Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sleepless in Maryland

I haven't had a good night's sleep in almost twenty years. My husband Victor snores loudly -- very loudly. I've often thought of forming a support group called S.O.S. for spouses of snorers. We'd all meet at a lovely hotel but we wouldn't have an affair, we'd just sleep through the night. Except for several business trips of Victor's and my traveling on my own to Italy and Ireland (terribly expensive to fly to another country in order to sleep through the night), I'm the most sleep-deprived person I know. It's a wonder that from sheer lack of "beauty rest" I don't look like that annoying little gecko always hawking car insurance on TV. Am I the only one who would like to stick the Geico gecko in a shoebox? I'd poke holes in it (the shoebox) the way we did for the fireflies in the mayonnaise jar and leave him somewhere in the attic. Every night, once what I call "the great snore" begins, I tiptoe from our bedroom to the guest room, carefully closing both doors. The guest room doubles as my study and this is a good thing in case my muses amuse themselves during the night.

There are two kinds of interrupted sleep -- the horrid, and the the heavenly. Most of us are too familiar with the former, lying there worrying about bills, health, past mistakes, future endeavors. As Yul Brynner says in The King and I, "Etc.etc.etc." I rarely take advice so I rarely give any but if I were to suggest one thing to fellow and sister insomniacs it would be, "Do not, under any circumstances, review your life at three in the morning!" The exception to this guideline would be those of you who are perfect and have led perfect lives filled with perfect choices -- all two of you. For me, the heavenly fractured sleep is when lines for a poem or story gently nudge me awake and insist on being written or at the very least, remembered. This seems the best writing as it isn't competing with nonsensical but necessary thoughts like should I vacuum today? In the middle of the night, creativity has center stage in my soul. 

Sunrise finds me staring at the ceiling fan -- round base, five paddles, three light bulb fixtures, two chains, some dust -- and listening to whiny owls, whistley birds, and neighborhood dogs with a rooster complex. It's odd, but I grew up in Manhattan and I sometimes wonder if I'd sleep better to the city sounds of sirens and taxi cabs. Often, I haven't even gotten out of bed yet and I'm looking forward to an afternoon nap. Napping is one of the great benefits of being retired but one gets so little writing done when asleep.

A while ago, I put together a short comedy (three minutes, like a boiled egg) about writing and insomnia. In it, I cleverly disguise some of myself as a playwright named Jack. A friend who is a nurse informed me I have the same muscle condition (it's called pain) that JFK had. I'm honored, but have no intention of running for political office.  I hope you enjoy the video -- and a good night's sleep.


  1. Maybe your husband and you have sleep apnea. Many people have that problem which, on the long-term, can lead to serious health issues. To see if that is the case doctors can perform a sleep study and if you do have apnea there are several things they can do to keep your airways open at night. Sleeplessness may be a source of inspiration but it is not good for your health. I encourage you and your husband to get checked out for this, it's very important.

    Take care.


  2. Thanks Phanto for your concern. I'm fine but Victor has asthma and allergies that cause the snoring. I usually "catch up" on sleep later in the day.