Why I’m dreaming of modafinil

Guy wonders why I need to get up at 4am and why I need that stay-awake drug. So, let me take you thru my morning…

At approximately 4am, the cats (all 4 of them) begin to stir. This wakes the dog, who feels it is incumbent upon him to protect us from the intrusion of the cats. He jumps out of the bed, chases a cat down the stairs, then returns to pounce on the bed and alert us in celebration of his victory. He repeats this for each cat.

By this time it is 4:30am and my alarm starts its insistent bleating at a frequency carefully calibrated to make my abdominal muscles contract, lifting me into a fully sitting position. When I finally find the snooze button (which seems to migrate around the top of the clock radio so it is never where I expect it to be) so to silence my alarm, Jenn’s alarm sounds, blasting bad nu-metal at 130dB just in case Pete Townsend needed to hear Puddle of Mudd through his tinnitus while standing next to the nacelle of a 767. She doesn’t hear it.


The cats are on their second round of dog-baiting as I begin the long and frantic journey across our king-size bed to shut my wife’s alarm. The dog, sensing that I am moving and therefore may need someone to accompany me, or better yet, may be ready to play his eternally-fascinating game of try-to-get-the-slimy-ball-out-of-my-mouth-so-I-can-chase-it-down-the-stairs, places himself between my wife and me. The song has ended by now, replaced by the even-louder and more annoying DJ, when I finally slap the snooze button and breathe a sigh of relief until I realize that — as I do every morning — I’ve forgotten to to shut my alarm and it is going to begin bleating any second now.

I push at the inanimate lump which is my dearly beloved, until, like a golem, she is suddenly imbued with the breath of life and slowly lumbers towards the bathroom, her eyes as tightly closed as a newborn kitten’s. Two seconds after she is in the shower, she will remember that she has forgotten to bring up a towel from the laundry room last night and would I mind grabbing one for her.

Stumbling down one flight of stairs to the linen closet, while the animals are stampeding past me to the kitchen which is one flight further down, I grab the towel and avoid the dog who is passing me again on the way back up to the bedroom. He attempts to bar my way at the top of the stairs, slimy ball still in mouth, but I avoid him, duck into the bathroom, closing the door and handing my wife the towel. She grunts her thanks and reminds me not to turn the hot water too high lest I freeze her sensitive skin. I wash my face and brush my teeth with with water the temperature of an Alaskan glacial stream in mid-February, reminding me — just in case I’d forgotten — where each and every dental cavity and filling is located.

Refreshed, I head downstairs to put the water up to boil for coffee. I am greeted by the cats scolding me for making them wait so long and promising that they’ll have to start waking me earlier if I don’t start getting a move-on in the morning. I sprinkle their kibbles in thheir bowls, shooing the dog away with my foot, then pour his kibbles into his bowl. He doesn’t touch his food — won’t touch his food — until I have tossed his two vitamins into his bowl. I have about 15 seconds now to grind the coffee beans and put them in the filter cone before the dog is done eating and begins whining in that threatening tone which means “my bladder is going to burst on the kitchen floor unless you take me outside this instant.”

He and I head down another flight of stairs, where he waits patiently and obediently at the door until I come near with the leash, which is a signal for him to begin jumping up and down in excitement, making it nearly impossible to actually attach the hook to his collar. When we are finally clipped together, I open the door and step outside. He waits until I give the signal for him to come outside. The signal has not been agreed upon between the two of us, so it is open to his own interpretation; today’s signal must be some imperceptible gesture I made with my pancreas, so upon noting the signal, he takes off out the door, testing the elasticity of my elbow and shoulder tendons. He moves faster than light for the 35 feet between the door and the edge of our property, then comes to an impossibly short stop at the lawn’s end because — horrors! — he may get his feet wet. He tiptoes gingerly from grass hummock to grass hummock, sniffing each to find just the right spot to foul.

When he’s finished, we head back in at the same speed as we headed out, making sure the results of my bodily elasticity test remain consistent. Up a flight to where the water is now boiling and my wife, terry-cloth turbaned is sitting on the couch in the living room, trying to find the most annoying program on TV to entertain her while she puts on her face. She asks if the coffee is done yet, knowing it isn’t, but hinting to me that if I don’t provide her with her coffee fix, she will be unable to cope with the pressures and difficulties of her one-hour commute to work and her nine- or ten-hour day of managing a bookstore, matching idiots and illiterates with the books they need — and dealing with the customers besides.

While the coffee is dripping, I start to put together a healthy lunch for each of us, even though I know that a week from now, she will be bringing home the apple I am giving her today, along with 3 or 4 other fruits and vegetables which she didn’t have time to eat because she had to deal with inane questions from mental defectives — and questions from customers, besides. The dog is sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, panting excitedly every time I open the refrigerator, waiting for me to toss him the baby carrots which are his raison d’etre. The orange cat, meanwhile, is pacing the counter, flirting with the open flame under the teakettle, meowing and ordering me to turn on the faucet so he can drink some water, because — heaven forfend! — he should never have to drink from the bowl!

The lunches made, I bring my wife her coffee, fixed just the way she likes it, and I sit as long as I can, pretending I am not seeing Glenn Close slicing her wrists and thinking up recipes for boiled rabbit while Michael Douglas, smug mofo that he is, prepares to go home to his wife, who will most likely take him back afterwards, cuz it couldn’t have been his fault that he slept with that psycho-slut, and besides, if she doesn’t take him back, she’s gonna have to pay someone to fix all the water damage and the re-caulking of the tub…

Jenn heads upstairs to finish getting dressed, dog in tow, while I sneak downstairs to get five minutes in front of the computer before its time for me to get in the car, head to work, check my e-mail, then run over to the gym when it opens at 7:00 in order to get a place on the elliptical trainer where I can put in 30 minutes of self-torture before running back to work, showering and sitting at my desk and falling asleep.

So, Guy… any other questions?