Compared to Lee, my sleep-deprivation was minimal. To my left, he sat in his usual lecture chair (number nine), comatose. Each arm was balanced upon the licorice-thin arm rests, and the lips surrounding his slightly agape mouth twitched. Bedecked in jeans and a gray sweater, he sat. Sat and stared at the platform's crevice, the one at which the floor and wall diverged into a sharp crook of damaged baseboards.

I rigidly sat upright, my back parallel to the seat. I was clothed in an array of faded items from my junior year of high school, and my brown hair was hastily pulled into a ponytail. Just half an hour prior, I had forced my corneas to bear my contacts, albeit my eyes were already bloodshot from my obvious lack of slumber. I was still wearing my winter coat and, as I crossed my legs (left over right, of course), I absentmindedly placed my hands in my lap. I glanced at Lee, who acknowledged my awareness with a tic.

My only response was to raise an eyebrow. My lethargy prevented me from asking questions of him, which is what I usually do. Rather, I relied on my other senses--mostly sight and smell--to reach a conclusion. Firstly, I paid heed to Lee's somnolent expression, expecting drool to soon pool out of the corners of his still-open mouth. He reminded me of Sweeney Todd; specifically during the beach scene in which Mrs. Lovett sings "By the Sea."

After absorbing the sight of him, I breathed deep. Lee, having turned twenty-one just over a month ago, is now able to embrace his alcoholism legally. As he does not have class on Tuesday, he often arrives to Wednesday morning lecture hung-over and sleepy, reeking of the stuff. This time, however, I was surprised; the remnants of liquor was non-existent.

Just as I opened my mouth to ask him how his weekend was, Lee's baritone rang out.

"I didn't sleep."

I shook my head. "What? You mean, at all?"

His eyes widened even more. "No," he said, still staring forward. "I didn't sleep." His eyes twitched a few times. "But I have had a lot of coffee," he proclaimed in his mockingly froggy falsetto.

I smiled. "You need to sleep."

"No. I just need more coffee," he insisted.

I shook my head and turned my attention to the front, where our professor was currently struggling with the projection screen.

"I wonder what it is going to do today," I said to him, alluding to the fact that the screen is an extra hassle the professor argues with each lecture. Sure enough, the screen--which happens to drop in front of an additional, apparently unsatisfactory, white screen--repeatedly disregarded all technical instructions and began to move up and down on its own accord. Relenting to the drop-down screen several minutes later, our professor decided to go with the already bright, blank background provided.

I sighed indifferently, reaching into my bag for my notes.

Lee, who had been laughing hysterically at the "Screen Skirmish," abruptly stopped giggling and faked hyperventilation. "What do you think lecture is about today?" he asked.

I gave him the eyebrow.

Unblinking, Lee nodded. "I agree with you. It's definitely about robot porn."

I grinned and turned to him. "You are so much more fun when you're drunk on enervation."

The Most Important Things in Life Aren't Things

I just got off the phone with my mother, whom I have been talking to for the last hour and half. This is pretty typical; I'm sure that I could have hung on the phone with her for awhile longer. Honestly, she is used to speaking to me relatively frequently. Having said that, when I don't call her for two or three days, she tracks me down and asks me how things are.

I know she does this because she is lonely. She is the only occupant in an otherwise empty house, save for furniture and Ollie, my "psycho kitty." Her entire life has been devoted to my brother and I, so now that he has settled into an apartment and full-time job, and I am in college, she is...well, lost.

I certainly understand, and I appreciate hearing from her. My only annoyances are: one, that it may take up to half an hour to hang up the phone, even after repeatedly saying, "I need to go," and two, that I have nothing interesting to say. My mother isn't the type of overprotective, overbearing mother that always wants to know every nitty-gritty detail. When A. comes and visits, for instance, she only wants to make sure that I had a wonderful time. Anything I share beyond that is something she insists she "doesn't need to know." That's not to say she doesn't appreciate me talking to her, however.

I can say that I am, at least, somewhat disappointed that I am not going home for Thanksgiving. In an ideal situation, my brother would be there to celebrate this American feast-fest with us. However, my mother and I have found that Keith often sacrifices his time with us to be with his girlfriend's family; and, admittedly, this is becoming increasingly upsetting for us. My mother, unfortunately, has never had a holiday to herself. When Keith and I were younger, we always had to be shipped off to my dad's house to celebrate Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas, which was always on Christmas Eve, and not subject to negotiation. The same goes for Thanksgiving and Easter.

I feel sorry for her, and I feel incredibly guilty about the fact that I am, once again, not going to be home for this holiday. Though my mother claims that "it doesn't matter" that I will be in Indiana, I think it does. I think that, in a way, she is lying to be via the omission of underlying feelings. However, I know that--even if I were to go home this weekend--Keith would still not be there. He will, of course, be spending his time elsewhere.

I believe this led my mother to suggest spending Christmas in Indiana. "It always means so much to you," she said. "And I know this is your first Christmas with A., so maybe you could just go there for Christmas and spend the holiday there."

I nearly burst into tears; I was so surprised at what she was saying. Though she wishes for me to think over the idea, I know that I won't. As I told her repeatedly over the phone, "No. I'm coming home."

It is very frustrating. She doesn't need to sacrifice any more holidays. Sadly, however, my brother won't even be there on Christmas, either. He'll be with his girlfriend, of course. I don't think he realizes how much it hurts mom that she isn't able to spend the holidays with the two things she loves most.

The highlight of the conversation with my mother was towards the beginning, when she announced that she was "drugged up." Having recently gotten sick (via a cough inherited from her mother), my mom went out and spend some money on OTC drugs, not possessing enough to actually make a visit to the doctor's office.

As such, when she first answered the phone, my mom was quite drowsy and a little "out of it."

"Yeah, you sound pretty tired," I said. "I hope I didn't wake you up."

"No, no. You didn't do that. The cat keeps jumping on my chest anyway. I'm just really drowsy." With the upward inflection, I could picture her trying to widely open her eyes. "I really just shouldn't be driving any heavy machinery right now."

"Ah, yes. That would be bad." I nodded, despite the fact that she couldn't see me. "Well, don't drive the couch too far, then."

"Oh, I wouldn't do that. I've already been to hell and back with this stuff." She sniffed. "And once you've been to hell and back in heavy machinery, you're pretty pooped."
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