Boy, am I cranky.  Oh, didn’t you sleep well?  No, as a matter of fact, I didn’t sleep at all.

The great physician, Sir William Osler, once said, “The man who is well wears a crown that only the sick can see.”  I have always been struck by that quote, because it just goes to show that whatever you don’t have, you can find somebody who has it and envy the heck out of him or her, because you have just identified the luckiest person in the world.

The man who sleeps in bed next to me looks like freaking royalty.  Every night, my husband rolls onto his right side and instantly it’s lights out for a good five hours, at which point — usually between 4 and 5 in the morning — he rolls over onto his left side and sleeps equally well.  I know this, because I have lost the ability to sleep.  I used to be one of the great sleepers.  Anytime was potentially nap time for me.  I could drop right off and be out like a light for hours — and still get a good night’s sleep that night.  I pitied the people in the Lunesta commercials.  Even now, I know people who can’t sleep without medication, and I have vowed I will never be one of them.  I don’t want to be addicted to anything.

And yet, not sleeping gets real old, real fast.  At 5:15 this morning, I officially thumbed my nose at the night and gave it up, figuring that sleep was not going to be happening for me.  The good news, by the time everybody else got up, I had washed a load of dishes and was on my second load of laundry, so as Bill Murray said in Caddyshack, “I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.”  A big thumbs up there.
What have I done to cause this?  Was it the glass of wine I had last night?  Was it the coffee I had in the afternoon?  Yeah, sure, maybe.  I am so tired — so to speak — of wondering what particular rigid rule of “sleep hygiene” I have broken.   What one single thing I have done or not done that is keeping me from sleeping on this particular night.  Even when I do everything right — none of which I used to need to do, by the way, to be able to sleep — I’m still quite capable of not sleeping.  I can go for a three-hour hike, or run a couple miles on the treadmill, and be unfazed by the fresh air and/or physical activity later.
Melatonin?  I’ve tried it, I had terrible dreams, so I stopped.  But I’ve had terrible dreams without it, so maybe I should revisit it.  Menopause?  Uh, no, thanks for asking.  If it is, I’m being doubly screwed, because I’m still treated to that delight once a month.  Is it hereditary?  Well, if that’s the case, I’m screwed, too.  My dad is a terrible sleeper, has been for as long as I can remember, so that’s great.
As I lay there last night, I remember thinking, “well, this is it, and it’s going to be this way for the rest of my life, and then I’ll die.”  I have positive thoughts like that because I’m a people person.
I even listened to a hypnosis tape last night and it didn’t help.  Au contraire, it revved me up!  Instead of letting go of all my worries, as the hypnotist softly and creepily urged me to do, I started listing them and thinking about them.  My brain was going a mile a minute.  So, I failed that.  I’m going to try it again tonight, though, just in case some subliminal thing is happening and deep down I am learning to retrain my brain.
I don’t want medicine.  I just want what every child and teenager has — the ability to sleep and sleep and sleep.  Is that too much to ask?  Apparently, it is.
This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

I have been meaning to write about procrastination for a while, but I kept putting it off. I’ve been procrastinating for years; one of these days I’m going to have to get some help for this problem. No, really, if it weren’t for the last minute, I wouldn’t get anything done. As Mark Twain said, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” Or, as somebody else said, I like my work. It fascinates me; I can sit and look at it for hours. And drumroll…the best part about procrastination: You’re never bored, because there are all kinds of things that you could be doing!

For years, my writing method has been to think of a bunch of other stuff — doing laundry is a fine example — that’s suddenly very important.  Then I waste copious amounts of time, hours, days, or weeks, doing that, until the torment of not doing the actual work is so great that I just have to do it.  My friend, Scott Price ( recently wrote about this in a newsletter:  “Procrastination is wanting or even having a plan, but not working it.”  It’s amazing, to one interested in words, how often the rear end figures into discussions of procrastination:  I need a good kick in the pants; to poop, figuratively, or get off the pot.  As Eliza Doolittle shouted at Ascot:  “Come on, Dover!  Move yer bloomin’ arse!”  And yet, as countless bathroom graffiti wits have written, “here I sit, broken-hearted… ”  Got work to do, can’t get started.

I blame spiritual attack.  I do.  Laziness — guilty; fear of success or failure — definitely; resentment that I have to do something I don’t want to do — yeah, there’s that, too….  But call it gremlins or the devil — the bad spirits in this world want us not to succeed.  Therefore, in administering myself this butt-kickin’ I think I am moving in the right direction.  Forward, even if it’s just one small, reluctant step at a time.   New goal:  Actual momentum.

P.S.  About the picture of my To Do list:  I don’t know why it’s sideways.  I have spent 20 minutes — wasting time is my destiny — taking that stupid picture and every time I upload it to this website, it goes sideways.  This pretty much sums up how things are going around here.

P.S.S.  The picture seems to be fixed now.


This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

It’s pretty sad when you’re watching a sporting event and your first reaction is, “Oh, God, make it stop,” and the game hasn’t even started yet! Anybody watch the Rose Bowl? I don’t know who the singers were, don’t want to know, but I just kept thinking, if someone could actually sing the National Anthem in a non-tortured, non-butchered way that didn’t suck, that would be good.

You may be the greatest singer in the world, but I don’t want to hear your vocal acrobatics if you’re singing the National Anthem.

Just sing the song. Sing it straight.

My son, Josh, like most school kids in Maryland, took a field trip with his second grade class to Fort McHenry, the military base where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I know it’s not easy to sing. Apparently, the melody was an old drinking song once. Not a real toe-tapper, not catchy, but it’s what we have. It deserves some respect.

”Amazing Grace,” similarly, has been repeatedly violated. This song, too, simple and beautiful, deserves more respect than it gets. But go to a funeral, and in the midst of your grief, you’re dealing with some singer’s big moment to interpret this perfect gem of a hymn. Once again, the focus is on the singer, on the interpretation, rather than on the message.

Don’t interpret it. Just sing the song.

I got sidetracked.

Anyway, Josh’s entire class learned all of the verses to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” And they sang them right there at Fort McHenry, while we proud parents listened respectfully and took pictures. You know what? It was great. Because the focus was the song. They sang it straight.

It wasn’t about these kids, but about the place, and the actual rockets’ red glare that Francis Scott Key saw in 1814. On one very long night, while Key was being held captive on a British boat, on a diplomatic mission approved by President James Madison, he saw the huge American flag (sewn by Mary Pickersgill — the Flag House where she and some other ladies hand-sewed it in downtown Baltimore was on our school tour) flying triumphantly over the garrison at Fort McHenry, even though British warships were doing their best to bombard the crap out of the place. He was so inspired, he wrote the song. For better or worse, it’s ours.

It deserves to be sung straight. Please.

Isn’t there some singer out there who can just sing the damn song?


This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

Seems there was a treasure ship on its way back to port.  About
halfway there, it was approached by a pirate, skull and crossbones waving
in the breeze!

“Captain, captain, what do we do?” asked the first mate.

“First mate,” said the captain, “go to my cabin, open my sea
chest, and bring me my red shirt.”  The first mate did so.

Wearing his bright red shirt, the captain exhorted his crew to
fight.  So inspiring was he, in fact, that the pirate ship was repelled
without casualties.

A few days later, the ship was again approached, this time by two
pirate sloops!

“Captain, captain, what should we do?”

“First mate, bring me my red shirt!”

The crew, emboldened by their fearless captain, fought heroically, and
managed to defeat both boarding parties, though they took many
casualties.  That night, the survivors had a great celebration.  The
first mate asked the captain the secret of his bright red shirt.

“It’s simple, first mate.  If I am wounded, the blood does not
show, and the crew continues to fight without fear.”

A week passed, and they were nearing their home port, when
suddenly the lookout cried that ten ships of the enemy’s armada were

“Captain, captain, we’re in terrible trouble, what do we do?”
The first mate looked expectantly at the miracle worker.

Pale with fear, the captain commanded, “First mate…. bring me my
brown pants!”

This is my second-favorite joke.  My first-favorite doesn’t really apply to this inaugural blog, so I’ll save it for another time.  I’m starting a blog!  Bring me the brown pants!

A bit about me:  I’m a wife and mom.  My husband, Mark, and I have three kids, Blair, Andy, and Josh, ages 19, 16, and 9.  We have dogs and horses.  We used to have sheep, chickens, and a llama, but now we’re down to a career low of just the four animals.

Mark is a doctor, a gastroenterologist, and I am a health writer, former magazine editor, and former essayist on national public radio. For the last 19 years, I have worked from home, writing health books and writing publications for Johns Hopkins, so I could be with our kids.  I homeschooled Blair and Andy for five years, and may be homeschooling Josh when he hits middle school in two years.

I hope to have chickens again, and maybe another llama, although there was only one Nelson, who was a Katrina victim and a rescued llama.  We love to knit, love books, and adore our Labrador Retrievers.  We live in a small town in the mountains in Arizona.  That’s about it for now.


This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.