Kvetching is usually not my style. These past few months, however, have put me in a kind of funk so that I find myself being a little grumpier than I want to be.
Take for instance, last week, when the ambient temperatures were teasing us into fall, when we could – and did – turn off the air conditioner and open the windows and fall asleep to the soothing summer white noise of tree frogs and cicadas. I lay in bed, the cool night air swirling around the room with the help of our ceiling fan, the sounds of the night lulling me into total relaxation toward dreamland.
My sweet slumber was rudely interrupted by the train whistle. The train comes through about 3 a.m. (Sadly, I know this because I have often been awake and heard it), and at 3 a.m. that whistle is, unfortunately, not a wistful, haunting, ethereal, melancholy song, but instead a loud, honking, irritating wake-up call. And wake up I did. Startled, I jumped and twisted my arm underneath myself, and then I was wide awake.
Usually, when I do not have the music of the night to lead me to sleep, I play a CD – probably my favorite CD – entitled “Jazz at Night’s End.” I love every piece on that CD, a conglomeration of different artists performing jazz standards. I know some of them – Mel Tormé, Carol Sloane, and Marian McPartland – but most of the artists remain unknown to me, and the music is beautiful and soothing. When I was in Afghanistan, I played that CD every night and felt closer to home.
Well, after the train woke me up, I wanted to play my CD, but I was afraid I would wake Max, and so I lay there for what seemed like hours, trying to once again find restful sleep. I had just dozed off when a car passing the house intruded upon my reverie. Whoever was driving the car wanted to make sure that everyone within hearing distance understood and appreciated his or her choice of music – which included a really strong, thumping bass. Additionally, that driver was probably curious about what his or her car sounded like without a muffler, because it didn’t seem to have one.
By the way, lest anyone think I don’t appreciate more than one kind of music, I remember tooling around Thayer and Mammoth Spring in 1970 and 1971 in my parents’ incredibly fashionable and hip four-door Oldsmobile sedan, with the car windows down and the radio cranked up pretty high so that I could hear every note of Elvis’s “Suspicious Minds” and “Burnin’ Love.” I remember driving home from work at Yellow Freight singing “True” at the top of my lungs with Spandau Ballet. But not wanting to be rude, I always turned down the volume when I passed by houses or stopped at intersections. Unfortunately, the driver of the late-night or early-morning car didn’t have that same mind set.
BOOMAH BOOMAH BOOMAH! VROOM! VROOM! VROOM! I was awake yet again. Frustrated, I began tossing and turning, resisting the impulse to turn on my CD because I knew that Max would wake up. So I tried to focus on the night sounds, the sounds that had helped me drift off in the first place. But the tree frogs were now quiet, the cicadas silent. Morning was approaching.
There is little worse than waking up at the ridiculous time of 5:15 a.m., knowing that to fall asleep again will make it impossible to wake up at 7. Should I or shouldn’t I? Wake up? Get up? Sleep?
I looked at the clock, and it was, as I suspected, 5:35. There would be no more sleep for me.
So my past few weeks have gone. As much good as I have found, things on the other side have caused me grief and anguish. And I am tired.
This week’s hot weather, however, has almost made me forget the sweet nights of seven days ago, and all interrupted sleep that came with those nights. And you know what? I have a great class at SFCC. I think things are looking up!
Deborah Mitchell is a a local attorney and a Municipal Court Judge.