Thursday, March 28, 2013
I've never had trouble sleeping--not, anyhow, since I have been aware what sleeping is. (Of my infancy, my mother probably could tell you different stories.) Even back in my Oklahoma boyhood, when it was a gajillion degrees on an August night (in the daze before AC)--so hot that we had on our beds only the fitted sheets (no top sheet, no blankets, no spread)--I would fall into the Sleep of the Innocent moments after the light went out.
Not that I was an Innocent, mind you. Any old friends from Enid, OK, days could confirm that I was, at times, a Naughty Child, one who threw rocks, lied, sneaked off to see movies my parents had forbidden me to see, figured out how to coax Cokes from the machine without offering a financial sacrifice, didn't always do homework, punched both brothers (older and younger) with impunity, stole cookies from my mom's hiding place, charged donuts at the grocery (that one caught up with me at the end of the month), borrowed dimes I never paid back (or intended to), "borrowed" a dollar now and then from my mother's purse and my older brother's room (he hid his money under a serape that lay atop his dresser drawers), shoplifted Snickers, stabbed with a butcher knife the (stolen) basketball of a guy I hated. That one, I know, is borderline psycho, and worth an entire entry of its own. For now, just take my word for it: He deserved it. And so did his basketball.
But even amidst all that--I shushed my feeble Jiminy Cricket as it chirped ineffectually at me. And slept like a drugged baby.
And on into junior high and high school, where, of course, my crimes against humanity grew darker. We won't get into them. Well, only to say that they involved lies, theft--just about all the relevant Ten Commandments, except murder (though I certainly thought about it--"As he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Prov. 23:7) and that other one that requires the cooperation of a willing partner, of whom there were none, at least none willing to break Commandment Seven with me. In adolescence, the Dark Side often doesn't have much trouble convincing you to Come On Over.
Still--slept like a drugged baby, all through junior high and high school.
The same in college, where the evils of alcohol, tobacco (not firearms), late nights, and galloping libido combined to cause St. Peter to flip over his pencil so that its eraser was ready to go should I croak in college.
Slept like a drugged baby.
And on into my first job, teaching seventh grade English in Aurora, Ohio, where I was far too busy to sin (I smoked, drank beer for a while--but not much: I couldn't afford those habits for long). And I slept far too much: I got in trouble a couple of times for showing up late to school, my face creased with sleep, my hair steadfastly refusing to obey any efforts of brush or comb. (It wasn't long, though, that, chastened, I became one of the earliest to arrive at school.)
Slept like a drugged baby.
Until, oh, about 2011. Between 1966 and 2011, I was pretty much teaching every year, so busy (classes, papers, play practices, meetings, grad school, family) that I was always tired, and there was that nightly question: Will I fall asleep before I finish getting into bed?
I retired (for the second time) in June 2011, and since then I've not slept nearly so well. Some physical/medical changes account for some of it, of course. I'm older, have had prostate problems, so like most other guys over the age of sixty, I receive, during the night, urgent messages from the Nether Regions that it's time to go do something. Sometimes several times per night. Back in bed, I find it's not so easy to sleep. (No more drugged baby--more like a hyperactive one.)
Also compounding the problem: Worry. Health. Aging. Regret. Fear. And, of course, that ultimate conversation I will have with Mr. G. Reaper when he decides it's time for The Visit. Mr. Reaper, always grim, generally gets what he came for.
I haven't taken any narcotics (the good kind) yet. (Meaning #2 on Dictionary.com: 2. anything that relieves pain or induces sleep, mental numbness, etc.) But I've thought about it. Sometimes I just can't get up in the morning because I have slept so poorly. And Dawn Reader becomes Later-in-the-Morning Reader. So if some meds will KO me, maybe it's time to get clocked.
Or ... maybe I just need to revert to my Younger Self. Snatch a few Snickers bars at the Acme? Or stab some creep-o's basketball? Lie a little, throw a few rocks.
And sleep, once again, like a drugged baby.