I get up to pee at least twice a night. Okay, so maybe that’s a tad personal right off the bat but I bring it up for a reason. I have a serious affliction sometimes referred to as monkey brain. If you’ve never heard of it you should probably consider yourself lucky. Monkey brain is, in essence, the inability to turn off your mind long enough for a decent night’s sleep. Whether my habitual restlessness is due more to an under-sized bladder or the fact that, as I often say, “I’m always thinking,” I really couldn’t guess. Either way, I haven’t slept more than five hours in a stretch more than two or three times over the past twenty-five years.
Nocturnal bathroom trips are nothing at all out of the ordinary. For most people, you get up, you take care of your business and you go right back to sleep. For me, however, it’s rarely that simple. I immediately start thinking about this, that or the other and I’m doomed. It’s exactly sixteen steps from my bed to the toilet, and the fact that I even know that is the first sign there’s a problem. Why, you might ask, would anyone possess such utterly useless information? If you must know, I sometimes count the steps in a futile attempt to keep my brain just occupied enough that it doesn’t fire up and start tackling much larger issues. Some folks count sheep. I count steps up and down the hall. I know it’s stupid but what can you do?
Before I go any further with this, I need to make one thing abundantly clear. Just because I’m always thinking, just because the mental wheels are turning pretty much continuously, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m any smarter than the average bear. I’m definitely not curing cancer at three o’clock in the morning. To the contrary, it’s far more likely that I’ll spend an hour thinking about where the expression smarter than the average bear came from in the first place. Are bears especially intelligent? I’ve never heard that so why single them out? If you’d prefer a more specific example, I recently lost some quality slumber time pondering whether or not “Take the Money and Run” by the Steve Miller Band really has the worst lyrics in rock and roll history.
Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
He ain’t gonna let those two escape justice
He makes his living off of the people’s taxes.
Nauseating, right? Aside from the painfully poor grammar, they attempt to rhyme Texas, facts is, justice, and taxes. I’m all for poetic license but that’s taking it a little too far. Is it the worst of all time? That’s a tough call. Here are some other gems in no particular order.
Like gasoline you wanna pump me/And then leave me when you get your fill, yeah … Unskinny bop bop bop bop/She just loves to play/Unskinny bop nothin’ more to say
The New Seekers–“I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”
I’d like to build the world a home/And furnish it with love/Grow apple trees and honey bees/And snow-white turtle doves
Elvis Presley–“Almost Always True to You”
I was always, baby/I was always/Well, almost always true to you/Met a pretty mademoiselle/Her papa owned a small hotel/Oh, I was almost always true to you
Black Eyed Peas–“My Humps”
I’ma get, get, get, get you drunk/Get you love-drunk off my hump/My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump/My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps
John Lennon–“Love is Real”
Love is you/You and me/Love is knowing/We can be/Love is free, free is love/Love is living, living love/Love is needing to be loved
Bee Gees–“How Deep is Your Love”
I believe in you/You know the door to my very soul…. How deep is your love/How deep is your love/I really need to learn…. We belong to you and me
All of a sudden, The Steve Miller Band doesn’t sound all that bad, and I didn’t even mention “Do Do Do Do, Da Da Da Da” by The Police or “Obladi Oblada” by The Beatles. Incidentally, if you do a Google search on worst rock and roll song lyrics, the first hit you get is a Wikipedia listing for “We Built This City” by Starship. I always thought the song was cheesy but wouldn’t have pegged it as the worst. What were we talking about anyway?
I know; I know. I’m totally awake now so let’s get back to this monkey brain problem. I’ve spent years trying to train myself to get out of bed, navigate down the hall and answer the call of nature without ever having a conscious thought. What I’ve found is that it can’t be done! Have you ever tried not to think about something? It goes sort of like this. Don’t think. Don’t think. Don’t think. What am I not supposed to be thinking about? Never mind. Don’t think about it. It’s Wednesday, right? What do I have to do today? Hold on. I don’t want to think about that. We’ve got family coming into town this weekend. I definitely don’t want to think about that. I have to get up in another three hours. Damn! Why did I even look at the clock? Digital clocks used to always be red or orange and now they’re mostly yellowish or green. Why would that be? Why am I even thinking about this and why in hell am I still laying here awake?
You see what I’m getting at? Despite the mental exercise, I’m not solving the world’s problems in the wee or should I say pee hours of the morning. I get this weird stream of consciousness sort of internal dialogue and it serves no practical purpose whatsoever. Falling asleep is rarely a problem. Staying asleep is a different matter entirely.
I have, at various times, made minor attempts at meditation. I try to free my mind, concentrate on my breathing, discover my happy place and other crap like that. Let’s just say the experience was less than satisfactory. Perhaps I had the wrong attitude. On the plus side, I do reap occasional benefits from my habitual wakefulness. In a recent personal update, I discussed the problems I’d been having completing the first draft of my Parlor City Paradise manuscript. I had two puzzle pieces that, no matter how I twisted or turned, I couldn’t make fit. Thanks to an early morning epiphany a few days ago, one of those pieces dropped right into place. I wasn’t even thinking about the book, at least I don’t think I was, when the solution miraculously presented itself. I’m hoping for a second revelation soon. And if it doesn’t happen, maybe I’ll spend a few hours contemplating the merits of a time keeping system that has 10 a.m. and 12 a.m. both occurring before 11 a.m. Think about it… and then try to go back to sleep.
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