Yeah, okay, so it's an oxymoron...
It's not just that for most of my life I've been a night person more than a day person, fond of reading into the small hours of the morning, talking with friends in all-night diners and coffee shops, watching late night talk tv shows -- in college a friend nicknamed me "Bat" due to my nocturnal propensities -- but I've also been something of an insomniac.
All of my children seemed to have inherited my nocturnal nature.
When Adam was around fourteen he spent many nights summer nights hanging out at Binghamton University's student run radio station, playing general go-fer, listening to the late night college bull session ramblings of the disk jockeys, and being allowed sometime around three a.m. to go on the air himself, introducing music he had selected to play.
Jennifer and Sean are also night people. I worked more than my share of night jobs -- third shift in a supermarket; a second shift manufacturing job that, with overtime, went past four a.m.; police officer; third shift security guard; third shift computer operator; second shift computer operator -- so I shouldn't be surprised that my daughter enjoys her third shift supermarket shelf-stocking job. (And unknowingly following his older brother, Sean has been known to hang-out at the URI radio station.)
And like me, they also suffer from insomnia... the inability to sleep sometimes even when you are totally exhausted.
I've complained in these pages about suffering insomnia when on the road -- of three a.m. channel-surfing in hotel rooms around the world, unable to sleep -- sometimes induced by jet lag and time zone changes, but I've also experienced the same problem while still in the Eastern U.S. timezone.
In recent years, while at home, I've not had too much of a problem with insomnia (perhaps usually because my schedule seems to leave me sleep-deprived most of the time anyway?) except if I have just fallen into a deep sleep and I am awakened -- that may leave me awake for hours.
Wednesday night, cup of tea and two or three Girl Scout cookies (the peanut butter ones)... sit down on the living room sofa to enjoy my tea and a few minutes of stand-up comedy on HBOC (the HBO comedy channel)... I began having trouble keeping my eyes open and the next thing I knew the thin young black comedian I'd been watching had morphed into a somewhat older and heavier white comedian... half an hour had somehow disappeared. I got up, turned off the tv, came into the den to turn off this computer (pausing to check email, of course), and went upstairs to brush my teeth and get into bed.
I couldn't get to sleep. I read several chapters in a book I've been enjoying, turned out the light, can't sleep, turn on the light read a few more chapters, turn out the light... sleep will not come. Lie there in the dark. Think about things. Worry about things. Too much thinking, must get to sleep... Finally give up around three-thirty, get up and come down stairs... Insomniac Sean had been watching tv in the living room, but he'd fallen asleep. I watch the final minutes of some really bad B-movie. He wakes up and goes to bed. I eat a dish of cereal and read. Around four-thirty I go back to bed. Can't sleep. My alarm is set for five-thirty -- I change it to six-thirty. I finally fall asleep sometime after five. Alarm goes off. Slap the snooze feature every ten minutes until seven a.m. Crawl out of bed, crawl through a day at work, crawl home, eat dinner, do email and surf a few blogs, need sleep, go to bed early.
So I go to bed around nine o'clock. I was going to read a few pages of a book but Nancy is watching the very first episode of The Brady Bunch and I start watching it also until I fall asleep. I startle awake as the show is ending, take off my glasses, turn out my light, go back to sleep. Ringing telephone wakes me up, my first thought is that it is morning and time to get up but then realize it is still night, Nancy has brief phone conversation with one of her sisters, hangs up phone, also turns off television, I go back to sleep. I wake up from a dream when our cat (fourteen and one half pounds) walks across me. I try to go back to sleep -- it was an interesting dream -- but apparently I have had enough sleep, or at least all the sleep I am going to have. It is quarter to four in the morning. Might as well get up and see what's happening on the Internet.
Oh, the dream... well, it was one of those complicated ones, lots of things mixed together but they seem to make sense at the time. At one point in the dream I was teaching a high school computer class -- there were some cardboard boxes piled up along one side of the classroom that looked like the kind of box computers or computer monitors might ship in, but they were all labelled with with various grammar terms (parts of speech, sentence types, one was marked SUBJUNCTIVE MODE) and I joked with the class that I could teach them about English as well as about computers. In what seemed to be this same dream I was in a place that seemed to be part of a large retail store and also a manufacturing warehouse (well, it made sense at the time) and apparently my daughter had worked there and one of the employees recognized me as being her father and asked me if she would come back there because she was such good worker and they really needed her... I told them I would relay the message but she was working as a long haul cross-country truck driver now and enjoyed that work... and then I was with her and she was going to show me how to drive a truck in case I wanted to change jobs... I told her that I liked my job and that I couldn't make as much money driving a truck but I did want to see what it was like to be a trucker. And bringing things together, at some point it seemed as if I were telling my students about a race I had run in and at the same time I was reminiscing with my daughter about that race because she had run it with me, a twenty mile Thanksgiving Day run where it had begun to snow at the start and soon became almost a blizzard (and I was also running that race as I was telling about it).
Hmmm. Well, recently I found the alumni webpage for the high school where I had last taught English before going of to grad school to learn computers, so I can see what might have triggered that part (in the dream I was teaching at that high school). And my daughter has been talking about changing her major (she's been finding her computer courses to be boring and the instructors inept) and her current job is stocking shelves. And we used to run races together a lot (and are planning on running a couple together this year, including the Blessing of the Fleet 10-miler) and we have run a Thanksgiving Day run together a few times where it can be cold and there were snow flurries one time (and although I have never run twenty miles, I have run a twenty kilometer race several times).
Okay, time to eat breakfast and drive to work.