so little sleep you get sick

I woke up at 4:30 with an upset stomach, feeling dizzy, but figured I was just tired. Took a colder shower than usual and went easy on the coffee and sat at my desk and worked on the book for a little while.  

For a weeks I’ve kept a good pace of editing 12-15 pages with each sitting but this morning I only got through seven before getting restless and spacey. It’d only been an hour but I stood up anyway and woke the dog with apologies and a slice of turkey and wrestled him into his harness and took him for a walk.

Incidentally this is the last week of March we’re talking about. I’m outside and the sunrise is an hour away and it’s the tail end of that five-week window in which colleges around the country are letting folks out for Spring Break and Miami Beach is crawling with Breakers who for the most part fall asleep indoors but occasionally curl up on the pavement. It’s my first year living on the Beach so I don’t know if it’s a trend or the regular fashion that people wear fishing nets for clothing but that’s what they’re wearing. Paired up under Lincoln Road storefronts, clutching their phones, cuddled with open mouths, snoring.

I walk the dog and circle back to the house and while preparing his breakfast of turkey-flavored baby food with brown rice and sweet potato I start to recognize this weird dizzy feeling as just being tired. Not groggy but sleep-deprived. Working from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the grocery store means I get into bed at 11 p.m. and then wake up at 4:30 most mornings. Five and a half hours for several consecutive nights isn’t a good amount of sleep but I’m able to sustain it because I’m wrapping up the second-draft of a new book and I jump up excited every morning to tackle it.

But my body needs sleep and so I decide to take a nape before work.

But then I decide on a whim to go thrifting because it’s only 7:15 and if I’m back by 9:30 I can sleep three hours before I have to clock in.

Edvard Munch, Sleepless Night

So I hop in my car and drive slowly toward the causeway because there are half-dressed teenagers standing in the road with makeup smeared and their limbs punched through what appear to be the wrong holes of their nets, watching the sunrise and crying, not really noticing the traffic, which is broken and scattered because of police barricades. The City of Miami Beach decided they couldn’t keep Spring Breakers out of the city so instead they implemented curfews and put limits on alcohol sales. Two nights ago I was at a Publix getting dinner when the overhead music stopped and an young-sounding cashier came over the loudspeaker to say, “Attention Shoppers: Unfortunately it is now six o clock and as per the City of Miami Beach’s State of Emergency no establishment may sell beer or wine in any locations south of 23rd street.” Then he paused for a while. Breathing over the store like if God were a voyeur. “I’m sorry,” he said, and hung up.

I reached the bins right as they opened. Yawning and zoning out at red lights, getting honked at. I went inside and right away gaped at my good fortune. Here is some of the terrific stuff I found:

  1. A drain stopper, still in the box, retailing at $8. I bought it for $3.
  2. An unopened set of 24 5″x5” canvas panels for painting, also retailing at $8. I paid $1.50.
  3. A CPAP machine, which retails at $700, but is illegal to sell on eBay because it’s medical equipment.

The fact that I got excited at all of these things, yawning at the register and grinning triumphant and teary-eyed while throwing down cash, seems in retrospect like another sign that something wasn’t quite right.

I drove home feeling excited and took a quick shower and walked naked from the bathroom to the bedroom, bidding my girlfriend hello and “resist the temptation” as I crawled into bed.

Marie woke me up after ninety minutes to tell me it was almost time for work. I groaned and said thanks and got up, still yawning, went to the bathroom and settled onto my knees in front of the toilet and scream-vomited. Then I stood up looking pale and crooked and put on a towel and leaned on the sink, hugging myself, trembling, asking her if I should call out of work.

Marie looked at me deadpan and said yes I should probably call out.

So I called my dad. 

“I’ve been vomiting.”

He listened. “…OK.”

“I scream when it happens.”

He listened. “…OK.”

“Do you think I should go to work?”

He listened. He considered. “Y’know,” he said, “I think you and I are the same in this respect: if you really don’t think you can do it…”

After we hung up I stood there chewing the issue a while longer and then like a maternal bird I swallowed the issue, scream-vomited the issue back into my mouth, and chewed it some more. At 1 p.m. I called my manager and told him I couldn’t come in.

He said, “Is everything OK?”

“Yes and no,” I said. “I’ve been vomiting.”

“Oh no.”

“Yeah I scream when it happens.”

“That sounds bad.”

We hung up and I sat on the bed feeling guilty, like a flake, because this was the second time in three weeks that I’d called out of work. Finally I crawled up and got under the covers and fell asleep. Second nap of the day. Full of dreams that I was in trouble somehow, that I’d done something wrong, flailing and sweating. Struggling like a pale wet thing in a net.

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