I'm UP!!!!!

What is it Joni Mitchell says? You don't know what you've got till it's gone?

Like sleep, for example.

Commonly taken for granted, I've come to view it as the material of idle fantasy - probably the way other people think about porn (i.e., an apparently accessible, yet too-elusive goal).

If anyone knows a great cure for insomnia, by all means, write in.

I have both kinds, in that 1. I can't fall asleep, and 2. if I manage to drift off, I can't STAY asleep for more than an hour. (And during those rare naps, I have really odd dreams - the most recent of which involved both my dogs flying a plane. Which is absurd. Because they can't even drive. And last night, I dreamed I was whitewater rafting... through Fayette Mall.)

I've had to renew all my West Coast friendships, just so I always have someone to talk to at 4 am.

Before you even ask, YES, I have exhausted every homeopathic remedy I can think of. Warm baths. Tea. Exercise. (Last weekend, I took the dogs out to the country - where they pretty much lounged in the truck and watched me chase their toys around for quite some time -their general attitude being, "Fuck it. You threw it. You fetch it." And there I'm just quoting, because that Martha has a filthy mouth on her.)

Once I hit the end of the rope (as Steve Earle would say), as my repose dwindled down to two to three hours a night - I finally had to seek medical intervention. (My least favorite thing, right up there with doing my own taxes.)

And I got a prescription for something called Ambien.

It came with all manner of warnings, along the lines of: don't drink, don't drive, don't go in the water, don't run with scissors, don't take it while standing in an upright position.

The disclaimers were so vast and the warnings so lengthy, that I actually called for reinforcements - and I had some friends come over to WATCH me take it. (I SAW Requiem for a Dream and I do NOT want to turn into Ellen Burstyn.)

I had this idea that maybe I would just be felled like a big tree and they ought to be around to yell "Timberrrr," and to make sure I didn't hit my head on any sharp objects when I went down.

Not to worry.

We all gathered in my bedroom (we were going to be in there anyway, to watch the Sopranos). I instructed them to help themselves to the contents of the fridge (not wanting to be remiss in my hostess duties should I spontaneously lapse into a coma), handed over the remote (a big step for me), and instructed them on how they should lock up behind them when they left (taking care not to wake me from the pharmaceutical stupor I was eagerly anticipating).

I took my prescribed dosage and asked my friend Pru to keep an eye on his watch (since his knowledge of pharmacology is vast, albeit amateur) and monitor any effects.

(I figured he's DEFINITELY the guy I wanted around because he's probably the one person in my social circle I could count on to RIP open my blouse, mark on my boob with a Sharpie, and pound a syringe full of adrenaline straight into my heart... IF the occasion called for it... And not necessarily because he saw it on Pulp Fiction.)

Seven minutes? Nothing.

Twelve minutes... I think I blinked.

Twenty three minutes ... a yawn.

At 48 minutes, I showed no visible signs of drowsiness.

Pru (always an endless font of information in any situation involving chemical dependency) helpfully volunteered that I reminded him of some big rhinocerous on Wild Kingdom who just refused to go down, as they kept shooting her with tranquilizer dart after dart. Or, as our art director offered, like the opening scene in Jurassic Park where they're loading the dinosaur (who manages to eviscerate one of the handlers), and all you hear is "Shoooot hahhhh; shooooot hahhhh" in an Australian accent.

Unlike the rhino, however, I wasn't even staggering. I was traipsing back and forth to the kitchen and bringing back plates of cappacola, mortadella, and sopresata for everyone to enjoy.

This incident has prompted the staff here to begin planning for what they insist is the inevitable eventuality of my inchoate overdose.

Frankly, I think they're having FAR too much fun.

They're running around assigning hair and makeup duties - who's going to do my nails? where are the hot rollers? who's going to wax my legs? (so far: no takers.) Hop Sing's taken to keeping a spare Clinique raspberry glacé lip pencil in his pocket, just in case. Because I am pretty insistent about my shallow need to leave a good-looking corpse, should their efforts to revive me fail. (Which is why we all voted on "Obsession" as the appropriate perfume - just the thing to mask the acrid smell of charred flash when they apply the paddles - though I think Calvin Klein was wise not to incorporate that into the ad campaign).

The one thing I've insisted on is my choice of hospital - which I've selected because 1. it's folksy (I like that in a medical facility, and I learned this when they operated on my foot a few years back), 2. it's Catholic, 3. it's covered by my HMO, and 4. I know too many doctors at nearly every other hospital in town and I think they'd find it highly amusing to take pictures of me with a tube down my throat and charcoal all over my face. (And just so you know, I got that degree of specificity from a doctor I DATED who did his ER trauma rotation in New York, and NOT from any actual experience overdosing).

I just hope Kate Spade makes a bodybag for the cadaver who has everything.