I don't wish to brag but I'm a terrible sleeper. When the kid was about five months old she started sleeping through the night. I, however, continued to wake up at around 3:30am, which was when she had usually gotten up. It wasn't every night. First, I woke up once every couple of weeks; then every week or so; then for long stretches of several nights in a row. I'd wake up at 3:30, stay awake for anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours then drift back to sleep for another hour or so before the day started. I could fall asleep like a champ. I just couldn't stay asleep. If you're currently thinking "Oh, I have a cure for that! I should write Quinn right now!" please realize I've followed this routine now for 17 years. If your suggested remedy's first side effect isn't "This Will Kill You," I've tried it. Some treatments work for a couple of nights before my brain seems to wire around whatever therapy or medication we're testing. If it weren't so unwonderful, I'd almost be impressed at my brain's work ethic. But in the last few days, something new is happening.
I fall asleep at 11 pm like a normal person. I sleep straight through and wake up at 5:30am like a dairy farmer. When you write jokes based on politics and politics occur mostly on the eastern coast of the United States and you sleep on the western coast of the United States, this new wake-up habit is serendipitous but, candidly, still a little weird. I'm up before the pets. I'm wide awake and writing jokes as I hear the newspaper land on the doorstep. I see a couple of texts from the kid, jokes from her new life, ravings about some food or another. She's happy so Daniel and I are happy. At some point, the sun comes up.
At 2:30pm, I become tired.
No, that doesn't actually convey what happens.
At 2:30pm, it's as if I am hit with a rubber mallet. I can barely form words. I couldn't be trusted to operate a mechanical pencil let alone heavy machinery. I drag myself to a horizontal surface and fall face-forward on it as if dropped from a great height. An hour later, I reluctantly shake myself out of my coma and stumble back to my day. I've never been especially grateful I work for myself but these days I'd have to arrange a desk with a dog bed underneath into which I could curl. I just woke up a few minutes ago and reflexively checked my phone's clock. It was on the secondary setting, which is the local time where my kid is.
I've been going to sleep at the same time she does every night. Maybe it's a coincidence. Or maybe waking up at 3:30am for all those years was my way of whispering to her, "Sleep well, I'm here," and falling asleep mid afternoon is my way of pretending I still am.