The Sounds of the Sleepless

January 22, 2015

(Lying in bed this morning, I heard Simon and Garfunkle’s Sounds of Silence as I was writing this)


Hello 4:30 my old friend

I’ve come to sit with you again

In the dark before dawn I am creeping

while my family is upstairs sleeping

and the noise of the trucks on my street removing snow

is waking neighbors that I know

These are the sounds – of the sleepless.


In my bed I tossed and turned

while my clock’s face light burned

How many hours before I go to work?

Why does menopause have this sleepless quirk?

and as the hours slowing tick on past

I’m thinking fast

of all the things – I have to do


How many people stop and stare

at the numbers flashing there

on their night tables a-gleaming

and the crazy thoughts that send them  reeling

all the worries that loom so large at this tiny hour

by dawn, have no real power

These are the thoughts – of the sleepless.


Tonight I will begin again

to try to sleep the night and then

we’ll see where I am at dawn

still asleep or writing here with a yawn

Now the coffee maker begins to spit and sputter

I hear a mutter

Someone else is finally up – good morning


Yawning, tearing eyes  – it’s 9:45 and I am ready for bed.

I crawl into bed and pull the duvet up under my chin – fluff my pillow and ahhhhhh – cozy! Any minute now, I’ll feel that deliciously heavy, sinking feeling of drifting off to sleep.

10:15 – I hear my son come in the door. Hey – why am I still awake?

10:45 – I know you’re not supposed to look at the clock but – what time is it?

-What is the  last name of my daughter’s new friend again?

– My eyelid itches a bit. Why do I even have dry skin on my eyelids? My husband said he noticed it in the folds. When did I get fold on my eyelids?

– I have to make Valentine cookies next week. Should I frost them? How hard is it to “flood” a frosting on a cookie?

– Why am I still awake?

11:15 – My pharmacist suggested to me that I take a Gravol now and again to help when I can’t sleep; so downstairs I go to take one.

11:20 – (back in bed) Ok – pretty soon, I’ll be drifting off to sleep.

Midnight – I am not asleep…but I am too tired to read and too tired to get up.

12:15 – That’s it! I’m getting up and trying the warm milk thing that my husband suggested as he fell asleep (head not even hitting the pillow yet).

12:20 – Sitting in family room with my son, watching a bit of TV and sipping on my warm milk (which by the way – really doesn’t taste that good). My son informs me that studies have now shown that the warm milk “treatment” is just a placebo. I smile and tell him “I’m desperate.”

12:45 – Back in bed. Ok, NOW I’ll be able to sleep – Gravol, warm milk – good to go!

– Why do my eyes tear so much – am I seriously aging?

– What am I going to make for dinner tomorrow night – I mean tonight? Can’t bear chicken again.

– The dog is overdue for his annual visit to the vet.

– Why is that my hair won’t hold a curl – unless of course my hairdresser does it for me? Should I get highlights?

– Did I pay that bill?

– No! I didn’t – have to do that tomorrow (I mean, today). Hope I remember.

– Need to refill my Mom’s cell phone minutes for her tomorrow (sorry – I mean, today)

– I KNOW you’re not supposed to look at the clock – but what time is it?

– OMG. I have to get up in 4 1/2 hours!

4am – I’m groggy, I have just woken up from a  deep sleep (finally!) to hear the dog barking. Something he never does at this hour. I wake up my husband and tell him to go downstairs and see what’s going on. He comes back to bed and tells me he saw absolutely nothing.

Hmm – not like my dog to do that. Maybe it’s a new newspaper carrier. No – not at 4am. Maybe it’s someone walking, carrying something – like a shovel. Would he be wearing a hoodie too? Who is out there walking at 4am? Maybe it’s kids skulking around looking to break into a car… It’s -20C….no one’s out there.
When did I get to be so neurotic? Do not ask my children that .

4:30 – Oh great…I am going to have to get up in an hour. How will I do the day on just 3 hours of sleep?

4:45 – Well, too bad – there’s no point in trying to sleep now.

5am – I’m up. I may as well go downstairs and make coffee.

I love fresh ground coffee but I don’t want to grind it at 5am…..

You know what? This is a blog.

Good Morning 4:30 am, and how are you this dark-not-quite-yet-dawn? Let’s see – my older kids went to bed about two hours ago, so I guess that means that we are running electricity about 22 hours a day at our house. 4:30 am is an old friend of mine – there were times when we met just after a night of partying with friends – my heels in hand as I gleefully said goodnight. Other times we kept each other company while I nursed a baby or three. Ah…and those peri-menopausal meetings… when I needed a little company to talk out the crazy hours of hot flashes (which, by the way, I still experience – but somehow don’t need the company anymore). Now it seems that 4:30 and I are only meeting occasionally – because she also keeps company with my husband from time to time (but never at the same time…why is that?). Well, 4:30 am – we have lots to do…..there’s a grocery list to compile, perhaps a little on-line banking, some email to catch up on and maybe we can squeeze in a little “net surfing”. I don’t know about you – but I am seriously wondering about how to get that weird oil stain out of my new t-shirt…not to mention the brown spots out of my hands.


June 21, 2013

Wow. Sometimes I think that turning fifty really starts to put you close to the edge. Today, I had one of my most ridiculous  moments. Last night, I noticed a reddish-brown mark on my forehead, kind of like a large freckle. It hadn’t been there at dinner but I didn’t panic, just thought that maybe it was just a weird mark from falling asleep on my ring or something, during my pre-bedtime nap.

This morning it seemed larger or at the very least, browner – definitely like a large freckle or mole. Could it be just that? Do these things just pop up suddenly? I ask my daughter to look at it – she agrees, it definitely looks like a mole. Now, my heart is beginning to beat a bit erratically. I get the magnifying glass (plus my reading glasses, of course) and check it out. Oh yeah – this thing is brownish…I try to decide whether it looks like a freckle, a mole or an age spot…and seriously – do these things just  pop out?!

I keep examining it to see it the edges are irregular – you know, like the they tell you to check, in case – God forbid – it’s melanoma. Oh my, oh my! All I can think is that, in my job I am out in the sun for a good portion of the  day – but I use sunscreen…I REALLY do! Do I put enough on – do I skip a day here and there?

I tun my computer on – you know where I’m going now…the Internet. The internet will know for sure what this is  – right? Can’t call my doctor – she is away on holidays…can’t go to a clinic…this is a specialized situation…isn’t it? I tell my daughter that I’m a tad worried…I repeat out loud that I use sunscreen, I use sunscreen, I swear I use sunscreen! Well, most of the time…. damn – that’ll teach me!

I have to leave for work – so at this point all I can do is is grab the sunscreen and slather it on nice and thick…..I mean really, what else can I do?

I look in the mirror again and…lo and behold….the spot is gone It rubbed off with the sunscreen cream. As a teacher of preschoolers I remember that the supposedly washable paint we use is not always so washable. It was only a teeny smattering of paint that somehow escaped the spray of the shower. I am torn between sighing with relief and feeling like an idiot.

Why is it, that I am now getting up for the day – when I used to be just going to bed for the night? Remember staying up half the night, out with friends or being  up watching movies or simply talking with friends? Now, I’m happy if I can make it through a whole episode of CSI. Either I am nodding off or I’m gently being lulled to sleep by the sound of my husband nodding off. What happened to us? Karma – that’s what. Never mind middle age. I say it’s Karma. One weekend (while still in our adorable twenties) my husband and went home to visit his parents – after dinner and the (early) evening news, there they sat on the couch – the two of them with their heads back and mouths half-open – out cold, asleep.

We giggled – heck, we snorted and laughed out loud and then did something terrible…something absolutely shameful. We took their picture. Ha ha ha -Lol, all that stuff. How funny that it was only 8pm and they couldn’t stay awake – I can almost feel my sides still aching from it…only now, my sides are aching because I fell asleep in an awkward position – on the couch! The worst part of that memory is  the realization that at that time – at that very moment – they were a few years younger than we are now. Oh, Mom and Dad…forgive us!

So, at my last medical appointment (of which there seem to be increasingly more), I complained to my doctor about this early waking thing and do you know what this lovely, bright young gal said to me? “As we age – we need less sleep.” Really? Great. Lots of comfort. The thing is, I would feel a lot better about that if we weren’t so darn tired,  so darned early. I mean, if we were becoming night owls, that would be great because there is so much more that you can do into the wee hours of the night, without disturbing your household (with young adults in it – who are also up). But at 5am,  I find myself tip-toeing around like a freaking ballerina; grinding the beans for my coffee in the basement so as not to wake anyone up and frantically hitting the mute button on my computer – because you know how that techno “boing” sound can wake a zombie (ok – have I just dated myself saying techno? and do zombies even sleep?). It’s already bad enough that my joints snap and crack so loud  that it almost sounds as if they are applauding the fact that I managed to make it down the stairs.

Well, I guess for now I can at least take comfort in the fact that I feel inspired enough to write, this early in the morning…and as I wait for (at least half of) my family to wake up, I will entertain the thought of making another cup of coffee – with four dish towels thrown over top of the machine to keep it quiet.

You’re HOW old?

March 30, 2013

What happened to my old clothes and why don’t they fit anymore? Two years ago I lost 35 lbs and as I happily leapt off the scale the day I reached my goal, and attempted to dive into my old jeans – Bam! Fail. W-h-a-t?? I used to wear those jeans all the time when I was 30 – and I weigh less now than I did when I was 30. What happened? And those two favorite, f-a-v-o-r-i-t-e shirts that I held onto…they are suddenly just way too snug on my arms. I know I didn’t grow;  hell – I think I’m actually starting to shrink at this point! Ok – maybe I’m exaggerating on that point. (It’s just that my kids are no longer toddlers looking up at me, they are teens and twenty-somethings looking at the top of my head). I don’t know what it is. Nobody ever  prepares a woman for these changes. Oh sure – they are all too quick to announce the obvious  hormonal changes that occur at what I like to call, this “delicate” time in our lives – but not the other, rather frightening changes….like the fact that your butt drops a couple of inches (no matter how in shape you are!). That”s right gals – your butt is what is slipping into the upper thigh portion of your skinny jeans….and your shirts are not  tighter because your upper arms are – it’s just that when you wave goodbye – a teeny potion of your lower upper arms are waving goodbye too. Now so far, my neck’s not too bad, a few lines here and there,  but seeing as most of my peers are wearing glasses now, I am not too worried (and young people think you’re old once you’re 35 anyway). I have been creaming my neck on the good advice of my dear late grandmother. She always told me that you could tell a woman’s age by her hands and her neck (very true by the way – check those tight Hollywood stars out sometime!). So ladies – take heed and break out the cream!

Oh, and Guys – don’t think for a moment that you are getting off easy. When your man puts on his old college sweatshirt, the reason it is short in the sleeves (“Honey did you wash this – because it seriously shrunk!”) is probably his belly…and they are just as susceptible to those “bat wings” as we ladies are – it’s  just less noticeable due to the fact that nature gave them bigger muscles which, by the way, we gals like to regularly work for them: “Honey – please lift/move this very heavy object….you know – the kitchen chair into the dining room – we’re having company for dinner.”

I’m not even going to get into the need for a larger shoe size (thank you pregnancy and babies) or the fact that I need not only my reading glasses but sometimes a magnifying glass too (thank you  computer age for printing everything in micro-size) or the fact that everything kind of hurts, head to toe when I first get up in the morning. I’m healthy and well, I’m alive, I’ve survived and I – am – beautiful! ….Now, pass the cream.

My dearest girlfriend took me out for a birthday dinner the other night…and she gave me,  as is her custom, a wonderful selection of  fun and useful gifties – one of which was a lovely new coffee mug…so pretty and just “our style” (which means it involves cupcakes). Now – honestly, I have absolutely no recollection as to how cupcakes became out style….but I love it anyway and simply chalk that gap in memory up to having a case of menopausal brain fog (ah…the brain fogs – you see they evolve is like this: before menopause comes pre-menopausal brain fog; before that, just a general state of what I like to call motherhood brain fog, this comes from juggling too many things and burning the midnight oil; but w-a-y- before all of that, it all begins with milk brain fog, caused from living in  a constant sate of sleeplessness coupled with the ongoing nursing/feeding of a new baby).

Now the thing with the mug is…she asked me “Do you remember what you once said?” (Oh Dear God, Woman! I’ve said a lot of things! No, of course I don’t remember…one of my fog moments obviously)…she went on to remind me; “You once said that a cup has to feel “just right” when you hold it.”  Ok – I do remember saying that and I still hold that belief. She then presented me with the perfect coffee /tea-cup. Pretty and cupcake-y in design with a comfortable, yet stylish handle  and slightly unusual shape  – I like that!

What I don’t like – as I christened the mug this morning with its first cup of weekend coffee…is the combination of round low bowl and my own, clearly clumsy early morning blur fog (Oh yeah – there’s a “fog” for that too!). As I was walking into the living room to check on the dog who  I believed might be considering hopping onto our new red couch with his wet spring paws, what to you think I did? “Hey dog – what is that big west splat on our new couch?” I asked out loud, curious at it the spot’s size and shape…..Hmm….. looks more like….OH MY GOD!  COFFEE HAS SLOOSHED OUT OF MY NEW CUPCAKE (be damned) MUG!!!  I shriek this all in my head of course as my heart is pounding…not because I’m a neat freak – oh heaven’s no! But because this couch is exactly 2 months old – still at the “try not to sit on it, kids!” stage, let alone the thought that the dog might ever get up on there for a snooze. I feverishly begin to dab it with my dressing gown (hey – desperate times=desperate measures) as I try to remember the vague and minimal instructions that the young man gave me as he was applying the protective sealant on my sacred new couches. Dab or don’t dab? Water or no water? Oh dammit…I’m just going to have to wait to see how it dries.

…may as well pour myself another cup of coffee.