Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bedlam 2011

While the etymology of the title to my caboose blog for 2011 is a bit ambiguous, the smart money is on a corruption of Bethlehem Royal Hospital, the first and oldest institution in the world to focus on mental illness. Its London roots as a hospital go all the way back to 1337, and the association with the term "bedlam"—meaning uproar and confusion—probably derives from Bethlehem's reputation for cruel and inhumane treatment of the mentally ill in centuries past (I am happy to report that today it is considered in the forefront of psychiatric treatment and enlightened care).

References to Bedlam go back a long way. In Shakespeare's King Lear (written in 1605) the Earl of Gloucester's son Edgar takes the role of a Bedlam Beggar in order to remain in England unnoticed after banishment. William Hogarth included a Bedlam scene in his famous series of paintings entitled A Rake's Progress (done in 1735).

Today, I use the term to refer to my annual report on where I slept the preceding 12 months: as in Bed: Laird's Actual Mattress. Considering the level of chaos and confusion over where I lay my head each night, it seemed an appropriate cover, or bedspread (if you will) for today's blog. (I started this "tradition" last year, with my Dec 18, 2010 entry, Sleeping in the Bed I Made.)

So here's the story:
o I slept in my own bed at Sandhill 161 times, a whopping 44% of the time. If you add Ma'ikwe's bed, a mere three miles down the road to marital bliss, that number swells by an additional 34 nights. That means I closed my eyes in the same zip code (63563) a majority of the time. I thought it was worse than that.

o I slept with my wife 95 nights, or 26% of the time, a clear majority of which was not in Missouri. (Ma'ikwe guessed it would only total 70, so I'm gaining there, too.)

o I slept at clients' homes (usually in guest rooms) 13 times for 46 nights in total.

o I slept at 12 different friends' homes for a total of 55 nights (some of those were while I was doing professional work within walking distance).

o I slept 11 times at places associated with FIC meetings or events, totting up to 31 nights.

o Three times I wound up in a motel. While this is my least favorite option, there are a few days every year when I'm not able to manifest a friendly bed and I rely on MasterCard instead.

o I was on overnight trains 21 times (easily placing me in Select status with Amtrak).

o Most nights I was in an actual bed. Only three nights were spent in tents, 12 on couches, and 28 on air mattresses.

o All together, I slept in 39 different locations outside of Rutledge, which placed me in 16 states and one province—with no effort to account for the nights spent sleeping around (so to speak) on rolling stock.

Just for a moment, I invite you to contemplate the logistics that go into putting all this in place. Now fold in the reality that I don't have a secretary doing this for me.
Do you think that constitutes bedlam?

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