You know how once in a while you look up from the craziness of life and say to yourself something like, “Hey, we live in the UNITED States of America.  Surely we can be more… united.”  Well, I just looked up from the craziness of life and remembered that my blog is called Written on Ambien.  So surely it can be more…sleep-inducing.  Wouldn’t that be great; a blog that put you to sleep?  Everyone would read it.  You’d have more hits than TMZ and Politico on the day of Kim Kardashian’s election to the House of Representatives.  Sleep is the elusive thing for many many people, and certainly for some of us who answer to the name “Mom” or “Ma” or “Get me juice.”  For more on this topic, read Pamela Paul’s excellent piece (in which I am quoted a little) in the Style section of today’s NY Times.

When I lie down to sleep sometimes at night, a gremlin comes and seduces me away from  thinking restful thoughts.  Instead, the gremlin says, “Let’s go on a magical tour of all the social blunders you have ever made.”  And I, for some reason, say “Okay.”  I’ll have been lying in my perfectly nice bed, thinking about that time at the publishing party three years ago when I told the writer I had read her book and found it to be “moving,” and then she actually said, “Which part did you find the most moving, Meg?”  I stood blinking, the canape turning cold in my hand; my hand turning into an old crone’s claw as time passed.  “Um, the end,” I said, thinking this was clever.  All writers save their moving stuff for the end.  “Do me a favor,” the woman said.  “Walk me through what you think happens at the end of my book.  Because some readers are confused about the part with Marina and the priest.”  All I could do was throw the canape down my throat and immediately pretend to choke and run out of the party.

Revisiting this scene from life with the help of a gremlin at midnight, I found that it was not entirely sleep-inducing.  So the gremlin took me elsewhere.  “Why not,” he whispered in my ear, “think about the deaths of yourself and everyone you know?” If trying to sleep means automatically thinking of subjects and images that upset you, then what is the point?  I know the computer screen is counterproductive to sleep.  Something about that blue light stimulates and dog-whistles us into wakefulness.  Much is written about so-called “sleep hygiene,” which involves only using the bed for sleep and sex.  (Can you imagine that?  Where would we eat fondue?  Where would we write novels?  Where would our sons make science projects?  Where would the guinea pigs frolic?  And the coyote?)  And I know that a good night’s sleep is the prize, the jewel in the crown, the thing that you hear women boast about on the crosstown bus.  (“I got EIGHT hours!” a woman told her friend recently, and many heads swiveled.)  Maybe she was talking about community service as punishment for a very, very minor crime she had committed, but I doubt it.

Please, gremlin, even seven hours would be nice tonight.