What Fresh Hell?

Berlin - March 8, 2018


I woke up last night – not unusual – I wake up many nights at two or three regardless of wine or coffee – I’ve heard that sleep is disrupted at my age – people joke about it, although it’s not so amusing when it’s dark and one’s mind churns. I try to remember my German lessons, which article, das, der, die – which one adheres to which noun. Then a name becomes stuck. I can’t remember someone’s name a name that would have at one point in the past tripped off my tongue but now it unglues itself and only hours or days later will it pop unbidden into my head and I think I’m coming down with my heritable brand of cognitive decline.

Sleep Number

Sleep and its opposite, insomnia, are much in the news these days. About sleep –Americans are not getting enough of it (frankly, how could we these days?) And insomnia – well, many of us have nights when sleep just won’t come at all or we simply cannot navigate ourselves back upon gentle lapping Lethian waves.

In an effort to spare you fruitless attempts to beat back insomnia – the kind that wakes you out of a soundish sleep at 2:45 in the morning – the following things DO NOT WORK:

First, though, I must set the scene:

  • ·         Make sure you have a working grandfather clock downstairs in your living room.
  • ·         Make sure you are married to the person who lovingly constructed the clock and who must set the pendulum swinging each day. 
  • ·         Make sure the clock is one that booms out the time in fifteen minute increments and the hours in needlessly gloomy, heart-stopping gongs.
  • ·         Make sure you are or have been an English teacher well aware of Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “Masque of the Red Death.”

Upon awakening, at 2:45, do not:

  • Name all of the people from your childhood neighborhood who have died.
  • Quote Shakespeare’s sleep metaphors (he must have had incredible insomnia) – “death’s second self that seals up all in rest,” “balm of hurt minds” “sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care” “sore labor’s bath”
  • Then thinking of Shakespeare, recall Macbeth’s “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech – keep repeating, “ Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player/That struts and frets his hour upon the stage/And then is heard no more. It is a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/Signifying nothing.
  • If sleep still proves illusive and you are someone with proclivities leaning toward hypochondria, go through the alphabet and for each letter assign an illness:
  • A is for abscess
  • B is for beri beri
  • C is for canker sores
  • D is for dengue fever
  • E is for ebola
  • F is for Friedreich’s Ataxia 
  • G is for gingivitis
  • H is for hemorrhoids
  • I is for impetigo
  • J is for jaundice
  • K is for Klinefelter Syndrome (ok – I just had to look that up)
  • L is for Lyme disease
  • M is for Meniere’s disease
  • N is for nephritis
  • O is for osteoporosis
  • P is for pellagra
  • Q is for really nothing – (look it up if you don’t believe me)
  • R is for rabies
  • S is for scoliosis
  • T is for tetanus
  • U is for urinary tract infection
  • V is for varicose veins
  • W is for warts
  • X is for x-ray (lame, but you should be about to nod off certainly by now)
  • Z is for zoster (not technically a disease, but, what the hell)  

GONG       GONG        GONG        GONG         GONG