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This Squeaky Wheel And I Are Pulling An All-Nighter

Okay, okay, no more screwing around. Let's get serious here. I've been putting off running on this squeaky, plastic wheel all day long, and now it's—Christ, is that clock right? Is it 10:30 already? Man oh man, it is way later than I thought. Looks like I got myself a long, long night of spinning a noisy wheel around in a circle here.

All right, squeaky wheel. From now till dawn, it's you and me, buddy. We've gotta burn some midnight oil.

I'd love to just pass out right here in this pile of wood shavings, but this bad boy ain't going to spin itself, you know what I'm saying? Do I wish I'd gotten a head start on the wheel- running this morning instead of making a nest out of hair and paper scraps and curling up inside of it for five hours? Sure, of course. But hey, what's the use of worrying about "what if" when there's work to be done? Hell, I spin better at night anyway.

Okay, game plan: Before I hop on, I'm going to need to warm up with some scratching. I'm talking the real, full-body kind of scratching where my back leg thumps against the bottom of the cage in rapid succession for like 10 minutes. Naturally, I'm going to need to loudly nestle around for a while after that. Maybe munch on some seeds, so I've got some fuel in me. Then I'm just going to attack this wheel, man. Like, full-on. Attack it like never before. I figure if I start hitting it now, I can go straight through until morning and then just totally crash out. Tomorrow will be a complete waste, but screw it. I've got no choice, right?

I've pulled all-nighters on the wheel before, and the key is to stay focused and alert. Trust me, when it's 4:30 a.m. and you've been going at it hard, the night deadly silent but for the incessant squeak of that wheel, it takes a lot of effort not to become delirious. A lot of effort. My secret is I block out little breaks for myself, just to recharge. I'll run on the wheel for about an hour or so, but then I'll take a breather and hit the water drip. It's like a little reward for myself. Next I'll spend a few minutes running frantically in a circle around my cage to gather my thoughts and then it's back to the wheel. If I just keep repeating that pattern for the next, oh, 10 hours or so, I should be good.

Is it going to be the best wheel-spinning I've ever done? Definitely not, but it's down to the wire now and I've just got to power through. If I second-guess myself about how fast I'm spinning, or all the little mistakes I'm making along the way, it's just going to slow me down. We're not talking about some award-winning running-on-a-wheel performance that'll blow everyone away here. It doesn't have to be perfect, you know? It just has to get done.

And then, of course, once I've done a decent-enough job running one way, I've just got to remember to turn around and run the other way for a while, otherwise the whole thing will have been pointless.

I know what you're probably thinking: Does the incessant squeaking of the wheel ever start to grate on me when I'm going all night like this? Honestly, no, not at all. I listen to that grating sound and I think, "Yes, I'm making progress." In fact, sometimes I get so in-the-zone that I actually start squeaking myself. I figure, hey, why not? Let 'er rip, you know? And of course it's gotta be loud. There's going to be an earsplitting shriek penetrating through the walls of this place, but I can't help that. It's out of my control.

That's the grind, I suppose. Me and this wheel emitting piercing, high-pitched squeaks on into the early morn.

Just got to get through tonight and then it's the weekend—smooth-sailing and chewing my way through an entire cardboard tube. Christ, I can taste it already.

Ready, wheel? Let's go.

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