It’s 3:18 a.m. and once again I’m wide awake. I don’t know why. It’s been a couple years since I quit bartending and was just getting off work now. A couple years since I’ve needed to sleep a four hour chunk at night with a couple naps snuck throughout the day at lunch and in between jobs. Long enough for my body to readjust to normal sleeping hours. Something my husband thought would happen right away. HA! He still wonders why I don’t start any major projects until late afternoon. Gripes that I am harder to rouse at a decent time in the morning than the kids. I do know that every other human being on the planet is asleep now. Even this college town is silent… I can hear a dove or an owl cooing outside my open window at least I hope it’s a dove. Owls hate me. There was that giant owl that would dive bomb my car when I was driving home from work in the middle of the night and no one would believe me! Even though it kept happening. People thought I was drunk but I wasn’t. It was terrifying. I looked for deer (Or elk. Remember the elk by Johnson’s?) jumping onto the road from the ditch, not owls falling from the sky… The people who were still drinking at last call have stumbled home and those who work the early shift aren’t moving yet. Even 24-hour convenience stores are empty at 3:30. But I am awake.
Why? I’ve pushed four children out of this body and I need to pee. Using the bathroom in the middle of the night and stopping multiple times on long car trips is now officially a thing. But do I really need to pee or do I just want to start reading the book Dr. E said was a perfect fit for me? Why does she think a serial killer book is perfect for me anyway? I’m afraid that has deeper meaning than I’m willing to examine. Maybe I can wait until morning. If I turn on the light in the bathroom, then I will be up. But if I hold my book just right I can read by the nightlight’s dim glow. Then I won’t be fully awake. I can’t go back to sleep without peeing.
What time is it anyway? I put my face inches away from the clock to see the numbers. (I’m really, really nearsighted.) 3:32 Oh god! Why did I look? Now I will never get back to sleep even though I stayed up until after midnight to finish that other book. It wasn’t even a new book. It was a re-read…. A John Sandford book from the Virgil Flowers series. I love Virgil. He’s my book boyfriend.… I knew how it was going to end. This after I told my husband at 9:00 I was going to bed early because I was so tired from lying awake the previous night.
Seriously Nebraska Public Radio… Handel organ concertos? I hate organ music and these are s o o o o l o n g. I guess I’ll go to the bathroom. This is why I love South Dakota Public Radio so much better. I let the classical music play in my apartment all night because even though my apartment is smack in the middle of a college town, it’s too quiet to sleep otherwise. SDPB goes to BBC news at midnight and the British accented newscasters have a soothing tone that always lulls me back to sleep. But I can’t tune it in here, only at home. It drives my husband nuts that I need the radio but I keep the volume low and the clock-radio is on my side of the bed so I can maybe see the numbers on my clock without fumbling for my glasses. Most of the time he can’t hear it over my snoring but once in a while he stumbles around my side of the bed, over three dogs, to turn the news off in half asleep irritation.
My nose is stuffed up now. I can’t find the box of Kleenex I keep by the bed. I’m going to start sneezing and I won’t be able to stop. What time did I take my last allergy meds? If I alternate kinds I think it’s safe to take more now. I can just throw my used Kleenex on the floor here because my dog is not here to eat them. As a mom and farm kid, I have cleaned up a lot more disgusting messes than a few dried up Kleenexes every morning. I wonder if the plural of Kleenex is Kleenexes? It seems as if it should be something fancy like Kleenexi. No wonder the kids I give writing assistance to can’t plural correctly. English is so confusing.
I’m hungry. This always happens if I’m awake late. I get hungry. When I bartended, my coworkers would always disappear to pop their first beer as soon as the doors were locked behind the final customer. Who are we kidding with first beer…it was the first beer we would admit to. It takes a special kind of person to bartend without drinking. None of us were that kind of special. They would get a drink, a smoke and the address for the night’s after-bar party, and I would scavenge a sandwich. What I joke is a twelve-year-old baby weight belly is actually a 3 a.m. sandwich belly. Even if you eat a late supper- and how many of us actually got to eat an actual supper behind the bar- at 3:00 it’s been hours since you last ate. Maybe I’ll get some cereal.
“Morning Edition” is on NPR now. That means it’s 4 a.m. That means I really, really need to go back to sleep… Remember that old country music song I heard on the radio this summer? “It’s four in morning and once more the dawning; has woke up my longing for you” I never realized how dirty that song was until this summer. I need to view my entire childhood differently. We only were allowed to listen to ‘Huggin Country’ in the barn doing chores. People talk about how the music the kids listen to today is horrible. Creepy, sequined country stars were singing about morning wood and not recognizing their mistresses when they met on the street over forty years ago. And what’s with cutting out the word ass in that Zac Brown Band song about sitting on the beach, but radio stations having no issue playing Eric Church’s new song “Wrecking Ball”? Don’t get me wrong, I like both songs but why is the word ass a bigger problem than a sex life that destroys a house?… Between my actual classes and tutoring, I am on campus for twelve hours tomorrow. No time for afternoon naps. Usually if I concentrate hard on the words the newscasters are saying, I fall asleep. I will try that. Oh! A story about record harvests and low prices grain prices is going to be on in twenty minutes. I should stay awake and listen to that and then I can go back to sleep. Wait I a minute…. I don’t work for the ranchers’ association anymore. I don’t need to know this stuff. Back in the day, I needed to know this stuff but not anymore. Back in the day people called the office with all sorts of random and not so random questions. Not only were we called on to give average cattle and pasture prices, we settled arguments that arose in the old men’s morning coffee group. “No really, I don’t have any idea how many cows the Mormon Church owns in Florida. We located in Nebraska. Nope, couldn’t even guess. Yes, I am sorry you will have to spend three dollars for the group’s coffee tomorrow if your guess cannot be corroborated. Maybe you could call the Cattlemen‘s Association of Florida. No I don’t have that number handy.” Now I can tell by the programming it is almost five. That’s a bad sign. I am so familiar with the NPR news cycle between four and five in the morning that I don’t need to look at a clock to know what time it is. If I fall asleep right now, I can sleep for three and a half hours before I have to get up. Tomorrow night I’ll drink a beer and then maybe I‘ll sleep for the whole night. I need to go back to sleep. I need to go back to sleep I need to go bac….