EDITOR'S NOTE: Monday was the start of Iowa's month-long spring turkey hunting season. Those who read this column will greatly improve their chances of encountering Mr. Long Beard.

It's always the same. I may long for it to be different, but I know in my heart it won't. After 22 years of repetition, you'd think I'd just accept my fate and be realistic, but I refuse. I'm stubborn that way.

So when my head hits the pillow tonight at about 9, I'll focus on the task at hand and envision a deep, uninterrupted sleep that lasts seven blissful hours. As if.

My mind tells my body to sleep, but the body won't cooperate. I'm just too excited. Too amped up for what lies ahead. Too hyper to sleep for any longer than 30-60-minute stretches. While I'm aware that a sound slumber will help me fulfill my goal, it's pointless to even try.

Instead the minutes creep slowly, agonizingly, by as I toss and turn and turn and toss -- trying in vain to find the perfect position. To no avail. I'm doomed and there's apparently nothing I can do about it. So I press on. Resigned to the long, black, lonely night that awaits. Hurry dawn. For God's sake, hurry.

In the darkness, the soft green light of the digital alarm clock stares at me with unblinking, relentless, inhuman cruelty. I try not to look at it, but I can't help myself. It totally controls me as the minutes pass one by one by one by one ... I swear I can actually hear the numbers change.

After what seems like an eternity, I awake from a brief respite and quickly glance at my nemesis. It's only 10:30? What the &!%$#. How can it only be 10:30? Something has to be wrong. Perhaps the electricity went off for a while. Perhaps the clock broke. Perhaps I'm dreaming. Perhaps ... ah, forget it. I know what's going on. After all, it's always the same.

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