Mistress of the Mix: Catching Some Zzzzzs (Not)

Sometimes it feels like I just can't catch a break.

Remember just a few short weeks ago I mentioned that I hadn't had a decent night's sleep since April? Well, that's still happening. And not only that, I'm starting to feel like life is slapping me around so fast and hard that I don't get a chance to recover from one blow before the next one lands.

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Valerie Ing
Valerie Ing has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for 14 years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She and her husband are parents to a couple of college students and a pair of West Highland Terriers, and Valerie can’t imagine life without them or music. The Mistress of the Mix wakes up every day with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
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30 Responses

  1. erin friedman says:

    OH, man….That’s an awful lot of crap to deal with. I’m 58, and not sleeping seems to come with the territory, but I do best when I stay away from my phone (damn you, political Twitter!) and open up my book and read till I can’t keep my eyes open. Wishing you sweet dreams — somehow, some way. Take care.

  2. Beverly Stafford says:

    Oh, Mistress, no pithy words of sympathy will help with all you’e been through in 2018. Today is my birthday, and I was feeling blessed when I woke up this AM – only to read your piece and realize that all is not well with so many of us. May 2019 be better for you, your family, Redding, all of us, and that the rest of California doesn’t become a cinder.

    • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

      Happy birthday Beverly! I think the thing is that while I feel that I’ve had more tribulations than I can count this year (seriously…when I woke up at 2:15 and then again at 4:35 this morning, I just kept thinking about all the other things on my list of crap that I didn’t include in the column), I am totally aware that all my family members are still alive, I didn’t lose all my possessions or my home in the fire. So I’m figuring that with all the dung that 2018 threw us all, I’m actually one of the lucky ones. I hope 2019 is better for every single one of us. After what we’ve been through, we deserve it. Cough cough. The air is the worst today!

    • Happy, happy birthday, dear Beverly! I am so glad you were born. I hope you had cake and prizes and fun today, and were in a place with blue skies and breathable air.

      • Beverly Stafford says:

        Thank you both for the birthday wishes. I was in Redding for a few days and headed up the hill this morning. Highway 299 was crammed with cars that had been diverted from I-5. Not a pleasant drive, but fortunately, nearly everyone was driving sensibly. I regret that I can’t blow out the huge “candles” that are plaguing the north state. Does anyone else suspect arson since, to my knowledge, there haven’t been any lightning strikes? Or maybe there have just been a lot of vehicles that have blown tires.

        • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

          Well, let me just say this…reporters are asking that question, and the police are finally responding with the info that arson activity is known to increase when big fires are already burning. But if investigators know Hirtz or Delta fires were arson, they aren’t prepared to answer that to the public yet. But eventually, we’ll know. The residents in that area seem to suspect an arsonist.

  3. Ann B. says:

    I hope 2019 is a better year… with a 96 year old mother in law, we have had to deal with a few shit storms as well. Hubby’s lack of sleep is really bad. Thank you for sharing your story.

  4. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    OMG, Val. Hugs.

    There aren’t many songs that I care to listen to on a loop, but when work took me away from my wife and son and a soul-smothering homesickness set in, I would often listen to this instrumental song by guitarist Duke Levine.


  5. AJ AJ says:

    What a fab…. FAB, I say . . .. simply FABULOUS play list. Then I saw Moonlight Sonata and thought to myself, “That one is all well and good as long as you stop before the third movement…. and the
    second movement is a bit peppy too” . …and you did.

    And you want to trade poop stories? Just say “Graceland” next time you see me.

    • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

      I almost didn’t include Gershwin’s Lullaby for Strings because I thought it might be a little too peppy at the end! And I most want to hear your poop story! If I don’t see you between now & the time I post it on my column, you’ll have to share it in the comments! I know there’s a crapton of great poop stories out there! 🙂

  6. Bruce Vojtecky says:

    I have been watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix and thought it was absurd that no one goes through that much turmoil in real life. I take that back as it appears the show mirrors real life.
    Hopefully your life will become less stressful in the future.

  7. Carolyn Dokter says:

    This has been one of those years for my family. I don’t have think long and hard on this one to come up with a crappy moment. It was in March, when we get a phone call telling us our 19 year old grandson was dead. He had taken his life. Last year he had tried twice unsuccessfully, this time it worked. Just when we all thought he was doing so good. Had a job, going to college now, even a girlfriend. The healing process is a bitch, especially for his parents, – my daughter. We all loved him so. (He had hung himself in their backyard.)

  8. Carolyn Dokter says:

    I feel I put up my post is haste, you may remove it, it may be offensive to some. It is still so raw in my memory, I couldn’t help speaking about it. Sorry.

    • Carolyn, it’s OK. I’m leaving your comment up. You’re among friends here.

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your grandson, and in such a horrible way. I wish I had words to help you heal.

      • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

        What Doni said. Like I said here already, I know that others are dealing with much worse…problems that make mine seem like a hangnail compared to a compound fracture. I suspect most of us aren’t sleeping well. I’m so sorry to hear about your grandson. I wish you and your family peace.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      Carolyn, I read your post last evening and simply couldn’t come up with any words that weren’t just pithy comments. A few months back, a lady wrote about what a difficult time she was having dealing with grief and that talking about it to a good listener helped. So consider all of us a ANC good listeners, and talk it out when necessary. We’re here for you.

  9. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    I’ve been hospitalized just once in my adulthood. Chronic insomnia, leading to a blood pressure crisis, is what put me there. I was in my GPs office for some scheduled appointment and I said, “I’m here for (whatever), but what’s really bothering me is this splitting headache that I’ve had for a couple of days. Worst headache of my life.” I don’t exactly recall, but I probably told Doc Bland that I was losing my mind as well, because INSOMNIA.

    He looked at my BP reading that the nurse had done, re-took it, and five minutes later I was in an ambulance headed for the ER down the street. Five minutes after arriving in the ER I was getting a cocktail that included morphine via an IV. They spent three days trying to decide if my kidneys were failing, or if I had glandular problems, or had a tumor on my pituitary gland, or whatever. I was fine. I finally insisted on being discharged in exchange for promising not to work for a week. It was the damned insomnia.

    That drip IV cocktail was when I largely lost my fear that if I ever tried opiates I’d get hopelessly addicted. Contrary to all expectations, I did NOT enjoy the morphine.

    Anyway, yeah. Insomnia……not cool, man.

    • Steve, I didn’t know insomnia could do that. Wow. Amazing story. I hope you’re sleeping better now.

      • Beverly Stafford says:

        Ditto to Doni’s comment. Who knew? Glad your doc was quick on the draw.

        • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

          I seem to recall hearing this story before (maybe you told me about it the last time I wrote about not sleeping, or else you wrote about it separately). But man oh man, insomnia is awful. For me I seem to be able to fall asleep just fine, but then I wake up a few hours later and if I don’t turn my brain off quickly with the remote control, it starts spinning out of control thinking about all the things that make me anxious, and then I’m done for.

      • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

        Chronic insomnia doesn’t kill you directly—and most people eventually have rebound nights where they crash hard and catch up—but it can kill you indirectly, as in having a stroke from extreme hypertension.

        I still have bouts of insomnia, but they’re manageable. I tend to wake up at about 2:30 and 3:00 with a head full of anxious, ill-formed thoughts about stuff going on in my life. I’m usually back asleep within 30-60 minutes. Reading sometimes helps get my mind off of the voices in my head. So long as I get 6+ hours in, I’m not too loopy the next day, but I’m not 100% unless I get 7.

        I wear my FitBit at night, so I get to see my sleep patterns (REM, nREM, deep, awake) on a graph every morning. Usually I look at the graph and say, “Yep, that’s about how it felt.”

        • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

          Maybe I’ll get a FitBit! I hate being prodded into exercising, but I’d really be interested in checking out my sleep patterns!

  10. Oh, dearest Valerie. If there were crappy year awards, you’d win. I’m so sorry, about everything, but especially the human losses … and now your sister-in-law. It’s too much, and no wonder you can’t sleep. You know, even glue like you needs a break sometimes.

    Sending you love and hugs and wishes for not just restful sleep, but that you could get a break.

    Thank you, for in the middle of this, for taking the time to share with us. You know we care.

    xo d

    p.s. Maybe I’m morbid (yes, I can be), but yes, I do want to hear about the shit show. When you’re ready to tell it. And the rat story. Only if you want. Eventually.

    • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

      They’re both hilariously awful. And you won’t need to wait long for the shit show. But someone might call PETA on me if I tell the rat story. I probably need to wait until the statute of limitations is over to tell that one. At least I survived that night. The rat didn’t.

  11. Candace C says:

    I’ve been there (still am sometimes) with the insomnia caused by thoughts/worries not “turning off”. I found ( and yes, I was skeptical because that’s who I am) that silently counting to the number 10 and visualizing it as digits, not words, helps switch off the assembly line of worries. Something to do with the
    parts of our brains used for different things. Doesn’t always work because sometimes I can’t concentrate enough to override the thoughts. I pretty much suck at meditation. The times it does work are worth the effort. Guess it’s tantamount to counting sheep? Dunno, I’m no expert, just know it helps sometimes. Oh, and Valerie, I think you’re correct in thinking we could have an insomniac’s “phone tree”.

    • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

      One thing that used to work pretty well back in the day (when I was taking dance classes) was to mentally go over my dance routine in my head. I always seemed to fall asleep before I got to the end of it!

  12. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Valerie, thank you for sharing this story of…disaster after disaster. I’m a champion worrier and catastrophic thinker. I had tried and enjoyed yoga, and had learned some relaxation techniques. One night I found myself immersed in a “hamster cage” thought cycle that gave me pause because my heart was racing. I realized that some part of me thought this worry cycle was helpful to solve problems. It’s not. Some part of me felt I was doing my duty to keep the world safe for all us. I wasn’t. I was making myself less effective as a problem solver. I did this: I concentrated on my breathing and relaxed my muscles and consciously stopped the word flow in my brain. Not easy to do, but I fell asleep. I do this almost every night.
    Again, thank you .

    • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

      I did something like that when I was a kid! I would tense up every muscle I could, and then start consciously relaxing them one by one until I was completely relaxed. I’ve tried it as an adult and it doesn’t work for me any longer. You are correct about some of my insomnia issues being a person who feels like its my responsibility to keep everyone safe and protected.

  13. Beverly Stafford says:

    Candace and Joanne, I’ll try your suggestions. I’m lucky to manage six hours of sleep, generally fewer, especially if I have something to do the next morning. Even if it’s something inconsequential, I worry that I won’t be there on time. I so envy my sister to is awake almost 30 seconds once her head hits the pillow. She inherited the sleep gene, and I’m stuck with the worry gene.

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