Attempted Slumber

For the second consecutive night, I was awake well before 4. In fact, I was awake before 3. And by 2. But I stayed in bed until roughly 3:25, determined to get to sleep. By 3:25, though, I recognized the effort would be fruitless. So I got up. I hope to get to sleep again, perhaps by 5 or 6 or 7. Whether or not I am successful, I have decided to skip the men’s church breakfast this morning. There’s no point in trying to either speak or listen coherently after a night of insomnia. I wonder whether my writing in the next little while will be as incomprehensible as are my thoughts at the moment? When I look back on what I write, I will have the answer.


Yesterday afternoon, during an aimless drive through the backstreets of Hot Springs, we listened to a fascinating All Things Considered segment on NPR. The short piece covered the results—and interpretation—of the sequencing of Ludwig van Beethoven’s genes. The segment covered far more ground that I am prepared to write about this morning, but the bottom line (as I remember it) is that Beethoven’s hearing loss and his severe gastrointestinal issues, along with suppositions about his consumption of alcohol, may well be explained as the results of the intersection between the composer’s genetics and his habits. His genes, by the way, were sequenced from samples of his hair. Apparently, there’s plenty of his hair from which to sequence genes.

I do not need to know what I learned from the ATC segment. But hearing such stuff is an incredibly delightful experience. It is a shame that so many über-conservative slugs are so hell-bent on reducing or eliminating funding for public radio programming. It’s as if the bastards are intent on dumbing-down their constituents—perhaps with the objective of bringing the voting population down to a level on par with the politicians.


If my moods could be measured as electrical signals, represented on an oscilloscope, the patterns on the screen would form a regular sine wave, with peaks and valleys of equal strength, size, and distance. I know almost nothing about sine waves, so my description may be utterly meaningless; but at least I know what I mean, regardless of whether anyone else does. The peaks of the waves would represent feelings of hope and confidence. The valleys, despair and doubt. Over time, the peaks would diminish in size and strength. The valleys would dip lower and longer. At some point, the pattern would flatten to the point that there would be no discernible rise and fall; to use a term I hear bandied about occasionally on medical dramas, it would flat-line. Hopelessness. Capitulation to the powers that strive to paint everything dull gray. Not the vibrant grey I find so appealing; instead, the gray that drowns every streak of color in inescapably hideous drabness. When that gray attaches anchors to every affirmative emotion, the world becomes pointless. Life becomes an error that can be corrected only through erasure. God, I know how bleak that must seem. And it is. But that describes the low point on the oscilloscope. The valley that becomes the flat-line. With enough of a jolt, the pattern returns to its regular wave form, but there’s never any assurance that a jolt will have enough power to drive the line back to “normal.”

I will ignore this bleakness. It is the product of two nights of insomnia. And, probably, the outcome of inhaling a few fine hairs from a cat sitting on my forehead.


I had a great idea yesterday: sell my car and use some of the proceeds to buy a cheaper, older one. I would use the balance of the money from the sale to have some work done on the house; new kitchen counters, perhaps, or painting some cabinetry, and/or some other desirable projects. But, after learning how much I might expect to get from my nearly-seven-year-old car and how much an even older car that lacks much of what I find appealing about my car would cost, I have abandoned the idea. It was not such a great idea, after all. My car would fetch less than I would have to spend on a car a few years older and far less “upscale.” I tend to tilt at windmills. I dream. I fantasize. I imagine a world that does not exist. Crap! It worked so well in my mind…


It is just after 5 now. I think I will try again to sleep. Attempted slumber. It sounds like something for which I might be arrested and jailed. I hope not. I would not do well in a cell. Not well at all.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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