The early shift.

This is the time in summer when my body clock finally readjusts to not having to get up at 7, and I frequently manage to sleep clear ’til 8. Woo. I will have five weeks of this until I have to start getting up at 7 again. Alan sometimes wonders why I don’t sleep until 9 or later, and the answer is: I can’t. I wish I could, but I can’t. That’s the insomniac’s torment: It’s not that you don’t want to. It’s not that you’re not tired. You just can’t.

Lately I’ve been noodling around with a short story about a man who starts to hate his otherwise wonderful wife because she can sleep and he can’t. I worry that it would seem far-fetched to readers who aren’t sleep-disordered. But as one who has for years lain [Crusty Old Editor — is that the correct form of the verb?] beside a man who is troubled by sleeplessness only once in a blue moon, I don’t think so. You lie there, the day’s obligations already settling on your shoulders like a hod full of bricks, and think, Are you going to keep doing that? That steady, rhythmic breathing? Don’t you know there’s a war going on? Is the roof leaking? What if advertising falls another 15 percent this quarter, then what? Can we afford private health insurance? WHY ARE YOU ABLE TO SLEEP THROUGH THIS?

A small market, perhaps, but I know my fellow insomniac.

OK, then. I don’t have much today (yet), but I do have some bloggage, so dig in and enjoy. First, however, a question for the green of thumb:

The books all tell me that if I want my Christmas cactus to bloom at Christmas and not Halloween, I have to put it in a closet on Labor Day, and leave it there until…when? This just seems like planticide. Can one of you plant people help me out? And what do I do when it’s in there? Keep watering? Take it out for a daily 10-minute walk around the yard? Mine has pretty much recovered from a near-death experience with a squirrel — the last time it was allowed outdoors — and this year I think we should go for the big holiday bloom. But this advice sounds crazy. (On the other hand, ignoring it always got me a bloom in October. So there’s that.)

You never notice how many Rs are in the lyrics of “Folsom Prison Blues” until you hear someone who has a little problem with R pronunciation singing it:

HT: Laura Lippman, who probably never shot a man in Weno, just to watch him die.

What would we do without Jon Stewart? I ask you, America. Why can’t the Republicans come even within 25 blocks of the ballpark? Is Dennis Miller the best they got?

Top 10 Foods That Cause Car Accidents. They always blame coffee, while paella acts all innocent and gets away with murder.

And now I must be wollin’ wound the bend myself. Back here later, I think.

Posted at 9:56 am in Current events |

46 responses to “The early shift.”

  1. James said on July 30, 2009 at 10:23 am

    The reason why conservatives have been unable to match Jon Stewart?

    It would take a certain amount of intellectual curiosity, an ability to look at the news and issues from both sides, and an ability to call bullshit when they see bullshit.

    They’re apparently incapable of these feats of mental prowess. I blame cousin marryin’.

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  2. mcegg said on July 30, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Insomnia strikes me on occasion…I’ll try to empty my brain by leaving myself a voice mail with all the stuff rattling around there. Sometimes it works, mostly it doesn’t. Bring on that short story. I’ll bet I can identify with it.

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  3. jeff borden said on July 30, 2009 at 10:30 am

    If not for Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, I’d never have a window into the fever swamp of rightwing commentary. While I laugh out loud at the way he eviscerates these lowlifes, another part of me is filled with dread that these cretinous buffoons attract such large audiences. Man, are there really that many crazy people out there? Are there truly millions who believe Obama is a racist? That he is the beneficiary of a global conspiracy spanning decades and is actually a Nigerian national who has tricked his way into the White House? That the ultimate goal of this very wealthy man is working against his own self-interest by bringing socialism to our shores?

    Dobbs, Hannity, O’Reilly, Limbaugh and most especially the odious Glenn Beck deserve all the ridicule they receive and more. But the fact they have sizable constituencies who actually believe the sewage that oozes from their lips is troubling.

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  4. Julie Robinson said on July 30, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Sometimes when a spouse snores one feels homicidal. Not sayin’ whose spouse…

    The 5 year old reminded me of our son who had trouble with the “tr” sound, which somehow always came out “f”. Not so bad, except from age 3-5 he was passionately in love with trucks and loved to point out every one he saw, with great excitement. I’m happy to say the speech therapy was efective.

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  5. Joe Kobiela said on July 30, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Mark H,
    Have not been to NY for awhile but that guy got some splanning to due. My Week started Sunday night at 10:00pm going to Dallas, Tuesday Grand Rapids then Clevland, Wed was Anarbor to Grand Rapids to Muskegon to Ludington to Marquett and overnight. Today is Bay City then Oakland Troy then Yip to finish off in Clevland. I have seen Michigan and then some.
    Beats working.
    Pilot Joe

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  6. Jenflex said on July 30, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I don’t know, Nancy, about the insomnia not being relatable. The idea of being taunted by simple pleasures or needs one can’t enjoy is pretty universal. Crazy-making, too. I, for one, can’t wait to read it.

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  7. coozledad said on July 30, 2009 at 10:56 am

    I used to have bouts of insomnia. I have no idea why it more or less stopped.
    If I had to make a guess, it would be because I had to stop drinking beer due to elevated triglycerides. Probably a red herring, though.

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  8. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 30, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Lovely Wife tells me that O’Reilly took shots at Glenn Beck all the way through his show last night. Sheesh, i read that Ann Coulter has condemned Glenn (that’s gotta hurt). Beck is apparently Art Bell for people who aren’t insomniacs.

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  9. jeff borden said on July 30, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Jeff TMMO,

    Fox News also issued a statement saying that while Beck is entitled to his opinion, his statements do not reflect the views of FNC. This begs the question, of course, of why he is a big star on Fox. And the answer is simple: he delivers an audience.

    So did Father Coughlin, but at least he was forced to purchase his own air time to broadcast his anti-Semitic and anti-New Deal ravings. Glenn Beck, in contrast, is paid millions to spew similar nonsense.

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  10. MarkH said on July 30, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Folks, I think we can dial this birther thing back a bit and leave it in the laps of the remaining faithful, namely, Beck, Hannity and Dobbs. The rest of the conservatives are backing away at light speed, it seems. And even Dobbs, as I may have said a few days ago, believes the President is a natural-born US citizen, in spite of his call to “produce the birth certificate”. I haven’t listened to Rush on this, or much else, but I haven’t heard his name consistently attached to the movement (I think). O’Reilly has been consistent on calling BS to it. It’s ratings, ratings, ratings; some like Dobbs are more desperate than others. As Nancy’s video the other day demonstrated, the elected pols are running for cover on this one. It’s so easy, I don’t even give Stewart marks for it. This is as easy a cheap shot for him as it was to pluck the surprisingly simpering Jim Cramer out of the financial meltdown and make him the pinata. And, Jeff B., you hit the nail on what riles liberals: fear that there actually ARE more rightwingers out there who truly believe and they’ll snowball this thing. I thought left, or center-left, had the majority; what ARE you guys afraid of?

    PILOT JOE: yeah, and this guy is a former Navy pilot?? You’re quite the travellin’ man, definitely on my envy list. Fly safe.

    EDIT – I can take only about 30 seconds of Beck. I can’t figure this “Obama is a racist” angle, even from him. I’m beginning to believe O’Reilly feels truly threatened by him, btw. Yeah, Jeff, Art Bell is appripo. When Beck gets into UFOs, it’s a lock.

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  11. msmeta said on July 30, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Nance, I buy my Christmas cacti in the late summer or fall, put them in a nice sunny spot and fertilize the hell out of them. (Miracle-Gro works.) Tons of blooms.

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  12. nancy said on July 30, 2009 at 11:25 am

    I think birtherism is petering out. I posted that link because of the Beck stuff at the end, especially the “we usually don’t get someone contradicting themselves 1 minute and 15 seconds later” line. Everything I know about “Fox & Friends” I learned from Gawker, but given how many clips they’ve posted showing those three acting like absolute idiots, I don’t think the out-of-context complaint works anymore. Are they for real, Fox viewers? They make Today look like Charlie Rose.

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  13. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 30, 2009 at 11:29 am

    “They make Today look like Char­lie Rose.” — a definitive summary, IMHO.

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  14. Jeff Borden said on July 30, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Apparently, Sarah Palin will not be sharing her “you betchas” with a national radio audience. Inside Radio is reporting that Clear Channel has taken a pass on offering her a syndicated program, apparently in the belief she would be unable to deliver 15 hours per week of interesting radio.

    What was their first clue?

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  15. ROgirl said on July 30, 2009 at 11:40 am

    It’s petering out, or it’s reached the point that some mainstream republicans are starting to push back on it, because they’re finally realizing that the birthers are batshit crazy. Here’s an example of that, courtesy of Stephen Colbert.—orly-taitz

    Call it a cheap shot or a ratings grabber, but accusations against the powerful whip people into a lather no matter what the era.

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  16. beb said on July 30, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I missed Jon Stewart last night, TMC was showing a bunch of pre-Code musicals choreographed by Buskby Bekley. Women swimming between the legs of other women, shot from underneath, sinuous lines of women in white bathing suits looking like so much sperm looking for an ovum. It’s like– was this conscious?

    But I did see clips of Glen Beck (not Beck the musician, which confused me for a bit) claiming that Obama has a deep hatred of white men. Or did he say ‘white men like him’? Because I’m white and I had a deep-deated hatred of white men like Glenn Beck.

    Nancy, your short story idea sounds like a perfect fit for Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Little annoyances are always what bring on homicidal rage.

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  17. Sue said on July 30, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Here’s the answer from a green-thumber: On December 17, go out and buy a nice blooming Christmas cactus.
    I love Jon Stewart because he’s so equal-opportunity. His “don’t do it! don’t do it!” take on Obama’s “stupidity” remark is classic, perfect Daily Show. Why can’t the Republicans come close? If you were the type of writer who would be a perfect fit for the Daily Show, would you not be a little lost in Glenn Beck country? Different skill-set.
    I had to have speech therapy in grade school for lazy Rs. When we were house-hunting 25 years ago, I refused to look at a house on Rural Street because it was too hard to pronounce. To this day I revert back to Ws when I’m really tired.
    Did you know insomnia is part of menopause? Hell yes it is.

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  18. 4dbirds said on July 30, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I too couldn’t sleep because of racing thoughts. I gave in along time ago and take 1/2 a Xanax when I go to bed. Now I sleep fine.

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  19. Jeff Borden said on July 30, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I once had a conversation with a distant family member who was embarrasingly backwards in their thinking about the races and likely to drop the N bomb into casual conversation when expounding on welfare, rap music, athletes, etc.

    So, I asked if they had ever been victimized by a black person. Been mugged? Had a car stolen? Lost a promotion to affirmative action? Nope, they said, none of the above.

    I noted that every single asshole boss I’d ever worked for was white. Every single woman who ever broke my heart was white. The punk who knocked out my front teeth in the 5th grade was white. The guy who sold me my first car without letting on it would need a valve job soon was white. Etc. Etc. I argued that I had been victimized by white folks all my life. As far as I know, no person of color has ever done a bad thing to me.

    This produced an uncomfortable chuckle. Maybe they thought about race relations in a new light. Probably not.

    But it did cause me to wonder why so many people, who probably don’t even know a black man or a Hispanic woman or an Asian kid, are so quick to hate on sight. It would be one thing if you could point to an incident that affected your view, if you could honestly say you’d been hurt by someone, but I’d wager 99% of these people have never been victimized by anything other than their own pinched world view.

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  20. Colleen said on July 30, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    I heard someone interviewed for an NPR story say that from what he’s heard, healthcare reform will give more to the minorities than to white people. (and it’s also going to kill old people, but I digress)

    Watched Maddow last night and couldn’t believe what Glenn Beck and Limbaugh were saying. I mean. Really. The president is a racist who hates white people. Like his mother. Like the grandparents who raised him. uh huh.

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  21. Dorothy said on July 30, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    The story idea sounds intriguing. Speaking as someone who (1) is fully in menopause, (2)is now being nudged by my husband because I’m snoring, (3) has nudged said husband for YEARS because of his snoring disrupting my sleep, I think you’ve got lots of unchartered territory there. Go for it.

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  22. Hexdecimal said on July 30, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I find that a healthy shot of iced rum about a half hour before I start trying to sleep works wonders for my insom­nia. Not so much as falling asleep as it is simply passing out. Other spirits work as well, like a glass of good wine, but if you have a glass to many you’ll find yourself staggering to the bathroom at 3am.

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  23. Deborah said on July 30, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    I’m an insomniac too, most of my life I have been plagued with this. The only time I didn’t have it was during a two year stint where I took Paxel to help with major anxiety I was experiencing while working on a project for an insane developer. For those two years I enjoyed wonderful sleepfilled nights and mornings but I didn’t like being on the drug for a prolonged period, so it was back to insomnia when I weaned myself off the Paxel (weaning myself off of it was like having the flu for three months, not fun). So I’m not recommending Paxel. My husband has occasional bouts, he claims to use a technique he calls “no mind” where he forces himself to concentrate on his breathing to keep him from thinking about other things. I’ve tried this, it’s extremely hard to do and I haven’t been successful with it. I get up and do stuff at 2 or 3am, sometimes I go back to sleep, sometimes not, which really sucks. My ex snored and it drove me crazy. I would definitely relate to that short story.

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  24. moe99 said on July 30, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Melatonin, folks. Melatonin. Works wonders for aiding sleep. I used to have wonderful, vivid, technicolor dreams when I was younger but those dried up along with restful sleep until I started taking melatonin. I don’t take it very often, but when I do, it works.

    Oh, and Christmas cactus? I have one that was given to me in 1986 and has grown enormously in my various offices, all of which were northern facing until our move 3 years ago where I was assigned a southern facing office. That was the first year the cactus failed to bloom at Christmas. So I found a northern facing window for her and it’s back to normal. Just saying.

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  25. LAMary said on July 30, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    What Dorothy said. Also, enjoy falling asleep only to wake up three hours later feeling like someone turned the thermostat up about 30 degrees. Repeat two or three times a night until cranky.
    My old ankle injury can hurt at night, so I take a couple of Advil PM if it’s looking like a bad night for sleep. You can’t take those in the middle of the night, though. Waking up at 8 would be tough. They help me with the bad habit I have of making lists in my head if I wake up at some ungodly hour.

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  26. Jeff Borden said on July 30, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Nyquil always works for me on the rare occasions when I need a sleep aid. Tastes nasty, but it works.

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  27. Deborah said on July 30, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    I’ve tried melatonin and I’ve used valerian root too (which stinks to high heaven). The valerian relaxes me but doesn’t help me sleep (relaxed insomnia?). I take Advil PM if my hip is bothering me, it takes care of pain but doesn’t help me sleep. I also never drink caffinated beverages, I exercise regularly, I do all the things that are supposed to help you sleep. No luck. My husband says I’m just tightly wound. I haven’t tried triptophan (spelling? the thing that makes you sleepy after eating thanksgiving dinner). I can’t find it in pill form, but I’ve heard that it’s out there.

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  28. joodyb said on July 30, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    possible A matter in case you missed:
    the gender-specific outcomes buried within certainly interested me, thought they are not surprising.

    i now rotate OTC and Rx sleep aids. right now the Rx is generic Ambien (and NOT the cr version). as my doctor put it so professionally 2 years ago, “You know, they make stuff for that.”

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  29. Sue said on July 30, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Totally off-topic, but important to all readers: Today is National Cheesecake Day. You know what to do, folks.

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  30. paddyo' said on July 30, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Take it from the ex- of an insomniac, Nance: You’ve got fertile ground for that story. I fall asleep easily and mostly sleep soundly — which also means I sometimes make sounds … what’s that called again? Oh, yeah — snoring. Tried many so-called remedies to control/reduce it, from nasal sprays and nose strips to losing weight and even a sleep apnea “sleep study” (overnight at a clinic with a gazillion wires glued to scalp, face, arms, legs, torso, etc.). My snoring was intermittent, but ANYthing was too much. It was, at least, a contributing factor to the breakup. As she is an author herself, I can easily imagine being the hapless antagonist who wakes up DEAD in such a story. Your italicized bit of imagined monologue/dialogue? Sounds like you channeled her. So go for it. Quick. Before she writes it first …

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  31. Dexter said on July 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    The graveyard shift permanently ruined my regular sleeping habits. I used to love it when I could work day shift, getting up at 5:30 and be home by 4:00 PM.
    My line of work necessitated a lot of shift-jumping, and the last three years I worked the graveyard. I thought I would surely revert to my early-riser habit, but after 7 years retired I still rarely can sleep until 3:00 or 4:00 AM. Even then I have to flip on a foreign movie and when I tire of reading subtitles I can roll over and zonk out. I usually wake up at 8:30 AM and am ready for the day. Gee, that’s only 4 and a half hours of sack time. Oh well. I went through times on the graveyard shift when I could not sleep at all, then, time for work and I would be so sleepy I could barely drive the 35 miles to work. Ten minute naps at break times were the only way I survived. One time I went to my car for a ten minute nap and slept for two hours. What a nightmare it was to explain that one. I was asked where I was and I knew better than to say anything, so I just shrugged my shoulders as the boss fumed. I hated those years on midnight shift. If somehow you have always been able to avoid it, try it sometime—it will be a real eye-opener for you. 🙂

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  32. Dexter said on July 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Sue, cherry , strawberry and blueberry are my faves…yours?

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  33. Kirk said on July 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Tylenol PM seems to work.

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  34. Sue said on July 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Cherry. Pass the whipped cream while you’re at it.

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  35. Dexter said on July 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    I used to eat and drive.
    1) Grape Nuts in a bowl, milk, with a spoon , while driving 65 mph.
    2) Drippy, greasy, BBQ chicken for lunch, while driving on a 4-lane city street with many lights.
    3) Chicken soft tacos and buritos while driving 85 mph , hustling to work around midnight, on deserted country roads…half insane from lack of sleep, meat and sauce dripping onto my shirt…nadir of life.
    4) Many years of eating egg and cheese and bacon biscuits while cruising into day shift, always a large coffee there beside me.
    5) Huge salads , too…sometimes…PLOP! entire salad and dressing on the floor of the car..what a goddam mess…why was I born? 🙁

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  36. Dexter said on July 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Yer on Sue! I hope there will be cheesecake at the big graduation party Sunday.
    My granddaughter flew in from her Las Vegas home last night. She is on to UNLV next month, while my grandson is moving on to Bowling Green SU. This is the earliest we could get them together for the bash in Toledo. The girl is dead-set on becoming a doctor of medicine, while the boy? He wants to study “weedology”. Christ…we hope he’s kidding, but he loves his reefer.

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  37. paddyo' said on July 30, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Dexter’s line should be enshrined instantly in the Hall of Fame of Parents Commenting on Their Offspring: “. . . but he loves his reefer.”
    Sounds a bit like Grace the principal’s secretary in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”: “. . . He’s a righteous dude”

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  38. MarkH said on July 30, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Dexter – I’m not retired, but I saw so much familiar in post #31. Then I read #35, and whoa!, a doppelganger. Must admit I never tried the Grape Nuts thing, though.

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  39. crinoidgirl said on July 30, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Sleep aids: Benadryl (or generic equivalent) – 3 (recommended dosage is 2) and/or tryptophan – L-tryptophan specifically (has to do with organic chemistry – left- handed vs. right-handed molecules). I’m not in menopause, but close. And I’ve always had trouble sleeping, even as a little kid.

    My defense job fell through yesterday, ’cause I couldn’t get a security clearance. I owe too much money to too many people. Or maybe it was because I shot a man in Weno, just to watch him die. So I’m back on unemployment!

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  40. brian stouder said on July 30, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Dexter – you’re the Detroiter, yes?

    Good God you’re brave (or crazy!), if you ate all that stuff on the expressways over there! We decamped your neck of the woods (although I’m sure you’d say that Dearborn ain’t Detroit) and went to Holland (very nice lake/beach/touristy stuff) – and one overall impression I have is that Michigan traffic is just faster in general. We were driving down a residential/condo/commercial area in Holland, and the posted speed limit was 45…I thought 35 was pretty damned fast, given all the bicyclists and pedestrians – but WOE unto anyone who goes slower than the posted speed!

    And another thing – while I’m ranting about the not-Detroit area; what the hell is with this idea of flat-closing an interstate (I-96 westbound) with virtually zero advanced warning, and with no posted detour???!!

    Which reminds me – if anyone repeats the rightwing canard that there are NO “shovel ready” projects proceeding from the stimulous bill, tell that person to come to Michigan. We’ve seen more shovels/graders/pavers/dump trucks/back hoes in the past week than any other time I can recall

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  41. Deborah said on July 30, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    I had to stop at Whole Foods on my way home from work for provisions so I decided to see if I could find some L-tryptophan. And I did find it but I wasn’t paying attention to the price until I got to the check out and realized that 60 pills cost me $30. Ouch, I hope it works. What do you think would happen if I dosed up on all three, L-tryptophan, melatonin, and valerian all at once for good measure? I’m going to try something tonight. I also realized I can try this for our flight to Finland Sunday, so I can sleep on the long overnight flight. I can barely sleep in my own bed, imagine how hard it is for me to sleep on an airplane.

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  42. Dexter said on July 31, 2009 at 12:47 am

    brian stouder…crazycatlady is the Detroiter…I post about Detroit a lot because I have a lot of memories of there, and I am a Michigan football fan and I go to Ann Arbor a couple times a year; I used to go there all the time for all the games. It does seem like we are going to Detroit Metro a lot to pick people up…my granddaughter was mistaken last night…she tried to fly back to Detroit last night and her ticket is for tonight!
    Her dad is picking her up at daybreak.
    Michigan drivers do seem to be a lot more aggressive than Ohio and Indiana drivers, I notice that too. A lot of the freeway part of this is because Ohio troopers used to be very strict on enforcement. It’s not that way anymore…I read a few years ago that they will give you 15 mph over the limit on a 4-lane, even the Ohio Turnpike, but I only drive 9 over.
    For the record, I live in Bryan, Ohio, and spend a lot of time in Toledo on weekends.

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  43. Catherine said on July 31, 2009 at 2:00 am

    The short story doesn’t seem far-fetched to me at all — in fact, if you need help with dialogue or setting, just come live with us for a few days. I am an excellent sleeper who loves 8.5 hours undisturbed… at night. DH can’t get to sleep or stay asleep, unless a) it’s morning (hello! it’s MORNING! That is a code word we use for “time to get the hell up!”), or b) he’s so soundly asleep that his snoring rattles the rafters… next door. I’m not sure who’s going to snap first.

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  44. Danny said on July 31, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Dang, I was going to pop in for a quick Steely Dan reference to Dexter’s story about “dining behind the wheel, ” but I thought I better do a check of the actual lyrics for Deacon Blue and what do I find? It’s “I drink Scotch whiskey all night long and die behind the wheel.” That’s “die,” not “dine.” And even I don’t need Crusty Old Editor to point out the difference! You could drive a truck between that nuance.

    Geesh, here I was thinking all of these years that the protagonist in the song was getting drunk and then picking up a few White Castle burgers for the ride home. At least I never sang too loudly to Steely Dan. No one probably noticed all this time. Probably…

    I’m off to align a 30,00 HP pig of a gas turbine engine today. You all talk kindly of me. Alex too!

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  45. mcegg said on July 31, 2009 at 10:00 am

    I’m heading to SE Michigan (Monroe) from Indy later today to visit my Mom. Once I get through Toledo on I-75 and cross the border I will automatically accelerate to 80 mph. Just can’t help it. It’s what we do.

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  46. Crazycatlady said on July 31, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Yup, lifelong Detroiter here. Love those incomprehendable Steely Dan lyrics.

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