Insomnia (humor column)

(photo courtesy of Pixabay)

In yesterday’s blog post about the free writing exercises I did in a session with Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff, authors of Queen of Your Own Life, at the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, I mentioned a column that had run in Refreshed Magazine that won a 2015 Evangelical Press Association Award. I’d been surprised to learn about the honor, because I didn’t even know the column had been submitted to the contest.

In fact, the column had originally run in the Christian Voice Magazine, I think, and was reprinted in my book, “What the Dog Said“. It was borne from a free writing exercise; I set a timer, wrote, and hoped something wonderful would come out. Success.

(Side note: I’m not really big on awards, but I will say that I am really proud of the fact that this column won an award from a religious organization, despite the fact that there is zero religious content. It’s just a general, humorous piece, and it got a perfect score from the judges, proving that humor doesn’t have to fit into a box to resonate with readers.)

I realized today that the link to the column reprint was no longer working, so here, here’s the column. This was pretty much what I wrote in the 10 minute writing sprint. See, you don’t have to be a genius to be a writer. You just have to write.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

INSOMNIA

It’s after midnight and I can’t sleep.

I have a column due in the morning and I have no idea what I’m going to write about, so I keep turning over thoughts in my head. The problem is that the column ideas are being pushed aside by weightier items demanding my attention.

Take the fortune cookie I ate today.

When I cracked it open, I was stunned to see that my fortune said, “Ganaras mucho dinero.” The translation on the other side: “You will earn a lot of money.”

Earn a lot of money? Do you know what humor columnists are paid? And why was my Chinese fortune in Spanish? (And where were my lucky numbers?)

Were these cookies destined for a Chinese restaurant in Mexico and intercepted on the black market before they landed on my grocery store shelf? Are they irregular cookies (which would explain why they were on sale)? And if so, I hope they were safe to eat, since I ate the whole box. (And yes, all of the fortunes were in Spanish.)

These are the things that keep me up at night.

Here’s another one: Before I go to bed, I jot down in my journal some notes about the day – what I did, where I went, who irritated me, what my dog Bandit ate and then barfed up. I noticed tonight that my handwriting today looks nothing like my handwriting in yesterday’s entry or the entry from the day before, which got me thinking.

What if my Spanish fortune cookie comes true and I make a lot of money as a famous writer and a hundred years from now my great-great-grandchildren take my journals to the “Antiques Roadshow” and the experts deem them fake because they think the entries were written by more than one person?
Even I can’t read my own writing sometimes, so how can I expect a complete stranger to decipher my chicken scratch? My poor great-great-grandchildren. Robbed of their inheritance, all because I have bad handwriting.

Does anyone use a key to open their car door anymore? Don’t we all have those little beepy things? So why do they still make lock de-icer?

And while I’m on the subject, what happens if Bandit manages to eat my car keys, something he attempts several times a day? When I want to unlock my car, will I have to squeeze the dog until he beeps?

Who determines the sizes on women’s clothing? How come I can fit into a size 8 from one store but have to wear a size 12 from another store? Making the clothing bigger and labeling it with a smaller size does not satisfy my ego; it just means that when I try on clothes I have to try on three sizes of the same item, which takes three times as long and leaves me three times as frustrated.

How does the mailman get his own mail? Is it delivered to “Jimmy at the Post Office” or does it get delivered to his house? Does he deliver his own mail, and if not, does he know his mailman’s name? Does his mail ever get delivered to the wrong house or get rolled into a ball and shoved into the mail slot, the way it gets delivered to my house whenever Jimmy the Mailman is on vacation?

If I have to get a real job, I wonder if they’d let me train sea lions. I think I would like that job. I’d teach them to clap their flippers every time I walked into the room. I bet that would do a lot for my self-esteem, even if deep down I knew they were only doing it for the fish.

Why does Facebook think it knows so much about me? I took a personality quiz the other day called “Which character on Gilligan’s Island are you?” Turns out I am not sultry Ginger or the brilliant Professor, like I had hoped. I’m Gilligan.

And when Facebook posted the results – that I’m a loveable, adorable goofball – everyone agreed that pretty much described me.

Adorable goofball? Is that how I’ll be remembered when I die?

Maybe I need to go find someone to yawn in front of me so I can go to sleep. It worked in “Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book.” Maybe it will work for me.

After all, I have a column due in the morning and I really need to come up with something to write about.

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