Half awake

The sleep mask slips from my face and the clock digits blink
at me – five am.  I have another
hour before dawn, mid dream and I want to get back into it, but his snoring
like a bandsaw cuts the silence.  I
nudge him once, twice. 
‘Could you please roll over?’
‘Sorry,’ he says.
It’s no use. 
All the sorries and the rolling over in the world cannot unblock his
blocked nose and throat, so I take myself into the spare room, to the couch I
hate to lie on when I wear black because the cats sleep there by day. 
I wipe the couch before I lie down with my special blanket,
the furry one, fake animal fur.  It
was once my daughter’s but she’s allergic to it, so I have taken it over as my
night time blanket.  I drape it
over my cold body whenever I must play musical beds on account of the
I am in a bad mood. 
The dream has disappeared by now. 
It was a good dream, the sort that begs for continuation, rather like a
story you don’t want to end. 
My eyes are heavy, my mouth is dry.  A slurp of water from the tap before I
try to squeeze my overly long body onto this short couch.
I tell myself yet again, I should prepare better.  It’s not every night that I find myself
here but there are enough nights in the week.  I should organise a better pillow.  I should make sure the spare room blind is drawn.  I should switch off the computer and
printer whose lights blink on and off in that strange hypnotic way that reaches
under my closed eye lids and will not let me get back to sleep.
I should prepare for these times.  It’s worse than living with a baby whose cries interrupt my
sleep at random intervals.
The cat slinks in and sits on top of my feet.  She claws at the imitation blanket,
which smells of dog.  She tries to
ruffle the blanket to size for comfort and my feet which were once freezing
begin to heat up.
I shove her off with one heave on my right foot, but she’s
back in an instant trying to slide in between my legs and the end of the
couch.  I must get back to
sleep.  I have only thirty minutes
before the alarm, before the day begins.
Why does the world seem so bad when I am only half

23 thoughts on “Half awake”

  1. Hee hee. Yes, that.

    We have two bedrooms so two beds. K always gets to sleep before I. Once he gets to snoring I can't sleep. So I spend the first half the night in one room, then, if I wake up, which I almost always do, I join him, it being easier for me to fall back asleep in the pre-dawn hours (and he tends to sleep more quietly in the morning). Then, he gets up early and I get the bed to myself.

    In the smaller bed the cats love to cuddle. And, yes, one of them SNORES!

  2. The darkest hour is always just before the dawn, no? As for snoring — well, it makes me utterly insane. I think you need a room of your own with a proper bed. I'm not sure why we are so beholden to the marriage bed, particularly when it's so uncomfortable. I say buck the culture and make a room of your own for sleeping.

  3. I slept with my partner for the first year we were together. I decided I could not permanently sleep with anyone. Yes, it caused trouble and still, some thirty years later, can be brought up in an argument, but for each of us to have our own bed in our own bedrooms was the right decision. You at least really need the flexibility of having somewhere proper to go when the going is tough, even if you don't want to permanently sleep apart.

  4. I think I sleep better when Carrie’s not here and most nights so far this trip I’ve slept straight through but I prefer it when she’s here. We both disturb each other but the comfort we get from not having to sleep alone is a fair trade-off. When we first got married I was living in a furnished flat and so we had no choice; we slept in a double bed. Once we got our own place though we simply bought another double, not a king-size; we don’t tend to seek out our own spots and even when we do separate in the night quite often our legs still find each other but the fact is we still disturb each other’s sleep. And yet this morning, after about nine hours (albeit with a short interlude about 4am) I don’t feel rested. I tend to go to bed later when she’s not here. I wait until I’m absolutely exhausted and can expect to drop off in seconds. So I watched TV until midnight and then read until the back of one but I’ve been tired since I got up at half-ten and it’s about noon now. It’s the cold. We’ve had virtually no snow in Glasgow—unlike the rest of the UK which is buried under a blanket about a foot deep—but it’s still cold. We don’t have central heating and so the first job in the morning is turning the storage radiators on and letting their heat seep through the flat while I breakfast, watch the news to see if the world’s ended and catch up online. A part of me can’t help but feel guilty—guilt come so easily to me—for wasting precious time sleeping and clearly not making the most of it. When I was working I was up every day before 6am and at my office desk by seven. Today I probably won’t sit down to work until one and by four I’ll have had enough; I’ll make my dinner and wait for Carrie to call about 4:30. I’ll try and do another hour after that. But, like you, I’m half-asleep today. The bird’s (finally) finished saying his good mornings to all and sundry and I’m on my second cup of coffee, real coffee this time, to try and pull myself together. I might just read again today. I think I’m finally finished with my short stories. I’ll give them one more read through before Carrie comes back—that’ll be my seventeenth—and then I’ll leave them with her and move onto rejigging the website and creating the press release.

    I used to snore. I probably still do—don’t we all from time to time?—but it used to be a problem. My last wife used to kick me out of the bed. It never bothered me. I’d toddle off into the spare room, clamber into the bed and go straight off. It became a nightly thing. Carrie and I don’t have a spare room now—they’ve both been turned into offices—and so I would have to sleep on the couch in the living room which is only a two-seater and I have slept here before although not well. My daughter’s cat regularly finds her way into their bed in the night. She’ll wake up in the morning with the cat wrapped around her feet. It pleases her and that’s all that matters. Carrie and I have talked about getting a cat after the bird’s dead—although that could be another five years easily—but I’m not sure. Mum’s cats got to come and go as they pleased. If we had a cat here he’d be stuck in 24/7 and I’m not sure that’d be fair. The bird is too, of course, but we never set out to have a bird as you know and he’s lucky to even be alive.

    I need to go and make some soup now. Try and wake up before I lose the entire day.

  5. Oh yes, the couch and the snoring. My couch is comfortable though and there are some nights I would prefer it altogether. Not out of anger but just general comfort. Nights when it toss and turn in the bed, I can sleep on the couch. But, no alarm for me. I am lucky to be able to set my own hours.

  6. Oh dear – parts of this are so familiar! I keep a blanket handy and come downstairs by the wood burner which is usually still in in the middle of the night. If sleep escapes me then I usually have a good book to hand.

  7. Don't like a cat sleeping next to you as you sleep? I miss it, quite frankly. But then my cat himself would decide it was too warm and sometime during the night move to the edge of the bed, where HE could have more room.

  8. We all snore, Glenn, but not all of us suffer at the sound of another.

    Your arrangement sounds familiar to me, a lot like mine in fact. I call it musical beds without a prize at the end. No sexual innuendo intended here, just the longing for a good night's sleep.

    Thanks, Glenn.

  9. There was a radio program on this issue here in Melbourne just last week, Elizabeth, and the consensus was pretty much as you suggest here: buck tradition – we all need a room of our own.

    Thanks, Elizabeth.

  10. I agree, Andrew and yet it's hard for me to find an in-between space. Besides I enjoy the closeness until I want to sleep and then it becomes something else. In an ideal world it would be different.

    Thanks, Andrew.

  11. I'm with you on the pleasures of companionship and how they outweigh the ease of sleeping alone, Jim. I tend to sleep better when I'm on my own, and mostly that's when I'm away on a conference or some such event.

    Still I prefer the companionship. I leave lights on in hallways when I'm alone and even when there are other folk in the house I feel more apprehensive than I otherwise would when my husband's away. Perhaps this is on account of early childhood difficulties, perhaps not.

    A room of one's own is a wonderful notion and I reckon we all need one, although we also need to be able to keep our doors open from time to time to let others in as needs be. Equally we need to be able to shut them out, too. Against the world and its intrusiveness, but again only from time to time as needs be.

    I'm sure I snore, too, Jim, but hopefully not enough to keep people awake. It's tricky though. you never know that you snore unless someone tells you.

    As for tiredness, it's a cruel and unjust punishment, especially after you describe a nine hour sleep. Are you sure you don't have the dreaded sleep apnoeia.

    Thanks, Jim.

  12. You are lucky to be able to set your own hours, Ellen. I only enjoy that pleasure during holidays and on Sundays. I look forward to the day when I can wake as I will with the birds.

    Thanks, Ellen.

  13. I hope my words, David-Glen, match the level of pain I endure in the early mornings when suffering sleep deprivation. And I hope others might thereby resonate with my misery – as they say in computer speak, 'lol'.

    Thanks, David-Glen.

  14. I enjoy the cat's company in winter, Kirk, but not these days when it gets so hot at night. I particularly miss our cat, Chan cho, the one who disappeared several months ago, presumably for good. He was such a comforting presence in the depth of winter. One of our other cats, Molly has a way of irritating me. She commandeers the space, rather like your old cat it seems.

    Thanks, Kirk.

  15. I remember as a child that I could sleep the night through. I remember being amazed at the fact my mother needed to make a number of trips to the toilet during the night.

    It seems to be a by-product of aging. Four hours sleep at a stretch is wonderful. And loud snoring from one's companion doesn't help.

    Thanks, Anthony.

  16. Ah yes, the craptastic couch due to Unstoppable Spousal Snoring….! We've all had the flu in our house, so the spare room's sofa has seen me in there for too many nights of late, blinking computer lights; wonky blind and squeaky futon.

  17. Snoring on it's own is bad enough, Kath, but flu induced snoring is worse by far. I hope you all get better soon. The cold of Europe seems so far from the heat of Australia which you've fairly recently – post christmas – left I see. It must be hard to shift between.

    Thanks, Kath.

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