FOR THE LAST month, I've been hosting a morning radio show. That means I get up so early that the moon doubles over with laughter while watching me grope for my keys.
It's not easy for a guy like me to get up that early, because normally I'm a night owl, and in addition to the radio gig and my writing, I've got two other jobs - husband and father.
My after-work time is eaten up by family activities. It begins with picking up Eve from school and listening to her talk about everything from Ariana Grande to that weird kid in fifth-period science class.
When I get home I talk to my wife, LaVeta. Two days per week, we launch into our regularly scheduled argument. When that's over, and she hits me with the silent treatment, I spend some time with my son. After dinner I go to LaVeta to admit I'm wrong, even when I'm not. By then it's 10 o'clock. I sometimes write until midnight. Unfortunately, I get up at 4:45, so you can see my dilemma.
Because I love doing the radio show, I can do three hours on adrenaline, but afterward, I'm just not me. In fact, I'm more like C. Montgomery Burns from "The Simpsons"- a smiling, evil, balding version of myself who's always 5 seconds from a meltdown.
Fortunately, I've learned to control my sleepy rage. Sometimes I do so by avoiding eye contact with normal people, kind of like Bruce Banner before he turns into the Incredible Hulk.
Sometimes people try to coax me out of my funk.
"What's wrong, Solomon?"
"I'm sleepy," I growl. "You wouldn't like me when I'm sleepy."
Of course, it's not always possible to growl your way through sleepiness. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
That's what happened one day last week, when I came home from work and saw that my lawn looked like the Amazon, complete with exotic animals screaming mating calls from my bushes.
After weeks of walking past it in a zombielike haze, I knew the time had come to mow the lawn.
By the time I dragged my lawnmower out front, it was dusk, it was humid, and the mosquitoes were out for blood - mine.
The first bite was on my arm. It itched a little, but I scratched it hard, and hurried through those next few blades of grass. I was hoping the mosquitoes would stop there, but they didn't.
They bit me on my neck and then my face. I felt like I was caught in some cruel, prehistoric mosquito swarm. I ran into the house and grabbed the only thing I could. Bug repellent.
Emboldened by the bug juice, I went back outside and finished mowing the lawn. I went back to get my electric hedge clippers, and started to trim my bushes.
By then the bug repellent was wearing off, and the mosquitoes were coming back. That, combined with the chainsaw-like sound of my hedge clippers, brought out my sleep-deprived aggression. I cut the hedges violently, hoping I would catch a mosquito in my rage.
Despite my "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" performance, the only thing I caught was a black wire hanging down near the bush. Turns out that was a fiber optic cable, and in cutting it, I disabled my Internet access, and won the title of Boob of the Week.
In that moment, the mosquitoes lost all respect for me. They bit me with reckless abandon. When I told LaVeta what happened, she gave me the look every wife gives her husband when he does something dumb.
When I explained to the serviceman who came to replace the wire about what had happened, he tried mightily not to laugh. Then, he shook his head and gave me the best lawn-care tip I've gotten in a long time.
"Don't cut the bushes while you're sleepy," he said.
I think I'm going to follow that advice.