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JWR 2.40 - Sheepish


On the first night of this year, I had to go to bed at a reasonable hour so I could wake up and go to work.  Simply going to bed does not mean going to sleep as I found out, and not for the first time.


It was because I stayed awake until three that morning.  Attempting to sleep after being awake for a mere eight hours is rather difficult for me.  I know some people who are okay with that sort of arrangement, but I tend to think of it as something like protection from the mob.


I was unable to get to sleep for roughly four hours.  I tossed and turned and thought about trying to get to sleep and trying not to get to sleep and tried to regulate my breathing and tried to hyperventilate myself to make myself dizzy enough to fall off.


I remember when I was younger, seven or eight, my brother and I shared a room with bunk beds and he would sometimes keep me awake, making me describe the way I was laying in order to copy me so he could get to sleep.  Had I said I had one finger up my butt and another in my nose, do you think he would have tried it?  (I do.)  No, he probably wouldn’t have been fooled based on the way my voice was not nasally.


Usually I have little to no problems getting to sleep.  But that night I simply could not.  I tried a multitude of things.  Was it on Muppet Babies where they said if you slow your breathing to eight breaths a minute, your body would be readied for sleep?  It’s one of those things that comes out of the fog from the 'eighties along with Ghostbusters, the Cartoon and Thundercats and MASK.  Was it on TV or was it reality?


I tried counting sheep, but this was not as easy as it first sounded to me.  First, I had to think of the meadow.  What did the grass look like, how tall, what color?  Then what was the fence looking like?  Picket, chain link, barb wire?  What time of day?  Cloudy?  What celestial bodies would be seen?  So finally, I got the picture: white picket fence running off into the distance in both directions through a field of long blades of green grass blowing gently in the intermediate wind about mid-day with the edges of this vision clouded just like something you’d imagine.


Now I just had to imagine the sheep.  Well, at first I had trouble imagining what the sheep looked like.  I had to kind of build one.  So I had my sheep.   And I sent it over the fence.  And another and another--actually, my mind imagined a wheel with a sheep on the end of each spoke spinning so every ninth sheep was a repeat--like a carnival duck shoot game.  I figured I could not get to sleep counting the same sheep again and again, so I made it one sheep and send it over.  It looked like a cardboard cutout, no motion.  My imagination had the budget of Speed Racer.  I thought, “Jesus, do I have to do every fucking thing,” just like a real producer.


So, I gave the sheep movement and he went over the fence.  The next one did not appear.  I had to will it into existence.  I am the God of my own mind, apparently.


Well, after consciously willing a number of sheep into existence and practically pulling them over the fence by the sheep short and curlies, I decided to take a look beyond my picturesque meadow and see just what in the hell the sheep were doing.  Pan left and there’s all the sheep, just chillin’.  They were milling about and I could not wrap my mind around the logistics of how to get these sheep over the fence in an orderly manner, especially one where it would provide a monotony to put me to sleep.


It was made very clear to me that I would have to “hold each sheep’s hand” to get them over the damn fence.  So I ditched the sheep idea, snuck a peek at the clock and became frustrated at the time, tossed about, flipped the pillow to the cool side and huffed.  I should’ve just turned on The 700 Club.  Or gotten my brother on the phone.


My brain needs to shut down in order to get to sleep, I think.  I just need to drift off.  Maybe counting ducks as they crossed the road would have been better.  Well, my mind may have caused a car or two to come by and it would have been Frogger in my head, but with a duck.


Man, remember the Atari 1600 and ColecoVision and the game systems that were the size of a desktop computer?  Remember joysticks that had one button and a six inch stick that smelled like the funk from your hand being wrapped around it for hours at a time?  Remember the paddles for that Breakout game with the circular knob and the one button on each side.  Remember the ColecoVision controller with the knob at the top and the control pad with the twelve keys like a telephone, but you never used more than two?  Remember the four bit games like Asteroid and Tank Battle and Zaxon and Q*bertJourney!  Journey had their own video game.  Pong, the first.  Wow, I’ll never get to sleep with all the crap I got rattling around inside my head.




Copyright © 2002 John Lemut