Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sleeping Arrangements

No one likes having their sleep disturbed, count me in this group.  Granted, a few super humans are somehow able to function with erratic sleep patterns or very little sleep; I however am not one of them.   My personality tends to be rather cantankerous and mischievous in ideal circumstances, throwing the delicate balance off with sleep deprivation is never a good thing.   

So here I am, wide awake, staring at a clock that reads 3:08am, but slightly hesitant to allow myself to fall back asleep.   This is because about 15 minutes ago I woke up after having a vividly dark nightmare about someone trying to kill me.   Yes, I’m sure Jung, Freud, and a handful of others could dissect the graphic details of this dream and explain in no uncertain terms why I am slightly crazy.   But I already know this about myself, so I don’t see how that will be helpful in the current moment.   I’m mostly worried about returning to a place of peace, so I can return to restful sleep. 
When the uncommon nightmare predicament presents itself, I typically have three trusty go-to strategies that I can faithfully rely on.
1) Praying or talking it out with myself or with Riley.   Who by the way is also upset that his sleep has been interrupted (oh I can just imagine how disheveled his fur will look come sun-up).  Something about my racing heart and sweat drenched body (fear sweats are the worst) has made Riley slightly resentful of my requirement for him to cuddle with me right now.  Annoyed puppy aside, I have found that identifying the thoughts and addressing them by name can aid in putting things back into perspective.  
2) Watch a comedy.   Countless nights have I shaken off haunting thoughts with How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Friends reruns, How I Met Your Mother, or various other lighthearted entertainment. 
3) Lullabies.   No, I don’t call my mom and ask her to sing to me.  Although I’m quite confident that she would come over with her guitar and bust out Peter, Paul, and Mary in a heartbeat if the situation required.  Hhhmm…this has me thinking, would I request “Blowin’ in the Wind” or “Puff, The Magic Dragon?”  However, I am actually referring to a playlist, entitled “Lullabies” that I created containing songs that at one time or another I deemed as comforting or soothing.  So at this unholy hour, I grab my phone, select Lullabies from the list, and hit “shuffle.”  The song that plays first is an old one, but does the trick… “In open fields of wild flowers, she breathes the air and flies away…”  Thank you Jars of Clay.

As I sit here, I think of how over the past two weeks my sleep has been interfered with time and again.  I begin to wonder how things went awry, and if unknowingly I have somehow been set on a course of increasingly sleepless nights.

It all started two weeks ago, at the very beginning of a flight from the West Coast to London when the woman in the seat next to me dropped an entire cup of coffee in my lap as she was taking it from the flight attendant.   This would have been

unpleasant in any circumstance, but it was made especially awful because I still had almost 10 hours of flight time before I had hopes of reuniting with my checked back and a change of clothes.   Normally, sleeping on a plane is no trouble for me.  In fact, I have actually slept from takeoff to touchdown on those long flights before.   However, being forced to sit there with a hot wet crotch (no, that is not supposed to be sexual- get your mind out of the gutter! sheesh!) would prove to make sleep hard to come by on this particular flight.

I eventually arrived in London, and quickly made my way to the Piccadilly Line and headed to Cambridge where I would be meeting up with my brother.   Being the all-star procrastinator and poor planner that I am, I had not booked a hotel room for the first night.   My brother was speaking at a conference, and had been provided lodging in the dorms on campus.   But this wasn’t an option for me, so I was supposed to find a place for my first night.   Apparently Cambridge is a popular weekend destination (who da thunk?), and there were no hotels, no hostels, and no guesthouses available.   Now I know the Brits have a slew of anti-homelessness measures, including a recent No Second Night Out pilot program created in 2011 by one of their many ministries.   To be honest, I was just worried about my first night being “out.”  Although, by this point, quite frankly, I would have been fine to sleep in a stairwell or under a bridge.  That’s how exhausted I was after my travels.   After my brother and I evaluated our options (or lack thereof), we decided that I really didn’t have any other choice but for me to crash in his dorm room (flashback to UW circa the late 90s).  I was convinced I would have no problem sleeping across a table/desk in the room, but sheepishly this brilliant idea lasted all of 30 seconds.   My brother then graciously threw some blankets and pillows on the floor and laid down on the cold tile so his little sister could sleep in the bed.   Feeling guilty about a conference speaker having to sleep on the tile floor, I suggested we try to share the bed.   So there we were back-to-back with a pillow separating us, on a twin bed, both vowing we’d never speak of the incident (oops). 

The next night, as luck would have it, quality sleep proved to be elusive as well.   We had a full day and traveled for several hours, and were staying in a dorm style hostel.  I woke up around 3:30am to the most obnoxious snoring I have ever heard in my life.   I kid you not, the snoring sounded like a cross between a garbage disposal and nasally pig with its head in a trough amplified for a stadium crowd.  After lying awake enduring this fate for hours on end, I was teetering on the verge of violence.   I actually had my shoe in my hand and was seriously considering huffing it at his face while seething with anger.   My only consolation, and that fat bastard’s only saving grace was the fact that the sounds coming from him were not those of a healthy man, and compassionately I reasoned that chances are his insalubrious lifestyle would catch up with him, and he wouldn’t continue to afflict the masses with sleeplessness for much longer.   I had to refer back to my nightmare tool kit here as well…
1) Prayer – Dear God please don’t let me do anything to this sweaty slug that could get me thrown in prison. 
2) Comedy – getting my iPhone out and taking his picture and recording the sound of his snores. 
3) Lullabies – putting my headphones in and cranking up my music in a futile attempt to drown out the awful noises.  

Fortunately as the week went on, my accommodations improved and sans a few random incidents involving spiders and a naked stranger sleeping in our room by mistake (while touching himself awkwardly), my sleep quota began to return to normal.   (Stay tune for a future blog post- the tale of a naked vagabond defiling Mike’s bed)

Apparently, I can add blogging as option #4 to my nightmare recovery plan, as it is now 3:47am, and I seem ready to go back to sleep.



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