Monday, May 21, 2012

The Rest of My Life

It’s time to admit a shameful secret; my writing hasn’t led to free stuff. Not for me the offers sent to bloggers for this year’s It Bag, or tinted moisturizer or even dryer sheets scented like a Tahitian rain-forest; as of yet, no one has read my first book and suddenly felt a driving need to offer me a hat. This is probably because I don't write about objects I own, which makes me a bad candidate to start writing about objects I’ve just gotten. Also, I suspect, you send objects to people who are seen as aspirational, and I’m aspirational only if you’ve always longed to spill some of each meal down your shirt. Actually, no, I did once receive something. A few months ago, I mused on Twitter about how Swiffer needed to create slippers. I believe I even dubbed them Swippers, which tells you how often I Swiffer and how pet-fur cuts off oxygen to my brain. Within a week, the Swiffer organization sent me a pair of slippers with Velcro on the bottoms which cunningly attached to Swiffer-sheets. I sailed around the house on my Swippers, shrieking in delight at the cleverness of it all. Had that been the only offer I ever received, I’d consider myself a blessed woman with hair-free floors.

But earlier this spring, I was invited to read at a bookstore in Idyllwild, a scenic alpine town about two and a half hours outside of Los Angeles. Owing to the distance, the bookstore would arrange for my family and me to stay at a local bed-and-breakfast the night before. Not only that, but the bookstore would spring for  lunch the day of the reading. I tell you, I felt as if I had been called up to the literary majors. Yes, my clothing didn’t smell like a Tahitian rain-forest, but it would smell like an alpine glen!

Also, knowing me, it would smell like my free lunch because of spillage.

A month ago, the plans changed. I got my official reading date the day after we got the official date for Daughter’s last choral performance for this year. You already know they were the same date, right? Quickly, it was determined Consort would stay home with Daughter and I would go to Idyllwild by myself. My brain stopped having dreamy fancies of family hikes as a stag gazed benevolently down at us from a nearby crag. Truth was, the kid is no great fan of hiking and would have probably scared the stag off with her grousing. Now, my fantasies went to a baser and less sporty corner of my brain. “By the arms of Morpheus,” I thought breathlessly, “I could sleep.”

Sleep is a fraught topic around here. The kid is a homeschooler who is a night person. Consort is an independent contractor who is a night person and who also has insomnia. I am a day person who works from home- a home wherein there are two people who are night people-and I am a light sleeper. The dog is very irritated by the family of skunks who live in the front yard and who are night people. The cats sleep when it suits them and them alone. This means the house works something like Las Vegas in that someone is always up getting into something and, in the case of the dog, is sometimes very upset about something outside of their control. I cannot tell you the last time I had an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Every family member loves me, but they’re fixing to kill me. The thought of a falling asleep at one time and waking up seven or (please God) eight hours later with no idea of what had happened in between made up for the guilt I felt in missing the kid’s performance. I consoled myself that I had seen every other performance that year and if hearing Daughter walking around rehearsing counted for anything, I had already sat in that theater fifteen times over. Daughter was gracious about my not being there and kindly wished me a good night’s sleep. We actually had family conversations about how I was going to sleep for a whole night. Sometimes, it appeared the whole point of my going to Idyllwild was to participate in a sleep experiment where I would discover if I could still create a REM cycle.

The trip to Idyllwild from Los Angeles goes like this; you barrel out the 10 freeway for an hour or so in a stupor (The 10 West’s motto is At Least We’re Not the 5 North), and then head up a mountain for another hour or so. The mountain road is exciting if you’ve been putting off considering your own demise. It’s a two-lane highway which hugs the side of a mountain several thousand feet in the air with what I would describe as less of a guard-rail and more of a dental-retainer. I had no idea unimproved WPA road-projects still existed. You don’t just get to Idyllwild as much as you earn Idyllwild. The pastoral little village hove into view and my fingers released the wheel, slightly. I checked in to the B&B, admired the general pinkness and comfort of the room, found a quick meal and a small margarita (half-sized, as not to possibly interfere with my sleep), and came back to the room for some reading and, finally, sleep. I was in bed, lights out, by ten o’clock. The quiet enveloped me like a slanket. I was asleep within minutes.

The dream was odd. An old neighbor and I were sitting in the park, chatting about our kids when she looked at me and said, “Don’t you hear that?”

My eyes snapped open. It was unrelievedly dark in the room, nowhere near morning. Yes, I heard that. It was hard to miss.

NEXT: The noise. And the rest of my night.


Anonymous NancySongbird said...

Wow, you should try writing a suspense novel next! ;-) Can't wait to hear about the noise! LOL

3:31 PM  
Blogger Cabin77 said...

You do realize that I'm not going to be able to sleep tonight worrying about what that noise was.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Sara J. Henry said...

Oh, you love to tantalize ...

5:00 PM  
Blogger dhanks said...

Ah, the old two-parter trick. Ok, I'll buy it. Be back tomorrow for the exciting finish. YOU will be back tomorrow, won't you? Don't keep us waiting.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Twisted Susan said...

Damned cliffhanger!

6:11 PM  
Anonymous Courtney said...

this...without even knowing the second half the why I never let myself look forward to sleep, ever. Hotel room on a business trip and if I fantasize for one minute about fluffy comforter and eight hours of sleep I will get put next to the frat formal, with no other rooms available. I would like to beat senseless with a stick all the experts who keep harping on how important sleep is to health.
Looking forward to the next post, though!

11:52 AM  
Anonymous The Other Elle said...

Gahhh!!! That's so mean to do to a person who always reads the last page of a book FIRST so she can make sure the heroine is still alive at the end!

Not that the noise was an ax-murderer or anything. (It wasn't, was it?)

Okay, I confess, I read too many crime novels. But you'd better be alive at the end.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Paula said...

Coincidentally, I once spent an entirely sleepless night in Idyllwild in the 80's. Charming town, but all i really remember is spending the night in a fruitless search for the light switch. I tried to cover my head with a pillow to achieve enough darkness but it didn't work. I never did find the light switch. I'm sure that was a design feature of the room, intended to give the owners amusement at the expense of guests. I hope that's not where you're staying.

Actually, I do remember one other thing.....I had never met so many people whose purpose in residing in Idyllwild had to do with the space they found there that afforded them the ability to deny reality enough to be able to realize bizarre self-actualization fantasies. Or maybe that was just a function of the sign on my forehead that only crazy people can read which says "tell me all about it".

10:37 PM  

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