I Can’t Sleep With Duke Ellington


confused man looking up

Where is she going with this?


Those of you who are not married to engineers don’t really understand what it is to live with one.  Moreover, I’m not sure you can fully appreciate just how different their brains are from normal brains. 

But it’s okay, because I have, right here, a story that will explain – in the example format you so love – exactly what sets the bulk of humanity here and engineers somewhere way over there.




The setup: I, as has been previously mentioned, am basically one of Santa’s elves.  (My official title is Harbinger of the Christmas Spirit.  No crown yet, apparently.)  Therefore, I’ve been listening to Christmas music since November, and a couple weeks ago I asked nicely  insisted  put on Christmas music at bedtime and then stood there looking pitiful until Husband agreed that of course it was time for Bedtime Christmas. 


puss in boots begging

Even more effective while naked.


I’m winning at marriage.


Anyway, I’ve got this whole amazon playlist that’s… well, look:


Screenshot of my Christmas playlist

My actual goal, if you’re curious, is one hundred hours of Christmas music.


So I set that whole thing on random and just let it go, for variety.


There was a slight hiccup the first night, but all in all I thought it was going very well… Husband said it would take him some getting used to, but insisted he would “not be responsible for my going eight whole hours without Christmas so he’d just have to get used to it.”  See why I love him?




ME:  Hey, I’m on my way home.
HIM:  Okay.
ME:  And I-
HIM:  Bye- Oh.  Go ahead.
ME:  … So I booked the rest of your appointments.  Also, why were you sleeping in the basement?
HIM:  I’ll explain when you get home.
ME:  Or now.  Now’s fine.
HIM:  (sighs)  Because of the jazz.
ME:  Because… what?
HIM:  The jazz, the jazz!  I tried to tell you before.
ME:  You said you can’t fall asleep if a jazz song is playing, which is weird…
HIM:  Right.  And last night, your kindle kept playing jazz.
ME:  So…
HIM:  It kept waking me up!  So I went downstairs to relax, and it was so nice and quiet that I just… fell asleep.
ME:  … in the basement.
HIM:  Yeah.
ME:  … You know, I kept waking up last night too?
HIM:  Because I was gone?
ME:  Yeah, but also because my music stopped.  Right after you got up to go to the bathroom, actually.  And you were gone but I figured you’d be back soon and I didn’t have the energy to get up and fix it.  But I kept waking up with no music and no you, and eventually it was just time to get up.  So it was probably off most of the night after you left.
HIM:  (groaning)  That’s almost as sad as I am tired!



Now, I know what you’re thinking.  And certainly, I do acknowledge that there are some people who, due to the tragic fact that they were born without a soul, don’t like jazz.  But first of all, I wasn’t aware that there was any jazz on this playlist (there’s a lot I haven’t heard yet, though, so maybe I’m missing something) and secondly, Husband does like and appreciate jazz!  He didn’t used to, but then he took a class on it in college so he could marry me.*


ME:  (via Skype)  I’m coming up to bed
ME:  Because bedtime
HIM:  k
ME:  Now, I have, as previously mentioned, another Christmas playlist that I set up a couple years ago
ME:  It has, I believe, no jazz
HIM:  plz
ME:  BUT, it’s all more spiritual Christmas tunes
ME:  No Dominic the Christmas Donkey, no Grinch, no Frosty
HIM:  So you haven’t actually worked on fixing the thing that kept waking me up last night
ME:  No, I’ll set up a THIRD playlist tomorrow, but I didn’t have time to fuck with it today
ME:  I was busy with other things today
ME:  I’ve got 1622 songs to go through, hon… that’s a lot of stuff to sort through, checking for “relative jazziness”
ME:  Also, I’m not sure exactly WHAT it is that wakes you up
HIM:  Neither do I, since I was asleep when I heard it
ME:  I mean, Eartha Kitt singing Santa Baby… does that wake you up?
HIM:  I don’t know
ME:  Most of my Harry Connick Jr isn’t particularly… you know
ME:  See, this might need you awake and listening
HIM:  There were horns for one song I woke up to
HIM:  And scatting from another
ME:  But classical horns don’t wake you
ME:  You sleep right through brass all the time
HIM:  No, but there is a difference between jazz horns and classical horns
ME:  Do you want to hear my theory?
HIM:  Sure
ME:  See if it rings true (comes upstairs to do this in person)
ME:  So you can sleep through classical, dubstep, death metal, gregorian chants… but jazz wakes you right up, yeah?
HIM:  My CPAP says I got an hour and fifteen minutes of sleep in between all the jazz.
ME:  Okay, so we have to ask ourselves: what’s so different about jazz?
HIM:  (ponders) Well, the lack of the standard 4/4 time…
ME:  Pfft.  You sleep through 3/4, 6/8, 2/4 and even – I’ve checked – 7/8 and 7/4.
HIM:  True…
ME:  I theorize that it’s the syncopation, and the sheer number of extra elements, that’s forcing your analytical engineery brain into action.  You can’t sleep, because there’s mathing to do!
HIM:  That… actually makes sense.  (nodding)  I do wake up suddenly.
ME:  Oh my God… Jazz breaks your engineer brain!
HIM:  But I like it!  I understand it!  I appreciate it!
ME:  Sure, you just can’t sleep while it’s happening.


math stuff

Engineer’s brain at rest.


As a test, I pulled up this album.  Full of classics like Bing Crosby and Gene Autry, right?  I played Sleigh Ride—note that Duke Ellington is credited—without telling him why.  I think it’s lovely and jaunty, but I wouldn’t call it “jazzy”… would you?


Husband did.


math stuff with lights and colors

Engineer’s brain on JAZZ.





* Yeah, I come with pre-req’s.  You’re surprised?




11 comments on “I Can’t Sleep With Duke Ellington

  1. lawgirljenn says:

    Hahaha. Mine is an engineer too, so I totally get it. Their minds work in totally different and fascinating ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liz says:

    My brother majored in music and taught music and first job was for a school that was know for it’s annual jazz production. He hates jazz. He loves marching band.


  3. I don’t mind jazz, but I’m not in favor of four weeks of Christmas music. Going to side with the hubby on this one based on that reason

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t be silly! How could we get by on only four weeks of Christmas music? No, it’s been playing elsewhere in the house and car since before Thanksgiving, and will continue through most of January.

      Them’s the rules when you live with the Harbinger of the Christmas Spirit.


  4. Jeezus! If I insisted on playing Christmas music at bedtime, my boyfriend would have his bags packed before I could say, “But, it’s Bing Crosby…” 😂😂😂.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Do you have music playing all night long? I think I’d only be able to do it if it was classical (ish) music; otherwise I’d get too distracted.

    Also, this is hilarious. Math-ing has never kept me awake at night. Not once. Nor will it ever. Words, on the other hand? My jam.

    Liked by 1 person

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