Sleepless in Sturgeon Bay

On this first day of 2012, I thought I’d celebrate by writing a column. I have 15 minutes to go before it becomes January 2, so I don’t think I’m going to make it.

I thought I’d write something profound, something that would sum up the past year and set the tone for the new one, something wise and perhaps a little witty.

That’s not happening, either. It’s 11:45 p.m. and I’m writing about insomnia. Not the condition itself; for me, it’s not chronic, and has visited me now only because of a catch-up nap I took too late this afternoon. I’m writing about insomnia because I’ve discovered it makes the world look different.

If I weren’t the only one up, I wouldn’t be paying much attention to this midnight world. I’d be talking with my husband, watching a movie, writing last-minute emails, letting the dog out for the last time, perhaps. But George is sound asleep, the dog has replaced daytime snoozes for some serious snoring, and I’m listening to sounds.

One of those sounds is the mysterious scrapings along the roof that occur when it’s windy at night. If I heard them during the day, I’d pay them no mind; heard at night, I worry whether the roof tiles are on securely.

I hear the refrigerator click on, and then later another motor begins to hum. I don’t think it’s the furnace. I don’t think I’ve noticed it during the day. There’s nothing else in the house that should be humming. Maybe this is something that shouldn’t be humming.

A slight thumping distracts me from the humming. It’s the sound of my own heartbeat–nice and regular, nothing to worry about. But annoying. And loud. Maybe if I roll over, or get my ear off the pillow…

No, maybe I should get up. If I’m very quiet, I won’t waken George. The dog will know, though. She-who-sleeps-on-the-bed will give me a decent amount of time to make a potty run and get back to bed, but if I’m gone too long, she’ll come looking. Now comes the decision: do I shut the bedroom door so George can’t hear me clacking on these keys and risk having the dog scratch and whine at being left behind? Or do I shut to keep things quiet and take my chances? It’s a night for gambling. The door is shut.

I peek out the windows as I pad down the hall, checking out the neighbors. Most of their windows are dark–but why aren’t they all? Night owls, I guess. No cars, though. Just streetlights shining on the snow that arrived for the first time today, and quiet. Except for the unexplained hummings and scratchings at my own house, everything is quiet.

I turn on the computer, and then chuckle to myself as I bring up the blank page on which to write. It reminds me of the old days at the newspaper, when now and then an idea for my weekly column escaped me, deadline was 30 minutes away, and I wrote about the lack of inspiration. Thirty minutes later, my column would be done, full of ramblings that usually ended up being a favorite among the readers.

I haven’t been here even 30 minutes, and I think I’m just about done.  I’ve missed my deadline, though. It’s 12:06, it’s a new day, and I managed to leave no literary signpost on the first day of the year.

I may, however, have distracted myself enough to finally fall asleep when I head back to bed. I’ll worry about the mysterious sounds in the morning–if I even remember them by then.

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About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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2 Responses to Sleepless in Sturgeon Bay

  1. gtrgeorge51 says:

    It was humming because it didn’t know the words… :>{)

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