels and sends the magazines, I need to send a check to cover postage and his small fee, then convert my updated subscriber spreadsheet into two Excel files: one for first class, the other for standard delivery. I also need to find time to talk to him about the issues that aren’t making it to the recipient, and the ones that are coming back to me. And, I’ve received a few calls because – though the payments are up-to-date – the labels say the subscription expired last year. What’s going on with that?

These are the thoughts and worries and many unfinished tasks that interrupt my sleep and drive me out of bed before dawn.

This morning, to be greeted by darkness and rain.

Mornings like this, I wrap myself in the fleecy bathrobe. I pour coffee into my favorite little cup: thin rim, sturdy round handle, decorated with a pattern of blackberries. I add real cream (well, real “half and half”) rather than 2% milk. I give Rosa Parks a chewy biscuit that will keep her busy for a while. I thank all the forces in play for the rain, that contributed to my good night’s sleep.

And all is right with the world.

A Couple Things…

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In the middle of the night, when – for one reason or another – I find myself awake, the thoughts that come calling make falling back to sleep impossible.

That would be a good time for counting blessings…or even for counting sheep, but, no.

Worrisome rather than positive are most of my middle of the night musings.

Last night these thoughts entertained me:

Weeks ago, when the first advertisements for the “It’s a Wonderful Life” show went up, I suggested to my cousin Pam that we should go. I suggested dinner beforehand, and said it would be my treat, for her birthday. We’d make an evening of it, a rarity for each of us.

For my birthday in August, Pam and I and a couple others go out together every year for dinner. It always results in lots of good wishes and presents for me. The other participants are often away on their birthdays, so I am unable to reciprocate. This was a good opportunity to do something nice for Pam, even though her birthday is not until December.

Unfortunately, that is the last I thought of it.

I did not get tickets to the play.

I did not make dinner reservations.

Even when Judi called to say she had an extra ticket, and would I like to join her for the play, and I said sure, and let’s go to dinner first, and let that be my treat…even then, it didn’t occur to me that I had already made plans.

Even when one of the players came through the hardware store the day of the show and told me all seats were sold out, I didn’t remember.

When Pam called, near the end of the day, to say, “Are we still on for tonight, cuz?” I remembered.

Only then.

When there were no seats left for the play.

When I’d made other plans.

All I could do was admit to my awful and thoughtless forgetfulness, explain, apologize and beg forgiveness…

“Don’t worry,” she said, graciously, “I’m in for the day. We’ll do something closer to my birthday.”

Ugh.

Then, I recalled a conversation over dinner with Judi.

I was telling her about my new diet and exercise regimen, and about the high protein shakes that are a part of it. “Not bad tasting, really,” I told her, “but gritty in texture. Still they sure seem to work. I have energy, I don’t get hungry between meals and I lost three pounds in the first week.”

I went on to say that I didn’t really trust the weight loss, as the shakes seem to have diuretic properties.

In the middle of the night, I thought, “Did I say diuretic? I know that’s what I meant…”

In the middle of the night, it really seemed like what I had actually said was depilatory properties.

That could be true…the shakes are quite gritty.

Still, I hope I didn’t leave her with the picture of me rubbing the vegan strawberry shake onto my upper lip to remove unwanted hair!

Ugh.

It’s no wonder I can’t sleep!

Rambling

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I’ve just spent a full ten minutes debating about whether this title should be “Rambling” – as in “I have been rambling around in the woods” – or “Ramblings”, like a series of random thoughts.

No kidding!

I got up and circled the chair, to look at it from a distance. I put the “S” on and then took it back off again.

More than once!

I even – briefly – considered replacing the “g” with an apostrophe…as in “I’m a ramblin’ man.”

That’s the way my mind is working these days.

Rambling.

I haven’t been sleeping well.

I was wide awake through much of last night. The little dog had gone outside to pee at three o’clock, and I’d gone to the bathroom to do the same. When I came out, she was already at the door, peering in, anxious to get out of the weather. Back in bed, she quivered and moaned in her sleep, breathing fast, heart pounding. When the other dog does that, I attribute it to dreams of chasing squirrels. I wasn’t so quick to let it go, in this case. Had she been terror-stricken when I wasn’t right there at the door to let her in? What went through her little dog-mind for those few moments alone out there in the dark and snow? Was that to blame for her restless sleep now?

After mulling that over for too long in the early morning hours, I turned my attention elsewhere. My notes for art class were brought out for examination and review. My finances then came to the forefront, were worried over and set aside. A grant I’ll be writing was given its due. Next, a hangnail that’s been bothering me, and achy joints, and the persistent tickle in my throat.

Finally, my thoughts turned to my sister Nita who, truth be told, is the cause for my restless nights.

She was sick in bed over Christmas…got worse when she expected to get better…went finally to the hospital…and no good news came of that.

Last week my sister Brenda and her husband drove from Michigan to Florida and back, to collect Nita and her few belongings so that she can be surrounded by friends and family that love her.

She saw a specialist yesterday…is having more tests and procedures today…and will likely begin a difficult treatment regimen next week. It’s not a good prognosis, in any case.

When I spoke to her, she said, “Yeah, I’m dying,” and gave a bit of a laugh. Dad and our sister, Sheila, fill her dreams, she said. “I’m sorry to put you guys through this again,” she told me.

“Don’t worry about us,” I said, “Take care of yourself!”

In the middle of the night, seems I can do enough worrying for all of us.

Rosa Parks Can’t Sleep

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When Rosa Parks can’t sleep, I can’t sleep, either.

December 1st marked the anniversary of the day Rosa Parks – the original –  gently refused to give up her seat on the bus.

I was reminded of the date by National Public Radio, which I listen to in the car, going to and from work.

I don’t think my little dog, Rosa Parks, heard that information, though she’s alert to items of interest when they concern her.

Once, as she sat on my lap to watch Jeopardy, I knew the answer to the “final jeopardy” question.

“It’s Rosa Parks!” I told her, “They are going to say your name!”

Her eyes brightened attentively.

It was an easy question, and each of the three contestants had the correct answer. As the host, Alex Trebek, revealed them, he read the answers in his strong, television game-show host voice: “Rosa Parks”…”Rosa Parks”…”Rosa Parks!”

Each time my little dog heard her name, her ears perked up and her eyes darted back and forth. She looked at me as if wondering whether she should go up there. By the time he said her name for the third time, she was quivering with excitement. Rosa Parks proudly swaggered down the stairs to present her famous self to poor Clover Sue, the dog who wasn’t mentioned by Alex Trebek or any other television personality.

Like I said, though, I don’t think my little dog had access to the news that day.

I don’t know what made her so restless.

Sunday is a long day at work for me, so I don’t have as much interaction with the dogs as on any other day of the week. Still, we took a short walk in the cold before I went to open the hardware store, and we got another walk in before I went back to town to serve dinner at the restaurant. I gave the dogs their dinner when I got home, before sitting down to my own meal. We played for a bit, the best we know how, and had a little inside/outside time before settling down for the night.

Except for Rosa Parks, who never did settle down.

First, she decided her ears were itchy, so she scratched and rolled and rubbed on them until she had the blankets in a snarl. Then she thought she needed more love and attention, so she came around to me for a long belly rub. She explored every possible sleeping place, from behind my knees to on my feet to curled around my head on the pillow I was using. Next, she needed to go outside. We repeated this pattern, with variations, all night long. Ignoring her didn’t help. When I thought, “no way does she really need to go out again,” I heard her little feet go padding into the hallway…which is her default area for leaving messes if nobody is around to let her outside…and I jumped out of bed again.

After the fourth trip down the stairs to throw on robe and boots and stand outside to protect my little dog from night-time predators, I gave up on the bed, and just lay on the sofa.

I say “sofa,” but really it’s a “love seat”.

And I’m short, but still not short enough to sleep comfortably on a love seat.

From there, the path to the door was shorter, but had it’s own hazards. By morning, I had memorized the “run-into-the-coffee-table, bump-the-magazine-stand, stub-toe-on-the-trunk and step-right-on-the-dog-dish” routine.

When it was time to get up, it seemed like I’d already been up for hours.

By the time I was showered and ready for work, I felt like I’d been working all night.

As I was getting ready to leave the house, Rosa Parks was settling in for a long nap.

Good dog!

Awake!

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Sleep does not come easy for me lately.

This has been an ongoing problem for much of my life.

As a child, I battled bedtime, and then fought sleep, as if my very life depended on it.

My sister, Brenda, and I chattered away under the covers through all of our teen years. Dad’s arrival home from his second shift around midnight was the only thing that forced us to stop talking, so we could fall asleep.

During my first pregnancy, my sleep patterns flipped wildly back and forth. The first weeks, I felt like I could sleep twenty-four hours a day. I’d often crawl into an empty bed for a nap during Sunday visits to my parents house. I’d drop off to sleep whenever I was a passenger in a car. I didn’t dare sit down in the middle of a project, or sleep would overtake me while dinner burned or water overflowed the sink.

Then, suddenly, I could hardly sleep at all. For months.

Apartment living prevented me from noisy endeavors like vacuuming or machine sewing, but I’d scrub and wax floors through the night. I patched my husband’s blue jeans by hand, and sometimes embroidered the patches. I crocheted for hours. I played hundreds of games of solitaire. When the alarm went off in the morning, my husband would find me wide awake with coffee waiting. I’d kiss him off to work, then settle in for a nap on the sofa.

There was a time, when my oldest daughter was a baby, that she and I would rendezvous every night at three AM. She’d have a bottle; I’d nibble left-overs from dinner. Together, we’d watch old episodes of Charlie Chan.

Generally, though, having a working husband, children, classes and jobs forced a schedule on me that helped to diminish the problem. I still had the occasional sleepless night, and suffered through the effects of it in the following days, but insomnia did not have the same hold on me.

Now, once again, it does.

Often I can cite too much caffeine, unresolved issues or legitimate worries as the cause.

Some things are within my control, some are not.

It’s hard to shut down a busy mind.

Lately, it’s very hard to fall asleep.

Last night was a perfect example.

I had worked in town, walked the dogs morning and evening, wrote, made dinner and tidied up, worked several hours in the studio, answered a couple letters and went to bed exhausted at eleven o’clock.

And lay there, wide awake.

I try all the regular things: I tense, then relax my muscles one by one, from forehead to toes. I allow every thought to enter my consciousness, then gently release it until my mind is clear. I count backward from one hundred, to keep concerns and worries at bay. I toss. I turn.

I lay there.

At one AM, I turned on the lamp and read a couple chapters.

Could hardly keep my eyes open.

That’s the way it is these days. Though I could vacuum to my heart’s content without anyone complaining, and heaven knows my floors could use a good scrubbing, I don’t have the energy. I wish I could roust myself to at least accomplish the chores that I know I’ll be too tired to tackle the next day, for lack of rest. Awake in the middle of the night, all I want is sleep.

I turned out the light…and sleep would not come.

At three-thirty I came downstairs to let Rosa out.

Tried the sofa…no better for sleep.

Turned on the computer.

I checked the news and e-mail and a social networking site, played two games of on-line scrabble and researched a children’s art project for Cinco de Mayo.

At six AM I went back to the sofa where I slept like a baby for almost two hours.

I’m up for the day now, but without much stamina for the day ahead.

Though a nap sounds lovely, I force myself to resist, so that sleep will be possible tonight.

For now, onward…I’m awake!