I almost wish that I was a stuttering child just so that my patron saint could be St. Notkat Bulbulus.

Last night I could not sleep. These sleepless nights fall upon me in occasional packs. I knew last night would be the way it was well before I allowed myself to believe that I could drift off and stay afloat in that seeming stasis of early sleep. There was a common marker that alerted me: my work day had been stressful, and as a result, I was moody, vascillating wildly between wanting to cuddle and hating even my clothing for cloying the way it did. A stressful workday provided the perfect alibi, lending innocuity to my mood.

I lay in bed under a thin sheet, cursing the heat and waiting for the darkness to lull me. The herbal sleeping pill I took managed to start a series of huge yawns, and I did drift in and out for a little while, but the beginning of what might have been a dream snapped my eyelids open, and that was that.

I turned on my lamp and started reading Joseph Heller's Catch 22. The jacket of the book declares it to be "hilarious" and "vulgarly, bitterly, savagely funny". I suppose it must be then, but all I could hear was the voice of Yossarian reading in my head with a certain bitter sarcasm and melancholy.

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Without the comfort of books, I spent the rest of the night lying in the dark with my eyes staring fixedly out our bedroom window. A tall apartment building a block away winked its lights through the trees, and I wondered if someone there had watched me undress earlier when I was too lazy to pull the drapes. I hoped that they had, and I didn't know why.

I thought about all the new noises I was contending with since our move. The girl next door and her boyfriend watched television until late. It was not terribly loud, but I could tell that they were watching something along the lines of a thriller. The person who lives above us listened to Canadian folk music and built quietly with wood, the hammer on small nails tap-tap coming tap through the tap-tap-tap ceiling in a series tap of softened tap-tap knocks. I counted them until I kept tripping up on the numbers, skipping and recounting and throwing in extras for good measure when I felt that I had missed a few hammerfalls. The sounds were comforting and kept me from turning in on myself as the cornered dog I felt like I was.

I have to get up for work, I have to get up for work, if I fall asleep now, I will have five hours of sleep, and I turned to look at the clock. Make that four hours of sleep, but that's only if I was asleep at this very second, and I am not. My eyes feel dry from forgetting to blink in the dark. Why can't my body just stop feeling hungry and thirsty and the need to pee and exhaustion and this stupid meta-alertness that keeps me conscious. Hell is this body.

Some time before 6:00 am, I let myself get up. I had just woken up from a full half-hour of sleep, and I was still letting myself think that the reasons for this particular bout with insomnia were still based in the daily stresses of work and moving. Or rather, I did not really think that but picked at that and let the rest alone. Seven hours flat on your back and feeling too depressed to read leaves your brain free to lead you down a lot of paths, few of which offer anything resembling simple conclusions.

Today I am bearing the brunt of too much thinking.

Am I worth the love I receive? Is my offline writing a worthwhile pursuit, or am I artless? What are the missing pieces of my childhood hiding? Am I anybody or somebody? What if I don't apply myself and ever publish a book? How important is having a list of accomplishments that others recognize? What are my options, and would I take them if I had them?

I suppose I should be honest with myself at this point. It is now 3:35 pm, and I still have not slept/cannot sleep. The wind outside the apartment is wild and rocks the windowpanes in their frames. The suction of air keeps knocking the main door's deadbolt against the inside of the doorframe. The birds' hopping sounds strangely like a window being cracked open and makes me jump up to check, and I'm sure that I saw someone looking in our kitchen window late yesterday afternoon. I do not feel safe.

My insecurity is not the fault of this lovely apartment, which has deadbolts and chains and doorknob locks and is on the second floor and which has a kitchen window off the balcony that doesn't even open. My insecurity is about much more obscure things like windows spontaneously breaking and belching taps and celings crashing down and bathtubs smashing through the floor and stairwells collapsing under my weight. This kind of fear is much worse than the understandable although elevated fear of someone breaking in, because this kind of fear is the fear that the most basic structures around me will fall to ruin, that the most common things I use to get through the day cannot be trusted.

I think I am a tad stressed out.

My seasonal depression has decided to throw me a completely new curve this year by continuing a thrumming undertone of anxiety straight through from spring. The Fiery One and I moved two weeks ago, and I'm not good at that sort of thing. My job won't play nice and instead insists on moving me around to different offices and covering for four other vacationing co-workers. I think there's the ghost of a late-middle-aged to elderly man hanging around this apartment, and I can't tell if he likes us. I am just finishing my period, which like my job, did not behave at all like it was supposed to. Our rent is much higher now than it was, and I worry, especially since my new coat was stolen, my last nice bag was destroyed by some unknown oil source, and I need new glasses, but I don't have $750 stashed in a coffee can anywhere.

Breathe, Schmutzie.

Okay, I have not slept in many, many hours, so my brain's not functioning too well. Here's what I'm going to do. First, I am going to go have a hot bath and read something less sarcastic like The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving. Then, I am going to have a cigarette on our back porch, and follow it up with some cheddar cheese and sun-dried tomato pesto on saltwater crackers. If there is time after that to go for a short walk to poke around the as yet unfamiliar corner store before the Fiery One gets home, I will. After that, I may do some of the laundry that we moved over here in large green garbage bags from our old place, but then again, I might not, and I will refuse to feel guilty about that.

Shit, I should talk to you people more often. I'm already feeling so much better. The nihilist in me is being squashed back into his hidey hole, I'm all out of drama, and my appetite is returning. Let the bathing commence! And cracker eating! And poking around in a corner store with an average customer age of seventy-five!

I am sure that this hole I fell into is not as deep or as full of spiders as it seems.

"Sleep" by Bill Knott