Insomnia, Part One: Cat’s Paw

Recently Judy was in Michigan visiting our family for several days, and actually, I wasn’t sleeping too badly. That was nice, because I have trouble sleeping pretty often. Among other things, Judy’s absence affects our cats who are brother and sister. In her absence they are more affectionate toward me (purely by default) and also, instead of waking her to feed him between 3:30 and 5:00 a.m., I feel upon my sleeping face the hungrily insistent paws of 20+ pounds of furry fury. The perpetrator is our male cat, Fortunato (Otto).

He’s loud, too. An athletic meower, Otto puts his whole body into his wake up calls. They are sustained, intermittent, baby-like yowls. They begin with an upsetting trill – really a high, crackling whine that quickly turns into a piercing “ooh” then a puling “ahhwww” — all with a hint of a rolling “arrrr” rumbling deep in his throat. Like the cries of a human infant, his early morning meows make him pathetic, and they fill me with confusion, panic and revulsion.

Otto's meowing is so boring that he often lapses into a yawn himself while perpetrating one.
Otto’s meowing is so boring that he often lapses into a yawn himself while perpetrating one.

And it is like that every god damned morning for me when she’s gone. Lurking above me, he conjures primal howls and commences with surprisingly strong pawing at my puffy face and neck until I lug myself out of bed and get the villain his kibbly breakfast.

So, after one morning’s pestering, I was tromping dazedly away from our comfortable bed and downstairs from our second story bedroom. As usual, I was trying not to think much – simple thoughts: “Don’t fall down. DON’T open your eyes too wide. Etc…” Trying to ‘stay asleep’ while traveling two flights down, then two flights back up — feeding the bastard.  I looked through narrow eyes as I moved through the kitchen, purposely avoiding a glance at the clock, as I headed down the second set of steps to our basement where the beast’s food and dish are kept.

I was doing a pretty good job of “staying asleep”, when at the bottom of the stairs, I rounded the corner into the basement room where the cat food is, and everything changed. On the softest spot on the bare heel of my left foot, I placed the full weight of my body onto a rock-hard nugget that one of the critters had nosed out of its’ dish. It nearly brought me to my knees. Shooting pain. Adrenaline. What a wake up. There was no way I would be going back to sleep any time soon. I limped up the stairs and looked through wide awake eyes at the kitchen clock. It was 4:07 a.m., the most exquisitely lonely time imaginable.

A song to help you “get through” at 4:07 a.m., or any time really. This beautiful, joyful song can take me back in time to the mid-80s, and sounds so fresh it could have been made last week:  From Lonely Is an Eyesore, a compilation of music by artists of the 4AD label, 1987, Dif Juz, No Motion:

One of the most unusual music videos I know of, and a gorgeous vision of loneliness cured, this is one of the prettiest songs you will ever hear from a remarkable record. From It’ll End in Tears, 4AD, 1984, This Mortal Coil, Barramundi:

COMING SOON! Insomnia, Part Two: Lonely Time. (A young insomniac’s guide to selections from the popular music of the late-60s and early-70s.)

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