Posts Tagged ‘sleep’

Assault during the Bewitching Hour, or Decapod Bladder

The arrangement of these entries is somewhat backwards, as I have told you an excerpt of our first night in Indonesia, but nothing of our travel and first day in the country, which I intend to do here. That’s not an apology, just a statement of fact.

Our journey began early in the morning in Portland. About 30 minutes before our departure, the lovely airline canceled our flight and, within another 30 minutes, managed to squeeze us on to a delayed plane without any notice other than, “Your plane is leaving now.” We rushed on to the tarmac holding as many carry-ons as would fit on our various appendages, while Langston slowly dragged a wheelie bag in front of us, obstructing our movement and repeatedly yelling, “Hurry up, Dad!” Memories of “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!” flickered in my mind. The flight attendant laughed as I lugged six bags, carried my son, and pushed his bag up the flippy-door-stairs. “Yeah. Hurry up, Dad,” she repeated several times during the flight, in that manner of serious-speak that people do, yet try to soften it with a laugh. Synaptic firing dredged up images of “Fight Club.”

The boys slept the majority of the first two legs. In between sleeping and eating, Langston had his face smashed to the rear of the seat in front of him so that his eyes would not miss a single pixel from complimentary electronic entertainment. You would have believed him Amish, and all of this his first exposure to modern technologies.

Landing in Tokyo at 12 a.m. local time, we had little to wait between flights, and just time enough for me to attempt using a squatty-potty. Hilarity and giggling mostly ensued. Minutes before boarding, an airline representative approached to inform me that our six bags (Bethany’s hairdryer, etc.) and two car seats failed to accompany the previous flight. This is now our forth trip with a luggage mishap. I recalled “Groundhog Day” (R.I.P., Egon). The representative apologized profusely and, despite my assuring her that it was not a problem— especially since I would not have to try and wrangle all of that baggage, kids, and the wife— she continued to apologize. Then, it dawned on me: airline workers are accustomed to all manner of abuse and vitriol from customers. My response does not register. Therefore, I quickly issued a roundhouse kick to her lower left mastoid. She thanked me, asked me if I was a Premium Diamond Plus Platinum Mileage Bonus Valor Supreme Holy Roman Emperor Member, reminded me that the miles from this flight would be counted toward the airline’s credit card if I signed up on the flight (plus 20,000 bonus miles), apologized again, and allowed me to board.

Little of note on the flight. My son has the bladder of a mole crab (i.e. emerita).

In Jakarta we were quickly shuttled to our new home, but we had entered that crazy jacked-up-with-psychotic-energy-from-erratic-plane-sleep stage and found no rest. The house is lovely.

An international office representative met us a few hours later and took us to the mall (Indonesia has a significant mall culture; see wife’s blog). After supping, we decided to grab some essentials. But finding ourselves in an entirely new place without any of our luggage and with the rest of our belongings in a port in Seattle, everything struck us as essential— bed sheets, dish racks, cookies, kerchiefs, ratchet sets, play dough, chip clips, spare nails, anti-poodle spray, things for holding stuff, and things for holding holders. The boys crossed from mildly-pleasant delirium to insanity as our shopping cart crept over the 57th linoleum tile of that store, and they brought us with them. Shrieking and incoherent speech spilled from their face-holes. Insanity quickly lapsed into unconsciousness for them, while I oscillated between the former two stages. Something of a cross between “Adventure Time” and “Labyrinth” played in my mind and, at times, before my eyes, with extended scenes in the Bog of Eternal Stench.

The journey through the mall and the wait for the car is unbearable to recount. Lives were lost.

We arrived home at around 4 p.m., we put the boys in bed, but remained awake ourselves. In the hope of acclimating them to our new time zone, we attempted to rouse them at 6pm and feed them some dinner. We even went so far as to tempt them with a show of some sort on the computer in the hopes that this would wake them. This happened:

Attempting Awake

Attempting Awake

Angus rallied briefly, but Langston was lost. I realized this only too late. Somehow, he ended up naked downstairs— probably the wife’s doing— I moved him from the sofa to the dining room table and encouraged him to eat. He looked at me with those sleepwalker’s eyes that some of you may know only all too well. I believed my voice had registered and that he understood, convincing myself I even saw him nod. Yet, when he turned his head from me, he looked down between his legs proceeded to urinate a Niagara-esque volume all over our university-lent, cloth-covered dining chairs. I decided it was bedtime for Langston.

Eventually, I made it to bed myself in the hopes that the sandman or perhaps Angus Og would grant my weary body some rest. But another Angus visited me instead. At twenty minutes passed the midnight hour, some scratching sounds issued from the foot of our bed, but I believed this to be the restless leg syndrome of wife— jimmy legs. What must have been seconds later, I woke abruptly from a dream in which I was struck upon the mouth, seemingly experiencing actual pain on my face. I dismissed the soreness and closed my eyes. Sleeplessness activates a naïveté common to pre-fatherhood (read: “I should have known better”). Within seconds a downward heel kick engaged my exposed trachea, forcing me upright and gasping for air. My one-year-old giggled from the center of our bed. I locked him in his room.

Transatlantic Abeyance of Sloom

Over a month has transpired since my previous entry along with a great deal of happenings: most primetime U.S. television seasons have drawn to a conclusion, I took several showers, it rained in England, I stepped on a snail in Greece, and I finally read The Catcher in the Rye (still perplexed about the hype surrounding this work- mostly boring). Though most of the month passed in such generalities, two substantively related events separated by only a few weeks continue to sidle into my thoughts at random moments throughout the day. One might contend that the occasions and frequency with which these thoughts occupy my cerebral realm is due to little more than the random firing of synapses. I would contend that that is a stupid response and that you have no idea how synapses work. Regardless, let me recount for you these events, which involve sleep (there’s your substantive) and international locations (true to the origin of these entries).

Location: Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, Spain

Date: I can’t remember around 4 a.m.

After an invigorating day of ambling through Puerto de la Cruz, relaxing on beaches, and consuming German(?) delicacies, wife and I found ourselves back in the hotel room ready for a rejuvenating slumber.  Though I have had some sleeping issues in recent months, I found that rest came to meet relatively easily on this evening. At some ungodly hour, however, I ascended rapidly through all levels of sleep and wrenched my eyes open. It was impossible for me to have been wider awake at any time in my life than at that moment. Realizing that several hours yet lay before the rising of the sun and that I was not Amish, I inaudibly insisted that I return to sleep. The open door of our porch let in a cool ocean breeze, so I attempted to pull my covers over the right side of my body, which had become exposed as the night transpired. I choose the word “attempted” because that most accurately describes the situation. Following the two to three seconds that lapsed between my sleeping and hoping for sheet-coverage, I realized that my right arm was trapped under my body and throbbing in pain. I know, “Your arm just fell asleep, Andrew”; but I had apparently restricted all blood flow from my arm from the moment I lay on the bed. It felt like two people had been given respective tasks in handling my arm: one to vigorously massage it with fiberglass insulation, and the other to quickly inflate and deflate it from the shoulder down. Rolling off of it brought no comfort either, as the blood surged back into the tortuous network of veins and blood vessels. I thought to myself, “If you can just get the covers back over your right shoulder, maybe you will get back to sleep.”

Do you remember your biological science lessons from elementary school where you learned about voluntary and involuntary actions? The former case involves the application of the will, whereas the latter case requires no conscious decision. You never have to say to yourself, “Blink… blink…” or, “right leg lift, bend at the knee, and commence forward locomotion.” As I lay in bed that night, I struggled desperately and futilely to even grab the sheet with my right hand, let alone cloak my body in it. My thumb and forefinger refused to grasp, so I just rolled around violently, hoping that my savage heaving would land a sheet corner in my hand. I managed to drop an edge into my lifeless hand, but nothing happened. I sought with all my will to move that sheet- even throwing my body forward in the hope that I could fling my arm and the sheet over my torso- and it was in the midst of that desperation that I heard it… my brain speaking independent of me to my arm. It came during a particularly intense effort to force my arm into moving. Every muscle in my body (excluding the right arm) participated in a joint, upward-pushing exertion when I heard, “Move the sheet over your shoulder.”  He sounded very calm and matter-of-fact about it all. Meanwhile, I had been thinking (apparently with another wrinkle of my brain) how terrible it would be if the debilitation was permanent. I was not sure if my mind addressed my arm in the second person singular as independent from me or as part of the whole (I hadn’t the capacity to be offended if it was the first case). Either way, I halted my effort and lay there in shock at having heard the involuntary communication of my gray matter.

Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Date: May 7-8, various times

Likewise, after a similar day of trekking, though in a decidedly different country on the Mediterranean Sea, I found myself retiring in a hotel room with a traveling companion. We had come for research relating to my topic on 2 Thessalonians and had slept precious little the night before on either the four-hour bus ride to the airport or the four-hour flight to Thessaloniki. We had come as a trio, but because of overbooking, they had to place us in two rooms: one with a single bed and another with a single and a double. Matt and I took the shared room and I graciously offered him the double bed. I rarely use pajamas, so I stripped down to my boxer shorts (this is all important, folks) and read a bit before retiring to sleep. Matt, on the other hand, climbed into bed, laid down on his back, uttered a few unintelligible words, and drifted off.

Meanwhile, I continued reading my Bible (I am rather pious), but only pressed through 24 verses before a low rumble issued from Matthew’s side of the room. This quickly progressed from a level of soft sonorousness to a series of rhythmic and cacophonic eruptions that punctuated the relative silence of our room. I simply stared at my Australian roommate as he snored with such violence you would have thought his body was attempting to make up for any breaths he may have missed during the day. I contemplated striking him in the gut, but noticed his camera sitting on the shelf of the bedside table between us. Quickly, I snatched it from its resting place, set it to video, and turned it on. Everything was working swimmingly- he would get home, flip through the photos on his memory card, and hear how disgustingly loud of a snorer he was- but when I removed the lens cap and pressed on the button to focus, it made that typical Canon chirp (deetdeet), and Matt’s eyes shot open.

This is an awkward position in which to find oneself. You know a person relatively well, but have never had a slumber party with them before. Then, they awake in the middle of the night to find you holding a camera pointed in their direction. Matt pulled his covers up snuggly under his chin and asked, “What are you doing?” I tried to produce a response that sounded reasonable so I could still catch him snoring and at the same time did not sound like I was some sort of pervert who took pictures of the innocent as they sleep. I fumbled for words and said, “Nothing” a few times. I almost said, “Just go back to sleep,” but that was pervert-talk. After repeating the question enough and realizing my avoidance of the answer only made matters worse, I finally confessed my great plan. Crestfallen, I turned off the camera and returned it to the shelf. Matt continued to watch me from the corner of his eyes for a few minutes, then wrapped his covers tightly around himself and edged away from me. I finished my chapter and shut off my lamp.

They eventually upgraded us to a three-bed room, but Matt adopted a new, Indian-style sleeping position.

I woke early the next morning feeling quite groggy and more tired than when I had gone to bed. As I sat on the edge of my bed and began to rise from the haze of waking I noticed that I was wearing an undershirt. In itself, that is not so strange. But, because I had stripped down to my boxers the evening before, as you will recall, it was peculiar, to say the least. Knowing that I have a familial history of sleepwalking and talking, as my brother will happily testify, this seemed like a rude reminder of a past that I thought I had escaped. Then another explanation manifested suddenly in my mind. As Matt roamed around the room I thought, “What if he is the pervert who likes to dress up his roommates in their sleep?” I would not have minded so much if he had dressed me in a clean shirt. I eyed him suspiciously (though he would not have noticed because of my trademark pirate-eye morning face) and the longer I squinted, the more the latter option made sense. As a seasoned sleepwalker, I NEVER go for the easy option- a dirty shirt on the floor? Heck no! I will acquire a clean one from the closet. Who was the victor in this battle of odd nocturnal behavior? All I know is that Matt and I have reached a level of mistrust and suspicion that should characterize all good friendships.

The Restless Spirit of Zinedine Zidane

Our time in England has been decidedly marked by sleeping difficulties in the realm of Andrew (that’s the right-hand side of the bed). Bizarre dreams aside, I am not sure what contributes to this faux insomnia. It may be due to caffeine consumption during the day, or electrical wires reverberating their energy out from the walls and into my brain, or that an incredibly petite wife inexplicably becomes enormous in the middle of the night such that I find myself all-too-often forced to the edge with wiry, sharp limbs jammed into uncomfortable areas of my body, or a chemical imbalance, or perhaps  the temperature irregularities instigated by the near freezing air-temperature on any Nottingham evening coupled with the comforter stuffed with goose down, burning coals, Satan’s dandruff, and powered by steam heat that wife insists on using I am unable to discover a comfortable temperature balance, and thus sleep uninterrupted. Who knows? But my current state of sleeplessness is not the focus of this entry, though it is in part the cause.

You see, several nights ago, I found myself awake in the wee hours of the morning spasmodically shifting positions in a desperate attempt to find the elusive and mystical slumbering position. Not realizing how near wife had moved to me in the course of the night, I rolled my entire body sharply to the left, aided by the weight of my enormous head, and met another force with the apex of my forehead. The fact that it did not yield to the advances of weighty cranium, coupled with its warmth and the “Ow!” that issued forth from the vicinity of where I made contact was an indication that I had indeed headbutted wife in her sleep. In the midst of the turmoil, I could only simply echo her voice and collapse back in my minuscule sliver of mattress. I am not able to divine for certain, but either the satiation of violence or the blunt force trauma quickly put me back to sleep. It seems that I have found my sleeping solution.

Nocturnal Cranial Magnetism

The next day, wife had a distinct memory of the early-morning assault and noted that I had successfully affronted her skull without so much as an apology. I assured her that it was an accident and that I do not bear full responsibility for what happens in the grogginess of semi-sleep… and that it may happen again, should the need for sleep arise.

Later that same day, wife sent me a carefully composed song set to the melody of “Little Bunny Foo Foo.” We will close on this and with a rightful victory for wife:

Little mandrew Andrew shuffling through the bed sheets

Cuddling next to Bethany and bonking her on the head.

Down came baby Jesus, and he said,

“Little mandrew Andrew, I don’t want to see you, picking on little Bethany and bonking her on the head.”