Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stand Up And Be Counted




Artist's note: those are sheep. Sheep. They are not dogs with curly hair. They're sheep. So no smart remarks about dogs in the comment section. They're sheep.

Yes, I realize that sheep are cute. They're all fluffy and soft and you can turn them into sweaters and bleating sounds cool. But don't let them fool you. Sheep can make your life miserable in ways that are difficult to comprehend until you've experienced it yourself.

You see, sometimes I have a hard time sleeping. Either I'll toss and turn from the moment I get into bed, or else I'll fall asleep right away only to be woken up suddenly in the middle of the night. I'm never quite sure what it is that wakes me up...


...but it doesn't really matter.

What matters is that I'm awake in the middle of the night.

My first instinct is always to check the time. This is usually a mistake, as I then start calculating how much sleep I'll get if I fall back asleep that very instant.












And this is where the sheep come in.


(Please note: for the purpose of this story, we're going to assume that each sheep represents an infinite number of sheep of that particular colour. Making an infinite number of sheep would have taken way more time than I am willing to spend on making clay sheep. Although I should also note that the amount of time that I'm willing to spend on making clay sheep seems to be a lot higher than I would have originally thought.)

We hear it from the time we're little: when you can't sleep, count sheep.

So I try.

At first, it's ok.


The sheep jump over the wall in an orderly fashion,


one after another,


and I almost feel myself relaxing.


But then something happens. They start jumping faster and faster, one and then another and another, until they're just a blur. They're out of control, jumping much faster than I can possibly count them. I feel my stomach clench and the blood pump through my body. I squeeze my eyes shut tightly, trying to force the image of blurry flying sheep out of my head.


Too fast! Slow down! Stop jumping!

Listen to me!!!

Enough!

I'm now further from sleep than ever, and still the sheep fly through my brain.


I do the only thing that I possibly can under the circumstances.


I tear down the wall.


Actually, I don't tear it down so much as break it in two,


leaving a hole just wide enough for a single sheep.


The hole is the perfect width: wide enough that a sheep can push through it, narrow enough that each one will have to pick its way carefully.


Slow.


Calm.


Orderly.


And all is well until an extra fluffy sheep tries to squeeze its way through the hole in the wall. It gets stuck halfway through, and no matter how much it squirms and wiggles, it doesn't budge.


The other sheep pile up behind it, pushing and shoving and crowding.


More and more of them join the group, until there's a big bleating pulsing jostling crowd. I wave my arms, trying to get their attention, but the sheep ignore me.

This really isn't working for me.




Oh well. I may as well get up.

I could do a load of laundry, or write another chapter, or answer my emails, or play minesweeper, or make sure that the bank account is balanced, or learn to speak Spanish, or work out, or clean out the fridge.

Or I could just look for funny animal videos on youtube.


Yeah, I'll probably go with that last one.

97 comments:

  1. I walk myself through the plot of the Harry Potter series to get back to sleep when my brain is all racy. It works quite well.

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    1. Hmmmm...that's an idea. Although it's been a while...I'd probably have to re-read the books first.

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  2. Holy crap, I know they are horrible and anxiety inducing, but your little fluffy sheep are so CUUUTE.

    I have similar issues with sleeping. Also, there is a cat in my life (He Who Shall Not Be Named (or I might lose it and turn him into the Living Kitty Football)) walks around the room at 4AM knocking things over, crinkling paper, plastic, ripping things. He starts as soon as my sleep is distubed slightly for whatever reason.

    ANYWAY.

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    1. I don't always have sleeping issues. But when I do, it's so frustrating and anxiety-inducing. Oh, HWSNBN would be in BIG trouble in this house. I'm such a light sleeper. My dog wakes me up when he breathes too loud, let alone playing in the middle of the night.

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  3. You're absolutely right. Sheep are assholes.

    I tend to play tetris in my head. It doesn't always work, but at least I'm sort of entertained.

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    1. I love the idea of playing tetris in my head. When I used to play a lot (not to brag, but I'm basically the queen and high priestess of all things tetris), I used to see the blocks when I closed my eyes. It would be like returning to my youth!

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  4. This is why I take two Benadryl's and wear earplugs and and eyemask so my sleep starts off as undisturbed as possible. If I wake up in the middle of the night its usually because my brain starts singing a stupid song I can't get out of my head. (like the Augustus Gloop song).

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    1. Ha! I laughed out loud at Augustus Gloop. I remember getting "Light My Candle" from Rent stuck in my head for WEEKS. I would lay there, singing it over and over again, miserable and unable to sleep. So yeah...I can definitely relate to a song keeping you up.

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  5. I'm crying, Stephenie. CRYING.

    I was already enjoying myself having a grand ol' riot reading your sheep story and relating to every single second and then that frickin' video just pushed me right over the edge. OMG it's so ridiculous!!!! My own dog came up to my chair worried I was in distress b/c I was howling with tears streaming down my face.

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    1. And now, for the rest of your life, you're going to say "the bacon kind?" to the dog every time you give him a treat. Or maybe that's just me.

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  6. This is where I turn to medication! ;) I have had lifelong sleeping issues. I feel your pain.

    Your sheep are phenomenal btw.

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    1. Well, thanks! I really couldn't figure out how to make their faces NOT look like dogs. I've never taken any sleeping medication...although I will admit that on days when I'm sick with a cold or the flu and I drink one of those neocitran packets...I sleep so beautifully!

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  7. I have your answer. You cannot sleep because your sheets are made of terry cloth. Terry cloth is meant for towels, not sheets (or sheeps), so run on out to Target and buy some plain cotton sheets. You will notice a difference right away.

    (*please ignore this advice if you 1. cry in your sleep frequently, or 2. vomit when sleeping, or 3. wet your bed. In any of those cases, just keep on sheeping, ahem, SLEEPING, with the terry towels, as you might need the absorbency)

    xxo
    MOV
    ps-- you're welcome. just saved you lotsa $$$ you woulda had to spend on sleep-therapy

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    1. Thanks for the advice. Even if you are wrong. Why are you wrong? Because those sheets are made out of kleenex, which - let's be honest - is probably even worse than terry cloth. Unless you have a really bad cold.

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  8. Ditto -- LOVE the sheep!! I wonder if they head over to my house after they've left yours? -- because your night sure sounds a lot like some of mine (including last night). :p

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    1. Oh please take them! These sheep will be the death of me!

      Disclaimer: I actually love real live sheep. It's just the ones in my head that drive me crazy.

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  9. Those completely look like sheep! Counting down the hours of sleep you have left, classic. I have a meditation cd/itune I listen to at night, I barely make it past 2 minutes of that woman droning on before I pass out.

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    1. I'm not sure the cd would work for me. I can't sleep (or read, or think) if there's any music or talking going on. Unless it's a car chase in a movie...then I'm asleep within 30 seconds.

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  10. Not sleeping Sucks! I have no advice, only empathy. :(

    O.K. now about the Tetris comment above. If you are the Queen, can I atleast be on the royal court?I really and truly believed that I was the only living soul who at one time was sooooo addicted to Tetris that I played in my head. Strategized, planned, and oh, the feeling of the blocks sliding into their perfect position. I had the original black and white Gameboy in high school, and prided myself on my scores.I know what you are thinking, and NO I was not a social outcast, YES I had friends, YES I hung out with real boys, not just GAME boys, and ........Oh, you weren't wondering that ??
    So like I said, No advice for Insomnia, but I can give you something to look at instead of your alarm clock or pet videos on youtube at 3 in the morning. Ebay!!!! Let me know how much the old Tetris is goin' for.
    But hopefully for you, sleep is in your future tonight.Good Luck!

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    1. I love the old tetris. I didn't have a gameboy, but the whole family played it on the old Nintendo. That and Duck Hunt. I tried playing tetris on the X-Box, but it's too fancy. And the music's different. Bah.

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  11. Ha! I totally do that stupid "if I fall asleep right now I'll get x hours of sleep." That is so funny. My boyfriend put the alarm clock out in the living room because he hates the light that shines off the numbers (yes, he's crazy), which sort of helps, but I still get up sometimes around 3 or 4am when the cat starts getting ansty for breakfast and look at the clock.
    Love the sheep! I knew what they were. Thanks for teaching me the proper way to count them. I always just try to count a field full of sheep and quickly lose count and give up. It never works. I often try a trick I learned from Rudolph Steiner. It's more of a meditation in general for teachers, but it works. You go through your day backwards in as much detail as possible. It's harder than it sounds.

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    1. He might be crazy, but I actually started sleeping A LOT better once I got rid of my clock radio with glowing read numbers. Ha! I could definitely see that counting sheep in a field would be just as stressful as watching them leap over a wall. That's an interesting meditation technique...thanks for sharing!

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  12. You gotta love those night time sheep that are meant to put you to sleep. Mine are like yours they never behave. Reading your story reminded me of a Mr Bean sketch, see it here
    http://youtu.be/nKiNxnPcKHA
    It takes about 7 mins but you'll LOVE the way he finally gets to sleep.
    Sweet dreams

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    1. Haha! THanks for that link...I love Mr. Bean! And why didn't I think of that?!? Since my sheep always jump over or through a wall, I could just count how many go in the first 10 seconds and then multiply by infinity.

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  13. Oh, no!

    I tried counting sheep a few times. WAAAAY too distracting. I try to meditate instead now. It took me a while, but I'm finally getting passably good at it. :) (But I won't add my voice to the chorus of "you shoulds" ... I'll just say I hope you find some rest!)

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    1. Luckily, it doesn't happen anywhere near as often anymore. When I was teaching in public school, I'd have difficulties sleeping at least a few times a week. Now, it's a lot rarer. Although - ironically - I had a hard time sleeping last night. Anyway, I'm glad I'm not the only one who takes issue with the whole counting sheep thing.

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  14. Oh, you wrote a post about ME! This is so funny! I start thinking about everything right before I go to sleep and four hours later...still thinking. Then, the next day I am to tired to take care of the things I was thinking about all night long.

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    1. If there were just a way to turn all of those thoughts off, we would all sleep like babies. Except the kind of babies who sleep all night, not the ones who keep waking up and crying.

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  15. I love your sheep! Have you seen Shaun the Sheep (from the makers of Wallace and Grommit)? It's awesome!

    While I am sympathetic to your returning to sleep plight (I wake up most nights, but can usually go right back to sleep. Unless I'm angry about something. Then I stew.), I find your description of your efforts to get back to sleep hilarious. And the sheep are adorable!

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    1. No, not yet! I'm making a note right now to check out Shaun the Sheep. And I understand...I'm a stewer too. Actually, i'm more of a dweller, where I flip-flop between being mad and being worried every time I'm angry.

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    2. Shaun the Sheep is GREAT! I think you'll like it. As for sleeping, I have to sleep with earplugs otherwise the cat licking herself, birds, random outside noises, they all keep me awake. It stinks. Counting sheep hasn't really worked for me. Instead, I draw numbers in my head on an imaginary chalk board (or white board, your choice). I start with 1 and draw it slowly and carefully, then move on. You can start with 100 and go backwards if you like that better. :-)

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    3. scousewife, I love the idea of drawing on an imaginary chalk board! Thanks!

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  16. Kill them all!
    I know they're sheep! But - why are you holding a huge penis with a brick on the end?

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    1. Gasp! This is NOT that kind of a blog! I'm completely incensed. (And also BAHAHAHA. Now I'll never look at this story the same again.)

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  17. That used to be me - for years and years, every since I was a little kid. At least one night each week used to be like that, sometimes more. Usually, I'd get out my book and read. Can't do that anymore now, since that would wake hubby.
    I even went and got sleeping pills from my Doc, but rarely took them.
    It's gotten much better ever since I started taking L-Thyroxine last year.

    Oh, and your sheep are awesome (as areyoukiddingme said: absolutely go check out Shaun the Sheep). And that dog is hilarious. Poor guy ;-)

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    1. Mine absolutely disappeared during the six months or so when I didn't have to get up in the morning! I think I psych myself out by being afraid that I'm going to be tired in the morning when the alarm goes off. Self-fulfilling prophecy. And I'm definitely checking out Shaun the Sheep.

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  18. ok, if i will throw in that i knew they were sheep right from the first frame - and they are awesome sheep!!! you amaze me with your artistic creations, stephanie! i also love the lego wall.
    i SO relate as i do the whole "if i fall asleep now, i can still get x hours of sleep!" luckily, my insomnia has improved a lot...but i've had my share of sleepless nights and it's just a very stressful experience!!
    thanks for the great post, stephanie! hilarious, as usual, and i so enjoy your writing and humour.

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    1. My insomnia improved A LOT after I stopped teaching in the classroom. If I recall correctly, we've had this conversation before...and you and I once had the same teacher insomnia!

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  19. Dumb Remark: maybe they are sheep dogs!

    Thanks for making the Gweenbrick de Clay, cool!

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    1. I had this thought: When sheep can't sleep, I wonder if they ever count humans pole vaulting?

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    2. Hi Mr ESB I have come to haunt you in the wrong blog ..... No not really past passing through, a bit like the sheep. If this was facebook there would be a wall and all sorts and ...... OK enough back to what I was going to say

      Me I sleep like a log. Its one of those saying again since when has a log slept. No logarithm jokes either Mr ESB, I know what your like with those cunning ways with maths. Apparently according to the dog the reason I sleep like a log is because I'm barking HA HA HA HA Aha hahh hah hah ahhah hah hahah hah ........ Have I used this joke before? is it even a joke? .....right I'm off after all it is not my blog is it

      Sleep well everyone

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    3. I had fun making the clay gweenbrick!

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  20. Oh my! This has been my week with the sleep issues, but I did not invite any sheep to join me...thank goodness! Love the tearing down the wall scenes!

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    1. Don't. Don't even let the idea of sheep enter your consciousness if you're hoping to sleep even a little.

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  21. Those sheep are excellently formed! I would never have called them dogs. This post reminded me of this totally creepy youtube video of sheep which you shouldn't watch because it will give you nightmares. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQO-aOdJLiw&feature=related (and by that I mean you should TOTALLY WATCH THIS CLIP RIGHT NOW BECAUSE IT'S AWESOME... and creepy).

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    1. OH MY GOD!!! That was horrifying. And I loved it. But it was absolutely horrifying.

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  22. That was happening to me a lot for a while. In fact it happened Tuesday into Wednesday night. I just got up. I get to frustrated just being there, I toss and turn and wake Ralph. I get other things done. No good solution. I LOVE the dog video. I think that's the dog they use on an e-surance commercial showing here. Too funny, I have to show this to Ralph. He loves the dog!

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    1. I used to do that too, if I didn't have to work. But when I have to get up in the morning...well, then I usually stay in bed and stress until 5:00 or 5:30 when I finally give up and get up.

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  23. I can totally relate!! Whenever I wake up in the middle of the night, I'm terrified that I'll start thinking and not be able to shut my brain off to go back to sleep! =) You're just too funny and totally captured my interpretation of what it's like when you can't go back to sleep!

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    1. If only there were an on/off switch that we could hit during the wee hours of the almost-but-not-quite-morning...

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  24. I think this is my favorite story, ever ever.

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    1. Well in that case, I dedicate it to you!

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  25. I can relate to this...especially this week. For some reason, I can't sleep---I thought maybe it was stress (but when I'm being rational, I don't have much of that). Then I thought it was too much caffeine, but I cut down on that and it didn't make a difference.
    My plan today is to do something really strenuous (but not too close to bedtime) so I get really tired. I hope it works!
    I think your sheep are cute, and they look nothing like dogs! Good luck getting some sleep tonight!

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    1. I haven't been eating too much sugar yet, and I had four double chocolate cookies in the evening. I think that might have had something to do with it! I like the idea of doing some strenuous exercise. Actually, let me rephrase. I hate the idea (ha!), but I do think it might work! Tonight's my treadmill night.

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  26. I think that these dogs with curly hair are very cute. I want one since I love dogs, especially the bouviers who have curly hair. and the one the president of the usa has, the one from portugal. wow. you know your dogs.

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  27. I hate it when I can't fall asleep or when I wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep. I started taking half a unisom when I was pregnant and still take one fourth of one most nights. I sleep SO WELL!!! And I haven't google it to see if it's addictive because I don't want to know...

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    1. Some things, it's just better not to know. A little ignorance can be a beautiful, beautiful thing.

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  28. Lord help me yer honour, It jess came over me eh. I took it and used it up eh. I musta been drinkin or somethin.

    I borrowed your dog video and am using it on my site because it is funny. and stolen.

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  29. Hehehehehe. This is so perfect. Horrible insomnia tip #429: put alarm clock on hubby's side of the bed so you can't see the time. But then, in my case, I still reach for my glasses to see how many more hours I have, and that wakes me up more. The sheep are disgusted by my behavior.

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    1. I got rid of my clock too. I've been known to shake my husband awake and ask him what time it is. Ha! And disgusted sheep are good, because they go away.

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  30. I don't keep a clock next to my bed, which means I wake my husband up repeatedly to ask 'what time is it?'. Misery loves company. I loved this post, and I want to snuggle those sheep. It's a little disturbing.

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    1. Oh! I do that too! But I get mad if he wakes me up to ask me something. Ha!

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  31. I think you were in my bed last night. Only I fall deeply asleep before the alarm and then can't wake up. You should make clay baboons at night.

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    1. That's why I have to get up if it's only an hour before the alarm. There's nothing crueller than FINALLY falling asleep only to be woken up by the alarm...

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  32. Love the cf of sheep at the wall. That's awesome.

    I feel your pain. Especially the looking at the clock thing. Jason keeps telling me to put the clock where I can't see it, but that's actually MORE anxiety inducing for me. *sigh*

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    1. I googled "cf", but I didn't find anything that made sense. What's a cf? I mean, I think it's a crowd or a pile-up. But I'm not sure.

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  33. Your sheep are AMAZING!!! I think they are my favourite clay figures I have seen you make, I love them! They make me want a pet sheep.

    I do the exact same thing if I wake up in the middle of the night - look at the time and calculate how much sleep I'll get if I fall right back to sleep. I do love waking up and realizing that I still don't have to be up for hours though, as long as I can easily fall back to sleep...otherwise, it sucks.

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    1. Why thank you! They took forever, but I loved making the little curls. I don't mind waking up before the alarm too if I'm able to fall back asleep quickly (which basically means falling asleep before my brain fully turns on). The best is going to bed early, and then waking up and thinking it's almost time to get up...but then looking at your clock at it's only 11:00 at night! Best feeling ever, so long as the brain stays in sleep mode.

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  34. The sheep are awesome! But i kinda dislike them for keeping you up *shakes fists at sheep*
    Brilliant post as usual!

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    1. Ha! Thanks for the fist shake of solidarity. Much appreciated. Especially if you said "bah!" while shaking your fist.

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  35. Love the sheep, amazing job on them. I am afraid the sheep would make me suicidal so I will have to stick with Ambien.

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    1. Thanks! You're not the first person to suggest ambien. ;) Honestly, the best trick I've found...is to not have to get up in the morning. So long as i don't have to get up, then I sleep like a baby! Except the kind of baby who sleeps a lot.

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  36. Love the sheep! I've never actually tried counting sheep to go back to sleep. I think it would just keep me awake because I would challenge myself to see how high I could count :)

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    1. Ha! And then you'd lose count and have to start all over again.

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  37. This is one of the best favorite Clay Baboons posts yet! Awesome. Your sheep are so adorable, but I can see how they could turn threatening, too.

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    1. Thanks Detour! Honestly, I don't think they MEAN to be threatening. They don't make my life difficult on purpose. I can't find it in myself to be angry at them.

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    2. Yeah, their little sheep faces are way too cute to get/stay angry with.

      Hee! I apparently couldn't figure out what I wanted to say at first in my comment--meant to say either "one of the best" or "one of my favorite"! They're both true, so "best favorite" kinda worked.

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  38. This is so funny. I thought I might die reading it (do I add that part of my death might be caused by painful sympathy?) I suffer from horrible insomnia sometimes, and suddenly my sweet, innocent demeanor becomes beastly. I'm sort of like Jeckle and Mr. Hyde.

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    1. Oh, please don't die. If you die, I'll have a guilty conscience. It will keep me up at night. And I do NOT need that. Like you, I get cranky when I'm tired. I also get cranky when I'm hungry. Life is better for everyone around me if I'm well fed and rested!

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  39. That is so me! The calculating and thinking and wanting to not be thinking. But not with cool clay sheep. They're extra awesome.

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    1. And the more you think about not thinking, the more you think. It's a vicious circle.

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  40. There you go making me literally laugh out loud again.

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  41. This is awesome. I mean really, truly awesome. And now I will share it with the world! Well, with Twitter. :)

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  42. Those are the cutest little dogs I have ever seen! You should start a fluffy-haired dog making business! Love it!

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  43. Cutest sheep ever! But I have an idea for you. Next time, why don't you try counting cute, curly dogs? (You'd also save tons of time not having to remake them...maybe a nap?)

    How have I never seen your blog before? I'm in love!

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  44. Love the sheep and the story! You are pretty darn creative for being sleep-deprived, I couldn't make those cute little sheep after 36 hours of sleep!

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  45. Hahhaha I get sleep anxiety too. BOOO not fun.

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  46. Ahhh yes..... I usually get up and tip toe around the house. The keyboard makes too much sound for the husband asleep in his recliner, so he eventually gets up in a huff and goes to bed. Or (gasp) I work! Horrible side effect of working from home!

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  47. Oh my gawd you never cease to entertain and amaze. I so want to come hang out in your clay world. You're special. As in the I heart you in your little clay face way! And I hope you get some sleep.

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  48. You and your sheep (CLEARLY, they are sheep) have completely made me happy today. Hope you sleep tonight!

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  49. Your piece is great, but you can make clay sheep??? What a cool thing to do and your pics are great! Love it, Erin

    PS---why aren't you on the other grid?? Hint Hint

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  50. Have you ever considered counting dogs instead? ;)

    Seriously, your sheep are adorable and annoying for getting all crazy and fast and crowded on you. I can see why counting them would become a problem. They are cute though. Maybe instead of counting, you should just let their cuteness lull you into a gentle slumber.

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  51. I ADORE your little sheep!! They are so cute! (even if they make you crazy) Also, your stream of consciousness thinking in the middle of the night is so spot on. That's why I have a TV in my room. It drowns out all the voices...er, I mean, thoughts :)

    Loved this.

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  52. this is amazing, especially the lego fence jumping sheep.

    i will admit i can't relate, drives my husband crazy - i can fall asleep at any time under any circumstances.

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  53. I have had so many of those kind of nights that I think we are twins.

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