Monday, March 22, 1999

Be Not a Stranger

Dear Ms. Sandman,

You've probably been wondering where I was all week. Well I just tallied up the results and I worked 57 hours this past week, and slept (or was available to sleep) 28. A wise fella once said something like "work smarter, not harder." Obviously those words don't always penetrate my cerebral cortex. But then again, I'm too tired to think about it.

I already knew it, but it most certainly was reinforced, just because you work twice as much as you sleep, doesn't mean you will get twice as much done. At a certain point your little brain just shuts down and everything seems as if it is underwater. Swim little fishies swim. Still I got my work done and I defy anyone to sit through a six hour Senate hearing about spending $60 million on a power plant that will burn turkey poop as fuel, and not feel just a little bit bemused. How did I do it? It really makes a difference when you actually enjoy your work- doesn't seem so much like work then.

I've written this column in pretty much every one of my multitudes of moods but I think this is the first time I've written one groggy. You were quite notable by your absence this past week. One gets used to something being there every day and when it's gone, even for one week, you really struggle to get by without it. Your moods are different but more than that your whole outlook is different. Every thing can really change in a week. Beauty is often hard to forget.

Oh Ms. Sandman. Believe me you're on my mind more than you know. When you're not there I swear you used to be. I like sleep as much as the next person just sometimes I'm not so good at it. Sometimes it scares me. Sometimes it evades me. Sometimes it's all I can do. But why can't you be always be there when I close my eyes? Maybe it was because you weren't around much this week that I acted the way I did when you asked what was on my mind. I couldn't find the words to say, the ones I thought you might want to hear. You said you had a difficult time reading me. "Tell me your thoughts, what you are feeling..." Whoppers, I just wanted to munch on my carton of Whoppers.

You and I always measured the moments not by time but by the distance. A bent fender. A fent bender. You said, "I feel the same as always." And it was then when the journey seemed to be over. Sometimes the silence can be because you have too much to say. Sometimes it can be that you don't know what to say. Sometimes it's because you don't know how to say it. But sometimes it can even be because you have nothing to say. It's not as if I don't want you to know what's going on. It amazes me because in sleep years you have known me for such a short time. Still in many ways you know me better than anyone ever has or perhaps ever will. All this time I was thinking it was I didn't have a chance to say good-bye. I really truly believed that. It was kind of what kept me going. Now I see it goes beyond that. Sometimes a person doesn't want to say good-bye and doesn't understand why they have to.

Pardon moi, if none of this makes any sense. It does to me. Besides, the editor went to sleep hours ago. It may seem absurd a person can even reach a point where they are too tired to sleep. I really should know, I've been down that road once or twice. Sometimes your mind is racing a mile a minute and you see yourself careening toward the wall but it can also be there is too much on your mind that nothing gets through and the numbness isn't so much a fog as it is twenty pound bag of goose feathers strapped to those sheep you've lost count of.

I wanted you to visit this week, Ms. Sandman. I really did. I knew you were out there. And it is a brand new experience to reach out to you and somehow get what I need in return and yet still come up short. I'm only five feet five after all. And I swear you seem to be able to see right through me. I know you know what's going on or should know. I'm not only a window I'm a mirror and the reflection is as transparent as it is empty. Glassy eyes. Best fishes to you too.

A person can dream while they're awake after all and sometimes sleep isn't so much about rejuvenation as it is being unable to escape those dream demons. This is all there is and it's just as important to be awake for it as it is to sleep. To grab just a few winks I'd even ask everyone who ever mattered to sleep with me but I honestly don't think I have enough room in my bed. Actually I have two beds, well one is technically a futon, as well as a very uncomfortable couch, so maybe it's a matter of not having enough blankets. And don't expect much of a breakfast. We can all have pop tarts. But the whoppers are mine. All mine. By the way I've seen this movie before and you were with me then too. Three little fishies and a momma fishie too. So be not such a stranger, OK?

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