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Musing: 1:44 a.m.
My eyes fluttered open. Shadows loomed in the corners of the bedroom. Moonlight streamed through the slats of the closed window blinds.
The house sat in the deep-of-night silence. The background hum of modern-day appliances. The steady rhythm of soft snoring.
I rolled over onto my back and stared at the ceiling. What time was it? Was dawn just around the corner? Or still hours away?
Most insomnia victims suffer from onset insomnia—the inability to go to sleep at night. I have no problem with that. After taking the dogs out for their last trip to the yard at nine, I stretch out in bed with a book, read a few pages, and then drift toward dreams.
Staying asleep is a drastically different story. Cursed with sleep maintenance insomnia, I rarely go back to sleep once awakened. It doesn’t matter whether six or seven hours have passed or only one or two.
My only hope for more sleep is to keep my brain from engaging. If my mind revs up and starts exploring thoughts, though, I’m doomed.
And so I waited in the dark, hoping to return to bliss.
Uh, excuse me. Brain here. What time is it?
What does it matter?
Perhaps the day is nigh.
Did you truly think nigh?
Yes. You know, getting up and enjoying a few minutes of quiet in the house is an excellent start to the day.
I twisted my wrist and looked at my watch. 1:44 a.m. Sigh.
I closed my eyes, rested my head on my pillow, and pleaded with my brain to let me go back to sleep.
But it didn’t. Another thought blipped through.
The first 1:44 or the second?
What kind of ridiculous question is that? How many 1:44s are there in the middle of the night.
Well, two when the time changes.
Brain had me there. It was early Sunday morning—or late Saturday night, depending on your perspective. At 2 a.m., the time changed from daylight saving time to standard, so the clock would revert to 1 a.m.
So, has the magic change hour already arrived, or is it still to come?
I didn’t know. My wrist bore an Apple Watch, a tiny computer that automatically updates to standard time at the magic hour.
Are you sure it updates exactly at two? Who would know if it didn’t except some engineer at Apple. Maybe it just switches at some random point during the night?
Of course, it’s at two. It’s a computer.
And then I realized I was arguing with myself. I was waking up my brain. I needed to shut it down and go back to sleep.
Do you hear that?
Sure enough, rain splattered against the window. The fan engaged in an HVAC unit. Somewhere in the distance, a siren wailed. Downstairs in the den, the grandfather clock chimed.
The grandfather clock is analog.
It doesn’t automatically fall back. Now you can know whether it was the first 1:44 or the second.
But had it struck two or three? I didn’t know.
Sorry. Wasn’t paying attention. You asked me to go to sleep.
Good plan. Go to sleep.
But now you could check your watch again.
It’s 2 a.m. Maybe the watch will go back an hour. Perhaps it will keep going. Either way, you’ll know.
I looked. 2:01 a.m. So, it had been the second 1:44 a.m.
Unless, of course, it takes a minute or two.
I’m not looking.
Yet then you would know.
I couldn’t stop myself. I looked.
Squeezing my eyes closed, I willed myself to sleep.
You know. I couldn’t help but think—
I wish you would stop.
—that this would make a good Monday Musing.
My eyes fluttered open. Why would you suggest that?
Because it would be an entertaining story.
I get your point, but not right now. I’ll write it in the morning. Hush. Go to sleep.
You know you will forget it by then.
Yeah, there is that. I guess I should make a few notes.
Normally, I record ideas into a voice app on my watch. I can play it back later and write it down if it still sounds promising. Granted, it looks a little weird to talk to my arm, but it works.
In the middle of the night, though, I wanted to avoid talking aloud. I was the only one awake. Wisdom said I should keep it that way.
I rolled over, picked up my phone, and made a quick note that simply read “1:44 a.m.” Satisfied that I would see the note in the light of day and write the story, I plopped back down on my pillow, closed my eyes, and focused on dreamland.
Will you remember all the details?
I doubt it. You can’t remember why you enter a room half the time.
Fair point, but what details would I forget?
The grandfather clock.
I’ll remember that.
You’re right. You probably will. Maybe.
Now the gears were spinning. Possibly I would and possibly I wouldn’t.
Wouldn’t take but a few minutes to open the iPad and scribble some notes.
So, why not do it?
Because the iPad is downstairs in my study.
You should bring it upstairs at night.
Because then you would be tempted to open it in the middle of the night, just like now.
Go to sleep.
Nope. Can’t forget the story.
I got out of bed, traipsed downstairs, and sat at my desk. The words on the page above floated out of my awake brain, through the Apple Pencil, and into the app. When the tale was transcribed, I looked at my watch.
I should go to bed.
If it weren’t for the time change, it would be 4:02.
We normally get up between 4 and 5. Going back to sleep at this point—even if I let you—would be pointless.
Enjoyed The Story? How About A Novel?
Gratuitous Dog Photo: Royal Demands
His Royal Highness Little Prince Typhoon Phooey gets his rather lengthy nickname because of his belief that everything should yield to his will. In this case, he was upset that falling leaves interfered with his games and demanded they stop falling. Not sure how successful he was.
On The Website This Week
Spectacular Vernacular Word of the Week: Catercorner – One of those words that proves the history of words is often quite muddled.
I haven’t seen such a heated debate since I dared ask whether Duke’s or Hellman’s was the best mayonnaise. Just in time for your Thanksgiving dinner plans, I asked readers whether cranberry sauce should be homemade, from the can, or absent from the meal.
After last month’s cranberry sauce debate, this month’s survey focuses on the value of fruitcake. Click here to share your opinion.
Until Next Monday
Get some sleep this week. I’m sure going to try.
See you next Monday.
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Strike a Pose TY! Good luck with the sleep thing Hu-Dad !
2am is a great time to be awake counting the hours for the morning walk!! Unfortunately it happens way toooo often.. I will think of you now when my early morning brain is working.
Middle of the night monkey brain curse. I have to turn the tv on for an hour to go back to sleep. And another regal pose from Typhoon.
Wow, now I know what my problem is and that other people suffer from it, too! Thanks for the entertaining and enlightening story.
When I was single, I could get up and practice guitar for a half hour or so and then go right back to sleep. Married life however, is a whole ‘nother story. If I wake up and move around much, it wakes my dear wife up and aggravates her. If I did manage to get up without waking her(dang near impossible), I can’t move about the house without waking our red husky, Aurora. Once she’s awake , there’s no going back! It’s party time!
So…I take melatonin.
Sleep maintenance insomnia. I love having a name for the problem. I shall remember that next time it happens to me, unfortunately! I may even have a conversation with myself about it…
Ambien. An insomniacs best friend. I suffer from both having problems falling asleep and staying asleep. Like you, my brain just won’t shut off. Things I need to do, conversations with myself, mostly stupid songs I just can’t get out of my head! That’s the worst! Plus I have terrible tinnitus so have to sleep with our air purifier on high (or a fan when we travel) in order to help drown out the horrible, loud ringing in my ears. I once heard that having a song stuck in your head was also a form of tinnitus, but who knows. I also have sleep apnea and have to use a CPAP, which only makes falling, and staying asleep even worse! Ugh! I feel your pain.