It's one more random than 10!
My life now revolves around sleep.
I’ve had an adversarial relationship with sleep for most of my life. It’s not that I don’t like sleep, it’s that I don’t like going to bed. I want to be up, up, up, and I especially love being awake in the early morning hours, when it seems like I have the whole world to myself.
I dubbed this Brando’s War Against Sleep, after Gurdjieff: The War Against Sleep, a book about the philosopher I remember stocking in the Mizzou college bookstore. The Lovely Becky, who loves sleep and dreams of a world she could run from her bed, has never understood why I fight going to bed like a child.
The irony is, in recent weeks, my child has fought going to bed like her adult father. Libby originally lulled us into a false sense of security. The first six weeks were standard issue infant sleeping, which we were prepared for: sleep for three hours, eat, poop, repeat. After we returned from our vacation in North Carolina last August, something magical happened—she started sleeping through the night. She would go down for nine to twelve hours. Having been fed so many horror stories of sleep deprivation from parents, we reacted like Sir Robin seeing the Bridge of Death: That’s easy!
Like Brave Sir Robin, we got too eager and were thrown into the Gorge of Eternal Peril.
The sleep honeymoon lasted about another six weeks. For a while, Libby usually got up once or twice a night, which was manageable. But in the last few weeks, she shifted into overdrive and was getting up three or four times a night. The baby books said she was attached to us and simply didn’t want the fun to stop. I could totally relate, and it also revealed what a fool I was to every declare war on sleep. Now, all I want to do is surrender to my once sworn enemy, to come out of my consciousness trench at 9 p.m., my hands raised, waving the white night cap of surrender, and praying for sleep to take me to its POW camp. Or at least machine gun me so I could sleep when I’m dead.
We launched our own offensive this week, following the strategy of letting Libby cry and taking turns staying up with her while the other person sleeps in the quiet guest room, which is an odd thing to do in your own house. It’s worked pretty well, though, and last night the Libster woke up once for a bottle and hardly made a peep otherwise. This of course helped me sleep, and I figured I would feel like my old self.
Yet, like a veteran returning home, I am not the same. The war has changed me, and even with a couple of full nights of sleep, I found myself yawning and droopy long before The Daily Show came on. Like water cutting through rock that eventually forms the Grand Canyon, I am slowly being changed from Rock N Roll Brando* into a dad, the way my dad was transformed from the D-Train (a hell raiser straight out of an S.E. Hinton novel) to Dad. Because when I was growing up, the one thing Dad yearned for more than anything else was a good night’s sleep. I don’t know if he ever fought the transition, but I can see why he eventually gave in, because sleep feels wonderful.
So, this week, I’m doing a theme: 11 random songs about sleep.
*(Note: level of rock n roll unverified by inspectors and is heavily disputed by spouse.)
1) “I Go to Sleep,” The Pretenders. Of course, this song is mostly about missing somebody to get freaky with before going to sleep, as Chrissy Hynde sings about missing the person next to her. (I’m not sure, but there could also be some implied DiVinyls action going on as well.) Despite this, her voice is a perfect lullaby. Wow, is it really only noon? I could use some sleep right now.
2) “Sleeping Lessons,” The Shins. It does seem funny that you have to teach someone how to sleep. We gave into Libby’s crying a little too much (as a lot of new parents do) before getting fatigued enough to become irritated enough to be sleep fascists with our baby. But all the books say that’s what you have to do, and as writers, who are we to argue with books?
3) “The Devil Never Sleeps,” Iron & Wine. This is true, and maybe this is why I liked staying up. I’m not a fan of The Devil and don’t really believe in his approach, but I have to admit, when he’s around, things get pretty exciting.
Speaking of possession, I am a big Paranormal State fan. For someone who generally prides himself on being fairly logical, I love things that have to do with ghosts, demons, and all that occult stuff. I don’t necessarily believe it, but like Fox Mulder, I want to believe it, because it would make the world more interesting if it was true. Anyway, Paranormal State usually involves the research team conducting “Dead Time,” a type of spirit communication that takes place at 3:00 a.m. (supposedly because that’s the exact opposite time of when Jesus died—SPOOKY). Most of the time, the researchers don’t uncover much, or hear things that could either be a soul-sucking demon or a running toilet. Every once in a while, though, they see or hear something that, at least in its edited form, is kind of freaky.
I’ve told TLB that I wish I could have a paranormal experience. I’ve never had anything remotely resembling one. No déjà vu, no cold spots (unless you count the UP as a cold spot), no floating orbs or light, nothing. Lots of people in my family have had ghost experiences, including my parents and my siblings. Of course, like a certain star of The Wizard of Oz, I don’t want to experience this when I’m alone, and I would prefer to see such things from behind a wall of chanting Jesuits. But I’m always super curious and a little jealous when people tell their ghost stories.
4) “Sleep Tonight,” Stars. After all that writing, I’m a little tired. A very nice, very simple song that always relaxes me.
5) “Sleepwalker,” The Kinks. Ray Davies sounds like a man who is wandering the streets in a half-conscious state. I’ve never had this happen to me or ever seen it happen, but there are those stories of people killing others while sleepwalking (which has a killer name, Homicidal somnambulism). So, like a solo paranormal experience, it’s probably best I haven’t run into this.
6) “Singing in My Sleep,” Semisonic. I have heard people talking in their sleep. I once shared a bed with my cousin when we were teenagers, and he rolled over in the middle of the night and said, “I know I can seem like a jerk, but I’m really a nice guy.” I thought he was having a moment of clarity, but he was the same person the next day.
BTW, for you kids watching the videos, that thing at the beginning of this one is a cassette tape. They were used to steal music before the Internets and to explain, through music, why you would love your boyfriend forever/were dumping him for someone who made a better mixtape.
7) “Get Some Sleep,” Bic Runga. A wonderful New Zealand singer, introduced to me by a wonderful New Zealander, my friend Paula (and her trusty squire, TMiddy). Paula recently wrote a post about her adventures in air travel that made me feel like I was exhausted, unwashed, and vowing to declare war on Air France.
8) “Sleep Spent,” Death Cab for Cutie. They sound a little sleepy themselves here, like the drummer can barely step on his bass pedal. You definitely don’t want to fall asleep while you’re playing a concert, that’s for sure.
9) “Sleeping Giant,” Mastadon. In case the title and band name don’t tell you this is the opposite of Death Cab, this song is from the album Blood Mountain. Sleeping giant could refer to me since, in typical new dad fashion, fatherhood has delivered a few extra lbs to me along with my wonderful child. Mastadon is a little too aggro for me and I only play this at the gym, which I don’t go to enough because I’m too goddamned tired. Perhaps I’ll record my own prog metal album called The Couchening: Waistline of the Napping Gods. It’ll be a concept album about a man on a quest for the perfect nacho dip to eat before falling asleep during a majestic football game.
10) “Sleepless Nights,” Gram Parsons. I’m really sorry that it took me 37 years to finally listen to Gram Parsons. The steel guitar here is nice and weepy.
11) “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” Warren Zevon. Kind of sad in light of his death, but it’s a great ode to putting off some sack time to raise a little hell. Which works even better when you try to raise it during Dead Time.
It’s supposed to snow again this weekend, and we’re already at 150 inches for the winter. So maybe I should just bag the next two months and hibernate. It would keep me from eating dip in my sleep.
Have a good weekend, and stay warm.