It's 3:48 in the morning, and I can't get this song out of my head. “I was born under a wandering star ...” It's from Paint Your Wagon, which was a musical that they made into a movie. It had Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin and in my head I've got Lee Marvin's gravelly baritone singing “When I get to Heaven, tie me to a tree. Or soon I will start wandering and then you know where I'll be.”
Good song. Goofy movie, but a good song. I've always liked that line.
That's not what's keeping me up, though. What's got me awake at … now 3:52 in the morning … is my left leg. It was born under a wandering star.
I've got this thing called “Restless Leg Syndrome.” It may be the most ridiculous disease ever. What happens is that one of my legs – tonight it's the left, but sometimes it's the right – gets jumpy. It can't be still. It can lie there for maybe a while, but then it's got to move.
“You got to move. You got to move ...” Great. Now I've got Mick Jagger in my head.
The “while” thing changes, too. Sometimes, the leg's okay for a minute. Sometimes it's 15 seconds.
I can control it. Sort of. I can lie there and refuse to move the darned thing, while the ache grows and grows and the 15 seconds stretches into a minute, and then the ache subsides right about the time that the next wave of “You got to move” comes along and the whole damned thing starts over again. I can do that a few times, saying, “Screw you, leg. You're not the boss of me.” But then I give in.
“You're not the boss of me, and you're not so big. Life isn't fair ...”
Wow. The theme song from Malcolm in the Middle. I wonder what Frankie Muniz is doing now, anyway?
Sometimes I think my RLS is tied to my cycling. Sorry, I didn't do the “first-reference” thing above, but, yeah, “Restless Leg Syndrome” is enough of a real disease to get a three-letter acronym. Did you know that the phase “three-letter acronym” has it's own three-letter acronym? TLA. Funny.
RLS is enough of a real disease that I first heard of it from a commercial by a pharmaceutical company. “Ask your doctor about ...” yadda yadda. When I saw the commercial, I thought, “Dang, I get that sometimes.” Which is weird for me. I don't usually relate to drug commercials, most of which seem to be for things to treat Depression. I don't usually feel depressed, but those commercials sure make me feel sad. Maybe I need to ask my doctor about that.
Funny thing about the RLS medicine: It's really just a sleeping pill. There's no “cure” for RLS. The treatment is to make you sleep so heavily that you can ignore the leg. That's probably good, because the only thing that RLS can do to you is make you sleep-deprived, so that you would eventually become psychotic and need some really heavy medicine.
So, they don't treat RLS, but they can treat the side-effects from the symptoms. The downside of the treatment is that the pill makes you sleep for eight hours. Unless you take the pill about 10 pm, this makes it almost impossible to get up early the next morning and go for a bike ride. Since I don't like to take the pill unless I need to, I don't usually take it at 10 pm. And then the RLS hits at 2 am and I'm well and truly screwed if I really want to ride anywhere the next morning.
Anyway, I was saying maybe my RLS is related to my cycling. I didn't used to have it, and I didn't use to ride this much. Cycling obviously complicates my treatment for it, since if I didn't care about riding early, I would have taken my pill … um, two hours and 20 minutes ago now … and I would be asleep instead of writing this blog post.
But, instead, I was awake at 3:30 am, trying to be the boss of my leg, and I thought about a point that I wanted to make in a blog post, and that point is this: I was born under a wandering star.
Oops. And now Lee Marvin is back.
I've got friends that would be happy as clams to bike the same roads over and over. For them, the joy of cycling is more about turning over the cranks, leaning into a well-known curve, beating last week's time up an old familiar climb. I like those thing, too.
But there is something about turning down a brand new road that makes me giddy. Even when the road goes nowhere. Maybe it will peter out into a dirt road or become somebody's driveway, or end up on a busy road full of 18-wheelers doing 70 mph, so you turn around and get to see the same road in reverse. Maybe the road will just get worse and worse for miles, and then you get to where the bridge on this road used to be and you know why there haven't been any cars for a while.
You takes your chances on these roads. But sometimes they're worth it, and you find a road that you have to design a permanent or the next club century around. That chance left turn onto some unnamed street shows you five miles of pavement that you are now willing to bike 40 miles to ride. And you do it over and over, riding your little bit of heavenly asphalt, enjoying that stinger climb and zippy descent, smelling the flowers in the field below as you come down out of that tree-covered canopy.
I've found quite a few of those, and they are Heaven.
“But soon I will start wandering and then you know where I'll be ...”
It's 4:45 now. I'm going to see if my leg will calm down and let me sleep. If not, I'm going to put on some lights and go for a ride. I think there's a new bike trail off of Hwy 79 between the airport and Hwy 98, and I want to see where it goes this morning.
Might as well start that ride under that wandering star.