It's 6am. Not an unusual time for me to be awake, except in unusual circumstances, which these are. For one thing, it's Saturday. For another, for various reasons this puts my total night's rest at three and a half hours.
I am in that netherworld of shuddery-armed, glue-eared and shiver-spined shock, blinking and bleary eyed - insides complaining that they are still asleep and intend to remain that way, whilst the rest of me cries out for some noise to break the silence; company; coffee. The sort of stage where silence feels unnaturally complete and you long for the sound of even a car in the street to break through the cotton wool that is your brain. The kind of state where you automatically tiptoe, whether there's anyone around to hear you, or not.
Congratulations, you have won a prize - one hangover - no alcohol necessary.
Yeah, that one.
I imagine that in about twenty minutes the lining of my mouth will begin to taste and feel like the bottom of a birdcage, or at least the way a mouth could expect to feel after a night dining on cardboard. Thats metaphorical, but just now I am too insensible to feel much of my mouth, nor to know whether I am making much sense, here.
Yesterday, although I thought I'd forgotten how, I switched back into Superwoman mode. Thank God my son has a SEN caseworker with a wit, who can talk at 100 miles an hour same as me if the opponent permits. Too many nurse and social worker types lean toward that sort of work, and with the background comes a long, heavily embedded training in speaking slowly and softly, in waiting for the other person to stop and go silent before drawing breath to respond. Many call it listening skills - it's not, it's 'showing slow minded people that I am listening' skills. Subtle difference.
She and I however, we were in the zone, and found ourselves using tiny flicks of sign language to keep the speed - palm up for I'll have an answer to that, fingers forward for 'I'm just going to slice in, here'. We were like drivers in the fast lane, constantly cutting each other up but without a single prang - it was wonderful. We covered so much ground in a single hour. I love it when people can dance with their words. Even if you are there to disagree with each other, its an honour and a compliment to take on the silent agreement, to know you are really being heard and matched for speed.
By the end of it I even said that my brain was fried. It wasn't exactly, more that I had absorbed all of the information yet it was still this swirling maelstrom, whizzing round on shifting currents. I knew that as the heavier learning settled and began to form a working pattern, a map of itself; some, like dust, would be lost to the winds. Still, sometimes dust is gold-dust; not the sort you want to lose in order to hang on to the boulders.
For the rest of the day then, my subconscious was working at full pelt, trying to sift and grade the contents of an information tornado. By three I had written and sent my summary email - my 'thank you for our meeting, which covered these main points' letter, the one that, without a reply, means it stands as a gospel, as minutes.
After that I just closed down.
Slam. Like a prison on lock-up.
Walking to get the kids from school made my legs ache - gave me splints, and as soon as we were back indoors, I started to feel increasingly cold. Whilst my body took on all the effects, my mind decided it was still working in overdrive, had processed all that information and wanted more, and more. Paying attention to the kids jabbering, running wordplay games with them, it was so easy. Once they'd gone to bed however, with Husband in a Friday night slump, the silence started to grate. My brain began to feel like a water boiler running on dry, grinding away searching for input, desperate to be fed with news excitement, an argument, anything. It was doing it's little lawyer-on-speed routine and Husband started to look like a rabbit in my headlights.
So guess what we did, then. Yup, we argued, or more precisely he spoke once and I sliced like a maniac. It was like pitting a samurai against a toddler; no fun at all. My body rallied, however; came back on full alert, so I sat for two hours like a runner at the off, blood pressure constantly increasing in line with my indignation. What made it worse was that Husband took the silence to mean that all was back to normal - didn't have the wit to see that there was steam coming from my ears in increasing amounts for every second of his blindness.
Sideways slants, like me furiously playing a computer game that I know annoys him (he can't think round the sound effects), then stating 'This is your wife in "what the hell am I doing here' mode" didn't get me the attention I hoped for, but rather a blank stare and a response of "Er, don;t know, what are you doing there?" before he instantly went back to doing his own thing. We got our 'here's mixed up, he missed the intonation that CLEARLY labelled my 'here' as referring to in this house/in this marriage/on this planet. How dare he, huh.
A single friend came online to chat, and that was enough. After a brief flurry of force feeding her too much information, I let her get a word in edgeways, and she made me feel noticed, even worried for. Maybe all I'd needed all night was someone to say 'poor you' and mean it, but that was it, I began yawning and just couldn't stop.
There is one thing that never happens in this household; I never go to bed before Husband. Sometimes with; usually after, but never before. Still it was Friday night and he normally stays up until about 1am, so at ten I felt safe to slope off to bed and have a chance to actually be fast asleep before the object of my pointless fury joined me.
I slept. I dreamed. For all of half an hour, and then there he was, bumbling and stumbling into the room. The very second his head hit the pillow, my blood pressure flew up the scale and stayed there. Try lying still when what you really need is ten laps round the block. It hurt, and it made damn sure I was wide, wide awake again.
He fell asleep quickly and easily - too quickly and easily; unaware and unaffected, which at the time, I took to be THE ultimate bloody insult. I took my pillows and the spare duvet to the living room, sat on the sofa and watched three inane romcoms on the movie channel, bam, bam, bam, in a row, before finally getting to sleep somewhere between 2 and 3am, with the light still on.
So, you poor, dear, faithful reader, you who have striven through the cloying muds of this post - why did I begin typing this blog at 6am?
Because at just gone 5, my single-parent daughter and her (not particularly welcome) boyfriend turned up on our doorstep. They'd come to town for the one nightclub it possesses, where her handbag had been stolen, including £90, every penny to her name. By the time they'd searched the venue, made the allegation, walked to the police station, sat through one of those deliberately slow sessions performed especially for the young and the brash who wander in smelling of the good party they've just had and sound a little too emphatic and look like they need calming down, well by then there was no option but to walk up here and beg to crash. No trains, insufficient remaining funds for a night taxi home.
Daughter, on weepy auto-pilot, went to her sister's room, dragged the single visitor mattress from there to the living room floor, and there they both are now, asleep inside thirty seconds, on my pillows, under my spare duvet. He's rolled to the middle, she's rolled off the edge. About 6 foot away from me, just around a corner. And now he's snoring.
But hey, I guess I did say I wanted noise.
Off to make toast now. Loudly.