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The Sweeper Knows the Time
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sleep

I haven't been sleeping well lately, and I'm not sure why. It has something to do with the fact that I've been self-employed for the last few months. When I still had the 9-6 gig, I slept a good, solid, hard seven or so hours a night. I think that had something to do with the fact that I looked upon my job for the last couple years as a prison, and sweet slumber was one of my few escapes. It makes me hypothesize that people in China sleep wonderfully. Or Cuba. Sure, living under Stalin's rule was terrible, but I bet those Russians slept like babes. But that's another story.

With this newfound freedom comes plenty of newfound anxiety. The fun part is this anxiety is rooted deep in my subconscious. I don't feel it, really. I don't think about it. I don't go to bed at night wondering, "Is this darned anxiety going to keep me up?" I lie down as I imagine everyone does, close my eyes, and wait for nothing to happen. Or more often, I fall asleep quickly, but wake up at four or five in the morning having to piss. Now, I know this doesn't sound odd to most people. Most women, and most men with prostate trouble, probably get up several times a night. But this is new to me. I never get up. My bladder has always been an impenetrable fortress, not so much keeping out the invaders as keeping the citizens in. Which brings me back to Cuba ...

So, it's about six o' clock one morning (if you read closely, with a magnifying glass and a finely-toothed comb, there's a point in here somewhere), and I'm sitting in the bathroom "thinking." Now, this also may not seem odd to you, but it's new to me. I rarely think so early. In fact, you can usually set a watch to my thinking patterns. But regularity be damned, here I think, and outside the bathroom window I hear the sound of sweeping. In this day and age of leaf blowers and other motorized lawn gadgets, that sound seems quite foreign, archaic, and exciting. Hell, any time I see a rake in Los Angeles, my heart absolutely goes pitter-patter.

This sweeping began to remind me of the countless times I "got" to sweep my parents' garage (thanks again, Dad!). But this sweeping is different. This sweeping is persistent. This sweeping has it's own steady rhythm. It's as if the sweeper has an internal metronome. Maybe it's where her heart used to be. Because a heartbeat is not this exact. It was as impressive as it was eerie. Mostly because I had forgotten that people are actually up and working before 9 a.m.

Suddenly, my wife appears in the crack in the door, nearly scaring the think right out of me. I'm startled mostly because, although she's an early riser, I am not. She tells me that her grandmother has died. This is not surprising. My wife is the product of a non-traditional upbringing, so she has had many grandmothers, great and regular, and this one was 97. All death is sad to some extent, but this is the variety that is also a bit of a relief, given her quality of life at the time. Whenever I hear someone over the age of 90 has passed away, the first thing I think is "good." Now, that may seem terrible, but I haven't known anyone that passed that milestone and really had a life worth living. As I write this, my sole surviving grandparent (my dad's mom) is 95, and when my parents visit her, her two favorite discussion topics are a) my bowel movements are absolutely nutty, and not in the good way, and b) why won't Jesus take me now, I'm more than ready. This is why I've told my wife that if and when I hit 80, I'm going to put a gun in my mouth and make bad imitation Jackson Pollack all over the wall. I'm usually only about half-joking. I think that Hemingway guy was on to something. Suicide isn't a sin. Sometimes it's just the sanest, most serene option.

So, this is a lot to think about early in the morning, when I was already thinking quite a bit. I'd been thinking so long, I wasn't sure what time it was. And outside the sweeper kept sweeping. I bet she knew the time.

end of essay
Chad Schnaible Portrait Chad is a writer, director, finagler, prestidigitator, and amateur Lewis & Clark historian who hangs his hat in Sherman Oaks. He's the founder and editor-in-chief of CSP, and a founding producer of the acclaimed Lucid by Proxy theater company (oh, wait, that's David). When not presidigitating, Chad likes to play poker. Really likes to play poker. Seriously, anyone know the number to Gamblers Anonymous? Chad lives with his beautiful actress wife, who dragged him first to Missifrickinssippi, then to the Los Angeles area. He also rooms with three cats and a rabbit. That damn rabbit is always late with the rent. We need to have a house meeting. | more essays by Chad
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