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FAMILY BED VITAMIN ZZZ

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VITAMIN ZZZ: Spring 2019 FAMILY BED Produced by SleepyHeadCENTRAL.com; edited by Tamara Sellman RPSGT CCSH. All rights reserved. Images included in this digital publication are permitted for use as described in credit captions, or are public domain, or are credited below:                   Cover image: "Elephant seal colony, Piedras Blancas beach, near San Simeon, California," courtesy CillanXC (CC BY-SA 3.0).                           Page header image: "Quilt detail: Girl in Bonnet," 2019, courtesy Marion Cohen, who also made the quilt in the image. No part of this digital compilation may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher. For information permissions for reprints or excerpts, contact Tamara Sellman at sleepyheadcentral@gmail.com. For more information about SleepyHeadCENTRAL.com, please visit the website at www.sleepyheadcentral.com. The content of this publication is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. While the editor and publisher is a board-registered polysomnographic technologist and certified clinical sleep health educator, she is not a doctor and it is beyond her scope of practice to issue diagnoses or prescribe therapies. However, general content found at SleepyHeadCENTRAL.com may be useful if you are in need of general sleep health information.


VITAMIN ZZZ

A digital literary quarterly devoted to sleep

SPRING 2019

FAMILY BED Edited by Tamara Sellman RPSGT CCSH

A PUBLICATION OF SLEEPYHEADCENTRAL.COM


VITAMIN ZZZ

FAMILY BED

TABLE OF CONTENTS

About Vitamin Zzz 6 FAMILY BED: An Introduction by editor Tamara Sellman 7 COMMUNAL NEST Lois Marie Harrod 9 TWO GIRLS, ONE BED Kim Ross 10 WAKING THE CHILD Bill Abbott 12 TO SAY GOODNIGHT AND MEAN HELLO Marion Cohen 13 THE FAMILY BED: 13 REASONS Marion Cohen 14 THE QUILT Marion Cohen 17 BINKY AND I PLAY HOSPITAL Marion Cohen 18 ON SLEEPLESS NIGHTS WHILE A CHILD Reni Roxas 19 THE CLOSET Morrow Dowdle 20

GROWTH SPURT Taylor Bruck 21 EARLY THUNDER, ATLANTA Ann Cefola 22 CEILING ART Rick Blum 23          SLEEPING AT GRANDMA'S HOUSE Patrick Cabello Hansel 24 THE BIG BED John Davis 25  SWEET NIGHTS Renee Scandalis 26 IN THE HOUSE OF MY CHILDHOOD CJ Muchhala 29 A BEDTIME STORY IN FIVE PARTS Kathleen Hayes Phillips 30 DREAM HOUSE Larry Pike 32 FULL HOUSE F.I. Goldhaber 33


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THE BLIND MAN DREAMS Gail Entrekin 34 CHANCES Gail Entrekin 35

VITAMIN ZZZ

Publisher

Acknowledgments 36

SleepyHeadCENTRAL.com

Call for submissions 37

Editor, Production & Design

About SHC 38 (back cover)

Tamara Sellman RPSGT CCSH Contact Information SleepyHeadCENTRAL ATTN: Tamara Sellman 321 High School Road NE PMB 204, Ste. D-3 Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 Comments, questions & feedback: 206.289.0671 Business inquiries only: 206.618.7348 sleepyheadcentral@gmail.com


VITAMIN ZZZ

FAMILY BED

ABOUT VITAMIN ZZZ

Vitamin ZZZ is a digital literary quarterly dedicated to all things related to the biological process of sleep. It is intended to be read for enjoyment, but it can be seen as an instrument for sleep health advocacy, public health awareness, and patient education.

Editor Tamara Sellman RPSGT CCSH is no stranger to the world of literary publishing. A freelance writer with a degree in Journalism (specialty: magazine editing and publishing) from Columbia College Chicago ('90), she is a seasoned publishing professional with over 30 years of expertise.

First-hand experiences in publishing since 2000 include work as publisher and editor of Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism (2000 to 2007) and its zine edition, Periphery (2003 to 2006); publisher of the limited edition Southern Revival chapbook, which raised enough funds to replace lost books in an entire small town library following Hurricane Katrina (2006); founder of Writer's Rainbow Literary Services (2009 to 2012), where she served as creativity coach, developmental editor, online workshop teacher, blogger, and literary community leader; and project manager for Penumbra: Speculative Fiction from the Pacific Northwest (2011), among other projects. She is a widely published, award-winning poet, essayist, journalist, and fiction writer with two Pushcart Prize nominations and other accolades (see www.RhymesWithCamera.com). Her journalism credits date to the mid-1980s.

Sellman established her credential as a registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT) in 2013 and was one of the first in the world to become board certified in clinical sleep health education (CCSH) in 2014. She currently produces SleepyHeadCENTRAL.com, Vitamin ZZZ, a weekly column ("While You Were Sleeping: This Week in Sleep Medicine") for the American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST), sleep technology training modules also for the AAST, and contract work for sleep clinics, online health publications, and nonprofits.

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FAMILY BED: AN INTRODUCTION

Last weekend was Mother's Day, and I couldn't help but think about the various ways in which my life has been touched by the sharing of a sleeping arrangement. I once described my youngest as a "furnace" when she slept in our bed as a toddler. She finally slept in her own "big girl" bed during a family vacation in a cottage by the sea. She was also my frequent post-dinner hammock companion when we snuggled outside on the deck overlooking the woods, talking about the possibility of forest fairies. My oldest, meanwhile, continues to have a bedroom inspired by Old McDonald's bovine influences: the space is barn red with white trim and features shelves of plush cows (with a few bulls, buffaloes, and giraffes thrown in for good measure). She has already flown the coop, but this comforting room exists and will likely be the hardest to dismantle emotionally once we downsize. Family beds seem intent upon their inclusion of children, but beds in any household belong to all who live there, including those who may be suffering from illness (see Gail Entrekin's "The Blind Man Dreams" on p34), or who may not be human at all, but a furry family member ("Full House," by F.I. Goldhaber on p33, or "The Big Bed," by John Davis on p25). Let's not forget the times we don't sleep in beds at all (see Martin Dowdle's "The Closet," p20), or we might be sleeping with those who've left us behind and yet remain where we remember them (Ann Cefola, "Early Thunder, Atlanta," p22). Renee Scandalis' missive about co-sleeping is timeless and relevant. These choices often elicit judgment from friends, families, even strangers. I believe her story will inspire others to think carefully before condemning what is meant to be a personal decision. I hope you enjoy the details of Marion Cohen's handmade quilts, which adorn this issue's pages. I'm a big admirer of quilts as functional art, and still have (and use) the quilt my mother made for me back when times were simpler. (I've also saved favorite outfits from my girls' childhood for potential quilted wall hangings when those days arrive.) Thank you to Marion for sharing these cozy images from her family's history.                               

~ Tamara Sellman, editor

            

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"Rhymes from the Rheinland." Alice Howland Goodwin. 1913. Public domain image.

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COMMUNAL NEST

to crawl into bed with us,

For Sam

too soon we will be too old

They’re almost over now,

to be here in this bed.

the years you sneak into our bed before Mommy wakes up

We'll be snoring off elsewhere,

other boxes or sheets,

your sleepy little, grinning little face turning between us, grandma, grandpa, Lulu and PopPop, Lulu and PopPop.

maybe 30 years from now

when you lie down in the grass

that was us, maybe a child giggling,

Isn’t everything this repetition,

jumping on your chest.

small bodies relaxing, twitching small muscles, small skins?

Lois Marie Harrod

Your uncle too snuck in with us, our baby boy. I will show you the picture of him in his great grandfather’s lap,   he’s bright in the sun,

LOIS MARIE HARROD nests in Hopewell, NJ, where she photographs bird nests and spider nests and sometimes thinks of nesting dolls and nesting stories in the middle of the night.

great grandfather shaded. Too soon you will be too old

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TWO GIRLS, ONE BED

It was hard for Mary to go to sleep if she and Ruth were fighting. The whole family shared one room—Mom and Dad in a down bed by the window, Bud on a sleeper-cot in the middle and Mary and Ruth on a small, cotton-stuffed mattress on a hand-made platform closest to the door. In winter the warmth of the kitchen woodstove barely reached the bedroom. Mom heated bricks in the oven, pulling them out at bedtime and wrapping them in flannel. The children buried the bricks under the covers near their toes and for as long as that heat lasted their feet felt cozy and unlikely to freeze. But even with thick nightgowns, heated bricks, and a heavy pile of quilts, Mary and Ruth huddled into each other for warmth. It is hard to carry a fight through to morning with someone whose back is pressed into yours for sleep. In spring the quilts came off one-by-one—as the birds returned and thunderstorms fed the thawing soil, pushing wheat and corn into tall, green oceans—until only Grandma Rezac’s quilt remained. Grandma Rezac and her sisters had made the quilt when they were young, before they married and raised their children. It had soft blue cotton backing and a pattern of fans like sprays of roses in a turquoise sea. Even on the hardest days—when Ruth got after her about farm chores, or interrupted her fights with Bud, or threatened to tell Mom and Dad that she was the one who let the chickens get into the molasses—just the sight of that quilt brought on a yawn of Mary’s defenses coming down. Pulling the quilt up over her shoulders was like Grandma Rezac tucking her in to sleep. As spring gave way to summer, and the bedroom turned into an oven fit for baking bread, Mary, Ruth and Bud fled to the screened-in porch where cool night breezes soothed their eyelids and the drones of crickets and katydids lured them off to dreams. The three children lay side-by-side on the metal-spring fold-out cot, keeping enough space between them that their sweat might evaporate.

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Any anger Mary had held onto would evaporate right along with it. Screech owls and mockingbirds might try to wake them. Farm dogs might yip. Coyotes might howl. But Mary would be lost to the waking world until the rooster crowed and the clank of milking pails echoed across the yard. On the hottest nights—the suffocating nights of mid-summer, when the blistering breath of the day pressed upon you with a special ferocity if you tried to hide—Mary stalked out with Bud and the farm-hands, to sleep in the dusty open. She faced the night on the hay-rack, a wagon rigged for harvest, unprotected from the stimulating influence of a sky full of stars. On those nights Mary dreamed with her eyes open. On those nights Mary filled her lungs with constellations of creek and willow and chirping frogs. On those nights Mary forgot everything but the sight of bat- and owlshaped shadows dancing across the sparkling heavens. In autumn, with the harvest from the garden in jars and crates and barrels in the cave, with the crackle of fallen leaves kicked into drifts by the wind, with the chill in the air as the three children walked with their friends to and from their one-room school, Mary looked forward to quilts and flannels and leaning into Ruth. Because it’s hard to stay angry with your sister when you share a bed to sleep. There isn’t room for fights to linger. There is only room to remember she is your sister, and she will always be at your side.

KIM ROSS lives east of Seattle. "Before I had a child, I slept easily and long. I practiced lucid dreaming and deep meditation. Sleep was precious, often my favorite part of the day. Giving birth, and the constant vigilance needed in watching over a new young being, changed all of that. I haven’t slept through the night in 20 years. Someday those long hours of undisturbed sleep may return, but for now I gratefully take sleep however it comes—as rest, as healing, and as a chance to travel to that world that is inaccessible while I’m awake."

Kim Ross

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WAKING THE CHILD

It’s 6 o’clock. The squirrels are plotting revolution. Don’t you think you should get up? It’s 9 o’clock. Don’t you think it’s time to get up? The busses are driving backwards.   The interstates are sprouting trees. Surely you’d like to get up? It’s 12 o’clock.   The angels have delivered ultimatums. It’s 15 o’clock. I think you should get up.   Your favorite movie hero is at the front door. Do you want to get up yet? It’s 18 o’clock.   It’s 21 o’clock. You really need to get up. Pluto is fighting Mercury for retrograde dominance.   It’s 24 o’clock. Your brother has gained superpowers. Will you please get up?

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It’s 27 o’clock. Wake up, will you? The shadows under your bed are complaining. I really need for you to get up now. It’s 30 o’clock. The skies have been lowered for summer. Bill Abbott

BILL ABBOTT lives in Middletown, Ohio. He doesn't feel like he ever sleeps enough, even though he does. A year of nightly antidepressants left him sleeping 10 hours a night, and his relationship with sleep has felt strained ever since.

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TO SAY GOOD NIGHT AND MEAN HELLO

1

“Good-night.” “Good-night.”

landing across us, along us

“Good-night.” “Good-night.”

throwing off his blanket, pulling on ours

Just like the Waltons.

crossing our paths

Only all the voices

again and again

from the same part

snuggling into corners

of the house.

we didn’t know we had.

2

Marion Cohen

The way, dropping off we usually flash

MARION COHEN lives in Philadelphia PA. "The last family bed night was the night of 9-11-01; Devin, then aged 15, and I sat on his bed, his very own in his very own room, and watched the news coverage on TV. After we'd had enough of that news, Devin said 'Mom, can you stay here with me for the night?' ...we just fell asleep right then and there, doing the necessary nesting."

not exactly a prayer but a thought, a reminder a second of silence that we are leaving that we are entering that God and loved ones are fast becoming dead the way we take firm note that we are about to become something less than alone— That’s not the way he does it; dropping off to sleep he rolls closer

or makes that ninety-degree twist, another ninety-degree flip  

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THE FAMILY BED: THIRTEEN REASONS

1

Babies look even teenier in a big bed next to a big adult. And they’re cheaper and more natural than even solar heat. 2

3

He even gives us light. His head is like a lamp. It glows—or something—in the dark. 4

Teeny limbs that used to kick my inside now kick my outside.

5

Sometimes I awaken to his face and sometimes to the back of his head. Either way it’s little and round. Either way it’s him.

6

Sometimes he works his way perpendicular soon ramming against my waist or nestling in my armpit. The way babies in cribs seek the corner. The way babies in wombs seek the bottom. The way the fertilized egg seeks the deepest point.

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It’s a chilly night so over him goes first his two-by-two red-checkered quilt then the blue wooly one, folded in quarters finally our own king-sized polyfoam. Not only he with us. But his with ours. Most people, lying on their stomachs and turning their heads first lift them from the mattress. But babies just drag them along nose and all pivoting on their chins balancing on their foreheads soon emerging with that wry fetus look the look I love the look I know I’ll miss. 8

When he sleeps I can’t help it I lie awake staring sometimes as long as an hour. I’d be crazy to choose the dark a fool to cover my eyes. Although he’s little I open them wide. 9

continued

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10

One night we wake up swimming in moonlight. Turned towards the window he gives a shriek of delight. I place my head over his and, cheek to cheek, we watch together. When I was a baby I was afraid of the moon hated the way it crawled over my room asked my mother to take it away. Devin asks me no such thing. I dream he’s been kidnapped. The kidnapper calls on the phone but I can’t hear because the other children won’t stop screaming. Shaking, trembling, I suddenly feel myself holding him nursing him right then right there both of us breathing hard. 11

If most people slept with their arms straight out, they’d have to sleep alone. But babies’ arms are so short shorter than our hands shorter than their heads shorter, even, than the distance between us. 12

He will still grow up. Just twice as slow. 13

Marion Cohen

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THE QUILT

At my grandparents’ house I slept under a thick quilt with a thin white cotton cover and in the center of that cover had been cut a big round hole so the heavy quilt could be taken out and just the cover washed. I'd crawl through that hole, deep inside, deep into the corners. I don’t remember whether it felt like my mother’s womb or like Alice down the rabbit hole. Or whether there was a curious light in there. Don’t remember much about then, all I know is now, now, when I think about it, it seems that was the most existential thing in my life. And it wasn’t. There have been math, pregnancy, birth, the babies themselves, other childhood memories, and dreams, and poems, and, yes, curious lights. Plus that evening my paralyzed paranoid suffering first husband finally died, it was some kind of eclipse. And indoor windows. I mean both sides indoors, I have two of them right here in my house, I can have them any time I want just like I can write any time I want, just like I can think any time I want.   Just like, a long time ago, at my grandparents’ house at night, I could crawl inside that quilt any time I wanted. Maybe that was the first thing I could do any time I wanted, the first thing I decided to do, again and again. Marion Cohen

SPRING 2019

Details of "Dinosaur quilt" (top) and "Kewpie quilt" (bottom) courtesy of contributor Marion Cohen, who made all three quilts featured in the anthology.

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BINKY AND I PLAY HOSPITAL

“Stay secluded with Devin for awhile”—Peggy McMahon,           editor of MOTHERING magazine

Stay in bed all day diapers by our side sleeping while the other sleeps and that’s a lot. We pretend I’ve had a three-month post-partum complication a Hollywood complication something that requires mere observation. We pretend we’re important enough to be observed. And he knows we’re playing hospital likes playing hospital thanks me for playing hospital is in my pocket like a baby kangaroo kicks me in that same soft rhythm rolls his eyes that same soft way. Marion Cohen

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ON SLEEPLESS NIGHTS WHILE A CHILD

On sleepless nights while a child my worried feet led me to my mother’s bed “I can’t sleep, Mommy.”   Always and without words my mother would stir herself awake and open her blanket wide, as wide as the canopy of a midnight sky   I’d climb in and snuggle against familiar flabby flesh that once carried all nine months of me (hers alone, no one else’s!)   And in my mother's bed I saw all of my little troubles so petty and inconsequent yet monstrous to me then I watched them borne away in fiery chariots lost at last to the heavy honey hush of that midnight sky

Never ever replicated only in my mother’s arms could I abandon myself to a sleep so profound and primordial, it was as if I had found the beginning of the world Reni Roxas

RENI ROXAS is a children's book publisher who lives in Everett, WA. "I lost my mother when she was 38 years old. I was 13. As a small child growing up in Manila, Philippines, I'd enter my parents' bedroom whenever I couldn't sleep. I'd stand at my mother's side of the bed and beg to sleep with them. Why her side of the bed, and not my father's? Because her love I could take for granted. She was always there. Until she wasn't."

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THE CLOSET

Lying on the floor of my bedroom closet, I am surrounded by a forest of shoes and boots, a waterfall of work shirts and pants pouring over my head. I curl up on two old comforters, cover myself with a thin patchwork blanket hand-stitched by women in India trying to make a living. I stuff my ears with foam, turn on the small fan whose cord snakes out below the closed door, my only tether to the rest of the world while I tuck away in this static-filled cavity.   Children don’t evolve to meet our needs. More than two years in, my child and I are still awake in the night, one of us crying.  The other listens and wants to cry, thinks ahead to the next day’s commute, schedule of needy people, desert of paperwork.  No nap when the child naps, only clawing through on the coattails of caffeine. The choice feels ever tighter: offer comfort or survive. Each night a nightmare and waking no relief.  I tumble in an undercurrent, gravel in my eyes.

So, I will be the one to adapt, to acclimate. Someone else can take over for a moment, override whatever instincts nature gave us. I will take the closet instead of my bed, another place for which worldly travels never prepared me. Depriving my senses by force through the stormy night, I emerge in the morning like a captain from my berth. Rest claimed, I make the eggs without a spill or burn, the child’s smiling face unscathed by a little rain and wind. Morrow Dowdle

MORROW DOWDLE lives in Hillsborough, NC. "I developed insomnia after the birth of my first child. I work as a PA in mental healthcare and had to return to my job after six weeks. Seeing patients for hours daily, then being up all night nursing my daughter, took a serious toll on me. With the help of an online CBTI program (SHUTi), I've been able to better manage my insomnia. I now have enormous empathy for my patients who suffer from sleep disorders."

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GROWTH SPURT

Our precious nickname asleep between the two of us, holding hands, traveling together through slumberland on my grandmother’s old floating mattress with no headboard.

left us clinging to the edge for support. Sudden nightmare waking with each roll fearing a skull cracking fall. My guilty stomach twists thinking of an empty bed that I miss like brain freeze from a summer camp dare.

And then the growth spurt. Taylor Bruck We were pushed apart, but still close to her, accepting a fraction of our pillow in return for the lovely warmth from our little snoring space heater. Intoxicating smells, new and old wisp around our sleepy synchronized breath. Â And then the growth spurt

TAYLOR JOHN BRUCK is an archivist from Kingston, NY. "When you return home from a trip, you have the memory of the trip. When you awake from a night of dreaming, you have the memory of the dream. With a comprehensive dream journal nearly 1,000 pages long, I consider myself well traveled, and each day I look forward to the night's adventure."

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EARLY THUNDER, ATLANTA

What wakes me at 2 a.m. Two days into spring. Hot air irritable above red clay. Room 409. Double-sheeted comforter. Cloth curtains, lined to block all light. Hours earlier, wraithlike waiter, middle-aged, lifting metal covers, saying Here and Here and I fixed this for you. Shades of myself answering: Oh, oh and wonderful.   I dive into the down bed, turn over, ignore rumblings of a Confederate spring. My great-great grandmother fled this city once, leaving treasure tied in trees.    I am here to earn my own coin in work she might take for something Belle Watling’d do: laptop. When someone pays for your bed, it is a kind of prostitution.    Burrowing into multiple pillows, I flee into the dark. Like you, Martha Caroline. Four-poster, five pillows. Phone: Your morning wakeup call.   I exit my dreams, the one sure place I return to each day. Draw back curtains: An office building’s red lights serenely prevent disaster.     Squinting in mirror, fingering toothpaste, I disappear like one more brown edge— hotel guests, housekeepers—in a painting by Braque. I hear the hotel sigh Again.     Great-great grandmother, you are far from dead: I see the cinders falling.  Bow before the footprints of those who have fled. Ann Cefola

ANN CEFOLA lives and works as a writer in the New York suburbs. "Sleep is the diving board to dreams where I receive guidance, gifts, and an occasional loved one long gone."

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CEILING ART

Languid Sunday morning lying on the queen bed, imaginations propelled onto swirling brown splotches splashing pine planks and rough-sawn beams above us. I point out Munch’s Scream lurking on the second board just beyond the third beam. My older daughter, who drew vegetables wearing turtlenecks at the age of two,   saw it right away. My other daughter, eager to get in on the action, wagged her finger toward a serrated oval shape snaking down, then under, the beam directly overhead,   declaring it to be a bent turtle. A bit of squinting brought her vision into focus, and we all chuckled in delight. This fantastical game in repose would continue until   the most intense eye-screwing and head twisting revealed nothing else remarkable, though fresh eyes would make new discoveries in the weeks and months to come.   Twenty years later, a vivid memory of the four of us in bed together—aboriginal sun pouring in the east-facing window, dog scrunched at our feet—still makes   regular appearances, and most likely will do so until my eyes can perceive, mere inches above me, just a convex pine ceiling permanently imprinted   with the familiar faces of two young girls alongside the woman who brought them and our fanciful, Sunday morning figments into brilliant existence.

RICK BLUM lives in Bedford, MA. "At my age (70), sleep comes in short bursts—usually 23 hours—due to a bladder that demands emptying several time a night. My favorite time, though, is in the morning when my body seems to melt into the mattress as I recall dream fragments of the night, and try to link them to events that may have occurred the previous day, or decades in the past."

Rick Blum

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SLEEPING AT GRANDMA'S HOUSE

You had us kneel down

Once, you made me look twice,

every night, not to pray

as if you saw that my childish

or ask for forgiveness,

pretense of obedience was as thin as

but to peer under the sagging

the air that inhabited your house.      

mattress and see if there

I wanted to believe in ghosts,

was a man lying in the dust.  

friendly or not, most of all

You apologized, Grandma, each time,

Grandpa’s, whom you found             

as if there were shame in fearing what you could not name.                           

there one night after bridge club,

lying halfway under the bed

The headlights of cars turning

you had shared for fifty years.

off Main Street would sweep

But I was too old to believe,

through your first-floor bedroom,

and too young to know that

as if searching for a convict               

the simple act of kneeling down

or warning sailors off shoals.

for another without understanding why

One at a time, my knees                     

is the closest we ever get to love.

bent to touch your handhooked rug butting up

Patrick Cabello Hansel

against the wooden frame.

PATRICK CABELLLO HANSEL lives in Minneapolis, MN. "I've experienced insomnia, childhood seizures at night and comforting my daughters when they can’t sleep. As a pastor, I've also been woken in the middle of the night by someone whose sleeplessness is much more of an adventure."

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FAMILY BED THE BIG BED

The girl jumped on the bed, dug down under covers, rummaged for the spot vacated by her mother’s legs that itched from the bed bugs. To say the bed bugs owned the bed wasn’t wrong, wasn’t right because the dog jumped on the bed on an August morning, ripe as the peach he had squandered from the kitchen counter. With peach breath the dog gnawed a pillow, shook it, flung feathers white as blossoms across the carpet. Outside, a bird slurped a sound that resembled a trombone. Inside, the boy bounced on the bed, practiced trampoline gymnastics: half spins, double twists and a flip which bounced the dog off the bed into blossoms when the father entered in his bathrobe ready for a mid-morning nap.

JOHN DAVIS lives on an island in Puget Sound, Washington. For a night of sleep, he would give up money, a car, a ripe mango (maybe not), and a perfect Gmajor7th chord that juices up a jazz progression. He would dye his hair crystal pink to sleep eight deep hours and snore so loudly it would chase away mice in his walls.

John Davis

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IMAGE CREDIT: "Still Life with Peach and Two Apricots." Adriaen Coorte, 1692. Public domain image.


VITAMIN ZZZ

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SWEET NIGHTS

My family bed began from exhaustion. I didn’t really think much about who would sleep where until after my first baby arrived. I was determined Jacob would be born in the hot tub in my Northern California backyard under the stars, while I enjoyed the quiet ambience of music playing and candles illuminating the apple orchard leading to a redwood forest just beyond the back gate. That did happen, but it took five nights of laboring with two midwives camped out on my living room floor for much of it. I would labor all night and then stop in the morning when the sun came up, along with the intense August heat of the Russian River. I was terrified to let go and let the process happen. “This isn’t normal,” people said. “You should go to a hospital,” they said. I thanked them for their concern. And then trusted in my body’s ability to do what women’s bodies have done since the beginning of humankind. Okay, it may have been more the exhaustion than the trust, but either way, we finally made it. It was nearly midnight when Jacob slithered down into the warm salt bath, specially prepared for the occasion. We allowed the cord to stop pulsing before being cut, then came the administration of tests, measuring and weighing, and getting all cleaned up. At last Jacob was swaddled and placed in bed between my husband and me. The bassinet lay at the ready beside the bed. The crib was assembled in the room down the hall. Not wanting the moment to end, I lay there savoring the closeness until I awoke late the next morning. “This is going to be a piece of cake,” I thought. As it turned out, Jacob was a normal baby who woke every couple of hours following his birth night. I was breast feeding and he slept with us, though, so I would just put a nipple in his mouth and fall back asleep. “You poor thing,” people said.

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“You must not be getting any sleep,” they said. I thanked them for their concern and explained how easy it was with Jacob in bed with us and how I really wasn’t losing that much sleep as a result. “Oh! You mustn’t sleep with your baby!” people said. “You’ll crush him!” they said. I thanked them for their concern and then trusted in a practice that has been around since the beginning of humankind. Okay, it may have been more the laziness of not wanting to have to get out of bed each time he woke up that kept him in with us after that first night, but I also loved having him near and happy. When Jacob was a few months old, we decided it was time to transition him to his crib. We lay him down, alone in his room, determined to wait out his cries and let him fall asleep on his own. We listened anxiously as he worked himself into such a frenzy that it became clear he wasn’t on board with the plan. “This is no way for a baby to go to sleep,” we decided. “He will only be little once,” we agreed, “he’ll move to his own room when he’s ready,” we said, and then we went to bed, all three of us, together. As he grew older, he knew his room, painted a soothing pale teal decorated with an ocean theme, was there for him, anytime he wanted to go sleep in there. It was a nice place to visit, but he never wanted to stay there… until one day, four and a half years later, he did. Dexter, his younger brother, had just come on the scene. “The baby is too noisy,” Jacob said, a couple nights after Dex was born. “I’m going to go sleep in my own bed.” And that was that, apart from a few nights here and there when a nightmare or a storm made us a party of four. By the time Dexter was born, I didn’t have the anxiety of wondering if I was doing the right thing, wasn’t worried by the well-meaning people imparting their “knowledge” as fact. It is always when we are entering new territory, unsure of the terrain, we are most vulnerable, especially if those

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voices are convincing or emanate from those we respect. Thank goodness we went with our gut and did what was right for our family. If you’re reading this and wondering what you should do, listen to your gut. It’s a deeply personal decision and it’s yours alone to make. While we no longer felt the stigma of the family bed given off by some, we acknowledged that Dex was a different baby who might want his own space. So once he started sleeping mostly through the night, we got him a crib and tried him out in it. Dex has been independent, almost straight out of the womb. No surprise he liked his own space and slept apart easily. He’d start the night out there and if he woke up in the middle of the night, I’d grab him and bring him back to bed. No rocking chair in the baby’s room for me; I’ve always preferred the quickest route back to sleep. He wanted a big boy bed almost as soon as he was able to talk and soon the nights of the family bed slipped away entirely. I am proud that my boys were allowed to choose where they slept. I am proud of the intimacy it built. And the memories of those sweet and tender nights will be with me always. Those and the ones of little feet in my back. Renee Scandalis

Renee Scandalis lives near Dallas, Texas. “My sleep has evolved over time. I always fell asleep quickly and used to sleep so soundly that I literally slept through several earthquakes while growing up in San Francisco. After the birth of my first son, I still fell asleep easily but developed that mother’s sense which awakens you at the smallest sounds of distress. Now in my fifties, I occasionally take a bit longer to fall asleep…or back to sleep, as the case may be. When that happens I put on a guided meditation and drift off before it’s complete.”

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IN THE HOUSE OF MY CHILDHOOD

All night in sleep I peel the layers from this room until it seems the shining seed of my youth lies just within my reach. My child breathes gentle sighs against my shoulder, his arm flung out across the quilt. His memories, small and dim,   take shape within my own. Lightly we move through the roundness of this room.   Bone of my bone, breath of my breath, time coerced us into separate selves,

CJ MUCHHALA lives in metro Milwaukee, WI. "I have always had vivid dreams—some of which confused me on waking as in: Where am I? Who am I?; dreams recurring like old friends going back years; colorful dreams—never black & white, never a dull gray; dreams that mimic my past—travels on forgotten roads, walks through endless city streets I once walked ...Although I’ve occasionally had bouts of insomnia, mostly I look forward to sleep and the adventures it brings."

but in the dark mirror of your face time dissolves, conjoins: you, me, this tree we climb, the newborn rabbit nestled in grass and fur, the lily of the valley, lambent in its dark green shroud. CJ Muchhala

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A BEDTIME STORY IN FIVE PARTS

* We bought our first bed, six weeks before the wedding. It never dawned on us that we would sleep in it. Such activity was not our focus. Neither did we discuss the firmness of the mattress or side we preferred. We bought one and had it shipped. ** For more than 50 years, that is where we made love and babies and decisions. We learned to live through snoring and coughing, cold feet and hot flashes until one morning, my husband announced he needed more room. More room to spread-eagle, to turn and twist and thump his pillows. *** But why? Surely the reading light I turned on every night, the light he avoided with a pillow over his head, could not cause this rejection. Nor the scratch of the pen and rustle of paper at two in the morning. The pokes and whispers: Are you still awake? Those discussions he so loved. Surely he did not need more room because of these.

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**** We went to the mattress store. Two old people bouncing and stretching out our limbs, measuring the space we thought he needed. Would have told the jokes of the long married if the clerk (the age of our grandson) had not looked vaguely embarrassed by our display of enthusiasm. ***** On that first night, he reached to find me on the other side of an strangely wide expanse and, assured I was still there, turned over and went back to sleep, content with his sprawling. Though feeling far away, I returned to my side of the bed, finding that familiar more to my liking. I finally fell asleep in this new raft floating safe and serene in the middle of a long marriage. Kathleen Hayes Phillips

KATHLEEN HAYES PHILLIPS lives and writes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "I am a widow, sleeping alone as I did as a girl. But for 50 years, I slept in a double bed my husband and I bought before we got married. It came to be our refuge and the place where our kids could find us at night, sick or scared. It was homey, with a swale in the center where we could meet. When my husband suggested buying a king-sized bed, I worried about too much roominess, but we found all the space we needed."

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DREAM HOUSE

Last night at our favorite Mexican place, dinner and conversation progressed with practiced ease. We rarely dipped tortilla chips in salsa at the same time, I let you finish most of your sentences, you pushed the grilled onions to me. The warmth and sweetness wasn’t all margarita and flan. I imagined   its momentum might last until we got home, that other appetites might be satisfied. In the bedroom you fiddled with the remote, finding your channel.   I slipped behind you, cupped my hands at your waist, nuzzled your neck. You hip-checked me away. When we crawled under the covers it was just to watch   a young couple with expensive tastes quibble over fancy homes in South Florida suburbs. He wanted ocean access, she wanted something with a white kitchen close to her parents.

By the time they settled on a foreclosure in Mommy and Daddy’s neighborhood that had dark granite countertops and backed up to a manmade lake, you were already sound asleep. Waiting for the next show, I pulled the comforter tight under my chin and thought the guy should have held out for more water. Larry Pike

LARRY PIKE lives in Glasgow, KY. Sometimes he sleeps well; often, however, he does not. He says it’s either too hot or too cold, never just right. Or the cat takes up too much room. Or he has to get up to go to the bathroom. (He’s getting old.) His search for the perfect pillow continues.

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FULL HOUSE

As the days grow colder, one by one another lump of fur crawls onto the warm bed for the night. We wake to a full house— three cats o'er two humans.

F.I. Goldhaber

F.I. GOLDHABER lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares their bed and their dreams with three mostly black cats, pinned under the blankets in service to feline comfort. Their sleep is regularly interrupted by howls of a crinkle-ball hunting kitten, the frequent sudden and immediate need for scritches, and freight-train level purring.

IMAGE CREDIT: "Sunday Bed." Public domain image courtesy pxhere.

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FAMILY BED THE BLIND MAN DREAMS

The crash, the shattering clay abrupt transition from the secret world to this, our shared reality, where clearly you have flailed the bedside lamp smashed it to the floor. I pad around stunned from my own dream sleep survey the broken shards, the large jagged fragments strewn across the flowered carpet in the moonlight. Let’s just leave it for morning. What were you doing? I ask. Sleepily you turn, already slipping away. I was throwing a beautiful spiral, you murmur. And I could see everything perfectly. You drift away.                          I lie awake hoping you have reawakened on the other side your eyes clear, your legs pumping cleanly out on the great green field.

Gail Entrekin

"A Wounded Man in a Hospital Bed." Eric Kennington, 1914. Public domain image.

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CHANCES

That autumn night at my mother’s small apartment I’d been tossing all night on the narrow daybed in her alcove room. She came to the doorway in her blue nightgown, asked if I was all right. I can’t sleep, I said, sitting up. Would you, she asked, tentatively, almost politely, would you like to lie down on my bed … on one side of my bed? She carefully chose her words, did not say beside me, or with me. Quickly, before I thought or felt what I wish now I’d thought or felt: Oh no, I said. No. I’ll be fine.                        She backed away. 

GAIL ENTREKIN lives in Orinda, CA. "My husband has recently gone blind and begun dealing with Parkinson's disease, which can cause the brain barrier between dreaming and acting out dreams to break down. The combination has caused our nights to become very exciting, and I have begun to think a lot about the possibility of the dream life being just as real as the awake life. Several of my poems reflect that thinking about the mystery of dreams."

OK, she said, turning to her room. And she was gone, and there never came another chance to lie beside my mother in this life. Gail Entrekin

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

“Ceiling Art” (p23) by Rick Blum was first published in Free Lit Magazine in 2018. “Early Thunder, Atlanta” (p22) originally appeared in Face Painting in the Dark by Ann Cefola (Dos Madres Press, 2014). “Full House” (p33) originally appeared in Food Goldhaber (Political Poetry Publishing, 2017).

♦ Family ♦ Friends by F.I.

“The Quilt” (p17) originally appeared in The Project of Being Alive by Marion Cohen (New Plains Press, 2018). All previously published materials reprinted by permission of the authors.

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2019 CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Vitamin ZZZ seeks creative writing on sleep health, sleep disorders, sleep deprivation, sleep habits, dreams… anything directly correlated with the human process of sleep. Writing should explore SLEEP, i.e.:           ► personal experiences with diagnosed sleep disorders                      (sleepwalking, sleep apnea, circadian rhythm problems, daytime sleepiness,                        shift work disorder, jet lag, insomnia, etc.)            ► people suffering from unexplained or undiagnosed sleep problems or sleep deprivation           ► caregivers concerned about the sleep health of their patients or loved ones   All perspectives are sought and welcomed: humorous, clinical, personal, spiritual, political, fantastic, familial, experimental, confessional. The voices of healthcare professionals are especially desired. Only the highest quality work accepted.  ►HINT! We can always use more prose poems, flash fictions, personal essays, hybrid work, and creative nonfiction.  Topics we especially like: sleep disorders or sleep problems related to a comorbid condition (Alzheimer’s, diabetes, mental health concerns, chronic pain, obesity, etc.) or to other obligations that force one to choose between sleep and other activities (such as school, job, athletics, parenting, etc.).  HOW TO SUBMIT: See complete writers guidelines at https://sleepyheadcentral.com/vitaminzzz/

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WINTER 2018

THE SLEEPYHEADCENTRAL MISSION

“The SleepyHeadCENTRAL mission is to develop an accessible, accurate, and user-friendly online clearinghouse of sleep news and information. This effort is designed to help educate healthcare consumers on the vital importance of sleep in overall optimal health. My aim as Curator is to give healthcare consumers clear and empowering options to actively address their sleep problems.”                                                                                                     —Tamara Sellman RPSGT CCSH

The VITAMIN ZZZ mission

While many learn best about sleep problems through their own research and frank discussion with medical professionals, others may be better served by learning about sleep problems through the creative expressions of those who live with them. Vitamin ZZZ exists to illustrate, through this literary vehicle, how sleep problems truly affect our lives.

—Tamara Sellman, Editor

TO LEARN MORE: www.sleepyheadcentral.com

Profile for SleepyHeadCENTRAL.com

VITAMIN ZZZ [Spring 2019]: "Family Bed"  

How and where we sleep can say a lot about our home life.

VITAMIN ZZZ [Spring 2019]: "Family Bed"  

How and where we sleep can say a lot about our home life.