Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Pine Box in My Bedroom

HALF OF THE WEEKEND is done, and so far it's been a good one to stay in and clean. Or at least to stay in; I am sure other folks with the same assessment of yesterday's grim skies and steadily increasing rain found a variety of activities to keep them from getting flashbacks to our early-October monsoon season. It's just that in my case, cleanup is the order of the day.

Some weeks ago, I tore up my bedroom closet, dumping a mound of clothing I no longer need in a mound in the center of the rug. I have not yet gotten around to transferring this mound to one of the local clothing-drop boxes. I feel a wave of shame each time I have to maneuver around this heap, crouching there like a textile blob lazily digesting its last victim.

One factor that has kept me from advancing on this foe is the general formlessness of my recent weekends. If I get up late on Saturday, that virtually guarantees that I will do the same on Sunday, because my internal clock will be tricked out and I won't go to sleep until midnight on Saturday night. And it's not because I've gone out and done something either. I'll drift off to bed, but that's a very different act than going to sleep.

I have come to believe that the most dangerous item in my bedroom is my nightstand. That rotten heap of IKEA pine had cost me more hours of sleep, and helped me pack on more calories, than the Internet and my refrigerator combined. And the Internet is a goddamn black hole when it comes to productivity or sleep schedules. Maybe this is why I haven't gotten a wireless router for my computer. Bringing this beast into the bedroom — even if it serves in the additional role of warming my lap in the colder months — would make me more of an insomniac than the protagonist of Fight Club. And I'm sorry to report that I don't have Helena Bonham Carter to frolic with as a consolation prize.

Be it a work night or the middle of a week off, the danger is always there, lurking next to my bed. I drag my droopy ass into the bedroom, decorate the vicinity of the laundry basket with my clothes, set the alarm clock for some wildly optimistic target hour, and crawl between the sheets. There, resting on the nightstand, will be a book, a magazine, even an old diary, all of which I have been too lazy to replace on whatever shelf it might call home.

I glance at the clock. Still 15 minutes to the half hour. Time enough for a couple of pages. I prop myself up on my left elbow, like a Roman grazing at an all-day feast, and start reading. Hm. Grazing. Sounds like a good idea. The poker players left about a third of the Oreos, or maybe there's some cheese in the vegetable crisper, and I do have some crackers . . . So I shuffle out to the kitchen, array some junk on a plate, and return, balancing the plate on the edge of the bed because there are too many fucking books on the nightstand to fit it there.

This will have eaten up the time I allotted to read, so I make a new bargain with myself to kill the lights in another 15 minutes. I read and munch, waking up fully in the process so I don't miss a page or route a cookie into a lung. I invariably become engrossed in the reading material. Top of the hour comes and goes. I then begin the mental calculus to determine the relation between the reduced period of sleep I face, which train I will be able to get as a result, and how early in the afternoon I will begin to nod off at work. This is an inexact science, fatally tainted by observer bias, that makes intelligent design look like heliocentricity.

Invariably this whole process ends up tacking another half hour onto the day, which over the course of a week turns into a formidable sleep deficit. Coupled with the late Thursday poker nights, it guarantees that Saturday morning will begin around 9:00. I was able to get to the gym early last week for three days, but I'm not making that effort any easier. It's also pitch dark now at that time in the morning. That walk out to the car in my gym clothes is a lot colder, and I do it under a sky full of stars or slinking dark clouds.

So more than the tangle of discarded apparel on my bedroom floor, the nightstand is now Public Enemy Number 1.

I struck the first blow this morning by clearing off all of the books. There were nearly a dozen! The real challenge now is to keep it clear. Currently it holds my answering machine, my portable phone cradle, and a heavy glass goblet I found in the city that I cleaned and filled with pens in case I wanted to record diary entries before sleeping. Now that I am doing that sort of thing here, that last item is no longer needed, and I can relegate any dead pens to the trash. (I wouldn't dream of bringing the live ones back to work. I call them my 401(p).)

The drawers are holding nothing of great significance. Some photos, possibly a large-size blank book, and dust. If I can find something else to fill the surface, I will prevent it from becoming the town's largest private library again, to say nothing of its only all-night buffet. Candles are not an option — the idea is I need to sleep, not use them to guide my way through yet another time-devouring book, and the odds of them casting their sensuous shadows on any other activity in that room are jack-shit to 1. I could buy a low-light plant like an aspidistra or sansevieria (aka a snake plant), because that corner only gets a little sun through my curtains during the day. My great fear is somehow flailing about in my sleep and knocking it on the floor. Then I would get to step out of bed into a pile of cold dirt. I doubt my boss would buy that as an excuse for a sick day.

So I am open to ideas on what to place there to keep it from stealing my sleep night after night. If it didn't have to support the phone, I'd just relocate it across the room or right next to my front door. (I just checked, and it would fit nicely. Not a bad place to stack my necessities for work or on a day trip. . . .) Anything to keep me from filling its drawers with stolen hours of sleep. At this rate, I am going to hibernate through January to catch up on my purloined slumber.


Amy said...

401(p)! That cracks me up!

My vote for a replacement that will not steal sleep is a tall victorian birdcage, complete with small feathered friend that can be taught all conjugations of wacky talk and that is sans H5N1

Schizohedron said...

This would make for an interesting experiment. I am told I talk in my sleep. By placing a bird capable of repeating speech in the vicinity, I could get a readback of my nocturnal testimony. Naturally I would have to bribe it, via crackers or some other toothsome (beaksome?) tidbit, to keep mum on any incriminating utterances.

Oh, and I still have some of my 401(p) "funds" from previous jobs, including some nice Sharpies and a half-inch-thick Magnum 44 marker I used to cancel file folders at my college summer job. That thing smells so bad it could probably write on a ghost.