The Joys of Insomnia - yes, there ARE some!

Suffer from insomnia? It's not so bad, actually...


I have a major crush…and my crush, dammit, is playing hard to get.

            Actually I may as well confess up front, one sentence in, just how pathetically enamored I am of my crush. My crush has been playing hard to get for years. But, if there is handwriting on the wall suggesting that I cut my losses and try elsewhere, I’m not seeing it.  My brain has become the most masterful Etch A Sketch. One quick shake of denial and – whoosh – that pesky message fingerprinting the walls of my unrequited love life is wiped clean.

And, then, I start the whole damn dance all over again: I importune, I stalk; politely my crush looks the other way. Nor does it matter what self-help book I consult, what attire I don, what potions I quaff, slather on, or breathe in. The outcome is always the same. My charms are spurned; my supplications to hook up, rebuffed.

            I call my crush Rhett, after that Rhett.

            Not that my crush’s not giving a damn deters me. Like Scarlett, I refuse to allow Rhett the last word in our saga. I don’t care how many sequels it takes; I will win Rhett back. I will!


            I have had a pissy relationship with Sleep ever since I was 5 years old.

More than likely it has something to do with my hatred of the dark. I feel about the dark the way I feel about heights. Asking me to close my eyes and succumb utterly to darkness – lights out, bedroom! lights out, brain! goodbye, world! – is like asking me to walk a plank over the Grand Canyon and, then, keep going. There are deaths and there are deaths, and all forms of it suck.

Dead people smell. Dead people liquefy and rot and grow long fingernails for maggots to slither along…And how do we know that, just because we are dead, that doesn’t hurt or isn’t disgusting or embarrassing? It’s not like anyone – barring Christ, anyway – has come back with any testimonials. Also correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the disciples got around to asking Jesus what it felt like between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. Or, if they did, no one thought to record it.

Yes, I know sleeping does not equal dying. But when you are five and you are afraid of the dark (and what could hide in it), mathematical equations and adult assurances don’t count for squat. Especially when this was the nighttime prayer of the day...

Now I lay me down to sleep.

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.


I pray the Lord my soul to take.

If I should DIE before I wake? WTF?

Anyone who claims the 50s were idyllic should time travel and head to my bedroom at 4 Crestview Court West in Morris Plains for a sleepover.


Thinking as I type here, I see that I just might have been born loathing the dark. Family lore recounts how Baby Jenine was the Sleeper from Hell. I screamed through the night, night after night after night, and apparently nothing worked. Not a bottle, not rocking, not cooing, not burping, not rubbing my back, not pacing the hallways. Not even (knowing my mother) threats or imprecations calmed me down.

One night, my father in utter desperation put me in the car and drove the two of us through the streets of Miami. Daddy turned on the radio – perhaps to distract him from my screams – and lo and behold, in that instant, I conked out.

Yet when Daddy turned the radio off, I started bellowing again. Apparently music soothes not only savage beasts but savage monster-babies too.

So what was the magic music I heard? What did the trick? Was it Bach? Beethoven? Elvis? The Everly Brothers? 


It was this sweet little ditty called Mule Train.

Yes, Mule Train. As in a train of mules. Lots of mules. The critters that bray. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the song:

"Mule Train" is a popular song written by Johnny Lange, Hy Heath, Ramblin' Tommy Scott and Fred Glickman. It's a cowboy song, with the singer filling the role of an Old West wagon driver, spurring on his team of mules pulling a delivery wagon.


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