From the pages of Guinea Pig Zero, A Journal for Human Research Subjects ¥ Number 5 (PO Box 42531, Philadelphia, PA 19101; $3)
Awake With a Vengeance
Last fall, while trying to figure out how I was going to scrape together the money to fly to England for my brother’s wedding, I stumbled upon an ad in the Daily Pennsylvanian for sleep studies at the University of Pennsylvania. They needed healthy non-smokers for 3-day to 3-week studies on sleep deprivation, and I needed cash, so I made the call and made my leap into the exciting world of human guinea pigging.
Many people I’ve talked with since the study have had the same reaction: “I could never do that–I’d go crazy!” Well, if the truth be told, I did go crazy–absolutely friggin’ nuts. I kept extensive notes on the things going on, and upon rereading them I was amazed by how obviously my mental capacities were crumbling. I couldn’t complete thoughts. Forget about spelling and grammar: I couldn’t even make sense! At one point I actually fell asleep while writing and continued writing in my sleep! From what I’ve been able to decipher, it looks like I wrote “…but then cows Kelly clown,” though that has no obvious meaning to me. Some of my other notes included:
“I figured out what I’m gonna do if I ever have kids. Come late November I’m gonna start depriving them of sleep. By Christmas time they won’t want GI Joes and Hot Wheels Cities and Tickle Me Elmos–no, sir. The only thing they’ll fucking want is a good night’s sleep.”
“The last thing I ate on the outside was a corned beef special from Koch’s Deli that was so good I almost cried! I had a corned beef special in here that was so bad I almost cried. Corned beef specials seem to get me all choked up these days.”
“You know what’s a worse edit-for-TV than ‘Breakfast Club’–‘Beat Street.'”
“Holy moose dick, am I tired!”
“I’m dying here! Fucking dying!”
“During the bout (of computer tests) I just did, I conked out, slumped over in a chair sideways, and hit my head on the wall so hard I chipped the paint (honest)! That sucked.”
“I think today would be a good day for them to chain a live monkey to me. I’m really sleepy.”
Luckily for me, I had a really first-rate staff looking out for me. They were surprisingly supportive of my creative outlets, which included putting murals on all the dry-erase boards in the room and creating an elaborate mobile from an I.V. hanger, surgical gloves, straws, plastic eating utensils, origami swans and other debris tied together with the string from herbal tea bags. My most ambitious project was fashioning a set of bagpipes out of surgical gloves, drinking straws and adhesive tape (they were a miserable failure as a musical instrument, but it was really freaky looking, so it wasn’t all in vain).
You’ll be happy to know that I made more than enough dough to fly to my brother’s wedding in the UK, and it was lovely.
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