The only thing that keeps me awake at night is “not breathing.” Since birth I spent most of my first year of life in the hospital due to breathing problems. My first several years of life were spent in a medicated room to keep my lungs from pneumonia and bronchitis. Inhalers had not yet been invented and I survived by maintaining dust-free, carpet-free, bedroom and sulfa-drugs.

I, eventually, could identify “triggers” or “colds” that could escalate into bronchitis, such as cats and chlorinated pools. My foray into competitive swimming was brief, since all practice and competitions were held in chlorinated pools (go figure that nobody races in lakes, or rivers—I can swim safely in lakes and rivers, apparently fish-poo doesn’t bother my lungs).

As long as I breath, I sleep soundly and deeply. I grew up in a bedroom next to a trucking company and huge cargo trucks drove under my bedroom’s open casement windows. I never heard them. I, somehow, incorporate the noises into my dreams. The only thing that apparently annoyed my family, and now me as an older person, is that I cannot sleep past 5 a.m. in the morning—that was another reason I got my own room—nobody wants to be around my “chipper-happy” self at 5 a.m.

My dream-life uproariously humorous and fun. I like the people in my dreams, they are likable, and the beauty of them is that THEY LIKE ME! We have fun. Humor seems to be the theme, so I thoroughly enjoy going to bed and going right to sleep. None of them are real people in my life—I don’t dream of family members or friends. These are all strangers who I meet in dreams and we have a great time.

The serious problem about sleeping so soundly only surfaced when I moved into an apartment that had two of the bedroom walls as “casement windows.” One night a thief “axed down the door” under my bedroom while the windows were fully open. The police, kept repeatedly questioned me how I could possibly NOT KNOW someone was chopping down the door right under my windows. I couldn’t explain it.

That same apartment building housed older persons who occasionally “left things on the stove longer than they should have.” I have the same cooking skills—the whole neighborhoods I have lived in will comment they “heard I was cooking.” My older neighbors and I have the same problem of perhaps not remembering we put dinner on the stove—boiling eggs, at least, give a warning by giving off a particular odor before they actually EXPLODE all over the kitchen.

I can say with confidence and certainty that apartment building gave me healthy attitude about “material belongings.” I never knew when I would come home and find the fire company hosing down the building. Whenever I was out with my friends and heard the fire company whistles blow, I would ask my friends if they would mind a “drive-by” my apartment, just to see…. Likewise, whenever I went on vacation (I went to Europe two or three times a year) I would have a talk with myself about how to react if “the fire company didn’t get to the building in time” and all my stuff had gone “POOOFFFF-GONE.” The up-tick to that time of life is that I won’t go berserk if I lose all my belongings—my only concern is my pets, and the plan is we all get thrown out the window, the parrots can fly, and the dogs and I can go onto a porch roof.

Here’s the reason for the dogs. As I said, I don’t hear things when I sleep, including “smoke alarms” or fire company whistles, or fire trucks horns. People who come to visit me, and stay over night will grill me how I could sleep with the fire company sounding all night long. I just don’t hear the noise—I’m in my happy-dream-place with my friends and my breathing machine (oh…I forgot to tell you doctors tell me NEVER-EVER sleep without my breathing machine—I could die. The machine doesn’t make white noise, it just keeps me breathing—apparently I forget to breath when I’m in my happy-sleep-mode—with my friends, who like me, and we have fun).

Ok, the reason I have dogs, knowing that nothing wakes me up, including fire alarms, is that SOMEONE has to alert me that the house/ building near by is burning down or someone is axing down the doors. Dogs, or at least all my dogs, learned that the only way to wake me up is to body slam me. All of them learn quickly that gentle tapping, or staring intently at me only works after 5 a.m. when I am feigning sleep so I don’t have to get out of bed to take them out. All my dogs, (except for gentle Scarlette Sky, who’s my cavalier king Charles—she can sleep 22 hours a day, and night) learned how to body slam me totally off the bed to get my attention. So I feel confident that if there is an emergency, like someone chopping down a door, or fire alarms going off in the house my dogs will get me out of bed and awake—they are very smart and light sleeping, alert dogs.

I did’t think I could use “this week’s prompt” to write anything about what keeps me up at night, but alas, I’m reinventing myself as writer, and I had lots of stuff to write about.

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