What Keeps Me Up at Night?

Originally published April 2018

“What keeps you up at night?”

Every month, my blogging community posits a singular question for writers to use as a prompt — in this case, the bogeyman that wrestles us from our slumber. I read the prompt and my first thought was, “Are you kidding? What doesn’t keep me awake? Where do I start?” Here’s a truncated, but very real list:

  • Oh my God. Trump is still president.
  • I swallowed an air bubble. Shit. Am I going to die from an embolism? (Note: The night this happened, I actually got up at 1 a.m. and kissed all my kids goodbye.)
  • Did I lock the front door?
  • What are my college-aged boys doing?
  • I can’t believe I missed that XXX and XXX are XXX in “The Woman in the Window.”
  • How does Scott Pruitt sleep at night when I can’t?
  • What is my husband thinking about? Maybe I should ask him. I’m sure he won’t mind.
  • The dog didn’t poop when we went out. I know he’s going to wake me up. Or not, if I don’t fall asleep.
  • What if I have thyroid cancer? (I didn’t. But then I lost sleep pondering how much wait I would gain after thyroid surgery and how I would never be able to eat bread again. And then I ate bread.)
  • I can never go to Seattle ever again now that I know the West Coast is overdue for an earthquake/tsunami.
  • This house needs so much work. (Mental list-making and adding up of potential expenses ensues. Wondering how much blood I would have to sell to cover costs.)
  • Can indigestion be fatal if you lay down?
  • Is the fridge going to keep leaking? I should go put the beach towels on the floor around it.
  • I should have read my book tonight. I’m never going to finish it. I blog about books. I should be reading. I’m awake. But I’m lazy. (Next level self-loathing engaged.)
  • How many people saw me with my skirt caught in my tights before I dislodged it?
  • Where did I put my daughter’s birth certificate? Damnit, did I misplace it?
  • Maybe I can dress the part, but I’m pretty sure they’re going to figure out I’m a fraud. (Insert work role/mom role here.)
  • What the hell is wrong with me? I’m trying to avoid sugar. But no, I had to have that chocolate cake shake. (Master level self-loathing unlocked.)
  • What if North Korea bombs us?
  • Why do those motherf*ckers keep letting their dogs run loose in the park? THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO KEEP THE LEASH ON. ON!!! Do they think rules are optional?
  • Should I cut my hair?
  • I didn’t properly introduce myself to XXX at the conference. Now he thinks I’m that weird chick in the hotel gym that was staring at him. That’s just great.
  • My toe is throbbing. I must have gout. Is it gout?
  • I have three books to read before the weekend. Which order should I read them in?
  • What the f*ck?!?!? Why is Teddy in the lake?!?!?!?!

The point being, I spend a lot of time at night awake. Not so much that I am hopelessly ineffective the next day, but enough that

I should be journaling more. Writing, even in the middle of the night, often helps to shine a light on the silliness of a particular worry, or a path to resolution for the honest-to-God real problems.

Cheers to everyone else that turns the light on and grabs a pen at 2 a.m. I’m right there with you.

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