A Good Time for a Sleep Aid

Back in April, when I began seeking medical council for what ails me, I mentioned the insomnia, I mentioned my intolerance to even the mild agent of Tylenol PM and Benadryl, I mentioned the feelings of non-lucidity the next morning. My physician’s assistant prescribed a supposed sleep aid that should wear off in mere hours, inhibiting the start of my day not.

I wasted time wandering down the aisles at Walgreen’s while my prescriptions were filled, and when finally the pharmacist called my number, I listened patiently while she explained the side effects and dosage. When she came to my sleeping pill, she said only, “This should really help with the itching.”

“Uh…” I grunted. “I don’t itch. I think that was supposed to help me sleep?” Sure enough, drowsiness was a side effect. It should come as little surprise that this pill doesn’t work overly well for me…wears off too quickly. I’m hard to please.

The morning that we ran Crazy Legs, I realized with great anguish that I did not have any Claritin handy…easy breathing being somewhat nice during a run scheduled during the height of my allergy suffering. I asked Nick if he had any allergy medication on hand. “Just some itch stuff I was prescribed last year,” he negated.

“Heck, I have itch stuff…tiny little green pills.” Nick’s eyebrows vee’d and he retrieved his bottle of leftover drugs. We had the same prescription, and warmth spread as we realized something else we would be able to share: medicating. He keeps his bottle on the night stand, I keep mine in my purse. The drugs are always accessible.

We hiked through Wyalusing State Park last Saturday, with the breathtaking views of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers, and it was quickly obvious that our low-strength strain of bug spray would not do, and to play it down a bit, we were nearly eaten alive by hungry mosquitoes. Damp woods, shadowy trails…who saw that one coming? Seriously!

So, since we sucked at prevention—and Nick swore he would never hike without deet-inspired spray again…deet, the word I challenged Nick on during an ill-fated game of Scrabble and was quickly proved wrong (a happening that does little for my ego)—we partook of my sleeping pills for the long drive home.

The itching was momentarily vanquished.

Kara and I decided last Saturday, regarding nature, that it would be so much better if the bugs were withdrawn, the dirt removed…and I, personally, petitioned for the addition of something pink and plushy.

Like a gift from above!

Saturday evening, after danish and cappuccino at a local coffeehouse, lazing in the sun, curling into Nick on the picnic blanket as the temperature cooled and the rain spat, hiking with Jeff and Kara (and Nick) at Devil’s Lake, hiking with Nick at Parfrey’s Glen, getting soaked to the skin as we sprinted back to the car from the path at Parfrey’s Glen in the sudden outbreak of a deluge, riding drenched in the sun-encased car, ordering a pizza for carryout from my cell, getting a $4 discount for having a “pleasant look” to me, eating, watching Fever Pitch and part of Bad Santa on TV….well, after all that, I was tired. I’m exhausted all over again just by reading that run-on.

I didn’t see much of Bad Santa, which was ok because from what I saw of it, Billy Bob Thornton was just plain mean…and needed a shower. I was pretty much quiescent and heavy-lidded upon Nick’s over-comfortable leather couch. The movie must have finished, for I awoke to the sounds of Nick tidying up the kitchen. I automatically stood and reached for the empty water bottles to help, and Nick grabbed them from me, telling me to go to bed.

I don’t remember much after that point…mainly falling asleep and wondering how I got to the bedroom. The next morning, just after six (“just after six” is major sleeping-in for Miss it-is-2:30-and-I-am-wide-awake), I awoke for the first time. I sniffed at the air, thinking I smelled a coffee-laced tinge but knowing it could not be so. The evening-prior, I did not prepare coffee for the next morning—the fact a glaring mark on what was otherwise a perfect day, weather notwithstanding.

So I lay there, staring at the dawn, inhaling the essence of what I convinced myself to be coffee. I ruminated, I mulled, and I thought of Nick. Would he have….? Could he have….? Oh, I don’t want to get myself excited and then be disappointed! But it smells so good! A steaming mug of French Roast would fit so pleasantly between my cool palms…but what if I go down to the kitchen and there’s no coffee? Then what?

To put it mildly, I soliloquized Hamlet to shame.

Eventually, my feminine curiosity getting the better of me, I padded to the kitchen and saw the filled carafe. Well, it could just be left over coffee from yesterday, I chided, trying to keep myself grounded. I shuffled nearer and stretched my left fingertips forth. Heat. I leaned my head near the spout. Fragrant freshness. I poured myself a cup and purred. I was so contented that I set out to make Nick berry scones in gratitude.

A win-win situation for all.

Which reminds me…Nick asked in his obnoxious way yesterday what made a scone different from a biscuit. “Nothing,” I replied, advising that the Brits called their biscuits scones. “I think we started using the term “scone” more with the advent of coffeehouses. Sounds ritzier. Coffeehouse goers are a teensy bit snobbish.” Nick looked pointedly at me and agreed wholeheartedly.

A Change in the Air

I’ve been content.

It doesn’t look like much on paper screen, but it’s a big deal. I’m not aching. I’m not yearning. I’m not wanting. I’m being.

I awoke to a dazzling display of pre-dawn shimmer tickling the bedroom panes. I’ve slept well the past two nights, and I could have easily rolled over and returned to slumber in the early moment’s of the clock’s fifth strike…but then I noticed that calm, that rightness that has been missing for so very long.

I was all set to share my stories of the past two days. Nick has easily made this holiday weekend the most enjoyable of my recollections. Hiking and relaxing and quieting…it’s been champion to set my soul free. There will be other times to tell.

I did something this morning that I haven’t done in a great many months. My eyes began to see the glory of my surroundings, as they always used to, and I reached for my camera, taking the above images. How long has it been since I’ve reclined back and enjoyed the moment? Too long, far too long. I am always looking ahead, waiting to enjoy when I get to that place.

I love seeing the world through a camera. The essence of immortalizing life in one frame is heady, and your eyes are no longer dulled to the beauty and the importance of every movement, texture, and hue. Life’s canvas is paralleled by none other.

My aunts, Debbie and Brenda, gave me a really great camera for Christmas last year. They were sneaky little elves and scoured shopping centers on December the twenty-third—serious dedication considering the mentality of 12/23 shoppers—after an internet order did not arrive as planned.

My reaction was that of shock. I knew it to be a very expensive camera. I remember the slack-jawed look I gave my mother just after I opened the gift and just after they left. I didn’t know what to say or how to react. Does one accept expensive gifts? Mom quieted my unease. “Your aunts asked if it would be ok if they spent more on you and Charlie this year…you’ve both had tough times and they’d like to do something special for you. I was given a 3-month death sentence just before Charlie’s birthday…and, well, you know what’s been goin on with you.”

Mom and I were watching The Bishop’s Wife that afternoon, during a last minute “wrap session” as we called them. She was feeling ill toward the end of the movie and we stopped it at a point, saying we’d finish another day. I pulled the cassette from the VCR the day she passed away, leaving the spooled ribbon divided just there…I remember spending Christmas Eve with my dad’s family, and Mom feeling lousy. The frustrated tears pooling in the hollows beneath her eyes as she looked above and begged for Christmas…she fought so hard to have another Christmas…well past the point her body wanted her to fight. I lost all desire to appreciate life after she died. Life without Mom was just plain ugly, I had decided. My camera lay as dormant as that video cassette.

Last Friday was May 26th. I told Debbie that morning as she prepared for work that this was the first monthly “anniversary” of Mom’s January-26 passing that I actually observed. The others passed without me thinking of it, only to, days later, feel soul-less for being so unaware. But I knew it was coming this month, I knew it the night before…and for the first time in four months I wasn’t overcome by sorrow.

I’m wandering back toward the living. I’m wandering back toward joy. I wandering back to myself, which is the greatest tribute to my mother that I could ever hope to erect. I couldn’t keep her body alive, but I nurture her spirit forever. Life really is very precious.


The other day, I hit the grocery store seeking “bits of seafood” to add to a pasta salad. I was looking for a theme, some sort of common denominator as a last ditch effort to salute my dying OCD. That’s right, I’m erring toward the side of normal these days. Nick even said last night in regards to my claims of OCD that it was only a disorder I thought I had. And, spanning the totality of my time on Earth, my bank of acquaintances are spitting in derision, wishing this had always been so. I’m mellowing in my old age.

So, naturally, I wandered toward the mock crab. I love mock crab. Better than the real stuff, actually…does that make me cheap? Well, so be it. You see, with the real stuff, there are variances in the flavor from crab to crab. Mock crab is chemically engineered to taste like good crab time and time again. Mmmm…chemicals. Romanced by the fakery, I reached for the package of mock lobster as well.

Forgive the pun, but it was all going swimingly at this point…until I sought the third bit of seafood I so dearly wanted to add, the shrimp. I met disappointment. I looked high and low, mostly low I suppose, and my pace quickened as I walked the line of freezers. At length, and with great hesitation, I made my selection and sulked all the way to the checkout line. My head hung low, I swiped my debit card and quit the store.

I was forced to use real shrimp, and I’ve never felt so base.