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A Few Zzzzz’s

May 14, 2011

Sleep has never been my strong suit, but lately, it’s become tougher than ever before. When I was born, I did my best to stay awake and passed most of my first ten days of life peeking over my father’s shoulder while he walked and did a little bounce-step and cooed and coaxed me, and my mother meanwhile sat there exhausted, distraught that her daughter wasn’t fussing, but also wasn’t sleeping. “You were a creepy baby,” she tells me. “You looked like you were afraid you’d miss something the instant you dropped off. You looked like you had plans.”

Now, almost thirty-eight years later, I still spend my nights simply awake. Not fussing, not awake because of any particular thing. Just…awake…not doing anything to keep myself up, not worrying or fretting or thrashing in the sheets. Not planning. And, I’m not concerned all the good stuff is waiting for me to lose consciousness before it goes down. Quite the opposite. I envy the sleep everyone around me enjoys while I hang out in the dark.

I remember dreading birthday party sleepovers, not because I was afraid to stay overnight away from home, but because I’d eventually be the only kid still awake, burrowed in my sleeping bag and trying to shut out anything to blame for my wakeful state. Light oozing under the door, clicks from the clock somewhere down the hall, other girls snoring, one kid dreaming and muttering, the smell of cake and hotdogs churning through the stale rec room.

The only thing worse was morning, when I’d wake up first, having eventually drifted off around 5 AM. Eight o’clock would arrive, then eight-thirty and nine-fifteen. Someone would shift and I’d sit up, relieved that at last we were all going to get up, roll our sleeping bags and brush our teeth and maybe eat bacon for breakfast. At the very least, whisper and hang out. Instead, she would just shift and slither a bit inside her nylon cozy then roll over and drool into the pillow till almost 10.

And, all my relationships have been with people who sleep like the dead. It ocurrs to me that it’s unlikely I choose partners who sleep with ease; really, they sleep like normal people. Like people who get tired, get in bed, go to sleep, sleep awhile, wake up, and start the day refreshed. I’ve lived alone for about ten years, and have had no one to measure my sleep against but myself. That is, until I adopted a cat.

It’s a bit fucked up, but I’ve come to realise we follow a similar schedule. We’re at our most tired around 7 PM, and by “bedtime” are jacked and completely awake. While I lie quietly conscious, she bolts through the apartment between the hours of midnight and 5 AM, at which point she assumes her post next to my pillow and administers paw-jabs to my cheek. Then, we’re both super sleepy around 6ish, around alarm-time. Not long after I invited the cat to join my household, I began incarcerating her in bathroom jail if she woke me more than two times during the night. I figured this was a fair deal. Of course, the only thing crazier than believing my cat and I operate on similar schedules is believing my cat understands “three strikes and you’re out”. It’s not unlike the contemporary parenting trend of reasoning with your two-year-old and offering choices and toddler empowerment. Really, the kid, like the cat, is conditioning you and not the other way around.

This morning, the cat woke me at 6 o’clock; a time I would prefer not to experience on a Saturday. I played dead while she poked a paw at my face, ignored her while she paced back and forth across my thighs, pretended she wasn’t kneading my pillow like an unlucky loaf of bread. I tried the opposite approach, issuing threats about what was going to happen if she didn’t bug off for at least another two hours. Withholding breakfast. Suspension of balcony and garden privileges. The suplex.

Nothing deterred the little animal, and so I gave up on sleeping in, which I can rarely achieve even without feline interference, and accepted that it was a gorgeous morning, dead-quiet except for a bit of rain and a bunch of birds going on dates with one another and preparing to make new birds. Now, closer to noon, someone is replacing a roof nearby, and cars are hauling people around, and there’s a saw, and now also a truck with a loose muffler, and a bunch of kids shouting about a ball. All that silence I would have missed, if my cat was made of weaker stuff and had listened when I threatened her with WWF moves at dawn.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. foodandpassion permalink
    May 15, 2011 4:05 pm

    At least there is one Z who’s got your best interest at heart.
    One Z who’s got your back.
    One Z who’s shoulder you are welcome to lean on.
    One Z who will be kind to you no matter what.
    That’s equal to at least one good night’s sleep.
    Sweet dreams.

  2. lilboyblue permalink
    May 17, 2011 9:34 am

    Sleepy bedhead is apparently a strong suit of yours 🙂 Perhaps your reflexes will take the same characteristics as your sleeping pattern and become more feline as well?

    • welltailored permalink*
      May 17, 2011 8:38 pm

      I can only dream…

  3. May 17, 2011 9:08 pm

    I am so sorry for you. However, sleeping too much is its own burden. Yet again, I guess the middle path is what we’re looking for here.

    Sigh, can’t we overindulge in anything!

  4. nick permalink
    May 18, 2011 3:54 pm

    soft kitty
    warm kitty
    little ball of fur

    happy kitty
    sleep kitty
    prrr, prrr, prrrrr

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