Permanent jet lag and reading materials


I have moments of lucidity, some time between mid-afternoon and early evening. I wake up at a decent time in the morning, but that means nothing as I’m useless until I’ve gone back to sleep for another hour or so. I knew already that I don’t function well when deprived of sleep, but this is faintly ridiculous. My wife, meanwhile, who has to provide another organism with all its energy, is remarkably spry and conscious.

Last night our daughter started crying just after we settled down for the night. I’m not sure if that’s wind, a dislike of silence, our error in turning the air conditioner’s thermostat down another degree, or just a streak of wilful contrariness she could have inherited from either of her parents. We flapped around ineffectually, as new parents generally do, until (I think) a nurse was summoned to tell us how to properly burp our child. (With her back straight, not hunched, on the off-chance that you’re reading this for parenting tips.)

At least, I think that was what happened. The events of the last few days are beginning to merge into a baffling fog where I need help remembering what day it is. Apparently I was up at 3am, cradling Foremanbaby while her mother slept, but it took me until 7 this evening to remember that. What else may our daughter have been forcing me to do, before wiping my memories?

On the positive side, Foremanbaby continues to enjoy having the works of Donald Westlake read to her.

That may be a mixed blessing. It takes us about a week to read the average Dortmunder novel, and Westlake was a rather prolific writer; my untrustworthy memory tells me he was the author of 200 novels. But that means we only have enough stories of criminals to placate our child until she’s 4. What then? Start her on James Ellroy? Change genre and give her sqamous and rugose Lovecraftian bedtime stories? Or accept defeat and turn to stories of cats on mats, TV-tie-ins and pop culture pabulum?

It’s not all bad: The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Bad Tempered Ladybird are both tales of a dark and pitiless universe, if your weak human mind is capable of correlating their contents. A perpetually unsatisfied inhuman beast, voraciously consuming all it can find? That’s just as scary as an ancient Antarctic city, guarded by shoggoths and giant penguins.

A super aggressive ladybird, ready to fight anyone, mammal or insect? If the thought of trying to explain the connection between Grouchy Lady Bugs and Bad Tempered Ladybirds to a small child doesn’t fill you with worry and awe at the scope of the universe, then my name’s not Stephen King.

Which, of course, it isn’t.

Did I mention the toll the sleep deprivation is taking on my mind?

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