Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Better Ewe Through Somnambulism!

This relationship has got to end!

My all night affair with Night, that is.

I blame the 24 hour news cycle that I was introduced to back in my sleep formative twenty- something years when I first began my stint in public broadcasting. I did more Overnight shifts on 'Morning Edition' than I care to remember or care to admit. It's an impossible hour these after midnight rounds. I pity nurses! This is the time for sleep, or romance, not terror. These particular 12:00am to 8:00am shifts kept me wide-eyed and wide awake especially, too; news, as we all know, can be so terrifying 24 hours a day (yes, I was working in radio when September 11th occurred ... the one "good" thing about 9/11? At least it happened during normal day time hours...).

Mostly, though, the hard hitting news that occurred on those early shifts back in the day revolved around the Russian-Chechnyan conflict and the Serbian (ahem, former Yugoslavia) genocides. Clinton was in office so this country was reluctant, and sparing, when it came to military involvement. Hey, we were too busy basking in all of that internet boom wealth glory to care what was going on in other countries anyway... wait a minute. Since when did the U.S. ever care about other countries?

Not the point.

I am a bonafide insomniac.

I cannot sleep at night. Hardly a wink to be unseen anymore... one black sheep too many amongst the fence-leaping herd messing everything up for me.

It doesn't matter how hard I work during the day or how much stuff I have to do the next day I remain as diligent a night owl as ever. In fact, another little night owl, a screech owl, sometimes reminds me of this with her hooting not far down the street from us.

Arguably, my insomnia makes the house much safer in terms of break-ins or fires; I am full-time security guard and primed smoke detector.

I have tried everything to win back regular sleep hours short of taking those sanity impairing cortex softeners advertised all over Time Magazine and rags of that ilk. I just can't give into Lunaticesta, Ambienocide, or Razorem as I have heard any number of nightmarish (get it..?) stories about people who go absolutely ape-shit batty on that crack.

For example.

One associate of mines' aunt, currently submitting to the popular Ambien "sleep aid", gets up in the middle of the night and writes emails to her relatives. No problem with that, per se, only these emails are all written completely unawares and often in a very abusive tone, some using language that would even make the Sopranos blush. So far outside of reason and reality are these messages that she finds herself profusely apologizing for their content every day after each new creative nocturnal transmission. The prompting for an apology usually comes in the form of a delicate, but obviously unnerved, REPLY ALL message from her kinsfolk reminding her of these sleepmailed indiscretions:

"My goodness, Dearie, we had no idea we were all a bunch of worthless cocksuckers..."

"Heh, sorry, gang, it was just the ole Ambien talking again! Tee hee!"

Yeah, I believe Linda Blair had a similar problem and it ended up with the murder of two priests...

So, I try to remedy my own dream deprivation instead with 3 to 5 mgs of an all natural orange flavored sublingual Melatonin pill (or the more potent liquid version milked from the teat of some poor bastards adrenal gland I assume), or Valerian Root capsules (holistically recommended from another sleep deprived friend of mine), or reading, writing, and even, yes, the occasional stint with late night cable television movies. I have never been much of a fan of horror films but that's apparently what TV programmers assume anyone staying up past a certain hour is very interested in. As a result I know more about the Australian Wolf Creek serial killings than ever before, that the European Hostel experience for some can be not so pleasant at all (downright hostile!), and just down the road from us here in Texas apparently there were some pretty nasty chain saw massacres... brrrrrrr! I shutter to think at all of the frightening characters dreamed up out there to, not ironically, keep us awake at night.

Heather, for the most part, is mercifully tolerant of my insomnia. Although, I'm sure she misses companionship at some moments during the evening she also understands that me rolling around all night in a state of anaphylactic shock-like convulsion (allergic to sleep?) does her no good for maintaining her own circadian rhythm balance. She knows I will eventually show up, tip-toeing into the bedroom at whatever ungodly hour, to finally make peace with my cerebral cortex. I am up at a relatively normal morning hour to boot given the circumstances (excluding weekends sometimes; it can all catch up to me then to be sure!), and this is most troubling. I am just waiting for a total psychic melt down to come calling any day now due to lack of enough sleep. Even without the prescription medications am I still opening myself up to that ugly sleepmailing habit practiced by my friend's aunt?

Uh, oh...

"Dear Cats, I will never, ever, ever fucking feed you again! Ever! Miserable fucking Fuckers!"

Oh, sorry kitties. Sleeptyping again I see... tee-hee! Kissy-kissy, winky-winky!

So, here's what I've started to do to fight back ... and it seems to be working. For the moment.

But, first, some background: I usually row Crew in the early a.m. from late Spring to about mid-Fall every year. I have been doing this since my college days and most recently (when I lived back in Boston) with B.U.'s Summer Rowing program. Rowing the Mighty Charles River was a sure fire way to correct a lot of things, not just sleeping schedules. It's a good 'gut check' method for one and it rids the body temple of all sorts of otherwise nasty toxins (which the Charles will happily replace with one good boat-tip if you're not careful, btw!).

However, with the sun and the heat here in Texas this last summer I was rendered nearly immobile as it was so damned-ably oppressive (high 90's everyday - not like New England heat either which tends to be muggy and tolerable - Texas heat is desert heat and it is scorching and top-heavy). I used this oven-on-high-climate excuse rather successfully to convince myself not to pick up my normal sculling and sweeping exercises on Austin's own Town Lake (now Lady Bird Johnson Lake after LBJ's late great environmentalist wife) much to my, and Heather's, chagrin. I've paid dearly for it as I'm not my normally spry and fit self at the moment... (you may have heard of the phenomenon "The Freshman 15"? I think I just experienced "The Texas 20" over the last 3 months...).

But that's about to change!

And, here's the kicker: I have taken up (drum roll sfx here) running again!

I might also proudly point out that I'm using this form of exercise, to somewhat decent effect, in combating my insomnia, as well.

You see, I run at night.


As in around midnight late.

Extreme Somnambulism (in extremis)! Only I'm very much awake while I'm jogging along...

Duval Street opens itself up as a nice, quiet 6 mile stretch down to the university from our place and that's a pretty good jaunt for starters. Well, I run only about 5 of those miles back and forth all together. That's FIVE miles of a Marathon race, though (I ran the 100th Boston Marathon back in 1999 to the drub-tacular tune of 5 hours 50 minutes... I run my current five miles in about an hours time. Is that bad? Probably. Ugh, terrible, actually!)! Indeed, I am still at my lumbering pace stage right now, but, to my credit, I start out at a good enough clip - its just when I realize that I have to run back that I begin to resemble one of the gorier cast members of Dawn Of The Dead (Ooooo, another late night horror flick!).

Am I worried about being thugged-upon one of these daring runner's nights outs? Not really. I figure if anyone jumps me they'll get, what? My shorts? Please. I don't even carry my keys with me. Worst case scenario ... I run home naked. Not like that hasn't ever hap...

Moving on.

It's still early in this little anti-insomnia crusade of mine but I have high hopes. I'm feeling better already lately, if not a smidge sore, and I have even begun witnessing significant strides towards sleep cycle normalcy starting to creep in. I almost fell asleep 2 hours after I finished my run the other night! Woo-hoo! Take that, Mr. Sandman, in your face! (Wait, he's supposed to be on my side, right?)

I'll try and promise to occasionally keep you posted as to my progress. In theory, this will actually help motivate me to continue my running routine. Else wise I have a feeling if I end up succumbing to inertia again ... (sigh) ... that will be just one more reason to keep me up at night.

Now, in the meantime, if I could just rest my head down for one minute and qwerty!67huji8k 7yh6gtfr 54ed3ftgvy6njhhhhhhhbfg tv54279 g3 048HJ34HTY 6GGGGG39...zzzz.

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