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Insomnia's Not So Funny

What's So Funny celebrates a birthday. Sort of.

Sunday nights are bad for me. Maybe it's because I stay out till God knows when on Fridays and Saturdays chasing after God knows what. Or maybe it's just typical American dread. Monday morning, back to school, back to the office, back to reality. Whatever it is, I'm never able to sleep. So I watch a movie or read a book, but that still doesn't wind me down, so then I just lie there listening to the fan, listening to my dog spasm in her crate at the foot of the bed. She whines and barks, chasing something. Or maybe she's dreaming about eating her own shit. (She's quite fond of the hobby in her waking hours, disappearing into the bushes and emerging later, literally wearing a shit-eating grin.)

I replay scenes from the weekend. Like this weekend, I saw a blue jay in my neighborhood. I've never seen one around here before, but it flitted over my head and landed in a tree; a second later, when it flew off because I was getting too close, I got a third good look at it. Definitely a blue jay. Noisy little fucker. So I went home and recorded it in the book I keep of birds that I see in the neighborhood — although sometimes I cheat, like that ferruginous hawk, which I actually saw at 46th and Federal. I think when I move out of this house I'll leave that little book behind, and when the next guy moves in he'll think, "Man, the guy who lived here before me was a fucking tool." But his wife will think I was observant. She'll wish her husband noticed birds. Then in my fantasy, she drinks a lot of red wine and falls out of love with him.

Or how about Saturday night? Great comedy show, great crowd, great time. And then, when my friend was driving home from the show, he witnessed a horrific traffic accident: Two cars tangled together in a metallic embrace that emptied their shaken contents onto the street. One group was mad because their car was destroyed, the other was screaming and frantic because their friend was unconscious and bleeding, and they're too stupid to realize they shouldn't move him — downtown girls screaming, sleeveless, shoes-off drunk — so my buddy gets out and tells no one to touch the guy until the paramedics arrive. Once the paramedics do come, the whole scene dissolves back into the relative calm that was there before, albeit now with more automobile detritus strewn about. But my friend is still so shook up, he has to stop by just to talk about it. So we sit out on the porch until the birds begin to chirp, him telling me he wishes he could have done more. And I think it's crazy how your definition of what's important can change so fast. An hour earlier, it was all about the show we put on. An hour later, we were wondering if some LoDo Chad was dead.

Still, sleep doesn't come, so my thoughts turn to how my team is in the tank, officially the worst record in baseball. Top sluggers out, injured, talk of trading them because something has to change. I ponder how each loss taints the pennant we won last year, making it look more and more like the fluke that the national media said it was, each loss validating the fact that the provincial, coastal assholes running the propaganda machine ignored us most of last season in the first place. This makes me angry, and when you're angry it's even harder to sleep. This city lives and dies by its sports, I think, and right now we are dying. And I'm wide awake.

I get up. Dog whines. I let her out of the crate and take her outside, and it's quiet save for a breeze overhead and the sounds of trains passing to the west. How come the trains always pour through this city on Sunday nights? Urgent Monday-morning coal needs to be met somewhere? Or maybe I only notice them on Sundays. I'm not as observant as the poor wife who's going to live here after me thinks I am. She's an absolute MILF, by the way.

It's nearly 3 a.m., and I realize that it is my birthday. I am 28. I think people truly mark the years by their own birthdays, not by when the calendar says to start over, so my mind really gets fucking racing, because now I'm pondering the entire past year. There's not a chance I'm falling asleep anytime soon. But on the bright side, at least now I've written a column. Though I fear it wasn't very funny.

 
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