Wide awake at 3 a.m.

Moon   A rain delay made the game last until nearly midnight. Finally finished with my stories and planning notes, I was packing up in the press box. It was already past 1 a.m. Ugh.

Something caught my eye right below.

There was a cat. Prowling around the front row of seats. Probably scavenging for something to eat.

I’d never seen a cat at the ballpark. Dogs, yes — there are several Bark in the Park promotions. But never a cat. So I took a picture and headed for the parking garage.

I decided to post the cat photo on Facebook when I got home. You have to share any unusual cat photos, right? It’s a federal law or something. And Texas probably objects.

So I posted it with a funny little note — well, funny for nearly 3 o’clock in the morning. I figured my friends would see it in a few hours when they woke up and react to it with their own, funnier lines.

Then I started scrolling through others’ posts to see what they’d been up to all evening, allowing my brain to settle down a bit before I tried to go to sleep.

Wait! I got a notification that one of my friends had just “liked” the cat photo. I’m not the only one awake?

And then another friend liked it. Yet another friend started a conversation in the comments section. Soon, someone else joined in.

Whoa! I had lots of welcomed and unexpected company. It was like a social media summit meeting. About cats.

Many of those friends have day jobs and would be getting up in a few hours to go to work, wondering why that second cup of coffee barely made a dent in their grogginess. Yet here they were, commenting on a cat photo at 3 a.m.

It reminded me that I’m not the only one who loses sleep. We all have nights when our brains are stuck on slow simmer.

Physical issues. Family issues. Relationship issues. The car is dying and there’s no money for a new engine. The boss is being totally unreasonable. The kids are sick. I’m sick. I just got home from work and am wide awake. Why is the neighbor’s dog barking again?


You’re in that groggy state when you pull back the covers to go pee, and somehow your brain does that zero-to-60 thing before you reach the bathroom.

That usually happens to me sometime around 4:30 in the morning. I turn over, glance at the clock to see how many hours of sleep are left, and my brain says: “Tell me again all that we have to do when that alarm goes off in a little while?”


No matter how hard you to try not to think about it, you start thinking about it.

Or your brain reminds you of that embarrassing moment you had yesterday, the one in front of everybody in the dining room that involved the bowl of potato salad. You’d forgotten about for the last few hours in your dreamy state.

And off you go.

It’s easy to feel alone with your brain in the middle of the night. The winter nights are the worst. The darkness arrives so early and goes so long. You feel claustrophobic. It’s easy to imagine you’re the only person in the world who can’t find the “off” switch for their gray matter.

And the problems that are pulling an all-nighter in your head seem to grow 10 sizes while you try to get comfortable on the pillow.

Soon, the alarm is giving you the pre-set wake-up call. As if you needed it.

It was eye-opening to get such an immediate reaction to the cat photo. Reminded me that we all have those nights. Lost sleep? As much a part of nighttime as full moons and fireflies.

And it’s comforting to know that at least some our friends are doing the same thing right now. Instead of sleeping, they’re curled up in their pajamas checking out a cat photo.

Better yet, they know that if they ever need to talk, all they have to do is call or text you — and you can do the same with them — no matter what the hour.

In their sleeplessness, they remind you that you’re not alone.

Those 3 a.m. friends are the best.


Author: joekay617

Feel free to add your thoughts and comments. Or you can reach me privately at joekay617@aol.com. Peace!

4 thoughts on “Wide awake at 3 a.m.”

  1. Joe, your blog reminded me of a quote from the sci-fi series, “Babylon Five.” You don’t need to know much about the show to appreciate the quote, from one of the lead characters, talking to another about the very time of the day you describe:
    “Have you ever heard of the hour of the wolf? My father told me about it. It’s the time between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning. You can’t sleep, and all you can see is the troubles and the problems and the ways that your life should’ve gone but didn’t. All you can hear is the sound of your own heart. I’ve been living in the hour of the wolf for seven days, Lyta. Seven days. The wolf and I are now on a first-name basis. In times like this, my father used to take one large glass of vodka before bed. To keep the wolf away, he said. And then he would take three very small drinks of vodka, just in case she had cubs while she was waiting outside. It doesn’t work.”

    —Susan Ivanova

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