Kari and the fan: How to fall asleep when you’re a Chicago mom

In 1974, when I was just a toddler, my dad was going to college to get his Associates degree in accounting.

A little back story – my dad went into the Navy right after graduating high school.

He was in the Navy for four years and actually “met” my mom while serving.

I say “met” because that is a story for another day.

That will be written …

They both graduated high school in 1964, married in 1968 and they had me in 1970.

Things got DONE back then.

So it wasn’t until we were transferred to Chicago in 1973 that my dad got the chance to go to college while working full time while my mom stayed at home with two children under the age of four.

400 miles away from family.

Not knowing one person.

It had to be said.

Anyhoo, it was while my dad was in college that he took a Psychology course which required them to write a paper about something in their life that applied psychology in real time.

My dad took some time to think about it and even talked to my mom about it.

That is the beauty of being married when you go to college.

Two brains are always better than one.

It was after some thought that they came up with “Kari and The Fan.”

I asked my dad if he could recall any of the paper and here is what he told me:

We moved to Illinois shortly after your second birthday, and we all were adjusting to a new home. It was hard for everyone to adapt, as I was away from home most of the time either at work, during the day, or at school in the evenings. It profoundly affected you, especially at bedtime. You had a difficult time settling down at night.


Mom read to you, sang softly to you and even tried to calm you by rocking you to sleep. That was sometimes effective, but you would often wake up as soon as she put you in bed, and the whole routine was started anew.


As some point (we think in late Spring or early Summer of 1973) Mom found that you seemed to like the pleasant breeze of the fan. Ultimately, she found that the sound of the fan soothed you and you’d fall asleep. Thereafter, the fan became a fixture for helping you fall asleep, and staying asleep.

In my paper, I cited this as our example of Pavlov’s stimulus and response theory. The fan being the stimulus, and your falling asleep, the response.

My dad is a great writer by the way.

This was just a summary and I want him to keep going.


He got an A on the paper, by the way.

Was there any doubt??

Here is what you need to know: I still, at the age of 44, need a fan to fall asleep.

So do my girls.

When we go to a hotel, we bring a fan.

When we go to someone’s home, we first ask if they have a fan and if they don’t, we bring a fan.

Ceiling fans don’t count.

No, no, no, we need those great old fashioned oscillating fans with the beautiful, beautiful breezes.


Heck yeah!

Big old box fans?


I used to be kind of embarrassed when I would tell people that I have to sleep with a fan on as an adult.

Like it was some seedy secret or a security blanket from the past that I can’t seem to let go of.

Some people need to sleep with the TV on, some with a special blankie, some with the light on, some with prescription medication.

It’s all the same really.

I am, however, noticing a trend.

Of the quiet fan.

The “air moving” machine.

And it disturbs me.

To my core.




There needs to be the gentle noise, THE GENTLE NOISE.

Why, why, why would you ever, EVER get rid of the noise??

Which means I might be the one you see with a flatbed at the Flea Market buying ALL of the Sears harvest gold fans with the sharp metal blades.

Metal fans of death.




Pass the Sominex.

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