Nighttime Rituals

 

It’s been a long day, and I’d like nothing more than to close my laptop, turn off the living room lamps, and head toward the bedroom. I worked hard today, and accomplished some great things: an important presentation and accompanying handout for my boss, 2 miles on the treadmill, another 45 minutes of spin class, and a full day of staying on track with my diet. I’m proud of myself. I’m ready to treat this tired body to a well-deserved rest period.

But first there are things to be done. There’s the requisite brushing of teeth, accompanied by a 15-minute facial peel (only on Mondays), followed by careful moisturizing. I also have to clean out the litter box while I’m in the bathroom. That completed, I also have to pour a new bowl of fresh, filtered water, not too hot and not too cold, for my eldest cat, making sure she gets the first sip. If the younger cat gets to the water bowl first, Isabel turns up her nose at it. Sometimes I pour her a glass of water and leave it on the counter for her to sip genteelly while her brother is getting his dram on the floor. Izzy’s fancy like that; Murphy – not so much.

Once the litter is cleaned, water has been delivered, and lights are out, we all go to the bedroom. I still can’t sleep, however. I have to play at least one game of Scrabble on my Kindle, and sometimes two. I play at the hardest setting, vs. the computer. The computer is aptly named AI (A-eye), but I call him Al (as in Pacino) instead. It’s more fun to mutter, “Screw you, Al!” when I lose, which is more often than not. Still, one can’t help but try.

The other day, I also picked up a free grid logic game for Kindle. I’m still not sure why it appealed to me, since I was horrible at them as a kid, and not all that great now, either. For the last few nights, I’ve been tasked with completing a grid puzzle, then moving on to Scrabble. Typically I’m dying for sleep by the end of the Scrabble game. I love my Kindle for its lack of back lighting, which makes it just as relaxing to your brain as reading a book, if only I were to read books on the thing more often.

You’d think that at this point, eyelids drooping, I’d take the hint and float off to dreamland. Not so much. Instead I must go to the bathroom one last time. Even if I don’t have to. It’s like going on road trips when you’re a kid, when your mom makes you go to the bathroom one last time “just in case.” So I pop into the bathroom again, which wakes up the cats, who until this point were settled in sweetly. Don’t let that sweet and sleepy ruse fool you, though. They’re nothing if not completely calculating and manipulative, and most of all they want TREATS. They want treats all the time, but I got into the ridiculous habit of giving them treats before bedtime, so it’s really all my fault that they demand crunchy snacks before they’ll leave me in peace. I’ve learned the hard way that if I go to bed without dispensing kitty crack, I will not actually be allowed to sleep. They wear tap shoes. Tap shoes with needle-y little spikes.

So. Treats are begrudgingly shaken out. Fights erupt and are broken up. Isabel inevitably gets a few more snacks in during the commotion, and Murphy sulks. I give him one extra when she isn’t looking. Then the water must be changed out again. Everyone purrs. Everyone drinks. I turn off the kitchen lights and race to the bedroom, jumping into bed and fumbling blindly to get the blankets arranged before Isabel arrives a few seconds later. She doesn’t like the blankets covering her, but refuses to move and complains mightily, so I have to make sure to get covered before she settles in. The blankets sorted, I snuggle down and close my eyes.

Light little footsteps at the right side of the bed, padding up toward my head. Whiskers play over my forehead as a nose snuffles in my hair. A tentative bite, fangs lightly grazing my scalp, and then a gargling sound as a mouthful of my hair is lightly shaken and pulled, then released. Done with whatever strange grooming she feels compelled to complete on her human, Isabel lightly settles for the night on my pillow.

Murphy does not arrive until a few minutes later – where does he go in those first moments? As I’m nodding off, I feel the bed shake slightly, then a heavy mass flop itself unceremoniously across my knees. Motorboat purring commences, accompanied by a g-r-a-d-u-a-l stretch and turn motion. He sleeps on his back, and always on a human heating pad. “How uncomfortable,” I think, “I should flip over and kick him off.”

Instead, like always, I fall asleep.

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2 thoughts on “Nighttime Rituals

  1. arlihama says:

    Now /that/ is a really long night ritual. I don’t think a university student like me could maintain that. I usually just set the alarm, lay down my head and nod off.

    Though, I have wanted to be able to give myself a good moisturizing on a regular basis. Now, I couldn’t even have five minutes to do that. Agh, I know your nightly ritual is kinda long. But at least you know you’re somehow lucky to even be able to have the time to make a habit like that.

    And I love how you describe your cats! Haha! My sister owns a dog right now, though. But it seems like she’s about to give her away. Aw, poor Cupcake.

    • Anna says:

      You’re right – when I was an undergrad, I only had one cat to deal with, and he did not get coddled when it was time for me to pass out. It was normally just me staggering home from either work or the library at 3am, and crawling into bed fully clothed. It’s funny how life changes in such a brief time; as it happens, I’m in the process of getting my second master’s degree, so I’m technically still a student. Now that I’ve been through this process a few times, I live the experience quite differently (plus, I’m getting my degree online, which cuts out probably 2/3 of the hassle). I vividly remember telling a friend at 21 that I wished we never had to sleep – there was so much to do and see, and so little time. Now I’m basically overjoyed to crawl into bed before midnight, lol!

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