To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Insomnia Leads to Bad Television Habits

“Last night I dreamed I had insomnia. I woke up exhausted, yet too well rested to go back to sleep.”

~ Bob Ingman

Every once in a while, when I cannot get to sleep and I have already seen the episodes of “Without a Trace” and “CSI” that are on at 2 in the morning, I’ll try to find something else to watch on television that will bore me enough so that I can fall asleep. That is when I find bizarre programs like “Bridezillas” on WE. I’m not even sure what network WE is, but I must admit that the show “Bridezillas” and its companion show “Platinum Wedding” or something like that are really something to behold, especially if you are looking for polar extremes.

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WE's Show "Bridezillas"

Apparently, “Bridezillas” is television’s answer to “Cops” for women. I haven’t seen behavior like this since I taught middle school for one year. These women actually do things on this show that cause the censor bleep button to have to be used repeatedly. One wedding, and I’m using the term very loosely here, used shotgun shells as part of the decor. In another, the bride left her rehearsal dinner to go to the store and returned two and a half hours later. All of her guests were gone, and her fiance was a tad upset. She managed to turn the whole thing around to an impeachment on her guests’ impatience. The show is like an accident waiting to happen, and the viewer wants to turn away but just can’t because it’s only going to be worse, which means that it will only get better.

One bride’s rehearsal in the church turned into such a fray with the groom-to-be’s side of the family that the priest actually had to ask them to leave. Another bride-to-be gave the wrong location to her bridal party on where they were supposed to get their nails done, and then she had the audacity to throw a tantrum because half of her party didn’t show. She got on her phone and told them all that they were out of the wedding because they “didn’t care enough to support her on her big day.” At this point, I’d be thanking my lucky stars that I was out of the wedding party, but no, the bridesmaids always want back in. What, are they crazy?

But the best one was the bride who got upset when her nephew turned up missing during the reception. Everything stopped so that everyone could search for him. The bride threw herself on the couch and had a complete meltdown because no one was paying any attention to her. Luckily, the boy was found safely and all eyes could be turned back on the bride before her makeup was smudged. I’m not making this up.

In “Platinum Weddings,” viewers are treated to weddings that are examples of the most incredible examples of conspicuous consumption known to man. Everything from traditional Indian weddings in which the groom rides in on an elephant, to weddings in which the lighting alone costs $50,000. One wedding had a drink that was designed especially for the bride and groom to be served at their after dinner cocktail bar and dance room. Of course, fireworks were set off at the appropriate time. Cakes can cost upwards of $50,000, and the flowers can run anywhere from $25,000 to $250,000. Where do these people live? On Venus?

Needless to say, I don’t fall asleep when I watch these shows because I get caught up in the complete idiocy of the whole thing and end up watching three episodes in a row. I then find myself totally disgusted with myself and feel as though I need a bath to wash off the excess in which I have immersed myself.

One day, I was unable to get out of bed at all, and I watched an entire season of “America’s Next Top Model” from beginning to end. Usually on days like these I read, but my head hurt too much, so I tuned the television to something inane, hoping that it would put me to sleep. Of course, the reverse happened. I found myself watching the progression of these 14 or so candidates, slowly being weaned down to the final 3, then 2. I had a personal favorite, and I had one candidate that I particularly disliked. Why? Why did it matter to me? Was the winner going to go on to find a cure for AIDS?

I mean, Tyra Banks is a multi-millionaire. She has managed to turn her career as a model/Victoria’s Secret runway model into a television icon. She’s savvy, and she’s incredibly full of herself. The show is just as much about Banks as it is about the women who are competing. Tyra is always talking about how she did this for this photographer and that for said designer. Supposedly, it’s a lesson for the gawky young women who are learning to become models. And you do see some of them break out and change from show to show, but really, what’s the point? The two Jays are more interesting than the models. Trying to figure out what bizarre outfit Tyra is going to wear to judging is more interesting than some of the photo shoots. I can sleep through two episodes, wake up, and still not have missed much.

I suppose that is the point of reality television. There is no point, and to try to find one is an exercise in futility. I know that there are people out there who love their reality television. I just don’t happen to be one of them. I’ve never watched one episode of “The Real Life” or “The Surreal Life” or “Survivor” or “The Great Race.” My daughter tells me that “Jon and Kate Plus 8” is a nice show, but the thought of eight children scares the crap out of me. We did watch “Holmes on Homes” for a while to get some tips on home renovation, but that got too depressing when we ran out of money to continue renovating.

I will admit to loving “Project Runway” because I love Tim Gunn, and for some odd reason, I like “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” I think that it’s because Vicki is insane, and I’m waiting for her children to snap on her. I don’t like the other Housewives shows. They were bizarre knock-offs. But late-night reality shows are an entity all their own. I once was flipping through the channels and came upon some kind of dating show on which one man and three women went on a date, or something like that. I cannot remember the name of it, nor do I particularly want to. Five minutes of the Barbie-like verisimilitude, and I thought that I might be going mad. The women were flaky, too.

I suppose what makes late-night television interesting is that I haven’t seen it before in the way that I’ve seen every episode of Law & Order, Law & Order Criminal Intent, Law & Order SVU, and CSI. Whenever there is a Law & Order marathon on, I’ll watch, but I will fall asleep. The whole idea of watching television to cure my insomnia isn’t always truthful on my part. Maybe I’m watching just because I’m bored and because I don’t want to get out of bed to peruse our extensive DVD collection to figure out what I could put on the player.

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Asia Extreme "The Ghost"

Which brings me to another point: I will watch good movies over and over again, but I have to be in the right mood for a particular movie. For example, right now, I’m in a vampire/horror mood. I’m watching the Blade movies, Saw (all of them), and maybe others, but not zombies (zombies freak me out). I have discovered Asia Extreme movies on Sundance, and I really like them. I’m not really sure as to why, but part of it is that the movies can be pretty darn scary, and I haven’t seen all of them before. I think the other part is that almost all of them are based on some kind of ghost story, which is better than a slasher story any day.

What does all of this have to do with sleeping? Nothing, except that after watching scary movies, I can go to sleep and not have nightmares. Odd, huh? You would think that I would, but I don’t. I think that it’s because my brain knows that between an Asia Extreme movie and an episode of “Bridezilla,” the episode of “Bridezilla” is definitely the scarier of the two because it’s real. There are real women out there behaving that badly and thinking that it’s perfectly acceptable to treat people like crap simply because they are getting married.

Personally, I can really understand why some men run from the alter. If I were marrying some of these women, I’d get my butt in the closest pickup truck and floor it to the next state, change my name, shave my head, grow a beard, and go to work in a field that required me to be out of the country for extended periods. Those women on that show are crazy. It’s Cops on progesterone.

I’ll watch a scary movie any day. I find them to be much more soothing and less anxiety-filled. I kid you not. But lately, I like my new technique of trying to go to sleep: I turn on my latest bedtime music playlist, turn on one of the soothing visualizations on my great big screen, and turn off the television. The dogs seem to like it, not that they really care as long as I stay still long enough for them to get comfortable under the covers. And then I try to let Hypnos carry me off to sleep so that Morpheus can bring me dreams.

“Come, cuddle your head on my shoulder, dear, your head like the golden-rod,

and we will go sailing away from here to the beautiful land of Nod.”

~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

More later. Peace.

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