I used to think Ambien was the wonder drug of the 21st century, but now I’m having my doubts. Lately I’ve found myself writing strange e-mails to friends and family members during the night. They seem amusing at the time, but then I wake up and read them with horror. Last month I discovered that I’d joined an online dating service while in a stupor. That very night I heard from somebody named Tawny Sue, but I just couldn’t deal with it by the light of day. Though I’d been thinking that Ambien makes for blissful, uninterrupted sleep, our son J told me that researchers have found that you actually only sleep 11 minutes more per night when you take Ambien. You only think you’ve slept well because it wipes out your memory. It makes you wonder.
Friday night around midnight Katja nudged me and said she’d like some wine and cheese. I’d been sound asleep, had brushed my teeth, and said I didn’t want any. A while later she poked me again and handed me a cracker with a slice of Camembert on it. She’d opened a bottle of white wine, and I had one sip of that too, but then I drifted back to sleep. When I woke in the morning there was a single slice of cheese left on the bedside table, and the bottle of wine was empty. I went down to the kitchen, and the floor was all sticky and had three dish towels on it. It smelled of white wine. Also there was a salad bowl on the counter stool with some liquid in it. That smelled like white wine too. I couldn’t figure out why the wine was in a salad bowl (or on the floor). When Katja woke up, I asked her about it. She said she hadn’t had any wine or cheese last night, but I insisted she had. She thought maybe I’d dreamed it, but I showed her the evidence. She still thinks it was me.
We wouldn’t have these difficulties if we were more like the dogs. They stake out their spaces on the bed, don’t ingest anything, and rarely raise an eyelid. That’s partly why we have difficulty sleeping, since we have to find some twisted spot in the small spaces that the sleeping dogs leave for us. Mikey has the enviable of habit of sleeping on his back with his four paws raised in the air. I did a little Internet research, and I learned that dogs do this when they are trying to cool off because they have less fur on their tummies. Alpha dogs never sleep on their backs because that could make them vulnerable to attack, but underling dogs do so as a gesture of submission. That definitely holds for Duffy and Mike.
Katja came home yesterday with a new CD called “The Ison Method – Music for Sleep.” This could help in our efforts to adopt a new drug-free life style. The cover of the CD says it’s being used in Iraq to help soldiers sleep better. If it works on soldiers under the threat of missile attacks, it certainly should work on us. She put it on last night about midnight and turned the lights off. First there was the sound of waves in the distance. Then birds making chirping sounds. Then it played rhythmic, repetitive chords of music. At first I thought it would keep me up all night because I was listening to it carefully. But then I stopped listening. And soon I was sound asleep. I never woke up all night – it was just like Ambien except I didn’t do stupid things.
During the night I dreamt that I was attending a three-day Sociology conference at a hotel in Portland, Oregon. Most of my colleagues weren’t there, so I was pretty much on my own. When I came back to my room there was an Indian doctor there with several female graduate students, and he was occupying the room too. He was puzzled by my presence, and I by his. Though he watched me suspiciously, I decided I would just share the room with him. One of the things I needed to do was to go to another very fancy hotel across town where Katja and I had stayed a year ago. We had left a lot of our belongings in the room, including a library of several hundred books. We’d never paid the bill, and I figured that by now we owed them about forty thousand dollars in rent for the room. I was hoping I could negotiate with them for a lesser fee, maybe two or three thousand dollars (this is a recurrent dream that I’ve been having ever since I retired). Then it suddenly dawned on me that they hadn’t tried to reach us for an entire year. They’d probably cleared out our books and stuff anyway and thrown them away. I didn’t have to contact them at all. We could just forget about it. I had a feeling of immense relief from this insight and ran straight to the phone to tell Katja.
When I woke up after my dream I realized that today is our fifty-first wedding anniversary. That was impressive but a little difficult to assimilate. It’s not as huge as number fifty, but big nonetheless. I decided it means that we are one year into celebrating our second half-century of being married. Just like the books and belongings we’d left for a year in the fancy hotel room, we can just set aside that first half century now and begin all over again. What with Katja retiring and our starting on a new life course, it’s sort of like being newlyweds again. Well, almost.
-Phyllis S-S (8-29): Dave, I especially loved the part about the dream. pss
-Vicki L (8-28): Happy 51st David and Katja - you can feel proud that your lifestyle gets wilder and more outrageous with each passing year. Keep up the good non-work. Love, Vicki