Pundy from, uh...here writes:
Dear Mr Moon Topples
I am so relieved to have stumbled upon your blogsite because I am at my wit's end with a problem that up to now I have been too embarrassed to talk about. Your confidential advice service is my last hope.
Here's my problem which - brace yourself - I'm sure you will agree would bring a tear to the hardest heart. If hearts could cry, that is. You know what I mean. As you've probably guessed by the lyrical quality of this plea, I am an aspiring writer who is absolutely desperate to break into the big-time world of bestsellerdom. The difficulty I have - which is proving unamenable to treatment either on the NHS or even homeopathetically - is that -I can hardly bring myself to write this down - I do my best work when I am lying in bed at night, in the wee small hours, composing the words in my head into my literary masterpiece. Come the dawn I leap up and attack my computer as I feverishly jot down my masterpiece.
Where's the problem, I hear you ask (assuming you're still reading this, that is)? The problem is, not to put too fine a point on it, that I CAN'T STAY AWAKE AT NIGHT. As soon as I climb into bed and my head hits the pillow I fall asleep. To compound my misery I never wake up until the sun is high in the sky the following day.
As a result of my sleepfulness I am suffering from extended writer's block. My lack of fecundity with words is driving me crazy. Parodoxically, although I am well-rested I am also exhausted.
Please, please help - you are my last chance. Yawn. Excuse me, I would like to say more but it's nearly my bedtime and I must go.
Don't worry. From what I can see, your problems are all physiological in nature. The words are there, but your body is hindering your mind's ability to get them out and into the world properly. This is not an uncommon experience. It is well documented that the body and the brain hate one another.
First, to tackle the sleeping issue: whenever I get a letter in which a desperate reader falls asleep as soon as he lays head to pillow, my advice is always the same: remove the pillow. It seems clear to me that without such soft cradling of the head, your wakefulness should increase dramatically (studies suggest at least 60%).
Should you fall asleep anyway, putting a rooster inside an east-facing room with no blinds or shades should help you to be able to attack the dawn more regularly. Roosters can be bought nearly anywhere these days (except vending machines, unless you live in Japan), and cost very little to feed, especially if your house is made out of seeds.
Your letter did indeed bring a tear to my heart, Pundy. When I read of how frustratingly well-rested you have been, I knew I would have to leap in and offer whatever help I could. The advice above should set you back on the path to sleep-starved novelist in no time.
Sometimes readers seek advice without taking the plunge and composing a special letter. For the anonymous visitor who clicked into my site recently from a search for "stop smoking Sarah cat," I offer the following...
Getting a cat to quit smoking is indeed a difficult task. Many of the standard nicotine-replacement therapies available to humans are problematic for a feline. The patch, for instance, requires you to shave the poor thing, and even then there is a good chance that the critter will simply try to eat the patch off of its body. They also lack the patience and discipline for the lozenge or the gum, and clinical trials indicate that the inhaler makes them hallucinate.
Before I get into more concrete suggestions, I do want to say how grotesquely irresponsible it is to get a cat hooked on cigarettes in the first place. A cat will not, on its own, take up the habit. It cannot work a lighter or a book of matches. It has no thumbs, and cannot flick ashes into an ashtray. Even the shape of a cat's mouth is not naturally conducive to forming the sort of seal around the filter that smoking generally requires.
My guess, SSSC, is that your Sarah must have painstakingly trained the animal to smoke, which must have taken a tremendous amount of time and money. And now that the trick is no longer quite so amusing at parties, she is regretting her choice. Or perhaps the cat has expressed a desire to quit, but does not feel he or she can do so alone.
Either way, cats generally respond best to a cold turkey approach. Feed the cat cold turkey every time it expresses a desire for another cigarette. Make sure that both you and the feline have agreed on a quit date, and try to be supportive of your pet's needs during this time. Blowing up and yelling because the cat has scratched a piece of furniture or urinated on your computer is only going to create stress, which the cat is by now conditioned to respond to with a craving for nicotine. Talk in soothing tones, stroke its fur, and have plenty of chilled turkey meat available. It is normal for a feline to gain weight during this process. Encourage exercise, and do not berate your furry friend for no longer being as svelte as it once was.
Confidential to WS in Luxembourg:
Do not panic. Such things are normal this close to an event of this type. Your arranged bride is probably just as scared by all of this as you are.
Moon Topples, Advice Columnist is still hoping you will Ask the Moon. He is a bonded and licensed advicer who can easily see into the heart of any matter and right all wrongs. He enjoys late-night talks and long strolls on the beach. Send your questions to the email at left.