Subject: To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Date: Mon, 23 Nov 1998 04:08:52 -0500

From: "Rev. Random the Other" <cmcjp02@americasm01.nt.com>

Organization: Gription Clench

Newsgroups: alt.slack

 

 

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

YESITOOKTHEDAMNPREDNISONETHISMORNINGGETOUTOFMYWAYORI'LLRIPYOURHEADOFF.

 

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

blame.

 

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"