Nine-thirty and I begin the ritual. I brush the tangles out of my thin, brown hair and braid it into a single ponytail. This takes four minutes. I brush, then floss, then rinse. This takes about eleven minutes.
The studio is too quiet. I can hear my heart beating. I turn on Frasier. I file the bottoms of my feet during commercials. There’s a reoccurring one for pregnancy tests. The music sounds like it was composed by that guy that did the Star Wars soundtrack. I am not feeling inclined to buy this particular brand of pregnancy test. Now if the commercial was more like an Herbal Essence ad then I might be, even if I didn’t need one. I’m very persuaded by advertising. But knowing this is not half the battle. Thank you,
G. I. Joe.
It’s now after ten and I can’t find anything else to watch until the Late Show. I detest CSI, Law and Order, and other seemingly identical shows. The shows are either too gory or too realistic. I need to watch something funny. Something that will allow me to relax. Especially since I know what’s going to happen later. Or maybe it won’t. I do have those pills. I just don’t want to have to take them all the time.
I try reading the collection of Bloom County comics that my brother gave me for Christmas, but my eyes won’t focus. I’ve been proofreading all day and now my eyes have gone on strike. I wish they would talk to my brain and convince it to go on strike also. No luck yet. Eleven o’clock.
I balance my checkbook during the Late Show. Then Conan O’Brien comes on. God, he’s funny. I almost laugh a couple of times. I’ve reached the point where I’m too tired to laugh. He's interviewing Janeane Garofalo. I wonder what she's like in bed.
I’m in trouble when I run out of programs to watch. Do I watch Friends reruns or start sorting my sock drawer? I open the drawer. It’s already organized by color. Holiday socks take up at least a third of the drawer. Maggie says I have the most organized dresser she’s ever seen.
I look at the clock. I wish I didn’t. It’s that time. The time when I turn everything off except the humidifier and try to sleep. My eyes hurt so I reluctantly crawl into bed and close them. The relief satisfies me for about five minutes.
They say that we need sleep so that our brains can process the day and file everything away. I like this idea. I like the process of organizating thoughts and memories into neat, little containers. But somehow I can’t let go and allow my brain to do it without me. I try processing the files consciously.
I slept two hours and nineteen minutes the night before. I awoke before the alarm went off. I stretched to my beginners’ yoga DVD. I felt centered. I took a long shower and jumped out just as the water switched to icy cold. It’s an old building, my landlord says when I complain. No one needs to take a shower that lasts longer than fifteen minutes. I disagree. I ate a bagel, rode my bike to work and still arrived half an hour early.
This all goes into File A: Hope. In the morning, I always hope that I’ll recover from the night before and actually feel alive during the day. I vaguely remembered a feeling like this before grad school.
I sort the following eight hours into File B: Everlasting Hell. The utter monotony of my work allows me plenty of time to glance at the clock. Sometimes I wonder if I can stop time by concentrating on the clock. I’m pretty sure I can, but I haven’t proven it yet.
File C: Try to Have a Life is my next category. Today’s wasn’t exciting. I stopped at Borders to check out their new releases, bought a singing card for my mom’s birthday and rode my bike back home. I thought about calling Maggie. Were we still together? I couldn’t remember the last time we had talked.
I was too exhausted to cook. I ate a bowl of high fiber cereal and washed it down with two glasses of Cabernet. This used to work. Wine used to make me fall asleep. Now it just makes me drowsier.
I checked my e-mail again before the nightly ritual began. No new messages. That’s what I get for having a spam blocker. I considered removing it.
I glance at the leering clock. It’s three-thirty. I have filed my entire day and I still haven’t fallen asleep. Dear God, please let me fall asleep. I think about doing the rosary. It helped one time. I had drifted to sleep from the silent repetition.
What was that? Damn. If I start hallucinating, I’m going to have to take one of those pills. Damn it.