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MARTHA SEZ: What’s worse than waiting in line?

November 3, 2011
Lately, I’ve been hearing an irritating television advertisement over and over again. I think it’s for a postage meter. In this ad, some big crybaby complains “There is NOTHING WORSE than going to the post office and having to wait in line.”

Really! This is news to me. Because right off the top of my head I can think of about a million things that are so much worse.

I can’t help but wonder how waiting in line at the post office can be the worst thing this guy has ever had to go through. He should be thanking his lucky stars. Not to seem all hostile, but maybe he should go on one of those so-called reality shows where they have to eat disgusting bugs and fall into vats of slime and be insulted by other contestants.

Waiting in line at the PO is not something that keeps me awake at night.

The bad thing about waking up in the middle of the night, my friend Linda pointed out recently, is that you are always worrying about something you can’t do anything about.

I have to agree. the other night I actually caught myself worrying about the wind. Would it strip the leaves off the trees before peak leaf season? I love to see the fall color, and of course the leaf peepers are so important to our local economy.

There are songs about it tossing and turning all night. Whether the source of your insomnia is thwarted love, remorse, indigestion, or the bills that cover your desk like February snowdrifts in Saranac Lake, worrying about it now is not going to help. You tell yourself this, but still you lie there, ruminating.

Midnight is commonly called the witching hour, but at least it is a reasonable time to still be awake. To me, three is the brutal hour. It’s too late to still be up if you work the day shift and too early to get up to begin the day.

Insomnia can be torture. If you sleep in the same room with someone, you know that he or she will not like being awakened just because you can’t sleep.

On the other hand, it is hard to have to listen to a loved one’s tranquil snores as you lie awake in a snit. This is especially true when, as is often the case, the person who lies sleeping next to you is the cause of your agitation, due to something said or done during the day, or perhaps several years ago. Little does this person know that he or she is creating deep resentment inside you simply by being unconscious. You will feel that this person should know, and is slumbering on purpose, to spite you, which will make it even harder for you to fall back asleep.

The solitary insomniac may not turn on the light either if she has made the mistake of watching scary television shows about murderers before bedtime. Illuminating the bedroom  is a sure way of alerting serial killers, ghosts, Velociraptors or what have you to your location, like the blue light special at K-Mart. You might as well just announce it: Here I am, night stalkers, what are you going to do about it?

My father used to say “Nothing of any value gets said after midnight.” I think this is also true of the ruminations one entertains in the middle of the night.

My friend Beatrice said her therapist told her to snap a rubber band  on her wrist every time she caught herself ruminating about situations — or certain people — over which she had no control.

Another friend, Pete, suggested that a bungee cord around the neck would be more to the purpose. He figured it would step up the behavior modification process.  But snapping yourself with rubber bands or even bungee cords probably won’t help you get back to sleep.

Just when you think that sleep will never come, that you will have to lie there and tough it out for several more hours, you fall without warning into a profound slumber, which renders you oblivious to the racket of your alarm clock. Later, as you drink coffee and attempt to look sharp, your coworkers ask you what on earth you were doing the night before to make you such a wreck. What will you tell them? That you were out partying — or worrying about peak leaf?

Get some sleep, and have a good week.


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