Quondam

February 2013
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Bee me

I have been having trouble staying asleep lately, which is to be distinguished from my normal insomnia, in which I stare into the darkness and surrender my brain to the chaos of simultaneously pursuing every single available negative thought to its inescapable conclusion of doom. No, lately I have been falling asleep and then waking up again about an hour later, filled with the certainty of my own impending death. It’s like waking from a nightmare, except I have no memory of the nightmare, only of the feeling of waking into my last minutes of life.

It has happened so often that some small part of my panicked and terrified brain has begun to register the repetitive unreality of the sensation . . . Oh, this is that dress-rehearsal for death thing again . . . but my heart still races and my breath still rages and my hands still shake and the adrenaline still courses . . .

And I am wide awake.

Contemplating my death.

Not restful.

Mark, strangely enough, is never in the mood to wake from his own sound sleep and discuss the fact that I am going to die.

So.

I grab my pillow and I climb out of bed and I head downstairs to sleep on the couch in front of the television. Sometimes the only thing that will stop my mind racing is mindless passive entertainment. Doesn’t even matter what it is . . . just something that is outside of my brain offering images and sound to smother my thoughts.

I settle myself on the couch and I click through the options with the remote control. We have Netflix streaming video, and so I have a lot of choices. Something boring, something to lull me to sleep . . . a documentary of some sort.

Those children look friendly . . . click.

I snuggle beneath the blankets and stare as the children run around barefooted and stoke fires of some sort. They’re speaking another language, these children, but it’s musical and repetitive and so I don’t bother getting up to turn on the light and figure out how to work the closed-captioning. I’m too tired to care what they are saying anyway. So I lie on the couch and I let the children’s melodic chattering soothe me. I do wonder for a moment why the children need to build such big fires, but the crackling of the flames is very relaxing and I am very tired, and I fall almost immediately asleep.

I wake a short while later, but it’s the sort of waking prompted by an arm falling loosely off the side of the couch, and I am warm and calm and sleepy as I pull my arm back up under the covers. I open my eyes for just a second, wondering if it is worth finding the remote control to turn off the television, decide against it.

And then . . . my nightmare or night-terror or whatever the fuck it is envelops me as it never has before.

I stare into a raging fire, in which melts the face of a human being.

Flesh drips from the skull like candle wax.

Melting.

A small boy stands barefoot beside the bonfire, watching as . . .

the flames roar and crackle and lick at the charred silhouette of a human being.

Not me not me not me not me not me not me not me not me not me . . .

I cannot breathe.

I come fully awake to four distinct sounds, melded into a song of death . . .

my own weeping
the roar of unimaginable fire
the snapping and crackling of burning human flesh
and the lilting foreign melodies of childish Hindi

I lunge for the remote control and hit PAUSE, freezing an image of a burning face, its flesh pulled taut by death and heat.

STOP

INFORMATION

Children of the Pyre: This harrowing documentary profiles seven boys who work at India’s busiest crematorium and must struggle against horrible brutality to stay alive.

Fuck.

Alright, so now I am awake.

Wide the fuck awake.

Get the tears under control. Get the heartbeat under control. Get the breathing under control. Get the panic under control.

Not me.

Not dead.

Wide the fuck awake.

Alright, so I’ll just watch something on television with no hope of sleeping.

Something funny.

I’m still in the documentary section of Netflix streaming, and I click through some options, looking for funny.

Joan Rivers . . . A Piece of Work: This documentary provides an uncompromising glimpse into the personal and professional life of comedian and red-carpet mainstay Joan Rivers.

A secret? I have always admired Joan Rivers. Always.

I saw her perform once, long ago.

She fucking killed it.

I remember more than a few insomnia-wakeful nights clicking through our then more limited television-viewing options, settling on Joan Rivers as she hawked her line of jewelry on the home-shopping network QVC. In my entire life, I have never purchased a single thing from QVC, but she and her jeweled bees used to keep me company. She’s a fighter, that woman.

So yes . . . I will pass another sleepless night with Joan for company.

PLAY

What the fucking hell?

PAUSE

An image of a corpse-like face, its skin pulled taut by the combined forces of death’s advance and the refusal to succumb to those advances.

I am, for a moment, overwhelmed again by images of death and fire and melting flesh.

PLAY

The opening scenes are of Joan’s 75-year-old makeup-free face in extreme close-up.

She looks like death.

Still in extreme close-up, the makeup artist’s hands appear and smooth color and life and vibrancy into Joan Rivers’ features.

I watch as seeming death is brought to life, as death’s music plays in my memory . . .

the roar of unimaginable fire
the snapping and crackling of burning human flesh
and the lilting foreign melodies of childish Hindi

I cannot stop crying.

So.

Not me.

Not dead.

Wide the fuck awake.

Crying.

Conclusion?

I need a Joan Rivers Collection jeweled bee pin.

Obviously.

    30 comments to Bee me

    • Fuck.

      I am giggly and teary all at once.

      I have spent many a hour watching Ms. Joan on QVC with my Mom.

      Sigh.

      Those aren’t things I want to think about right now.

      So, about that insomnia. . .

      • 12:30 here . . . still early.

        Headed off to bed for the first time tonight.

        Probably not the last.

        And Joan Rivers on QVC? That woman kicks ass. I don’t want to wear her jewelry, but that woman kicks ass.

        Night, you.

    • BEL2009

      It’s 2am here. I’m reading. Clearly insomnia is a friend. Or foe, as the case may be. No chanting children, just an old cuddly dog — which may help.

      Here’s to Saturday…..

      • Sigh. My smaller badly behaved dog is not allowed to sleep with me because of the badly behaved thing.

        But yes . . . dog snuggling helps.

        And here’s to Saturday, you.

        I hope it dawns well.

    • Lanita

      It’s a funny thing that I found my own self struggling with sleep last night. For some odd reason, I thought of you…then spent the next 20 minutes trying to remember the name of your blog. Everything became peaceful after that…no burning children or morphed faces of QVC stars. Just the symphony of snores coming from my husband.

      • OK, you said other things, but it took you twenty minutes to remember the name of my blog?

        A Mothershood, Lanita . . . your blog was A Mothershood.

        BAM.

        What the fuck?

    • Jessica

      Your sleep issues are almost exactly like mine!

      I AM NOT ALONE!

      P.S. I would have freaked the fuck out if I had fallen asleep to that crazy children burning people movie. EEK!

      P.P.S. Why can’t our brains shut off?

      • I like to think that the same qualities that I appreciate so much in my brain when I am awake are just . . . difficult to switch off. And so when I relax and let those qualities run rampant? They run rampant and amuck.

        Sigh.

        I am not alone.

        But in the middle of the night, it’s hard to remember that, isn’t it?

        Love to you.

        Me

        • Jessica

          The most horrific movie I have ever seen has to be Vanilla Sky.

          If my brain were to dictate my life, it would be HELL.

          If I could bottle up my mind as it runs amuck while it’s dark outside and I’m supposed to be sleeping, I’d be wanted for terrorism.

          In the middle of the night, we are so alone, because it’s all in our heads.

          Sigh.

    • I am fortunate to sleep when I want where I want. Though lately not finding enough free time to just sleep.
      Although, I’m pretty sure I would want to skip sleep after melting faces and childish singsong.

      Because my dreams are terribly prone to suggestion.

      • You are Mark. He can fall asleep in the middle of an argument. Seriously . . .in the MIDDLE of an argument, he will just drift away. I envy him that ability even as it annoys the crap out of me.

        And yes . . . my dreams are terribly prone to suggestion.

        Children of the Pyre?

        Those images have lingered.

        Ack.

    • Robin

      I cannot Bee you although I wish I could.

      Actually, maybe I can because I might have a QVC account. Wait, what?

      This is twisted.

      And I do love a good twist.

      Also, I’m hoping your sleep becomes more peaceful.

      Bee Me! (perhaps a new blog button)

      Heehee

      • SOMEONE MUST HAVE A BEE FOR ME!

        Hee hee.

        As for the twistiness of my mind? I love the twistiness of my mind right up until those moments when it endeavors to twist the ropes of my nightmares around my neck. And then, I imagine there might be a certain appeal to the sort of mind that adheres to the straight and narrow.

        Sigh.

    • Gretchen

      Kris,sweetheart- the insomnia /couch/ waking startled and certain of your impending demise thing?… that’s some pre-menopausal shit right there and the hubbie will never get it and it will last far longer than it has any right to, but flow with it- be the fucking river, Kris- and keep writng and writing and writng because you just keep getting beter,and this too shall pass.

      • Gretchen?

        I KNOW THIS. I am almost 47 years old, and I know where I stand. I stand in the hormonal morass that leads to the next new normal.

        I am in no hurry to get to the next new normal.

        But this road right here is bumpy as fuck.

        Thank you for the love, babe.

        Me

    • Mishelle

      Good to know I’m not the only fool awake in the middle of the night watching stuff on tv….

      M

    • steph

      I’ve taken to listening to humorous audio books on the iPod while I’m in bed. If I turn them up loudly enough, I can’t hear my own thoughts and its like being read a bedtime story. (The impending hearing loss is just something I’ll have to deal with later.) Anyway, all was going well until I picked out a book that while funny and read by a woman with a lovely voice, is periodically punctuated with a deep, non-melodic, demon voice.

      Amazing floating on cloud feeling, blissfully sleepy, a small chuckle, then jarred the fuck awake by the voice of the devil speaking so loudly it vibrates my nostrils.

      I think I will be checking out Netflix soon.

      • I would listen to the radio, but Mark cannot stand to have music or talking in the background as he sleeps.

        I would listen with earphones, but then I get all paranoid I will be choked to death by the wires as I sleep.

        And that jarring change of voice of which you speak? That would scare the shit out of me and keep me wide awake.

        Sigh.

        Netflix works.

        It’s occasionally lonely down on the couch, but Netflix works.

    • a snowsprite

      I have done the netflix thing before. Mostly it doesn’t work, but it keeps me from wandering around my apartment or lying in bed and kicking the walls.
      Sometimes I will write until I run out of places to go, but usually I like to listen to books on my iPod. At least then it looks like I am trying to sleep.
      The worst thing I ever did while trying to sleep? Listened to Dante’s Inferno one night in the cold dark of my room when I was sixteen. People really should stop telling me I’m smart. hee hee.

      • I used to read to fall asleep, and I still do. But I find that my mind wanders outside of the story these days, finds things to think about and then worry about and then obsess about without my full awareness . . . and then I realize I am not so much reading the book anymore. Netflix offers me emptiness most nights when empty is what I crave.

        If I write? I am full. Full of thoughts and full of worries and full of plans and full of not sleeping a single second.

        As for Dante’s Inferno?

        Good lord.

        Not even, silly you.

        Not even.