Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Sleep Trilogy – 3

Or, How I Nearly Killed Myself Sleeping.

Throughout my life I’ve had a strange relationship with sleep. I like it but it seems I’ve been very busy during my supposed down time. But then I’ve also fallen asleep at odd times. Like in a sound proof room while auditioning a sax player; at a job interview after the guy stepped out; at school where, just outside the window, they were building the new school and it was blasting day. I fell off my chair for that one.

I’ve thrashed and talked and not slept. I’ve slept in the finest beds and the backs of vans rolling down the road. I fell asleep while waiting for my match to be called at a tennis tournament. They found me minutes before I would have defaulted. I’ve slept with women who’ve given me shit for snoring. In return I’ve given them their choice of ear protection.

I was in a military hospital. When you’re a kid being in a military hospital is a life changing experience. And not just because you’re so fucked up you have to be in a hospital. I saw all kinds of wounds from all kinds of guys (sorry women, it was a mens only ward). I talked to men who were going to have face to face conversations with loved one to tell them life would never be the same again. I’ve taken that with me. Shit goes wrong in life as it has in mine but whenever it does I think back to those guys and the things I saw and the conversations we had and say,

“Someone is always worse off.”

I know because I’ve seen it.

No matter how fucked up their lives all these men were great to me. There was a funny demarcation line about going into the military. Injured officers would sing the praises of a life in the military. Push the fact that my father was an officer. I didn’t miss the fact that none of those guys had weeping wounds and owned all their body parts. The grunts sang a different tune. They’d get together and plot on ways to keep me out of the service. One offered, in the spirit of brotherly love, to cut off my toe. One of the nicest things anyone’s ever offered me.

I was in for a while so I got to see how things worked. The overworked staff was efficient and caring. Most of them had rotated out of battle zones to this pretty damn cushy assignment. A ward full of fucked up men with fucked up lives. The after photo of what they’d pick off the battlefield.

I was sleeping one night with the sounds of pain and rustling around me. When I told friends after I got out about the almost constant moaning at night they asked me if it was creepy. They all thought it was quite odd when I said no, it was comforting. Because that’s the way I knew they were still alive.

I wake up one morning and look around. I saw something I’d never seen before. The entire ward was empty of patients. Some of the beds had been moved out. It was odd to have that silence. That was creepy. I sat up and a corpsman saw me. He’s walking up to me laughing.

He tells me everyone was evacuated because of the fire. I figure he’s joking. Trying to get me going. I figured it was some military thing and he was busting my balls.

“Don’t believe me?” He said. “Look out the window.” He pointed out the window behind me.

The entire facade of the building was scorched. It looked as if there were two floors effected. I looked down and there were still a couple of fire trucks finishing up. I looked back at the corpsman and he can see I’m wondering why they didn’t move me.

“Everyone was up. Even Quiet Paul. The noise was so loud it woke up people off the base. Everyone in the hospital was awake. But you just laid there.” I’m staring at him still wondering why they didn’t move me. I wondered if some of the brass heard what the grunts were telling me so ordered me to remain as kindling. “We just figured anyone who could sleep through all the noise and fire and smoke was dead. We’d take care of you in the morning.”

Yeah, I’ve heard that before.

The Sleep Trilogy – 2

Or, How I Nearly Killed Myself Sleeping.

Throughout my life I’ve had a strange relationship with sleep. I like it but it seems I’ve been very busy during my supposed down time. But then I’ve also fallen asleep at odd times. Like in a sound proof room while auditioning a sax player; at a job interview after the guy stepped out; at school where, just outside the window, they were building the new school and it was blasting day. I fell off my chair for that one.

I’ve thrashed and talked and not slept. I’ve slept in the finest beds and the backs of vans rolling down the road. I fell asleep while waiting for my match to be called at a tennis tournament. They found me minutes before I would have defaulted. I’ve slept with women who’ve given me shit for snoring. In return I’ve given them their choice of ear protection.

But when I do sleep I do it hard. I mean no amount of noise could wake me up. My mother standing over me screaming didn’t work. Car crashes outside, arguments inside, I’d get them in the news tomorrow. I’ve always thought it was funny when people have asked if I can hear myself snoring. How stupid is that? I mean, I’m sleeping I didn’t hear the cops surrounding the house because the house arrest bracelet of the idiot upstairs went off. Cop cars were all over the street but they didn’t stay long. Turns out the bracelet went off when the paramedics took him out due to a drug overdose.

As with any heavy sleeper who moves around I’ve fallen out of bed. That usually wakes me up so before anyone can run into see what the noise is I’m already back under the covers as if nothing at all has happened. But that’s not always the case.

For a period of time I had to sleep in bunk beds. No, I wasn’t in prison. The house was small, a cousin lived with us, so, bunk beds. Things were okay on the top bunk. Sure, if someone turned the overhead light on it was like looking into the sun but you learn to adjust. Roll with the punches.

I’m sleeping and it’s a normal night. I’m still until I start moving and then I’m still again. I roll over and back again. The next time it’s a larger arc and maybe a bit to close to the side of the bed but no. I’m back on my back and all is right in the world.

Until I rolled to far and fell off the top bunk.

It just so happened at the time my mother walked by to watch this. I landed with a thunk directly on my head. Concussion number seven or eight, I can never remember, I’ve always considered it. My mother comes over and looks at me.

“Chris.” She says then repeats. She leans down and I’m not moving. She can’t tell if I’m breathing. Probably because I wasn’t snoring. She tried to rouse me a few times before doing what mothers around the world would do. She went to bed.

When she told me this story the next morning (where I woke up on the floor) I posed the question about the possibility that I could have died in the fall. She said,

“If that was true I figured you’d keep until morning. Why ruin everyone’s sleep? Ambulances, police, the entire neighborhood would have woken up. Better to take care of it in the morning.”

Compassion. I know where I get mine.

I know. . .

. . .I’d be a great juggler.

But I just don’t have the balls.

The Sleep Trilogy – 1

Or, How I Nearly Killed Myself Sleeping.

Throughout my life I’ve had a strange relationship with sleep. I like it but it seems I’ve been very busy during my supposed down time. But then I’ve also fallen asleep at odd times. Like in a sound proof room while auditioning a sax player; at a job interview after the guy stepped out; at school where, just outside the window, they were building the new school and it was blasting day. I fell off my chair for that one.

I’ve thrashed and talked and not slept. I’ve slept in the finest beds and the backs of vans rolling down the road. I fell asleep while waiting for my match to be called at a tennis tournament. They found me minutes before I would have defaulted. I’ve slept with women who’ve given me shit for snoring. In return I’ve given them their choice of ear protection.

But something I did for years was most troubling. Not to me, because I was sleeping, but mainly to my mother. It got so bad they tried to tuck me into bed like a pork sausage. I’d just squirm out and go on my nocturnal rampages. Being asleep everything you’re going to read after this is from the words of others. But I was given too much evidence to ignore any of it.

There are tales of me walking up to the TV, changing channels then sitting down. Seeing that there were adults there being there alone was odd behavior. But for me to turn the channel, trust me, that wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t sleepwalking. I’m told sometimes I would sit there quietly but then other times I’d be carrying on a conversation. My sister once punched me in the face to make me stop annoying here but even that didn’t wake me. I know it happened because I had a new bruise on my head when I woke the next day.

I’d stand in the doorway and not say anything. Thinking about that that’s some creepy ass, kid in a horror movie kinda shit. I’d make short visits but then other times I’d be told to go to bed. Never once did I refuse that request. Showing, at least to me, I was a polite walker of the dead.

They were always afraid to wake me because they’d heard if you wake a sleepwalker they’d die or go into a coma or go into seizures or never fall asleep again. But as my sister rightfully pointed out, if a punch in the face wasn’t going to wake me a gentle shake had no shot.

The times it was most frightening (for others. Remember, for me it was just my chance to get some extra shit done in my day) is when I’d try to escape. That’s how they’d put it, escape. Like this was a supermax and I was making a break for it. I just had some shit to do and it happened to be outside.

My mother once followed me as I walked down the stairs of our second floor apartment, down all the stairs, outside and walked to where we played baseball. She said I stood in the middle, took a whopping cut and ran, as she said, in circles. Then I picked up a rock and went home. The next morning she showed me the rock so even I thought this was weird.

It was a while after that they started using deadbolts on the doors. I know, ‘a while’. I guess they didn’t mind a little escaping from me. But they would barricade the door with simple items that, for whatever reason, I could never penetrate. Fuck you supermax! You won’t hold me forever!

When we did get deadbolts it was again made perfectly clear by my sister that it would be totally all my fault if we all died in a fire. Which is true, I guess. But, beside the fact that I was the only one in the house who didn’t smoke, it’s also true my sister would never put the deadbolt into place so she was planning for her survival. And my potential wander off into death. Fair trade from her standpoint I can see.

I was told the most frightening time (which, looking back again, being awake when this shit was happening could all potentially be considered frightening. I’m not sure if I was a parent of a sleepwalker I’d be able to stay up to stop the little bastard) was when I got up happily, as always (I may have been a psycho but I was a happy one), and went to the knife drawer.

My mother, sitting at the table talking to someone (I was sleeping so cut me some slack on the details) when she saw me open the drawer, take out the knife, close the drawer (very considerate if I do say so myself) and start walking away.

“Chris, what are you doing.”

“Nothing.” Proving even when your kid is sleeping that’s the go to answer.

“What do you have in your hand?”

“A knife.”

“Why?”

“I have to cut something.”

“What are you cutting?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“Put the knife away.”

“After I cut something.”

“No, right now and go back to bed.”

“Okay.”

She says I started to go to bed still holding the knife. Instead of engaging in my witty verbiage this time she walked up and took the knife from me. For years she’d bring that up because she said she was never sure exactly what I said. If it was ‘something’ or ‘someone’. I could never give her the correct answer, of course, but, thinking back, my sister was a pretty big dick.

I don’t know when I stopped. I lived on my own for a number of years so there’s no telling if I kept it up because I never went to bed fine and woke up with wolverine jerky and pelts surrounding my bed. I’ve lived with other people and none of them have ever said they awoke to find me standing over them with a knife.

But, no matter what, sleep and I are close but wary of one another.