Life

“High and Low” with Oats and Toast

“I get high and I get low
Oh, but that’s the way
These things go”

  • Black Water, Reuben and the Dark

I don’t get insomnia like I used to. That’s like an alcoholic saying he doesn’t drink like he used to. The miracle of AA might do for an alcoholic the same as the miracle of CBD has done for my sleep, but despite our modern day treatments, one cannot fight genetics. Even the finest CBD oil can only do so much to curb a body’s addiction to wakefulness. An alcoholic should never step foot in a bar, and an insomniac should never gaze into the eye of his laptop until eleven o’ clock at night, researching negative air machines.
I have an expensive bed, the kind you can raise the head and feet so far that it’ll make your body look like a lopsided V. I never go full V, but I do raise my head and feet enough to dissuade my sleeping self from rolling over on my side. Side sleep is no bueno for me, amigo. It causes my neck and shoulders to twist in funny positions, which leads to crippling upper back pain in the morning (if I’m lucky), or if I’m not so lucky, I get a migraine.
Tonight, I am not so lucky.
My migraine stuff is downstairs. I snatch my pillow and lumber down, eyes squinted to save myself the painful shock of the kitchen nightlight. My pug greets me with a cry of joy and a tail wiggle. We named her Minnie, not for the Mouse, but for the state, Minnesota. I’m not sure why. I’m not from Minnesota; I’ve never been to Minnesota. I don’t think I even know anybody who lives in Minnesota. But that’s her name: Princess Minnesota, Minnie for short. Whenever I see Minnie in the mirk of night, I say, “Hello Minnie Princess!”
Minnie Princess is happy to see me. I don’t think she gives a crap that it took a migraine to bring us together. I stumble into the kitchen, fumble with the cap on the bottle of headache stuff, and after an extensive search to find the caplet I dropped on the floor, I swallow the pills. It won’t take long. I flop on the couch and wait for the pain to subside. Whenever I’m waiting out a migraine, I tap my right foot against my left leg. Whenever Minnie is with me while I’m waiting out a migraine, she licks her paws.
I lie with eyes shut, trying not to think too much about Life and the world and all the crazy things going on. I try not to pay attention to Minnie’s paw licks or my own foot taps or the box fan in the corner or the ringing in my ears, which is louder than all other sounds. They say the ringing in my ears doesn’t actually come from my ears; it comes from my brain. It’s the brain’s way of compensating for hearing loss. If that’s true, my brain must have shit for brains. What’s wrong with everything just being quieter? Why does my brain think I want to walk around with the sound of a high pitched whistle in my head? I suppose in twenty years or so, that’ll be all I hear, just the ringing.
There’s this character I created for the book I’ve been writing for ten years. She’s a blind woman who likes to paddle board. The blind paddle boarder points out that, as a blind person, she can’t see other people, and often times, other people don’t see her. If she’s in a room full of people, she has to park herself in a corner to keep from bumping into all the seeing people, and because of this, all the seeing people tend to ignore her. I think it could get very lonely, being blind. I wonder if it’ll be lonely for me, when I can no longer hear what people are saying over the sound of ringing in my ears.
Mental note: Begin researching ASL classes. It wouldn’t hurt to get a jump start on the basics.
I’ve almost drifted to sleep when Minnie Princess climbs on top of me, settles her thirty pound body on my chest and nestles her furry face into my neck. I don’t mind this usually, but I was so close to falling into a sweet pillowy slumber. Now my dog has opened a passageway for the old thought train to steam right through.
A song lyric clangs within my brain––I get hiiiiiigh, and I get loooow. I know this song, but I can’t think of the name. Nor can I remember the last time I heard it, which begs the question, why the hell is it playing inside my head, and why just that one line? I’ve heard this also could be a symptom of tinnitus: fragments of music or random conversations play on a continuous loop in the ears, as though piped through an ethereal set of headphones.
Giving up on sleep, I divest myself of the thirty pound pug weight and plod back to the kitchen. Oats and toast is on my mind. Whenever I’m not feeling well in the morning (is four AM morning or is it still night?), I crave oats and toast. I shall indulge that craving now. While prepping, I try to remember the name of that song. I get hiiiiiigh, and I get loooow. It’s not coming to me. Guess I’ll have to Google it.
The thought of Googling anything makes me wince, in the way you do if you touch a pan that’s too hot. You can’t open up a web-enabled device today without a blitzkrieg of bad news squashing you flat. Not a healthy way to start a morning. I’ll put that off for awhile, tell myself to be fine with not knowing the name of the song in my head.
I get hiiiiiigh, and I get loooow.
I’m humming it now as I grind beans for my coffee.
Here’s the thing about hanging out too long with Google, Facebook, Apple News, Twitter, and all their combative cousins: they have very few answers to offer, but their selection of questions is vast.
How bad is this virus going to get? How long is everything going to be shut down? Am I going to lose my job? Are we headed into a recession?
Then there’s the worst question of all: Are we doing the right thing?
That one haunts me like crazy; I’m sure it does you, too.
Thing is, there’s no point in wondering or complaining over whether or not we’re doing the right thing. This is what we’re doing. This is what we’ve done. We could not have done any differently. We can pretend, imagine a scenario in which we took a different path, but those are all just stories we tell ourselves. What is happening was always going to happen. All that is left now is to do this thing the best we can. We can be good at whatever it is we have to do today. We can be good neighbors. We can be kind to others.
As for me, I’m starting this day of questions with some oats and toast (and coffee). How about you?

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