Wide Awake Wolf

Posted: August 25, 2010 in Life, writing
Tags: , , ,


Here it is, 4:36 a.m. and I can’t sleep.  What better time to try and write a blog, huh?  (Yes, I know the clock in the picture says 1:22.  I can live with it, and frankly, it was the only clock picture I could find.)

It’s that time of the morning when nothing is on TV and you can’t decide whether you’re disgruntled, or want to thank God, because you know if a good movie was on, you’d plunk yourself right down and watch it.  And then when it was done, you’d realize that DAMN – you’re really sleepy now.  Only…it’s time to get up.

I love sleeping.  I truly appreciate waking up and realizing that, despite how tired I feel, I’ve actually spent eight hours looking at my eyelids.

I think when you’re younger, you can plop down and sleep just about anywhere.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a cot, or the floor or the back seat of a car.

Later on though — *everything* freaking you keeps you awake.  So you shop carefully for a bed.  But not just any bed — it’s gotta be the best one.  Maybe it has to have numbers for sleep settings.  Maybe it has to be adjustable.  With a remote control.

And then there’s the pillow to think about.  Hypoallergenic?  Don’t know if that matters.  Should you visit a chiropractor and get his or her advice?  You know they sell pillows at their offices too, right?   And what about feathers? Down?  What’s going to work?   And how much do you spend?  Is any price too high for a good night’s sleep?

And you watch the news and your radar goes into overdrive the minute you hear the hated phrase “bed bug”.  Apparently New York City and Chicago and Detroit are the worst places for bed bugs right about now.  As is the south end of Toronto, below Bloor St.   So you make up your mind you’re NOT going to visit or live in any of these places.   (Detroit?  No biggy — there were never any plans to go there anyway.  But New York??  Damn that’s disappointing).  And so you educate yourself as well on what to look for when you’re scouting out a new place to live.  And you take away some advice as well about what to do when checking into a hotel.  You learn that you should unpack *nothing* until you’ve checked out the bed, lifted the sheets up.

And with all of this on your mind, you’re supposed to get back to sleep?  Ha!

But you try anyway.

You lie down.  Get yourself nice and comfy, with the pillow just *so* beneath your neck and head.

And then you try a trick:  you pretend like there’s someone in the room that you don’t want to talk to.  You know they want to talk, but you want them to think you’re asleep. So you breathe heavily, as if you’re asleep already.  Nine times out of ten, this pretend sleep results in real sleep.   It’s the tenth time out of ten — today in fact — when it doesn’t work.

So you try another trick.  You imagine you’re getting on a steep escalator going down, down, down with no end in sight.  Sometimes this works too.

But not today.

Today, you just lie there. And  your mind starts talking to you.

“What about that project at work.  Do you think Jill will be in today?  What will you say to her to get her to agree on your point of view regarding Windows 7?”



“So what about that girl you like?  Are you going to call her today?  Maybe you should call her.  Maybe you shouldn’t wait another day.”

“Look it’s 4:49 in the friggin morning!  Even if I decide to call her, I’m not going to friggin call her now!  Now SHADDUP”


“Hey, I’m hungry.  Want to eat?”


So then, despite all advice you’ve been given, about looking at anything too bright when you’re trying to sleep, you get up, turn the computer on, and start surfing the net.

And then you remember that you bought a cool new Mac application to let you blog without having to go to the web.  So you hunt around for it (because you’ve forgotten the name of it) and then you find it:  MarsEdit.  And you fire it up.

And then you write a blog.  Like this one.

If you have any home remedies for curing insomnia, I’m all ears.  Eyes.


  1. umavvs says:

    Hahaha…obsessed about sleep, eh? Maybe that’s why you can’t sleep. Try to keep awake instead. That might work.


  2. carmenlezeth says:

    Hopefully you’re sleeping a bit now — but maybe that’s not a great idea if you’re at work. Yikes! I have no cures or home remedies — I think sometimes we just have to suffer through it. But, I bet you’ll sleep brilliantly tonight! Hope so!


    • Doubt I’ll get much sleep tonight: I’m heading to a concert by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

      But you mention a real danger – falling asleep at work. So easy to do, too: I work and play in a cubicle farm and am mostly closed off from other people. Sometimes (deliberately) I”ll put my feet up and nap for five to ten minutes. Seems to work.

      At other times, when I”m trying to work, I’ll nod off accidentally. That can be embarrassing. I never know upon waking, whether I woke up because I was done sleeping, or because I snored. Or worse. (Let your imagination run wild with that one) Ugh.

      The other day I was advised to watch a youtube video about social networking. It was an hour and forty-five minutes long. I think I made it through 20 minutes of it before the sand man showed up.


  3. Back atcha in the compliments department! This blog is pretty damned remarkable (even warned as I’ve been by your “About”). I hear you about the early-morning-wakey-wakey thing: I woke up every hour last night, my tape recorder death-gripped in my hand, looking for fuller emotional context in the chapter I’m writing. I’m almost used ti it by now. But the circles under my eyes aren’t. I’m coming back to read more…looking forward to it!
    -Lynn@ skydiaries


    • Why thank you Lynn.

      You go to sleep with a tape recorder in your hand? Do you use this to record your first impression from dreams? If so, it’s a pretty neat way to do it. I’ve left a notebook a pen out on my bed, hoping to make a record of my dreams after waking up. Turns out I’m too stupid to even realize it’s there when I wake up.

      Just not a morning person at all.


      • Not dreams, so much…Tape recorder is there for the same reason my notebook used to be. When in the ink-on-paper stage of a book, I was driving myself nuts turning on the lights to write down the turn of phrase, the character arc, the unexpected plot point that sleep had given me. Now it’s just click, mumble and transcribe later. Sometimes, I think, the going to sleep with the recorder is a talisman for the good; a wish in hand. Oddly enough (or luckily enough), I don’t think I’ve ever listened to the night’s notes to discover the dreaded “What the hell was I thinking?” They all seem to work…but then, I’m up to my psychological armpits in these characters, so it’s pretty crowded between my ears….


  4. Mikey says:

    White noise helps me a lot. If I hear stuff clicking away or roommates walking around or any normal noises in the house I wake up. I swear I once woke up because I heard a cat walking on the carpet in my room. But if I’ve got a fan or an A/C unit running, I sleep much much better.


    • I have an air conditioner in my room, but have woken up whenever the compressor shuts down or starts up, so that won’t work.

      Instead, I wear ear plugs, which is very important, especially when the window’s open, due to the fact that I’m on a major intersection. You know, that one corner that gets blitzed by, oh I don’t know, a million fire trucks a night. Usually only during a small window of time – say, between 1:00 and 6:00 a.m.

      When I had a cat, the only times I was aware of her was when she jumped up on my stomach or head, after taking a running leap. Of course maybe if I didn’t have the ear plugs in I could have defended myself better.

      There again – a friend of mine had it much worse: he would sleep in the nude (I know I know – TMI, but this detail is important), and during the night…I guess…but don’t know for sure…..IT moved. And the cat, like most cats, thought a new plaything had entered the picture. Something that needed to be pounced on and subdued. With all four sharp paws.

      When he told me this he prefaced the story with “hey wolf – ever see a cat fly?”


  5. redriverpak says:

    Boy! Your mind sure is active at such an UnGodly hour! Even if I was awake, by 4:30am my idiot brain does well just to keep remindind my hear to beat and is hard at work minimizing my drooling….. so any chance of rational thoughts like what you experienced….are out the window…..


    • I would label it all as “marginally rational”. What you saw up there was more of a thought stream, as opposed to an actual structured blog.

      When I got up this morning (I slept in), I decided to cab it into work. As soon as I got in the cab, I gave him what I thought was my work address. Only what came out was my home address.

      He turned around to look at me, and I glared at him through bleary eyes, wondering why the car wasn’t in gear yet.

      “Ok sir. That’ll be $4.50”
      “But we haven’t gone anywhere.”
      “I know. But we’re at the address you wanted.”

      Took me a few moments to sort that out in my head, before I laughed and gave him the right address.

      It’s been that kind of day.


  6. Dave says:

    Wolf, first bit of advice. Move out of the Gladstone Hotel. That place kept me awake for years and I may have incurred brain damage as a side-effect. Can’t be certain, tho.


    • But it’s the oldest hotel in Toronto. Don’t know if I can leave the ambience and the architecture of the place. Not to mention the ghosts.

      Wait. The ghosts. Maybe that’s why I was awake.


  7. Dave says:

    Likely the ghosts. I moved to El Paso, TX. and it’s still not far enough away to shake ’em off.


  8. Just Me says:

    Great stuff!

    It’s funny how in the middle of the night your brain always wants to have a conversation with you about something that can clearly wait until the next day. It’s almost as if your brain is afraid that it won’t get another chance to talk to you or something……..I mean really man, you’re stuck in my head and I couldn’t get you out if I tried……and believe me, I’ve tried!


    • That’s exactly it, I think. The brain just wants to hash through stuff. God knows I do that enough during the day, when I should be concentrating on other things. (There’s that lack of focus thing again). Yet, the night time brings no relief from this calculation and planning.

      I mean, c’mon brain! Give it a rest already!


  9. Dave says:

    @ Just Me

    Maybe it’s not your brain wanting to have the conversation. That fellow may be just as asleep as you are.
    I suspect it could be the other guy residing within.


  10. izziedarling says:

    Tom Petty? Jealous! I plug earphones into iphone and listen to This American Life … works like a charm but you will wake up tangled in all sorts of wires. Sleep at any price …….


    • Hey! You listen to that show too? I play the podcast while working out at the gym. Helps keep my mind focused while my body’s busy doing other things. Weird how that works.

      The concert – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, with Crosby Stills and Nash opening for them – was pretty great. Tom’s got a cool light show, which included a kind of circular row of big screens, lasers, strobes and everything. (I briefly worried about potential sufferers of epilepsy in the audience. The strobes were so powerful I felt myself starting to slip away – and I’m as healthy as a horse.)

      I ordered some highly recommended pillows and have learned that they arrived today. Except I wasn’t here to get them so the Purolator courier is delivering them tomorrow.

      I can’t wait.


  11. Abe's Blog says:

    I always have trouble sleeping when I have to wake up early the next morning…like last night. Knowing my alarm was going off at 4:45 made me all the more frustrated when I woke up in the middle o’the night with the brain on overdrive. But last night I used the technique that has been working for me: a novel being read by a voice actor on my MP3 player. A few minutes of neing read to and I’m back to sleep…just have to take the headphones out.


    • That’s interesting, Abe. It’s logical too – I’ve fallen asleep often enough at the movies or when listening to someone drone on. So it should work when I plug the earphones in, deliberately, to listen to the spoken word.

      I’ll have to give it a shot. Thanks!


  12. contoveros says:

    Sorry Wolf,

    I fell asleep before getting to the end . . .

    No, not really. I meditate and it helps me curb the monkey mind that wants to chatter about this and that all the time.

    Have you tried taking a drink or two, or would that go against your religious nature?

    michael j


    • There’s not a religious bone in my body, so alcohol (specifically Charonnay) is welcome anytime. I don’t know if it promotes a natural sleep though.


      • Dave says:

        It doesn’t. But, heck, being comatose a few hours every night sure beats pacing the floor ’til sunrise. Jack Daniels has been a sleep-over buddy of mine for quite some time and I’ve certainly appreciated his companionship. The booze, I mean, not the person.


  13. Molly Malone says:

    Insomnia is the bane of my god damned existence…! I feel your pain…


    • It would truly suck if it were a problem all the time – which, judging from your comment, is the case for you. Feeling *totally* sympathetic here and hope you find some way to turn that around soon.


      • Dave says:

        Wolf, can’t get through on your “buddy” post. The old “Error-404” thing. I’d think you’re on a one-way street with this guy. He’s not really your buddy.


        • contoveros says:

          More from here in the USA! Can’t get through. [Put this in the comment thingamajig later)

          But, maybe the guy had a mental relapse. Couldn’t deal with someone as positive as yourself. You infused him with so much energy when you were with him, that he engaged with you and agreed to do it while in your presence.

          But, when he returned to his hole in the wall back home, he might have reverted to Type, and no matter how much he wanted to accompany you and be your friend, the mental illness took over.

          Or maye his dog died.

          michael j


          • Someone reverted to type, for sure. And the thing is: I had a sense about that someone before we made the agreement. It pays to pay attention to your intuition.

            Anyway, I was not happy about posting that blog, so I took it down. Today’s replacement blog is the apology for that.


        • Dave, you’re right. He never was.


      • Molly Malone says:

        Unfortunately, I’ve suffered from insomnia for years… I know my ceiling intimately! Hope it passes for you soon :)


        • Thanks Molly. I think it has. (If last night was any indication)

          Plus…..PLUS…..the pillows I ordered from an outfit on the west coast have arrived today. Can’t wait to try them out.


          • Dave says:

            Wolf!!! Where are you? It’s only 2:45 am local time and you’re nowhere to be found! I can only hope those mail-order pillows haven’t done you in!


  14. Dave says:

    I don’t know about anyone else, but my initial gut reaction when meeting someone for the first time, has always proven true in the long term. No matter how many years it takes.


    • Same here. And this time was no different. My gut was right.

      I’m learning more and more to pay attention to it. Saves a lot of time and aggravation.


      • Dave says:

        Yes. And it conveniently applies to women, as well. I’m approaching 60 and still haven’t come to terms with that one…….yet. Oy! ( I’m hopeful it’s not “just me” , as the ex delights in frequently reminding me, at every opportunity. )

        Nice blog, Wolf.


  15. Dave says:

    As Confucius say: “Only a true friend shows up on moving day.”


    • And even then you should feed him beer, as a reward. It’s only fair.


      • Dave says:

        Not only fair, Wolf. Mandatory. ( Jeez, what I wouldn’t give for a real Canadian beer at the moment. The available American whale-piss just doesn’t quite cut it, most of the time……hiccup….. )


        • I understand that if you’re in the U.S. you pretty much have to swear off the beer and head straight to vodka.


          • Dave says:

            Y’know, thinking back, Canada Post was always a nightmare Haven’t had any of those thoughts here as the USPS seems pretty efficient, AND, they deliver on Saturdays. Bonus.
            Shirley, it’s the MP3QRSTUVW postal codes that screw everyone up. If the posties were required to have college degrees ( math major, preferably ) things might run a little smoother.


          • Dave says:

            Sadly, no vodka at the local Kwiki-Mart and I’m not up to driving the 20 miles into town just to be confronted by the pimply -faced kid at the package store insisting I produce ID to prove I’m over 18. ( He actually reads it , too. ) I’ll settle for the beer.


            • Hi Dave. Just wondering something: you post quite a bit here so I’m wondering if maybe we know each other – from MySpace or something? (Not complaining, but there’s a sense that you know me from somewhere, but I’m drawing a complete blank)


  16. suzrocks says:

    I could’ve written this… I could’ve written this many times just this week! I know exactly what you mean… and I love sleep too!!!!


    • *nods*. You know, last night was the first great night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time.

      What was different?

      I was sleeping on a brand new pillow from pacificcoast.com. They apparently supply pillows and bedding for some major hotel chains. I researched them and found they had a great – and as proven last night, deserved – reputation.


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