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Winter Storm Warning

February 7, 2014

If you’re almost anywhere in the continental US this winter, you’re aware that it has sucked. Continues to suck. Shows no sign of stopping. I live in a city synonymous with winter, but even so, we are all fatigued. [Truth be told, we do not typically live up to our reputation, which we will in turns fight or flaunt, depending on whether we are defending our home or boasting of our mettle.] It has been years since we’ve suffered such an unrelenting tedium of bitter cold and frequent snow, house-bound and stir crazy, minds weary from the dreary skies, bodies aching from extra pounds of boot and sweater and coat; from shoulders involuntarily shrugged for months on end, heavy flesh and bone earmuffs we can’t shed.

We know from physics class and bacon grease that molecules slow down in cold temperatures, become viscous, sluggish. Apparently my mind is trying to counter that effect with cosmogyral thought patterns darting in every direction at once, criss-crossing and circling back on themselves, repeating ad nauseam until they’ve worn filthy grooves like tire tracks in the thick snow that’s built up at every intersection in my neighborhood. (In both cases, one must beware those tracks. They make the going easier until you need to move against them, when you’re quite suddenly at risk of losing control and spinning out completely. Slow down. Take care. Turn into the skid. Regain control. (If you do slip, hang on and hope for the best. It will be over soon. You will usually survive.))

I am on day … I don’t know, let’s call it 58 or so, of insomnia.  Maybe it’s been longer than that. I don’t know. I swear I remember it starting in December, but my journal tells me it was last summer. Maybe I slept for a while in the fall. Maybe December is just when it really got bad. It’s waning a bit these past few weeks. I like to take personal credit for that, as if my boss had listed “Sleep” as a goal on my performance review.

Liska is a hard worker and goes to bed on time almost every night. She has given up her afternoon coffee and has been exercising every day. Despite her efforts, she has not been able to sleep effectively this year and needs to learn to work more cooperatively with her brain.

I tell myself I’m getting better, but really I’m taking a man-sized dose of Ambien like clockwork every night and sleeping for five hours (except when it’s three). If you are not familiar with the drug, it is an allegedly powerful hypnotic. I am supposed to take it for three weeks to break the cycle of broken sleep cycles I’ve been suffering, after which I’ll be cured. Until the next bout.

I had taken it once several years ago when shit had gone wrong and I was (to put it in the parlance of the day), “not dealing.” I remember taking Ambien and falling like a tranq’d rhino every night almost faster than I could get my water glass back down onto the nightstand, waking some eight hours later to find a sock missing or a shin bruised (Ambien is known to shift the walls and doorjambs in your house while you sleep). I also woke to many a “thanks for your order” email from mid-slumber’s voyages to magical lands such as gap.com.

But now I feel like the control subject, dutifully swallowing my sugar pill every night, only to wake at 4:30 or 3:30 or 12:30. My brain has outrun sleep. It has outrun benzodiazepines. It occasionally outruns itself, a four-person relay team sprinting all at once, unaware that the baton is lying in the cinders at the starting line. But I’m not sleep-shopping, so there’s that.

On the up-side, which is where I try (sometimes desperately, sometimes futilely) to dwell, I am able to fall asleep. To lie awake knowing there is no point to even closing your eyes is pure torture. This, on the other hand, is just disappointing. I can even doze back off for a bit, settling into my deepest rest in the 9 minutes between when my alarm goes off and when the first snooze times out. And I don’t feel fatigued. To the contrary, I am awake and alert all day long.

Awake and alert, but not entirely myself. There’s the rub.My sleep deficit is not making me dopey, but it sure is making me mean. Or maybe I’m just suffering mid-March levels of winter rage because it honestly is miserable here. But at least I’m done crying, my vintage era teen angst stuffed back into whatever filthy jar in my brain it spilled out of last month. I’m even being productive at work (gods alive, I might being enjoying my work).

So the upshot of this long story long is that I am sick to fucking death of winter, but am otherwise cautiously optimistic about my own forecast. My script is up on Tuesday. What’s the over/under on another storm?

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