I haven’t been sleeping very well. Each night I crawl under the covers with the hope that I will make it through the night, that I won’t wake up until it’s properly time to do so. Each night, my hopes are crushed. Hard.
Our queen-sized bed is a life raft, to which we all pile onto each night for a ride into a sea of (potential) zzz’s. Matt and I take our sides of the bed and with the dogs, we all snuggle into our respective places and shove off. “Please let me sleep, please let me sleep” runs through my head, a nightly mantra as I pull the pillows over my head and burrow into my tiny slice of the bed not occupied by the dogs. In the muffled darkness, in that space I’ve created for myself under the pillows, I hide from whatever it is that doesn’t want me to sleep and pray that this sleep-robber thing misses me. It rarely does.
Two nights ago, I was lured awake at 2:33 am. Usually, my eyelids are slowly pulled open by imaginary strings, and I lie there, staring into the darkness, a pissed-off zombie marionette in awaiting. But this night was different.
I bolted awake because I smelled something burning, smoke. I raised on my elbows, my eyes darting about in the darkness expecting to see a glowing mass emerging through the bedroom door. There was none. As my panicked breathing slowed, the smell slowly faded away, like a toasty apparition. I slowly laid back down, head to pillow and waited for the sleep robber to let go of the strings and give me a sip of sleep.
I have a clock that ticks. Sometimes too loudly. When I’m a lady in waiting, sometimes the ticks are too tocking and I have to reach between the bed and the nightstand to switch off the power strip that feeds the time beast. This was one of those nights.
In my orchestrated silence, perfect for slumber, not one, but three sets of rhythmic snores coming from Matt, Vivian and Molly, punctuated the air. I was so mad they were all riding waves of peace on our raft of a bed, while I somehow careened on waves crashing into a shore unseen.
I squeezed my eyes shut. Began counting sheep. I started at 1000. I figured I’d need that many.
Between numbers, anxiety crept in. I wondered if the burnt-smoke smelling meant that I was having a stroke. I then wondered if I was dying. Then I thought about when the last time was that I had a physical. Then I thought about that I hadn’t paid my accountant and if he hated me now. Then I thought about how I said I wasn’t going to eat red meat and I had a burger and I was a hypocrite. And if I ate better, maybe I would sleep better, and if I could only fall asleep, I wouldn’t be so angry right now and then I thought about how I was going to have to not be mad when I did finally wake up for the morning time because it wouldn’t be fair to Matt for me to wake up salty, which had been happening for several days in a row, and then I wanted to cry. And then I did. A little. I think I finally fell asleep around 600 sheep.
I then had a nightmare that I was on a friend’s new yacht and there was a guy physically abusing his wife, whom I had to save and then after I saved the wife she started to seduce Matt and then he kissed her right in front me and some other people, and even though I was really mad and screaming at him for an apology, he never apologized but instead, ordered room service because he was more concerned about food than me. The sleep robber stirred me from that nautical mess at 4:00 am. I was quickly granted a cup of sleep, however, I went back to it angry as fuuuuuudge.
At 7:30 am, I awoke to Vivian licking my face like I was the last freaking ice cream cone on earth. Her entire body flops around as she wiggles and wags in the dawn of a new day, happy to be there. This happens every morning. I try to be like Vivian. But, I often fail. Especially that morning. I was still mad from the dream, and told Matt about it, to which he sort of laughed and said, “What did the girl look like?” I didn’t laugh (for effect) and I said, “She was blond.”
I had set up some fake breakfast bacon in the toaster oven during this dream telling. I left it to go get started with my day. Yes, I forgot about it. Yes, I set a timer this time, but I still forgot and I set the timer for too long (first time making it). By the time I returned to it, the fake bacon had started on fire. Like, umm, real flames. Scary terrible flames that laughed when I opened the toaster oven door to pull out the burning fake bacon. I slammed the door shut. Panicked, knowing I needed Matt’s help, now, I said rather calmly, “Matt, this thing is on fire. I don’t know what to do.”
We both panicked calmly. Unplug it. Water? No! Smother it? How?! What else? Don’t know! My brain yelled, “Baking Soda!” So I found it in the back of the fridge where it was busy doing its job to trap odors; I grabbed it and opened the toaster oven door again to which bigger, louder, bigger flames exploded. I threw the baking soda on it trying to shut it up. Woosh! Biggest cackle ever. I was stunned, wasn’t that supposed to work? Why didn’t it? Then I thought, this is how people die in fires. This is how they die. They don’t know what to do and then they die. Then I thought that while scary, this was actually good intel for my book because I have a speakeasy fire in the book and I could now see with my own eyes how quickly the fire grows when fed air and there was no way Jonas could get out of the speakeasy or save Harlem fast enough with a fire this fast and I’d really have to rethink that ending scene again. All this thinking and not moving. Maybe if I’d had more sleep, I’d have had more ideas. Matt finally blew really hard on it and it went out.
With the smoke alarm blaring, Molly running around in circles with her tail between her legs and the front door open to help us breathe, little Vivian made a run for it and we saw first-hand her fight or flight mode. Matt saved her, too.
Starting the day with a wave of heated chaos wasn’t ideal, but I felt lucky that The Hot One was used to such madness. I found happiness in that.
In fact, as I stood on a ladder, trying to fan the very loud fire detector wedged in our 14- foot ceilings with a blanket, burnt smoke filled my nostrils and I realized, I wasn’t having a stroke last night, nothing was wrong with me! I was merely having a premonition. I was being psychic.
Except for the dream. The dream was not psychic. Not psychic. In fact, I think it was about me not getting what I want. Which is SLEEP. (Or, it was about my perceived notion of white women’s power?? I’ve been reading The Power Manual for a client.)
There’s something else good in all this. Great actually. I’ve been accumulating new freelance copy editing and ghostwriting clients, one of which is writing a book about sleep. I’m getting some sleep-robber repellent tips from her and I think I’m just about ready to slay! I’ll keep you posted.
By the way, I just remembered that we have a fire extinguisher. Did we think to use it? Nope.