By JEFF PICKELL
Yesterday, my brother Jamie and I spent an hour or so picking up big sticks around my parents’ house. In the olden days, we were usually required to pick up both big and little sticks, but now my dad has this fancy brusher thing that he attaches to the riding lawn mower. It allows him to pick up little sticks with the greatest of ease.
Since I’ve lived in either a dormitory or an apartment for the last six years, I haven’t had much chance to whine about having to do yard work. With the exception of my two-summer engagement as a maintenance worker for the DNR, I can actually say my last half-decade has been pretty yard work free.
I should note, however, that I did live in a house my senior year of college, but neither I, nor my roommates, did anything remotely related to yard upkeep there. We’d schedule occasional parties during which mobs of 20-somethings would trample down our weedy patch of lawn, but not even I have the gall to call that “work.”
I pondered this dearth of yard work during my drive back to Morenci this Monday, and wondered whether it has contributed to the streak of insomnia I’ve suffered recently.
Classically, I think of insomnia as the inability to fall asleep, so I tend to consider my affliction as “reverse insomnia,” or the inability to stay asleep. I have no difficulty nodding off—sometimes collapsing as early as 7 or 8 p.m.—but there is a real trouble in staying asleep past 3 a.m.
In the beginning, I attributed this to “being a grown-up” which is often defined as “going to bed at a sensible hour so you have time to read the news before going to work.” But I figured something might be up when I found myself watching not one, but two installments of “The Godfather” before plunking down to the office.
I knew there was something odd going on last weekend when my friends revealed that they had scheduled their St. Patrick’s Day festivities around the assumption that I would head home to bed before 9 p.m.
“Have I really become that lame?” I thought.
True, I’m not a college party animal anymore. I don’t go to bed at 4 a.m. and wake up some time in the afternoon and I prefer to spend most of my waking hours in the daylight, but there is no good reason why I should be exhausted so early and unable to sleep past the wee hours.
Last night, my dad and I watched “Wuthering Heights”—the version with Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier and David Niven—and he just wouldn’t shut up about how much work he got done. (And by “he,” I mean my dad. Nobody seems to do much of anything in “Wuthering Heights” except be dramatic, and, in the case of Merle Oberon, die of pneumonia).
I have to admit, his list of accomplishments was impressive. He got up at seven, made a smoothie, watched a terrible John Wayne movie, went for a six-mile walk with my mom and Darla the dog, got the lawnmower running, picked up sticks, cleaned out the garage, fed the birds, fed the deer, made a salsa dip from leftover pot roast, cooked an asparagus and chicken dinner, watched “Wuthering Heights,” and read from a biography of Abraham Lincoln before falling asleep and snoring loudly enough to keep his son up.
My day, on the other hand contained essentially no physical exertion, or exertion of any kind, so it’s no wonder my strapping young body didn’t require any more than four or five hours of sleep. That’s what I assumed, at least, while I tossed and turned from 3 to 6 a.m. Monday trying to catch some Zs.
I should spend more time mowing the lawn, or peddling the exercise bike, or just being productive in general—anything that will help me get a good night’s sleep so I’m not awake at 4 a.m. and exhausted at dusk.
I’ve already got a few things planned. The trail along Bean Creek can use some foot traffic and it’s always fun to walk over to Silver Creek and gaze at the water gurgling over the rocks. And there’s cleaning to be done; there’s definitely enough cleaning to go around. I’m also mid-way through an epic struggle to gather all the clothes and doodads I don’t use anymore to donate to Goodwill.
And then there’s my unfinished novella “Pie-master” which is begging to be cranked out.
I really just have to stop being such a slug.
“No duh,” says my brain.
No duh, indeed. If only real life were so simple.– March 21, 2007