I just tried to hang up a blouse. Six separate times. On two different hangers. The thing was absolutely determined NOT to be hung. Tears were nearly shed.

This little interaction between me and the blouse is the perfect summation of my day.

Having closed the store (at midnight) last night, I planned to let myself sleep until 9 this morning. At nine, I pressed the tiny button on my phone to snooze. At 9:05, I did the same. By 9:30, I was pressing the button without even regaining consciousness. This went on until 10:30 this morning. Folks, please keep in mind I work in retail and am closing the store three nights in a row. I don’t want to sleep until 10:30, even keeping in mind that I get home around 12:45 (or 1:20 am, like this morning), but my body makes me. I can’t change this biological imperative. I must sleep. So my morning is totally shot.

Once I was finally up and going, I started a chore on my lengthy list and then got distracted and began another chore. As this happened multiple times, I accomplished almost nothing.

Then, off to work – and early, too, because the store was busy and an associate called in sick. Our District Manager, the slightly intimidating man that he is, was already there evaluating our store’s level of awesomeness. One bright spot was that I arrived at the store at the same exact moment as a former boss and rather-important-fellow at the corporate office and it had been ages since I last saw him. I can’t tell you what a treat it was to get to visit with him as we worked in the store. Apparently I have Cam Newton to thank for bringing Rather-Important-Fellow to visit the Auburn store. Thanks, Cam. If I could, I’d lift you on my shoulders, too.

There was nothing wrong with the next few hours. Nothing too frustrating. I was coping all right, considering the usual stresses of managing others.

Then someone just had to return an Extremely-Valuable-Piece-of-Technology that required multiple flaming hoops to be jumped through. By me. Before the store closed. And of course, concurrently, traffic at the store picked up due to a book signing. Never will I complain about a book signing that goes well. It’s a lovely thing.

I will, however, complain that I didn’t get a chance to do my hoop jumping until around 10:45pm. And because of a technical malfunction with some of our equipment, I had to literally climb walls in order to jump through more hoops to jump through the ORIGINAL flaming hoops. Honestly, I’m losing track of the hoops. There were a lot. Most of them burning. Acrobatics were required.

Okay so I had a male associate do most of the actual wall-climbing. But I had done a little climbing before I finally decided that was a danger to myself and my surroundings and called in some assistance.

Anyway, it took me an hour to wade through the paper-trail-CYA bureaucracy involved in returning said Extremely-Valuable-Piece-of-Technology, at which point it was half an hour before the store was to close and I had to cash out FIVE registers.

Five.

Usually by half an hour to close, I have three registers to cash out, count the deposit, and then all of the end-of-day paperwork involved in retail daily closings. If I’m really fast, I can get one register done before closing and the other two counted after close, count the deposit and do my paperwork and be done by about 45 minutes after we lock the doors.

It should come as no surprise that I started cashing out registers at 11:30 and we didn’t leave the parking lot until 1:15. A. M.

There were several moments where I had to remind myself to breathe. I had to stop to relieve myself when I thought my bladder was going to explode. I had to get some ice water when I felt a little woozy. I had to encourage my associates to greater heights while still getting these bothersome details sorted out.

But when I got home tonight, I just about fell apart when the damn shirt wouldn’t stay on the damn hanger. It’s like it all just hit me in that moment that my job can be really frustrating. And I work incredibly long hours. Just today, I worked 10 hours. On my feet, climbing walls, jumping through hoops, trekking from the front of the store to the office then back again, answering associate questions. Helping customers. Scheduling breaks. Cramming a sandwich down my throat. Chatting with an author. Bolstering the attitudes of my sometimes discouraged co-workers. Cleaning spills. Straightening shelves. Reading reports.

Who has the time to breathe with all that going on? Good thing it’s involuntary, or I’d be long dead.

It’s after 1 am.

I’m writing a post.

And I’m not even remotely tired.

That would be because I am frequently scheduled to close the store in the evenings, a shift that either puts me home at 11:30 or 12:30, depending on the day of the week. Obviously, tonight was one of those 12:30 sort of evenings. I can’t really complain, I’m a manager, and as such, my duties tend to be less menial and more clerical. Don’t get me wrong, I pitch in, and I work  my tail off every second I’m on the clock. But for the most part, I just supervise and make sure the urinal in the boy’s bathroom is scrubbed without actually having to do the scrubbing myself. This is a cause for celebration.

The only problem is, I tend to need eight to ten hours of sleep nightly to perform at peak efficiency. I am currently getting six to seven hours a night. So, I’ve taken up drinking coffee. In copious amounts. I haven’t quite gotten the necessary quantity figured out, because I’m finding that I tend to drink more than I need and am up for two hours or so after I get home. That is LATE. And the only thing that gets accomplished in those hours is soap opera viewing and the occasional episode of America’s Next Top Model. Or Hell’s Kitchen. If I have the stomach for it, maybe Glee.

So basically I might as well be sleeping, but I’m not, and am therefore not benefiting from those extra two hours of sleep that I so desperately need in order to not have to consume so much coffee. Honestly, I don’t remember when this cycle began, but I wish I’d never had that first cup of joe. Worst choice ever.

Oh wait, I’ve definitely made worse choices. Maybe ‘Worst-choice-involving-coffee ever.’ That seems safer, if I’m going to go for the superlative, which apparently I enjoy.

Anyway, the only drawback I’ve found to closing is that it negatively affects my sleep schedule. There has been a positive or two: I have to be a bitch every now and then to make sure everything’s done correctly. I wouldn’t normally consider this to be a good thing, but I’ve needed to learn how to be a bitch for a long time. Necessity is the mother of invention…and bitchiness! But seriously, I’ve grown some balls in this process, and I’m proud of myself.

As for the second benefit, I eat a bigger lunch and a smaller dinner (as a general rule, sometimes I just eat a big lunch and a big dinner…but not usually) which Mom tells me is a much better way to have meals. Also, doing paperwork brings me joy. That is probably the lamest thing I’ve ever said, but heck, we all know I’m lame. No revelations of character there!

Ok. The Closer is finally winding down. Fifteen minutes with a book and I’ll be dead to the world. Unless I overdid it with coffee AND soda tonight… Brilliant!

Have you ever been so bored that the only thing you can think to do is take a shower? Yeah, I know. I’m probably the only one.

Here’s basically how that goes:

  1. You think to yourself…”The dishwasher needs emptying, so what I think I’ll do is take a shower.”
  2. You have to replace your towel with a fresh one because you’ve already showered today and it’s still damp.
  3. You briefly consider taking a bath instead so you can read at the same time but realize you’d really need to clean the tub first and that isn’t happening.
  4. You have a strange memory of how you used to brush your teeth in the shower at college and how refreshing that had been. You wish you had a shower basket again so it wouldn’t be so weird to do that these days. Then you remember this is your house and you can do what you want. But at this point you’re already in the shower and it’s too late.
  5. At which time it is clear there is absolutely nothing to do in the shower that hasn’t already been done. At least while not in the shower, you had something you could be doing (dishes, ‘member?).
  6. You bathe. Again.
  7. And wash your hair.
  8. You turn the water hotter because really maybe you’ve been in the shower for all of five minutes at this point and that’s not a significant enough time to have avoided any boredom at all, and hotter water is something different, at least.
  9. You lean up against the wall and sigh. Gosh, this is boring, too.
  10. You wash your hair again. Why not? It says ‘rinse and repeat’…
  11. As you towel off, you wonder if 7:30 is too early to go to sleep. It’s not like the dishes won’t stick around ’til tomorrow…
  12. Now your hair is wet and so is your pillow. Great.

Good night.

There are some folks out there who are regularly plagued with nightmares. I’m not one of them. I could probably recount to you in space of a normal blog posting the entire list of all the nightmares I’ve experienced. I guess you could say that I’m fairly lucky to be a regular (as in, nightly) dreamer but to be only occasionally bothered by nightmares.

Sometimes I have a hard time falling asleep (rest assured, I’ve already started what promises to be a fascinating post on this subject) and I have to take a little melatonin to add to my natural levels that just aren’t enough to put me out at night. Last night was one of those nights.

Now, for those of you who’ve never had to take melatonin to get a little sleep, I’ll tell you it does some wonky things with one’s dreams. Not necessarily bad things, but definitely intensifies normal dreaming in vividness and clarity.

Last night just happened to be a particularly bad night to take dream-enhancing hormones as things started off badly. There was a massive spider on the floor in my very first dream of the evening. Not massive like tarantula massive, but black, poisonous looking, with hella-long legs. I don’t remember where I was or who I was with, but I remember that spider. And that spider decided it would be awesome to dance on my toes.

In the land of the wide awake and non-dreaming, my toes were twitching. I’ve never experienced twitching toes while awake, but the moment my eyes popped open and my feet started moving to kick away that spider, I knew something was different. My toes were moving without my specific permission. And they wouldn’t stop, so of course for at least three seconds, I believed there really was a large, poisonous spider dancing on the toes of my right foot. The panic that ensued kept me fully wide awake for a good long while, thus defeating the purpose of the melatonin altogether. Blurgh.

This is a running theme in the nightmares I’ve had in my lifetime – scary scary things doing fairly amusing activities  leaving me completely freaked out.

When I was little, I had a recurring nightmare that I was sitting in my dad’s lap. That wasn’t the nightmarish part, of course, it got that way later. All of a sudden I’d look up at Dad and instead of him, I’d find a skeleton in his place. And the skeleton would start to tickle me. Can you imagine how frightening this was for a five year old? Trust me, it was quite upsetting indeed. And it wasn’t one of those one time nightmares – it happened a few times at least, and the images are permanently ingrained into my brain. Very upsetting.

Now, my second nightmare of last night was also a little absurd, because it involved me being chased around a hospital by an elderly, demented man toting his own IV stand. This man couldn’t even run, much less hobble after me, but somehow he caught up. He almost fell over when I shoved his doughy chest, but he still seemed super menacing. My fear actually woke me up.

Maybe the reason why I don’t often haven nightmares is that I find truly ridiculous things to be frightening… I mean who is really scared of dancing spiders (except maybe Ron Weasley)? Or a skeleton who’s only threatening vice is to tickle me? And seriously, an old man with a moving speed similar to a snail’s should not be the most intimidating thing my subconscious mind can come up with. Surely.

There’s this one problem with working from home: you work at home.

This explains why I spent the majority of daylight hours today running errands, eating, cleaning, chatting with friends, typing blog posts, working on my novel… in general doing anything besides working.

And then comes 6pm and all of a sudden I’m in work mode. It’s now 11:30 and though I’ve done a few things unrelated to work since 6, I have mostly spent the last five hours typing up and submitting orders, working on my weekly reports and doing research for my appointments tomorrow. I was getting sleepy around 9:30 when I realized I’d spent the last three hours doing necessary but not urgent tasks and I had about two more hours worth of urgent work to do before I went on my calls tomorrow. That’s a sad feeling.

Even sadder is that now I’m not at all sleepy. I’m wide awake. I’ve got Pandora blaring and I actually feel like exercising. I have become a freak I don’t even recognize. I never want to exercise!?! Why now do I feel the need to get up and do jumping jacks?

Okay well that got old pretty fast (yes, I did actually just get up and do about 20 jumping jacks… seriously). But I’m still not sleepy. Normally in this circumstance I’d take a benadryl and hop in bed with a good book (which, by the way, is currently Roxannaby Defoe — sure to put anyone to sleep in minutes), but Hubby took our benadryl stash back with him to Birmingham and I’m not due to arrive in Birmingham until 3 tomorrow. So that plan is out. Warm milk might work but I have no milk to warm. Nor do I have any other food, actually.

So… I’ve now opened up my “Sleep Station” on Pandora to play me some lovely sleepy music. This is something Dear Friend and I used to do when we lived together in Cullen Daniel 323… We had what we called a “sleep mix” and we loved to put it on late at night before bed. What a lovely little tradition I’m carrying on!

Hopefully this will be the very thing that puts me to sleep. G’night, folks!

An Ode to Power Naps:

On a morning before the sun appears
And when even summer air is slightly chilled
A traveller must set out, must shift the gears,
And make her way, thoughts of sleep unfulfilled.
Many hours on the road she must endure
Before her destination is at hand.
And yet, she fades before her work is through,
So, in a recess, seeks out the cure:
For those who still are in demand,
A power nap might be just what you are due.

{Note: Odes are harder to write than I remembered when I started this post. Usually they are more like 3 stanzas long, but we’ll just call this an Irregular Ode and be done with it. The LG Chronicles will be back with Part V tomorrow. Peace!}