Monday, September 14, 2009

Interrupted sleep

Early this morning the very bizarre dream I was having was interrupted by the sound of tweeting birds. I lifted my head off the pillow and squinted at the clock. Still early.

Not knowing why I heard birds, but realizing my bladder was particularly full, I got out of bed to use the bathroom, thinking all the while about what a good night's rest I had had. Usually I feel like I'm sleeping on a spit:

Sleep for an hour. Get up, use the bathroom. Fall asleep on my left side. Sleep for an hour. Leg cramp--get up, stretch it. Use the bathroom. Fall asleep on my right side. Sleep for an hour. Rachel wakes up crying. Get up, make sure she's alright. Use the bathroom. Fall asleep on my left side. Sleep for an hour. Another leg cramp. Get up, stretch it out, and use the bathroom (because if I don't I'll probably just wake up in another hour). Try to coax Miriam back to sleep. Fail. Stay awake while she kicks my innards to death. Finally fall asleep....Wake up with Rachel two inches from my nose. Lift her onto the bed and drop her on Andrew. Inform him that I'm sleeping in and he's helping her get breakfast. Go back to sleep for an hour.

My nights have been...restless...

This morning, though, I realized that I had only woken up once in the middle of the night. Here it was, not quite 7:00 AM and it was only my second time getting up. Must have been my bladder that woke me up; it's used to being emptied more frequently.

Before I went to bed, though, I heard birds chirping again. Not in a cheerful in-the-leafy-treetops-the-birds-sing-good-morning kind of way, but in an annoying, urgent, mechanical way. Our doorbell?

I checked the clocks to make sure I really knew what time it was. This is tricky because none of our clocks are even close to telling the correct time. For example, right now, the clock in the living room says 9:25, the clock in the bedroom says 8:54, the clock on the satellite receiver says 11:30. We're pretty sure the clock in the living room is as close to real time as anything. The satellite clock is supposed to be spot on, except that Egypt is doing this strange un-daylight savings thing and it's set for Dubai time, anyway, whatever time zone that is. Not ours, that's for sure.

All my clocks said it was early in the morning, too early to just fling my door open, at any rate.

I peeked through the peep hole. No one was there, but our neighbour's door was open. She's a self-proclaimed eccentric. I went back to our bedroom and climbed into bed.

"Was that the doorbell?" Andrew asked.

"Yeah," I sighed, "It's just Anna. I'm not answering it."

Anna sleeps naked. At least, we assume she does because we've seen her with nothing but an open housecoat draped across her frame. And Anna's eccentric. There are only so many times we want to encounter her in a given week. She's always ringing our doorbell, smelling like she just walked out of a bar no matter what time of day it is, and asking for money to pay her maid, or a box of matches, or for us to come over to visit, or for us to help her prepare for a visit from Egypt's first lady, or to help her get a crazy, rabid cat out of her apartment. And once she fed my baby bad watermelon and made her puke all over the house.

So we kind of avoid her.

Andrew got out of bed when she rang the doorbell for a third (or more) time, not to answer the door, but to spy.

By the time he had made it to the door she was already at our other neighbour's house, ringing their doorbell. He answered, pretty grumpily.

"Go back inside, Anna," he said, "Put some clothes on!"

Oh, good! He knows her, too!

"There is gas! There is gas! Leak! In my kitchen! Very dangerous!"

"Call the landlord then," he suggested.

"I am call! No answer! You must help me! Come to my kitchen."

Never mind the fact that Anna has a husband she could wake up to check her kitchen, our neighbour followed Anna across the hall pulling up his pants as he went. At least he sleeps in boxer shorts. They disappeared into her house.

"There's nothing wrong, Anna," he insisted, "I don't smell any gas. I don't hear any gas. There's no leak. Everything's fine. Go back to bed."

"No! No! No! This is very big problem! Very, very big problem, I think! You must help me!"

"There is nothing I can do because nothing is wrong. Even if there was something wrong, I wouldn't know what to do about it. Call the landlord."

"Don't leave me here to die!" she shrieked, "My apartment is all gas! Is full of gas!"

He called an Egyptian fix-it-guy who arrived within minutes. Maybe it was the bowab? We don't know because we never see the bowab. He also insisted that nothing was wrong and that they couldn't smell the gas that Anna was 'smelling.'

So everyone left her, standing in the hall, naked (except for her open bathrobe), and panicking.

After a few minutes she ran to the stairwell, leaned over the edge and called out,

"Bethany! BETHANY!"

And then she walked calmly into her apartment. We haven't seen her resurface since, but I've heard some interesting noises and some funky music playing so I'm sure she's alright.

Andrew didn't come back to bed right away. He had looked up symptoms for gas poisoning just to see if they were different from the symptoms of being crazy and drunk. They are. And Anna wasn't really acting like she was experiencing gas poisoning. Andrew somehow convinced himself that he was, though.

He came back to bed and whispered, "Do you have a headache?"


"Are you nauseated?"


"Are you tired?"

"Yes. Can we go back to sleep before Rachel wakes up?"

"What if there really is a gas leak over there? What if we go to sleep and never wake up?"

"Our windows are wide open and we have fans blowing. I think we're okay over here. Besides, I feel fine."

"Will you go open Rachel's window, just in case. I'm feeling a little dizzy..." he whimpered.

Perhaps he was suffering from guilt; he should have checked on things for Anna instead of merely spying. The way he checks the kitchen for me is by sparking our lighter, which isn't exactly the safest way to check but it is rather effective at proving a point.

We went back to bed and slept for an hour...story of my life.


  1. Nancy, that is terrible. Anna certainly does not make your life boring, thats for sure. I am sure after a few eccentric moments she would become annoying to me as well. I agree it is best to keep your distance from her, but then again, what if there is a REAL emergency? Hmmmm....well, try to get comfy. It's only 9-months of uncomfortable sleeps, wakes, aches, and pains for a beautiful baby to grace your presence. You already know this. Hope you sleep better tonight and the next and the next.

  2. If there were to be a real emergency, someone would have checked it out. Someone always does, between our neighbours and us, I suppose. :) She's very persistent.

    9 months plus a few years of nightly wakings...but they sure are cute. :)