Deleted Scenes: Sleep

You know, it would be awesome if this column was going to be about the mid-‘90s doom band that launched the careers of guitarist Matt Pike, who’d later go on to play in AQ cover veterans High On Fire, and bassist Al Cisneros, who’d later find spiritual fulfillment in droning, undulating low-end warmth. But it’s not about that Sleep, whose 1993 album, Sleep’s Holy Mountain, I rank among a short list of all-time greats. It’s about actual sleep. The act of sleeping.

Or rather, of not sleeping, since that seems to be more the case for me these days. I’ve had periodic bouts with insomnia since I was a child, staying up until all hours on school nights after the rest of my family pooped out at whenever time it was. I’ve always been a “night person”—as much as I’ve been a person at all—but even so, I’ve managed to get enough rest to basically function during the day. At least enough to write a “Deleted Scenes” column.

This time it’s different, though, because I’m not just awake, like usual. Sometimes I just don’t sleep. I’m up and that’s it. I lay in bed with the lights off, my wife long since unconscious, and I turn the sleep timer on the tv. My cup of water is on the side-table. My feet are uncovered. All the little bedtime rituals have been performed, and still, nothing works. I’m still up.

Again, that’s not the case this time. This time, it works. I go to bed, turn on Squidbillies, roll over, close my eyes, and I’m out. But then, at around five in the morning, I wake up. I have to go to the bathroom, then the dog has to go out, and by the time that’s done, I’m awake and there’s nothing doing as regards re-sleepifying. I turn on the tv again. Pathetically, I check my sundry email accounts. I putz around for two hours or so, then I finally crash back out about half an hour before the alarm goes off and it’s time to get up to come to work.

It happened last Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and also this past Saturday night. It would’ve happened this Sunday again, but lucky me, there was a brick nearby and I bashed myself in the skull with it until I fell back to sleep. I don’t know why this is happening—again, it never has before in this way—and as much as I could point to sundry stresses personal and professional and enough pent-up frustration to bring down any number of large members of the animal kingdom, it’s really nothing on that level that I haven’t encountered in the past and nothing I shouldn’t be able to handle with my usual level of grace (read: Problematic eating and drinking and crying in the corner).

So what’s new?

I’m older. I don’t know why that keeps mattering, but it does. So maybe that’s the case here. I’ve gone past the point where insomnia is some romanticized dream of a misunderstood artist and is just a pain in the ass. And if it is stress-related, an older body reacts differently to a given stimuli than does a younger one, so that could account for the shift in how the “usual” insomnia has presented.

Every time I go to the doctor, he tells me I need to lose weight, and while I can’t argue on the principle, it’s as though my fat ass is literally blocking him from seeing any other answer to any other problem I might be having. “I’m sorry sir, I’d love to help you with your allergies, but your ass is in the way. Any chance I could get you to lose some weight so I can see around your giant ass?”

So that’s no help either, and I’m apparently not about to stop aging—if I did, I’d be dead, and I suppose none of this would matter anyway—so I guess it’ll just be another fun little twist in life’s adventure to find out what horrors await. At least I know I’ll be awake to face them head on.


JJ Koczan