289: Sleepless Near Seattle

motel me

I didn’t sleep well last night.

Tonight, I said to my husband: “Honestly, I’m not exaggerating; I woke up at least forty to fifty times last night.”

Then I replayed the sleepless night in my head, to make sure I wasn’t exaggerating about the amount of times I woke up.

I hate to lie. And to me, any stretch of the truth seems a lie. I almost self-corrected, as I calculated that to wake up forty times in an eight-hour period, I’d have had to have opened my eyes about five times an hour. In actuality, I probably woke up four times an hour …so it was likely thirty-two times. But I stopped myself from speaking all these thoughts aloud, and just stared at my husband with squinted eyes and furrowed brow, like I always do when I am processing in my head.

Then, knowing I’d paused too long when considering typical conversational protocol, I sputtered: “I couldn’t sleep because you snored.” Only that statement instantly didn’t feel right, and I knew I’d soon be speaking my whole truth, whether I wanted to or not.

I processed more. I have no clue what my husband was doing, even though I was practically on top of his lap on the couch. I was in a distant land thinking that I ought not to have provided such a large gap of time as the space between forty and fifty times—that’s a ten point spread.

Confused in general, I tried to recover and offered, “It wasn’t just you snoring.” I was sounding weepy and whimpy, by now.

Soon, the complete truth began to leak out.  I confessed, “And there was something else.”

Of course my husband asked, “What?”

I responded slowly, with a full-blushed face.

Within seconds my husband was laughing so hard that I expected snot to shoot out of his nose.

You see, last night, we had, at the last moment, decided to stay at a motel off of the interstate, while traveling up north-east for a snow-sledding adventure. The plan was to drive up in the evening and sled in the morning the next day. I  accidentally booked a hotel (with swimming pool, continental breakfast, two televisions, etc.) that was too far away from our destination; so last-minute-searching led us to a small, what I would call “cheap” motel.

snow

I took this on our way up to the snow

I guess I was keen on the fact that we were likely staying in what could be termed a “dive,” when my husband informed me that we had scored a large room with three beds, in one of only two motels in the entire town, near a popular ski resort, for only $99. That, and the fact that the small, twenty-year old television only got one channel.

Oh, and yes, my son with Aspergers did say straight away, “I don’t like the smell of this place.”

Upon entering the spacious room, about six-feet away from where our mini-van was parked, I tried to get into my place of Zen; I do that quite frequently, set about to have a Zen-like mindset. I think to myself, what would a saint do, or Buddha or Jesus, if in a similar situation. How would he or she respond? And the answer is typically the same: act with gratitude and grace. And then I push down those thoughts of how much easier it would be to be Zen-like without my type of mind.

In considering the motel, I contemplated my good fortune. We had fresh water, shelter, blankets, warmth, electricity, and more. I snapped myself out of the “disappointment” zone swiftly, without calling myself names like “spoiled” and “unappreciative,” as I’m working on that whole positive-thinking thing, too. Which depending upon my mood, sometimes makes me want to gag.

But staying true to my state of positive-Zenniness, I began to list in my head everything the motel had to offer, right about the time my husband came out of the oddly-angled bathroom (toilet juts out and causes one to bruise knee when passing by said toilet) and announced, “Don’t forget to add that the floor slopes down at an odd angle to your list of why this place is cheap.” He knows me so very well.

So, I’m listing the positives to myself: (and occasionally out loud with a snicker to my husband)

Internet connection

Oldest son has own bed.

Even though I can’t use my bath salts as there is no bathtub, there is a quaint stand up shower.

Mold is only on the outside of the shower door.

The smell of cigarette smoke and what seems to be wet-dog-scent is not too strong.

There are other cars in the parking lot; which means other people stay here, too.

No hair that I can see: dog or human.

The sparkles glow that are set in the cottage-cheese-like ceiling; I don’t think I can get asbestos poisoning unless someone jams a fork or something up there.

The aged lamps painted poop-brown from the inside out, are all cracked and broken which makes an interesting type of abstract art; I wasn’t electrocuted when I turned on the lamp.

The boys won’t be fighting over television channels.

The door lock sticks and we can’t use it, but that chain should hold up for one night.

The light from the parking lot will serve as a giant night-light.

We don’t have rooms below us or above us, and on either side of our room are storage garages. The boys can be loud and no one will hear.

We don’t need to use the noisy heater that heats up the room too fast, especially since the curtains (that remind me of my childhood home) hang right over the heater, because if it gets cold, we can pretend we are camping.

This would be a cool setting for a Fargo-type movie or for the series Breaking Bad.

If anyone died in here, it was likely a long time ago.

I haven’t slept in a full-size lumpy bed for years.

The lacquered wall art of trees reminds me of the 1970’s.

I have both thick socks and slippers on, so I’ll be good to walk on the carpet.

~

I’m working on my list of gratitude when my husband chimes in, “And these walls remind me of my mother’s family room.” He’s pointing to the fake-wood paneling and laughing.

I fake a smile, and then whisper to him, “I probably shouldn’t tell the boys to stop rolling in the bedspread because the bedding is likely not laundered, and adults could have done any a number of things on those covers, right?”

“Yes, Hon. Not a good idea,” he answers with his trademark, I-married-a-loon-that-I-adore, shake of the head.

Right about then, my son who has Aspergers pipes in: “Have you seen what they can find with those special blue-lights in hotels?” My husband and I politely ignore him.

In the bathroom, after bumping my knee again, I notice that there is no shampoo, no blow dryer, and no supplies beyond toilet paper, Kleenex, four wrapped plastic cups, and a stack of some ten miniature soaps. Ten tiny soaps wrapped in brown paper? I think to myself.

I come out of the narrow bathroom, and soon my zen-attitude is promptly invaded by a case of the sillies…and everything spills out of my head in the form of a verbal-tag game of why this would be considered a dive hotel, with my husband.

Of course, I won, when I pointed out that there was no coffee or coffee maker.

Still, the little voice in my head circulated and percolated, reminding me to be ever-so-grateful. After all, there was a Starbucks nearby.

This brings us to tonight, and me explaining to my husband why I couldn’t sleep while in the motel.

This is how the conversation went:

“Well. It wasn’t really your snoring that kept me up. That was just a small part of it.” I paused, not so much for effect, but because I knew I was going to bust up laughing, even though I was entirely serious.

My husband Bob waited patiently.

I continued. “I couldn’t sleep because…..” I paused.

“I couldn’t sleep because I was afraid I might touch the sheets,” I said.

Bob smiled and held back his chuckles. “But you had your sleeping bag, pillow, and blanket from home and you weren’t touching the sheets.”

“I know,” I said. “But I was still afraid…I was afraid I would accidentally touch the sheets in the night.”

Bob busted up fully.

“Ha,ha, ha, ha. So you were like lying there asleep, and then you’d wake up with a jolt, look to your side and think the sheets, like they were some monster?” He stiffened his body and imitated me in a fear state on the bed at the motel, terrified to move an inch. “But you were in a sleeping bag,” he added.

“I know,” I said, “but I was afraid if I feel asleep my arm might flop out and…”

“And you’d accidentally braze the sheetttttttttttttttt!”

“Yes,” I answered, by now laughing hysterically. “I couldn’t move or relax because I was afraid I would touch the sheets”

“I love you, Honey,” Bob said, implying he knew how hard it was for me to be me, right before he did another mini-scene of me being attacked by the sheets.

Here is my bed: (See how close the sheets are???)

motel

I guess Bob wasn’t too surprised by my sheet confession, because this morning in the motel I made another of my phobias known. I had whispered to him, “Okay, I’m just going to tell you now, so when you find the wet clothes in the laundry you’ll know why.”

“Oh, no,” he responded, shaking his head. “What?”

“I’m showering in my socks!”

blue skyOn the way home

I wanted to call this post: Attack of the Killer Sheets, but I didn’t want to give the ending away.

Day 163: Super Freak

I’m a SUPER FREAK this morning. I am pretty sure my youngest has restless leg syndrome. And he definitely talks, moans, and moves a whole lot in his sleep. Oh, yes…..traveling once again, and so very much reminded of my human condition. This time an eleven hour drive to California with my three boys, ages ten, thirteen, and fourteen…..oh boy! Literally!

Just pulled this writing up from early May 2012. Today, again, having slept in a hotel (sigh) I am dealing with much overload, lack of sleep, exhaustion, and grumpiness. Hope to have a happier disposition tomorrow after a decent night’s sleep. If you see a woman having a meltdown on the side of Highway 5 in California…that would be super freak me!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On the first day of our trip to the Island of Maui, I was reminded of my over sensitive system. I hadn’t imagined the plane fight would be such an unpleasant experience. I’d forgotten, or more likely, I’d hoped for change.

Many people with Aspergers, if not all, are extremely sensitive. They feel emotions and feelings in great depth. Likewise, their senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell are very acute. Often, a person experiences sensory overload when he or she is outside his everyday environment. In some cases, home or perhaps nature, are the only places that are tolerable to the senses. Outside of the comfort zone, a person with Aspergers can likely feel an overwhelming degree of agitation, pain, and misery. This is one of the reasons I prefer to spend more time at home than in public places. Sensory overload can lead to meltdowns—which are akin to adult tantrums—a screaming out for help, when one does not know how to help one’s self.

In considering sound, where many people can block out background noise and focus without distraction, people with sensory sensitivities hear everything at once. There is no mute button. And there is no making the noise stop, beyond earplugs and escape.

The other senses work the same. Textures irritate. Smells overwhelm and overtake. Sights hurt. And even the taste of air is unpleasant.

It appears there is something about the Asperger’s sensory and processing system that cause people to sense things in the environment in segmented over-exaggerated parts, instead of whole. Instead of looking upon a crowd and seeing a crowd, one looks upon a multitude of bombarding shapes and sizes, each movement as uncomfortable to view as the next.

People with sensory sensitivities are acutely aware of everything happening in their environment and everything seems to be occurring all at once. There isn’t release. What would be a soft unnoticeable hum to one becomes a piercing roar to the other. It is as if someone has turned up the volume of every single sensory organ.

There is no relaxation, only the constant stream of shards—parts of chatter, parts of the ticking clock, parts of the rattling and  hum. There are parts of smells, all sorted out and classified, not mingled, not forgotten. There are parts of tastes—the breath, the air, the fragrances, the poisons chemicals. Sights are in parts. Fragmented pieces that attempt to make a whole, but fail. A face not remembered except as shape of wrinkled wide nose and color of dark narrow eyes. Even the mind is in parts, continually breaking down wholes to subsections. Whole to parts is easy. Parts to whole is hard. Nothing is as it appears. Everything is in parts. It is the parts that bring agony, the endless parts that bring with them the impossibility of finding retreat in the whole.

With my sensory sensitivities, the six-hour ride in the airplane to Maui was torturous. No mind control, mantras, visualization, or distractions could stop the parts. And lacking the ability to help myself, sank me into self-blame. I sat in misery wishing to time travel into sweet oblivion. I became depleted, agitated, and depressed. Meltdown was avoided, but angry eyes prevailed.

The worst was the piercing babies’ cries. There were at least ten babies on the plane. There wasn’t a time when one wasn’t screaming.

I did find refuge. I had my words. I could write. I could escape through the process of creating images, feelings, and thoughts into story. Words were my parachute and freedom, a passport away from the screaming shards.

Cry from the Sky

Imploded

Without retreat

Saturated misery

Roots into ear

Vine out

Crumpling, tearing, crackling paper

The rhythmic off beat dance murdering peace

Stop!

Bring silence

Opening cans, clanging carts, annoying repetitive footsteps

Bumping in front, bumping in back

An uninvited rollercoaster

No escape

The babies scream and scream again

Piercing thorns

Constant chatter, whispers, sighs

Conversations bleed into a monster of noise

Roaring engine rattles fury

Even the yawns scream

Squishing and swishing misshapen bodies

Stench

Stale garbage

One hundred meals at once

Beyond window, the fresh and silence beckons

A tease of the unattainable

Aches, irritations, stiffness, icy cold

Suffocating soreness

More bumping, more banging

Nothing is calm

Nothing is motionless

Everything moving

Everything in parts

One broken into a thousand

Question after question

Comment after comment

Trapped in stinging air

Recycled germs everywhere

Breathing in danger

Stop. Shut up. Cease

Release me

Put a cork in the child’s mouth

Put a muzzle on the man

Put a mute light on

STOP MOVING!

Energy spikes, energy flows, energy feeds

Energy spirals, burrows, pangs

Into self

Close eyes

Close noise

Close people

Close the outside

Focus on inside

Focus on calm

And still the babe screams

“Help me!”