A guide to getting things done at 3 a.m.
By Jody Mace
1. Keep close track of exactly how much sleep you’ll get if you fell asleep right now. Repeat every half hour.
2. Ponder why you said the dumb-ass thing you said today. If you didn’t say a dumb-ass thing today, revisit one you said sixteen years ago, at a job you used to have, to people you don’t know anymore. Consider how badly those people must think of you.
3. Resolve to use this time wisely. Think about cleaning the bathroom but then remember that you hate cleaning the bathroom and, plus, the cleaner is in the other room and you wouldn’t want to wake anyone up. Instead, decide to do some serious writing, unlike the stupid writing you do for a living.
4. Berate yourself for doing stupid writing for a living. Imagine the disgust that the seventeen-year-old you would feel for you if she knew the kind of writing you’d end up doing.
5. Imagine the disappointment your high school English teacher would feel if she knew.
6. Wonder if your high school English teacher would remember you anyway, despite the brilliance you demonstrated in class when you wrote that farce about archetypes. Consider the notion that perhaps you were not as brilliant as you always thought you were and that maybe you were really just a smart-ass.
7. Remember the mean thing that one person in high school did to you that one time. Look that person up on Facebook and feel vindicated that he is recently divorced, not because, obviously, being divorced is evidence of a character flaw, but because clearly in this case his wife left him because he was an asshole who did mean things to people. Haha.
8. Wonder what the fuck that noise was.
9. Entertain an extremely disturbing thought: how many insects are in this house right at this very moment?
10. Become convinced that there is a microscopic bug crawling on your leg. Challenge yourself to not scratch. Dammit.
11. Remember about bedbugs. Google how to check for bedbugs. Feel sick. Seriously disgusted.
12. Read a book.
13. Realize that you’ve lost your attention span for reading. Or maybe it’s your rapidly worsening short vision that’s the problem. In either case, consider that it may be caused by a brain tumor.
14. Google brain tumors and learn that you definitely have one.
15. Think about making a video for your children with all the advice you’d like to leave them, like how to choose a mate, how to set goals and stick with them, how to do the right thing when their friends are doing the wrong thing, and just how to be a kind person. Then remember that they don’t listen to you anyway so fuck it.
16. Instead, plan the music you’d like at your funeral. Start a “Funeral Playlist” on Spotify. Include some Morrissey because every funeral should have some Morrissey songs.
17. Give some serious consideration to how much further you’d be in your career if you hadn’t majored in the wrong thing in college.
18. Compile a list of all the people you know who are younger than you who are more accomplished in a similar career.
19. Fantasize about doing something inappropriate with someone you shouldn’t think about.
20. Resolve to be more patient with your elderly father, even when he tells you about his dispute with the phone company for the hundredth time, or when he answers the door wearing just a carelessly tied bathrobe despite expressly promising on the phone that he would put on pants.
21. Reflect on what a shitty person you are because you know damn well you will not be more patient with your father.
22. Make a list of all the things you’ve been neglecting to do. Make sure to include the oil change that your car is 1,560 miles overdue for and your mammogram.
24. Find a bottle of expired Ativan and wonder if expired Ativan will just not work or if it will harm you.
25. Do something productive. Plan menus and a shopping list for the week. Start with eggs.
26. Notice that you’re really hungry.
27. Deny yourself food because it’s 3:30 a.m. and people who eat at 3:30 a.m. are either teenagers or have a big problem.
28. Think about your own teenagers and compile a list of all the things that worry you about them. Start with your older one, who’s in college. Is she eating enough? Does your younger one spend too much time texting, playing video games and watching Dr. Who reruns?
29. Move onto things that they don’t do but might do someday, like binge drink, drive recklessly, and smoke crack. If people still smoke crack. Research what the popular drugs are with the kids these days. Feel nostalgic about smoking pot in college.
30. Check your spam folder in case a really good writing assignment ended up there. Read about how you can get a sexy body that sizzles, rock-hard abs, and lose fifteen pounds in four weeks with just one brand new product. Also read a nice message from a hot Ukrainian girl with beautiful eyes who is ready to “correspond to erotic themes.”
31. Consider what the chances are that, in your forties, you’ll actually lose weight and decide that all your exercising has been a waste of time. Think of other people in their forties who are skinny and hate them. I mean, seriously, seriously hate them because they eat whatever they want and don’t exercise and look at them. Assholes.
32. Read an article about how lack of sleep can make you gain weight and can also adversely affect your mental health. Freak out about how you will never sleep again and you’ll end up the size of a house and also deranged and when you die they’ll have to take the door off its hinges to carry you out, and they’ll put you in a double-sized coffin and that’s all anybody will think about at the funeral, not the playlist you put together for their enjoyment.
33. Have a sudden, searing realization that one day your dogs will die. Cry. Because dogs are the best thing ever, especially your dogs. The way they look at you with those big eyes and wag their tails so hard their butts slide back and forth on the floor. The way they sigh and lean their bodies against you when you take a nap. My god, why do they have to die?
34. Calculate the very latest you can wake up and still get your son to school on time. Set your alarm.
35. Don’t think. Don’t think. Don’t think.
JODY MACE is a freelance writer living in North Carolina. Her essays have appeared in O Magazine, Brain, Child, The Washington Post, and many other publications, as well as several anthologies. She publishes the website Charlotte on the Cheap in Charlotte, North Carolina.