On any given night, from about 10 pm to whenever gets the job done, you’re likely to find a single light on in my house–one in the living room by a recliner we inherited from my wife’s grandfather. And in that chair, you are likely to find a disheveled, stubbly-faced thirty-something man hunched over a laptop, cussing out a Microsoft Word document at a volume that will wake neither the sleeping three-year-olds around the corner nor a pregnant woman passed out on the nine-pillow sculpture she has meticulously perfected over the past few weeks. While verbally abusing his own abused verbiage, he’ll likely be nursing a craft IPA or a bowl of ice cream (or both)–you know, just to take the edge off.
In case you haven’t already Sherlocked where I’m going with this, the insomniac in question is me.
While sleep and I are super duper BFFs and take cute selfies with each other like every single night, I elect to stay up after corralling the kids into the bathroom so they can spend 15 minutes whining about not wanting to brush their teeth and two minutes actually doing it; after reading multiple bedtime stories and refusing third encores; after watching my unborn child kick around my wife’s uterus while taking in whatever’s on our DVR; after my wife crashes in the middle of a show and I’m fighting sleep myself even though it’s only 9:30. Yes, despite all of this, I stay up because I have unfinished bidness. Even though I’ve found a big boy job I absolutely love and am working it full-time, I still have that all important, all-encompassing, all-kinds-of-psychotic last step of my PhD to plow through–my dissertation.
I’ll admit I take weekends off, and even a weekday here and there, but since about May of this year, I’ve been on this late-night regiment for a consistent four nights a week. Come 10 pm, I’m in that chair. Thinking. Number-crunching. Writing. Chasing. Snoozing. Wiping the drool off my face. Deleting the full page and a half of letter W’s my dead hand made while I was unconscious. Taking a sip of beer. Taking another five sips. Sighing loudly. Thinking. Number-crunching. Writing. Chasing.
In mid-September I cleared the first hurdle and laid the first draft of my thesis to rest–all 229 pages of it–and turned it into the chair of my committee for his feedback. Then came revisions, which bled into October, and once that was finally done, November’s late nights have been spent tackling the slideshow for presentation at my defense.
For those unfamiliar with the process, after writing and revising your kajillion-page dissertation, you are then asked to “defend” it to a committee of faculty chosen by you. This committee reviews your thesis, and then, at the “defense,” you present your findings in person, followed by the committee asking questions to challenge the validity and thoroughness of your work while barraging you with paintball guns to break your concentration. If the committee is satisfied with the answers you provide, 99 red balloons fall from the ceiling and Bill Murray inexplicably wanders in from the street to shake your hand and congratulate you on becoming a doctor just before performing an impromptu karaoke rendition of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.” On the other hand, if the committee is not satisfied, you are handcuffed by an enormous sluglike creature named Jabba and shuttled out to the middle of the desert to be cast into a Sarlacc pit for all eternity.
This is a picture of my son doing an impression of a zombie, but it might as well be a picture of me as of late.
If you’re anything like I imagine you to be, you’re checking in here at least twice a day to make sure your eyes aren’t deceiving you, and possibly even calling your Internet provider claiming that your strand of the World Wide Web must be tangled in a knot, resulting in the loss of almost a month’s worth of Twincidents.
“Surely John hasn’t stopped writing!” you lament, blotting tears of frustration off your trackpad. “Surely it is the Internet’s fault! I knew I should never have trusted Charlie. That kid bit his own brother’s finger without batting an eye. And it really hurt!”
No, Charlie has not bitten off my fingers, thus crippling me as a typist. And no, a LOLcat has not taken off running with my laptop, enthusiastically meowing “I can has computer?” And I certainly have not been busily studying the craft of how to write in a more Gangnam Style.
No, you must free your mind from these highly possible scenarios, O Loyal Reader. The truth is that lately, I just haven’t had a free frickin’ moment to sit down and spew genius into this fine publication. The reasons will probably not surprise you, since many of you have already told me you don’t know how I’m able to write at all while spending half of my week wrangling twin toddlers and the other half getting my PhD on. Factor in being a trophy husband and maintaining a shadow of a social life, and there’s not a whole lot of time left for pseudo-clever wordplay and bow-wearing stick figures.
Unbeknownst to us, our daughter seems to have started a new activist group–Daughters Against Mothers Drinking (DAMD).
Her reasons for this are a mystery to us, as my wife does not even remotely have a drinking problem. She does enjoy an alcoholic beverage from time to time, but so do a majority of adults over 21. In fact, since the pregnancy (when she didn’t drink and I did my best not to make her jealous), breastfeeding, and the unending sleep deprivation of having twin babies (which does not AT ALL jive with a hangover), both of us have become lightweights who feel superfine after two.
However, when my wife does decide she would fancy a drink, she is most certainly entitled, as she is our household’s primary breadwinner at an oftentimes intense job that spreads her thinly and leaves her toasted by the end of the day.
It was with this fervor that she asked for a glass of wine while at Nani and Abuelito’s (my wife’s mother and stepfather’s) house for dinner last night, and I was happy to oblige, pouring her the finest chardonnay Nani’s entire counter had to offer.
If one cries it out,
the other wakes and joins in.
And the plot thickens.
. . .
I’m thrilled this method has worked for your only child, but when I say I’ve been up half the night, I’ll thank you to remember these simple, catchy 17 syllables instead of being one of the dozens asking if I’ve tried it.
Remember the unbridled childhood excitement of Christmas Morning? The insomnia-inducing obsession with the sheer possibilities of the bounty Santa Claus would surely leave under the tree? Staring at the ceiling at 4:00 am, debating asking your parents if you can just cut the nonsense and get this party started right now?
As we grow older, however, there seems to be less and less magic each year, which ironically provides less and less of a window for acceptance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Is it lame that at 29 years old, I’m still waiting for that owl?
But I’m thrilled to say that after believing it was gone forever, I’m suddenly feeling that familiar old Christmas Morning anticipation once again because starting today, my wife and I will be orchestrating that magic for the Twins, as we prepare to give them their First Christmas Ever.
At 11 months, they’re not by any means at an age where they can fully comprehend all that’s happening, but we’re in no hurry for them to grow up any quicker than they already have, and we see this year as a prelude–a taste of many happy memories to come.
And now, on The Night Before Christmas, as I look all through the house (with my dog, the only stirring creature, pawing at my shin for attention now that the Twins are down for a long winter’s nap) I see decorations that will become ingrained in the Twins’ subconscious as Christmas-defining relics, just as my parents magically transformed $4.99 pharmacy purchases into The Singing Christmas Bear I Played With Every Year While We Decorated the Tree, The Christmas Carol Book with Which I Led the Whole Family in Rousing Sing-Alongs, and The Nativity Scene with Which I Fabricated Alternate Biblical Storylines Involving He-Man Saving Baby Jesus from Cobra Commander with the Help of the Three Wise Musketeers, the Ninja Donkey and the Jedi Cow.