birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

If Only I Counted Sheep

The main rule was to count until I fell asleep. At first, the follow-up rule used to be that I counted as many movies that start with the letter A, then go down the rest of the alphabet until I fell asleep. But if I got to the letter V or lower and I was still awake, it meant that it was a bad night of insomnia. I would really struggle to come up with movies that started with the letters X and Z. There was an 80s movie called ‘Zapped’ starting Scott Baio. I never saw it but saw a commercial for it on Channel 5 and got excited because that would be one for the Z’s on those sleepless nights. The loose alphabetizing was a rule only because it helped me keep the movies organized in my head. Anyway, eventually I was rattling off the same movies from rote memory, which made the whole counting-to-fall-asleep thing work out pretty well. But then I started having trouble when the list of movies per letter started getting really long because I would run out of fingers and toes as I counted, even when I had each digit stand for 10 movies. The counting system got so complicated that I started getting over stimulated which defeated the purpose of the activity.

So then the rule changed a little. Sometimes I would count all the movies I’ve ever seen. Sometimes I would count all the movies I would like to have in some imaginary film library.

I started getting bored with the movie counting because I started getting bored by movies in general. Or, at least I wasn’t as obsessed with movies and pop culture as I used to be in high school and college. I don’t know how it happened, but the movie-counting turned into counting all the guest stars on the TV show ‘Friends.’ The main rule was to count but the secondary rule was to start with all the guest stars related to the plot line for Rachel, then Ross, then Monica, then Chandler, then Joey, then Phoebe. Sometimes this would put me to sleep and sometimes I would get lost in the counting and get flustered and then become more awake. I would have to move on to the guest stars for the show ‘Will and Grace.’

I am so weird.

A Break

Boss Yourself Around