June 29, 2005
The Puley Report: Wednesday A.M.


Puley Sleepy

She wakes up every night between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.   

This is not a new development.  It started a couple of months ago ... right about the time she had the operation on her Stoopid Infected Ingrown Toenail.  The throbbing would wake her up, in the middle of the night, and nothing but a fresh dab of Neosporin, a new Band-Aid and half a prescription Motrin would help alleviate the pain. Then she would force herself to crawl back under the covers and try to go back to sleep. Some nights it worked. Most nights it didn't. On the nights it didn't work, she would lay in bed and watch the Hello Kitty clock change from 1:00 to 2:00 ...  to 3:00 ... to 4:00.  Her head would tick with worries, while she tossed and turned and waited for sleep to claim her: money worries, Tot worries, health worries, world-in-jeopardy worries. Mostly, though, she worried about her job. Why couldn't she just relax and be happy with her low-stress/high-paying job? Was it time to look for something that made her happier? How could she ever find something that paid as well?  How would JoAnne get along without her?  She would usually drop off finally sometime around 4:30 a.m., which gave her roughly an hour of snooze-time before it was time to get up and get ready for work. By the time she got to the office, her eyes felt like they'd been buffed with fine-grade sandpaper.

Now that's she's unemployed -- EXCUSE me: now that she's experiencing temporary "Career Realignment" -- waking up in the middle of the night isn't quite as devastating.

Last night it was 1:20 a.m. when the toe-throbbing wrenched her out of bed. I watched her in the darkness, digging around in the little wicker basket she keeps on the headboard. She keeps it filled with all of her emergency middle-of-the-night stuff ... ear plugs, antacids, Benadryl, Kleenex, lemon drops, fresh batteries for David's Walkman (he can't sleep without it), the nearly-empty bottle of Motrin, a handful of fresh Band-Aids. Except that there didn't seem to be any Band-Aids left in the basket -- she'd used the last one the night before, apparently -- so she was going to have to get up and go to the bathroom and check to see if there were any left in the medicine cabinet.  

She slid out of bed with the stealth of an alley cat -- no sense in waking the one employed person in the bed -- and she tiptoed into the bathroom. The Band-Aid box was empty, but she did have a couple of adhesive pads and half a roll of gauze, left over from the surgery. She perched herself on the edge of the bathtub at 1:23 a.m., with the bandaging supplies and a pair of scissors, and ministered to her oozing, throbbing big toe. (The weird thing is that lately it's been 'oozing and throbbing' on the side that DIDN'T have the surgery. The podiatrist says this is normal: something about the nail shifting location, as it adjusts to its new cauterized/streamlined size. Eventually it will quit oozing and throbbing altogether. She hopes this is true: she has a brand-new pair of Naturalizer sandals, size 8-1/2 WWW, which she purchased before the paychecks stopped rolling in, and she's looking forward to wearing them WITHOUT the oh-so-attractive Band-Aid accessorization.) And then she crawled back into bed, next to her sleeping husband, and she closed her eyes, and she waited for a couple of minutes to see if sleep would naturally overtake her again.

Five minutes later, she decided that it wasn't going to happen.  

Maybe it was the Pepsi she'd had with dinner. (People in the *Career Realignment Phase* of Pulology tend to be somewhat offhand about caffeine intake ... a fact we frown upon, actually. But I'm not going to start making noise about it just yet.) Maybe it was the street light shining through the thinning bedroom curtains above her head. Maybe it was the lumpy mattress, the traffic noises on the street outside the bedroom window, the gentle snoring of her husband on the other side of the bed.

Whatever the reason, sleep obviously wasn't going to resume any time soon.

So she did what she always does, lately, in these situations: she reached over the side of the bed, picked up the computer from the floor, and pulled it onto her lap. She slipped the headphones over her ears, so she wouldn't wake her husband, and booted up the laptop. In the darkness of the bedroom, the light from the monitor seemed bright as midday. She logged in and fired up her favorite web browser. There were so many things she could do to entertain herself.  It looked like two out of three Tots were online, for one thing ... her son's name appeared as "Active" on her Yahoo Messenger list, her oldest daughter was lurking on AIM ... but the truth is she wasn't exactly in the mood to engage in conversation right now.  (Plus -- an i.m. from Mom at 1:30 a.m.? They'd think she was stalking them for sure.) There were a couple of e-mails in her 'In' Box, but technically they were addressed to Puley. There were another couple of annoying unsolicited advertisements in the guestbook, which she yanked out immediately. (Whut the fudk is the deal with SPAM in GUESTBOOKS?) Then she just sat there for a moment, casting around for ideas. She could create some new art for her website, maybe. Lately she's decided to resurrect the cartoons: they were always so much fun, and always elicited such positive reader commentary. She could answer that e-mail from her old high school boyfriend ... the one who is asking her if she still wonders about God? She could listen to Internet radio, or catch up on the handful of online journals she still reads religiously, or play a couple rounds of Ball Breaker.  

Eventually, though, she ended up doing what she always does: she popped a DVD into the player.

Tonight it was "Rescue Me" ... the FX show about firefighters, starring Denis Leary.  She's on the third disc of the three-disc first season set. The DVDs are already two days overdue at Blockbuster, so she's got to hurry up and finish watching them before the late fees suck up the last of her life savings. (And yes, usually she uses Netflix to feed her DVD addiction, but the day after she quit her job she walked up the street to the local Blockbuster and opened an account there, too. She figures that she's going to have lots of time on her hands -- and on her laptop -- for the next little while.) To tell you the truth, "Rescue Me" has turned out to be something of a disappointment. She loves Denis Leary  -- there's something crudely hot about the guy -- but the writing on the show feels rote and predictable, and none of the supporting characters have grabbed her, the way they do on "The West Wing" or "The Shield" or "Six Feet Under" or "Nip/Tuck" (or any of the other 43,897,621 other DVD television shows she's been hooked on lately). Still, she's only got this last disc left to watch, and then she can take the DVDs back to Blockbuster and get something else. A friend has recommended "Popular," so she thinks maybe she'll give that a try next. 

If nothing else, it will give her a reason to get out of bed in the morning and get dressed and leave the apartment for half an hour.

In the meantime, though, she settled back against the pillows and watched three episodes of "Rescue Me," one right after the other. By the time the final episode was over, it was nearly 4 a.m.  

"Let's go to sleep now, Secra," I whispered to her gently. "You've got to wake David up for work in two hours."  

She agreed with me -- I don't think she likes me very much, just yet, but I think she understands that I'm only looking out for her best interests -- and she set the laptop back on the floor and snuggled beneath the covers, with one pillow tucked over her head to block out the light and the traffic noises from the street outside her bedroom window.

I'm worried about her. But at least she got a little sleep finally.



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