Sleepless at 3 a.m.!

Ranting seemed so beside the point. That’s what I thought that afternoon as traffic inched through a construction zone along Interstate 80. The woman in the SUV ahead of me chatted on her cell phone and checked her makeup in the rear-view mirror.

I scanned through radio stations, but I couldn’t find music. DJs discussed their pathetic dating lives on Reno’s modern rock alternative station, and when I tuned in for classic rock, instead of the Rolling Stones, I got a 50-minute block … of commercials.

I dug around for a CD and slid in Nirvana’s Nevermind. But I’d forgotten about the skip right in the refrain of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The CD sticks on “Hello-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo.”

I tossed the CD in the back seat and turned the radio off.

It had been not a good day all around.

At work, I’d stared at the blank computer screen for hours. Rant. Why? What’s the point? Getting all huffy is a waste of perfectly good energy that could be used to produce something creative.

Finally, a sliver of inspiration. I tried to type angrily away, grousing over some news-related hypocrisy. I was almost finished. I hit the save key. A gray error box popped up. Microsoft Word would now shut down. When this happens on my computer—which it does with astonishing frequency—I usually stare at words that will soon disappear into the ether, trying to memorize them. No matter. I won’t remember them.

After the construction zone, traffic thinned out. I sped happily home, home again. I like to be here when I can. I pulled up to the house, and the kids came running at the car.

“Mom!” they yelled. “What’s for supper?”

“Can you wait ’til I park?”

But there was no place to park. Every house on my street, including mine, had 12 cars parked in front of it. That roughly works out to 3.7 cars per resident (including newborn babies), but hey, this is America, land of the freeways. I jammed my car halfway into the driveway and walked in the house.

My house looked like your house might with dozens of teens and neighbor kids going in and out all day. The youths had used about 67 glasses for red Kool-aid. That works out to about 5.15 glasses per kid, including visitors.

It was hot. We don’t have air conditioning and, given the state of our power bill, it’s just as well. The house is cool in the morning, but by afternoon, heat penetrates every dark nook. My daughter’s hamster sprawled out on its smelly pine bedding, legs in the air. I checked to see if it was alive. It was.

I wandered into the bathroom. The floor was covered with dozens of sopping wet towels. Did the toilet overflow during a frenzied flush? Impossible. The toilet appeared not to have been flushed all day. The toilet paper was gone. The seat was up.

Shoving aside a pile of books, pillows, assorted clothes and video games, I sat down on the couch to watch the news. Tad Dunbar was looking unusually fuzzy. I’d have to adjust the antennae. Wait a minute. Where were the rabbit ears?

“OK, who took ’em?” I yelled. But the kids had disappeared. They decided I probably wasn’t cooking dinner and walked to 7-Eleven to buy Snickers and Slurpees.

Now, it’s 3:18 a.m. The house is still hot. I can’t sleep. But at least my computer’s working. I start to write: "Ranting seemed so beside the point."