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Tired, But Not Mean

August 23, 2002

I’m more tired today than usual. I woke up around 3:30, whether because Mr. Karen was making a noise with his nose that was just the right pitch to penetrate my earplugs of glorious silence (this is how I know fall allergy season is starting up) or because I had to pee or because the house was stuffy, I do not know. I really didn’t want to get up, so I gave Mr. Karen a little shove to see if he’d shift position enough to stop with the noise, which was the biggest of the three small irritants in my life at that moment, and tried to get back to sleep. No such luck. I got up and put my bathrobe on (because Joan is visiting, and I’m not in the habit of wandering around naked in front of guests, even if they are asleep) and went downstairs. I figured I had to go down there anyway to do something about the stuffiness, so I might as well use the toilet down there, too, so I could flush farther from the sleeping people, since that’s only polite. (Of course, if it were just Mr. Karen sleeping, I’d skip the flushing, but I wasn’t sure Joan would appreciate that water-saving practice.) I peed and flushed and went to flip the house fan on and shuffled back upstairs to bed.

Back under the covers with an empty bladder and cool air circulating around me and a fairly quiet husband, I still couldn’t get back to sleep. I tried to remember what I had been dreaming about before I woke up, hoping that might pull me back into sleep via the power of association. Instead, I remembered a dream someone else had posted on The Usual Suspects yesterday and free associated from there to discussions on other forums and then thought about the journal entry I might post today and started drafting it in my head. Just about five a.m., when I’d decided I would get up in half an hour if I hadn’t fallen asleep by then and was thinking about how spectacularly early I would be getting to work and how I could write my entry before office hours started rather than waiting for lunch, I fell asleep.

I dreamed about living in a small apartment. We were there temporarily, but I don’t think it was a vacation, more like a work assignment that had taken one or the other of us out of town for an extended period. I came back to the apartment from wherever I’d been in the dream world to find Mr. Karen had dismantled the faux fireplace mantle, removing the wood-grain Formica cover to reveal an antique drop-leaf table which had partially been painted bright sky blue. He demanded to know why I hadn’t told him the table was under there, and I replied I hadn’t known it was. Looking around to see where he’d put the Formica cover, I discovered a second bedroom I hadn’t known was there, either. I was still trying to figure out how I’d missed noticing an entire room in this small space when I noticed the deer on the other side of Mr. Karen. She was just standing there gazing at me calmly. I thought she looked dehydrated, and remarked to Mr. Karen that I was going to get her some water. I was herding her toward the kitchen when my mom, who had just appeared out of nowhere, cried that she’d found a newborn deer under the sideboard. I left her to deal with that and kept moving toward the kitchen when I noticed the mother deer lying under the Christmas tree, laboring to deliver another fawn. Just then, I overheard someone outside on a cell phone reporting that the deer were in place as ordered. I was confused when the alarm went off, but happy to leave a world where people were plotting against me by having deer sent to my apartment. (That last bit was probably influenced by a Ruth Rendell story on the book on tape I finished yesterday; what I read and watch often serves as inspiration for my dreams.)

So this morning I was tired. And hungry, because evidently the brain cells that are in charge of demanding breakfast woke up at 3:30, too, and were not happy to have been kept waiting for their yummy 3-point TruSoy bar. I was reminded of the conversation Mr. Karen and I had last night. He’d been telling me how a new dad of our acquaintance was surprised at how enthusiastically his family had taken to the baby, and I asked how the new dad liked the baby himself.

“He says he’s a good baby, happy except when he’s tired or hungry, and then he cries.”

“Oh, like me,” I said.

“Well yeah, but not all the time.”

“What do you mean? Are you saying I’m always tired and hungry? That’s not true! Why would you say that?” I huffed, all mock indignation.

“I’m teasing you.”

“You’re mean. I’m going to write a journal entry about this and then everyone will know how mean you are to me.”

“But you’re the one who said ‘If I don’t get a margarita right now, I’m going to start killing people.’ That’s mean.”

“I didn’t say that!”

“You did, except for the killing part. I think you said ‘punching people’.”

“Well, yeah, but that was before I had therapy. I’m much calmer now. And also my job was much more stressful then.”

“But you were on VACATION!”

“Yeah, but one I had no control over, and we both know what a bad idea that is.”

I went on to point out that his example of my meanness was fifteen years old, and speculated that if he started his own site in response to my “Mr. Karen is a big meanie” entry, he’d have to call it Remembrance of Times Past because all his evidence is way too old to be relevant. I am not mean; I just get cranky when I’m tired and/or hungry. That seems perfectly reasonable. This morning, I am tired, but an extra diet Coke (with Lemon, yum—it does not taste like Pledge, and who are all you people who are tasting Pledge so you can make that comparison anyway?) has taken the edge off the crabbiness. I have an apricot and carrots and Roasted Garlic Triscuits to snack on to take care of the hunger part of the equation, so crankiness has been averted. The world sighs with relief, I’m sure.

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