Subject: To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
Date: Mon, 23 Nov 1998 04:08:52 -0500
From: "Rev. Random the Other" <email@example.com>
Organization: Gription Clench
Five days without sleep - I've done this now five times. Uncounted
three-day stretches, and hell, I pull at least ONE all-nighter a
week. Doesn't bother me, really. What grinds me down are the repeated
minimum-sleep weeks, where I DO sleep, but only an hour or two, every
two or three days, for weeks on end. It fucks me up, because after I
sleep an hour and wake up, I can't feel that I still need sleep
desperately. I'm so used to that jittery, hollow, quavering feeling
that it becomes normal, and I lose the ability to tell JUST how close
to the crash I am. I stop eating. I expect that my body just doesn't
have the energy to grind food. I stop looking in mirrors, probably
because seeing my black-circled, raccoon eyes makes me unable to
pretend distance from the crash, to summon the energy to hold off the
crash. Ever had your knees go out from under you, just collapse in a
heap from exhaustion? Hell, I've taken it to that edge so many times,
crashing 26 hours, awake for three then 16 hours more sleep just to
feel a regular TIRED instead of two stumbles from death's door. And
it always surprises me when I realize that I'm probably pretty close:
Last month it was a Tuesday night, Pammy was out leading her choir,
and I realized that I wasn't too motivated to wash dishes. I usually
make a pizza and do cleaning on Tuesday nights, and the lethargy was
puzzling. I thought "I'm probably just tired" and then wondered about
that. I'd been sleeping OK, right? I grabbed a pencil and charted it
out--this was Tuesday, and I totalled eleven hours of sleep since
waking up the previous Wednesday. Yup. Two, Zero, Zero, Three...
I've learned to suspect and verify, if not actually sleep.
The first time I invited Pammy over for dinner, I crashed. It was
kinda embarassing. I had been pulling two or three all-nighters a
week for months--hell, nearly a year--and not counting as deficit
those in-between days where I got only an hour or two. I had no idea
I was reaching my limit, until I filled my belly with food. We were
on the balcony when I stood up from the table and announced that I
had to sleep. Now. I made it as far as an empty room and collapsed on
the floor. I actually struggled back to my feet--I still remember
this as the most strenous effort of my life, including that time at a
track/cross country meet where I was determined to win a one-mile
race and WON, by God, throwing up blood just past the finish line and
nearly dying. Shit, that was NOTHING compared to the cost of picking
myself up off that floor. Standing up, taking a few steps that day
was by far the most brutal punishment I've ever endured. All just to
croak 'I'm sorry about this' before collapsing once again. I liked Pam.
I was three when I pulled my first all-nighter. I grew up in St.
Margret's hospital near Chicago, and I was used to hospital routine.
I learned at a young age that many things ARE serious. All my friends
were transient. A boy with a broken leg for two days, a girl with
a tumor. A mongoloid girl with a "hole in her heart" who I was told I
couldn't rough-house with, who would probably die soon. She did. The
kid with encephalitis--this used to be called hydro-encephalitis, I
think--kid had a head the size of a watermellon. He died too. I saw a
girl fresh from appendicitis surgery, still on morphine, do a
cartwheel and watched her intestines spill out onto the floor. I
don't know whether she died, but I certainly understood that people
in hospitals often had serious trouble. Fucking doctor goes and jokes
that the tonsil fairy was gonna come tomorrow and slit my throat. I
don't think that he expected me to hear this, but I did and I didn't
sleep THAT night, nope. Aside: the tonsilectomy turned into brain
surgery, infection in the adnoids tracking back up into the skull,
winding around both inner ears. Gangrene. I would have been very dead
in 48 hours, they announced with relief.
I was twelve before I pulled another all-nighter, camping out. By
sixteen I was a veteran at it. At seventeen, my girlfriend fell asleep
on the couch and I woke her, asking how the hell she DID that so
fast. All my life it had taken me an average of three hours a night,
laying there sleepless, before I actually nodded off.
I don't sleep, yet I don't use any kind of stimulents. I simply
cannot tolerate anything of the sort. Speed? Ferget it. Nicotine?
No Way. Caffeine? HAHAHA. You DON'T want to see me on caffeine,
careening around, babbling and shaking. Even tea, or Pepsi. Coke?
Well maybe, but again, you don't wanna have to be AROUND me. My
parents tried to get me to drink coffee at the breakfast table ever
since I was six. They still do, and they make fun of me when I refuse
it. I tried to use coffee at work when I hadn't slept in a while.
ONE ounce in a styrofoam cup, half an inch worth at 8am. At midnight
I could still feel the stuff coursing through my system, and my hands
would still shake. Really. And God, I flap around the room shouting
and gesticulating, wide-eyed. Pammy says I produce my own speeders,
and I believe it. Give me Heroin, LSD, Barbs, Loopers, or Groaners
or 'Frop but KEEP THE DAMN CAFFEINE AWAY! White cross, pink hearts,
brown/blue/green and clears, No-Doze: these are POISON to me.
At least I know when I am on caffeine. The scariest drug is a analog
of cortisone, Prednisone, that acts like a speeder. I have to take it
sometimes if I get poison-ivy, because I will not recover on my own.
My body produces some kinda something that itself is allergic to, and
I get worse instead of better with time. When we moved to Cedar
Grove, Pam took the time to point out the new poison ivy shoots,
bright red, because she knew I lived in Chicago and didn't recognise
the stuff. Okay, bright red. When our first puppies wandered up,
looking like a cantalope and a throw rug, covered with ticks, sticks
and brambles and fat from worms, I rolled with them in the tall GREEN
weeds, being on the lookout for bright red ivy. Twelve weeks later I
had lost all the skin on my thighs, sporting two-foot-wide, oozing,
suppurating wounds clearly showing the silver-skin binding the
meat/muscles. I nearly gave the nurse at work a heart-attack, but all
I was asking for was whether she had any Calamine. She insisted I go
to the hospital. She couldn't believe what she saw, or that I had had
poison ivy for three months without knowing that something was very
wrong. Ah, Prednisone. It fucked up my breathing, but cleared up the
ivydamage. I didn't notice any speed effect; Pammy sure did, tho.
That's why Pred is scary to me: I can't tell that I am being
effected, can't even begin to TRY to moderate my activity around
others. The second time I took the stuff, it was DogPred. Kaya (the
cantalope one) had a scrip. I asked a nurse friend of Pam's who was
visiting whether there was any difference between Dog Pred and
People Pred. No, she said, no difference. Good. I had been taking it
for a week. It was Pammy who correlated for me the Prednizone and my,
ahem, reaction. It was the morning that I woke at dawn, got a weird
urge to fire up the chainsaw, and cut down nearly an acre of trees. I
was jogging with a tree, dragging it over to the burn pile, throwing
it on the pile and then jogging back for another, back and forth back
and forth, and WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN RUNNING I'M JUST WORKING
PLEASE GET OUT OF THE WAY I WANT TO GET THIS AREA CLEARED AND THEN I
THINK I'LL GO DO THE NORTH FIELD YEAH ALL THREE ACRES NO I DIDN'T
DRINK COFFEE THIS MORNING WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU INTEROGATING ME FOR
I have lots of little poison-ivy sprakles on my arms and neck just
now from weeding at night around the pump and greenhouses. I'll
probably have a very bouncy Thanksgiving.
I was five hours late for work tonight. OK since there's not
jack-nothing going on here tonight. Last night was busy as hell, so
rather than just blow off completely I decided to drive in after all.
For the past several weeks (months?) I been building these
greenhouses, wiring up electric & lights and water and building
benches. At first the plan was to let people who know what they are
doing do all this. Soon it became clear that these people are idiots.
All of them. Grrr. So after being ripped off $1400 by the elec
company and then firing the damn sprinkler stooges, I decided that I
best just figure it out myself. I HAVE got some Slack out most of it,
especially the gas-powered nail gun that looks like something out of
Terminator and makes an impressive *BLAM* BLAM* BLAM*, firing
three-inch nails into two-by-fours--at night-- and no doubt making
the neighbors think that the drug trade at Casa Gription must be to
I work alot at night. Tonight the temperature's going down to the
twentys and so, given that it's the absolute last
minute, it was time to apply some heat-cable and puffy foam
insulation out at the pump. I had the plastic off of the pump (used
to be a pump-house, but I had to tear that down to install this new
system, with a big 12-foot-high plastic watertank that glows like the
moon when lit with a halogen; I thought to build a 15'x20'x14' house
to cover the exposed plumbing before frost, and, well, I guess that's
the NEXT project) and it was 4:30 in the afternoon. I drive in to
work at 5pm usually. Pam noticed that the wind had died down, and the
decision was quickly made to pull the 100'x32' plastic over the
greenhouse. We've been waiting for it to get calm for a few days, and
truthfully I've been a bit nervous that we were not gonna get a
windless hour until next summer. I even tried it last Thursday when
there was a slight--SLIGHT--breeze and I nearly got lifted off the
ground when the sail filled. I've been seting the alarm for 5am
for a while to be awake enough to do the job at 6am since often it's
still enough then. Irrespective of work, I was pretty relieved to
have got the tunnel up, and at that point I had no real qualms
about being late because now I HAD to finish insulating the
plumbing before the freeze and get the endwalls up before the wind
made it into a huge kite. Like last time.
I think I might have already written about tying cinder blocks
every ten feet, thinking that surely THAT will hold one edge down
while I secured the other edge. I'm amazed that Pam or I lived,
what with 40 pound 16"x 12" cinderblocks crashing and swooping from
eight or twelve feet up, spinning crazily on the ropes while
divebombing. The damn things were just as dangerous flying UP as
swooping down; they would land for a bit, spinning with one corner
on the ground then suddenly jerking UP ten feet as I was nearly
standing over 'em.
I was amazed and delighted when the next time I tried it, the
plastic draped over and layed there like a table cloth, causing no
pain or even indigestion as I calmly secured it. So now I wait for
a windless moment to begin. This seems to work. Other nurseries
--T*** A****'s place for instance--have fulltime staff that does
this. Here at $inging $prings (that's our name, and Pam's just got
the catalog off to the printers, last week?week before? delayed by
a spectacular fire in the computer THE DAY BEFORE it was due. The
catalog looks great, tho. Totally worldclass knowledgable and really
really well written) yeah, here at $inging $prings there's only me
to do the heavy stuff. Fuck it, if it can be done, I can do it. The
plastic weighs 200+ pounds and I just start tugging at one end,
running it inside the greenhouse until ten feet or so is up the
side, then I climb a ladder and hoist and cuss and pull and sweat
until that end makes it over the top of the curved end. Once I get
SOME of it over the actual top, the rest goes pretty easy, just
walking down the length pulling and stretching. I screwed in these
clip-thingy-holders on the bottom and use a rubber mallet to fix
the plastic between that and another clip-holder-thingy-cap-thing.
The hot house has been covered for a while, but the perrenials have
to go through a few frosts to trigger dormancy and would not do well
in the higher daytime temperatures if we had covered them earlier. So
maybe in a few hours it will be still enough to cover another house.
I haven't been writing any stories for doing this stuff.
We only got out to Peppers Pizza maybe twice this summer (meals
were free, they love us there) and one other time right before the
first frost when we picked the HUGEST boquets ever. The one was
nearly six feet high and four feet wide and very beautiful and
impressive. This one was in a five gallon bucket with a smiling
picture of J.R. "Bob" Dobbs. The other was also awesome, and I
drove them over in Pam's truck while she worked on the catalog.
They really appreciate stuff like that, and I also got to hand out
some more Church literature, which I've missed. I haven't done any
serious preaching in Chapel Hill all summer. Sister Pammy of the
Soil and Reverend Random the Other did, however, expand
the Handbill Mill of the Gods by nearly TWO THOUSAND PAGES this
summer (Pam did most of the work). DAMN, we're GOOD!
Before I veer off on yet another tangent, I better stop this
babbling. No one gives a shit. Thing is, tho, that it doesn't MATTER,
with so little else to read on the newsgroup. People read for
DISTRACTION, not information. Glad to oblige.
Rev. Random the Other
"maybe you'll do better NEXT time...PUNK"