Thursday, May 30, 2013

Third Time Lucky


(Quinn runs in delighted pointless circles. People reading this start talking softly amongst themselves, in worried tones.)


"What book?"

"When did she write another book? Did we know about this?"

"Quinn, you know the vanilla extract is for cooking and not drinking, right?"

Yes, I do. I mean, I know that now.  The book is called PET SOUNDS and it's all about the animals who have been the boss of me. Some of the stories are among the most popular from the blog; other are new. For example, I finally explain why I am a pet-owner, even when I know better. Hint; it's probably genetic.

The stories have been polished and edited and I'm really pleased with how the collection turned out. I hope you are as well. A dollar from the sale of each book will go to Sante D'Or, a shelter on the east side of Los Angeles. My hope is that we can raise some money to help cats, dogs and the odd rabbit or two get healthy and happy before they go to be loved in their own homes.

The book will be available on Amazon and iBooks very shortly and will also be available in paperback; I'll let you know when it's officially landed. Thanks in advance for taking a look at it and do me a favor would you? If you ever see me in public and I ask you if there's some pet-hair on me, just lie and say no.

And take the bottle of vanilla extract from my hand.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

And It's Late In the Evening

I don't want to brag or anything, but I have insomnia.

Of course, we all have insomnia. It's a world of wonder and a world of fear and stress and short-term job contracts and sexting and bee colony die-off. No right-thinking adult should shut their eyes somewhere around 11 and not open them again until eight or so hours later. So when I say I have insomnia, what I'm flaunting is the sheer cussedness of my insomnia. When Daughter was a baby, she ate at 3:30 a.m. We could do what we liked during the day, she was game and up for new experiences, each day was a special snowflake, but I knew one thing; at 3:30 in the morning, I'd find myself halfway down the hall, having sleptwalked towards the sound of low-blood sugar.

And then at her six-month checkup, the doctor asked after her sleep schedule. I mentioned our standing date. "She can sleep through the night," he said, wiggling her toes in an affectionate yet professional manner, "Now, it's just habit. Tonight, don't nurse her, just give her water. She'll sleep through the night in a week."

And so she did.

[Well, until she turned 11 months old and molars became The Boss of All of Us, but that's another story.]

Within two nights, she was asleep at 3:30. I, however, was not. As if one of the world's atomic clocks was installed in my head, at precisely 3:30 every morning my eyes would snap open and I would contemplate the relentless dark which is 3:30 in the morning. In that darkness, my brain would inform me of every single thing I had ever done wrong, every stupid thing I ever said, every baffling financial decision I made. Well, it wasn't always about me; sometimes I wept for the dolphins. For the first few weeks, I would attempt to go right back to sleep, because I was foolish and thought I had some say in what my body did. What my brain was going to do was stay up for about an hour, maybe ninety minutes, itemizing my failings and then allow me to fall asleep as the sky started to lighten. That Daughter was going to wake up an hour later was immaterial to my brain.We had a job to do, my brain and I, and my selfish desire for a REM cycle wasn't going to keep my brain from making sure I know it was very disappointed with me. Reading never worked, as there is no book which mutes internal decades-long lists of failings. Experimentation taught me to get up and watch sitcoms, as the rampant dolphin-concerns were muffled by Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia. I tried melatonin, camomile tea, even prescription medication before bed; they acted upon 3:30 in the morning as a mosquito acts upon a herd of wildebeest.

Flash forward a decade. 3:30 in the morning and I weren't always hanging out, but I was still seeing a great deal more of her than I liked. One extra cup of green tea? 3:30. Political unrest? 3:30. Holidays coming up? Hi, 3:30; let me at least get some wrapping paper and make use of this time. A doctor told me it has something to do with the adrenals; you know how you feel droopy right around 3:30 or 4:00, go looking for something carbish to keep you awake? That is this feeling's more tractable twin, because a carb will wake you long enough to hold you through the trough, but it you take something to sleep at 3:30 in the morning that means at 7 in the morning, it's going to be 2:00 in the morning in your head and you'll be basically a houseplant, only mean.

Thankfully, I worked from home, so at the very least I wasn't driving at 8 in the morning, which is why I am not dead. Also, we had Roku, which meant I could get caught up on sitcoms in the hour and a half I was up every night; if it's formulaic, twenty-two minutes long and has a laugh-track, I've probably seen it in the last two years. I periodically have to remind myself the people on "How I Met Your Mother" aren't my friends and don't need to be on the Christmas card list. I grew sort of maschochistically fond of 3:30 in the morning. It certainly isn't cute and there's some pretty damning evidence that entrenched insomnia will shorten your life, but I knew who I was; the one who was awake at 3:30 in the morning.

And then, four months ago, I slept through the night. First for one week, and then two, and then a month. Stressful things happened and my brain shouted at me a lot, but I saw nothing of 3:30 in the morning, or 3:40 in the morning, or the underappreciated 4:10 in the morning. I fear even mentioning it, but it appears we are done with 3:30 in the morning for the moment.

I am, however, getting up at 5:20 in the morning; 5:20 is the new 3:30. Sometimes I go back to sleep at 6:30, when my alarm clock goes off at 7:15, which seems a little sadistic on the part of my brain and it's still disrupted sleep, not-enough sleep. And yet, I'm positively giddy about this new development. Why? First, daylight. If it's almost light outside, it's not a night of sleep brutally rent; it's just Tuesday, earlier than usual.

Second, there's Steve and Edie. The rescue-group I work with has a pair of Jack Russell terriers who were found literally dashing across the freeway. Obviously, they are very lucky and they also happen to be very nice. What they are also is very Jack Russell terrier and that's more dog than any morning volunteer wants to encounter, let alone two jumping higher than your head when you're trying to spoon out breakfast for forty animals. A request went out; could someone walk them in the mornings so they would stop molesting the morning crew? I could do that. In fact, I could go and get them and take them for a long hike before the sun was fully in the sky. By the time I get them back, all three of us are sweaty and smell a little less than flowerlike, but we're happy. It's not dark outside, it's light. I can start my day. And when the voice in my head whispers meanly "You haven't done nearly enough," I can snap back "No, I haven't, but right now I'm walking two maniacs who are thrilled to know me and that's enough. So shove off."

Friday, May 10, 2013

I Have Heard Among this Clan/ You Are Called the Forgotten Man

Fun fact; for the first time, in 2012 more people are now reading content on Smart phones or tablets than laptops or computers. I could have told them that, if for no other reason than I didn't make eye-contact with anyone in 2012. Honestly, I was blown off by infants who were checking to see what their buddies back in NICU were up to on Facebook. I could have also told them that writing long-form has felt increasingly less meaningful and God knows I can't be bothered to do things that aren't meaningful.

(Now if you will excuse me, I have to go stare at pictures of captioned cats.)

Also, I'm on my phone more often than I'm on my computer and it's less than completely enchanting to write a 1000 word blog on a phone. Even as I write these, I'm aware that I'm redefining the measurement for "Painfully clueless middle-class life of leisure complaints," but so be it. I'm a horrible creature of privilege and the only consolation you should take is that one of my cats, the dumb one, has taken to facing the wrong way when she uses the litter-box and I'm going through a bottle of Chlorox spray a week on the laundry-room floor. My privilege only extends so far.

"What's your point exactly, Quinn?" My point is this. I'm activating an account on Tumblr (, which will be where the shorter thoughts go. The longer thoughts will go here. The book reviews and anything which requires audio will go on Keek, under Quinncy. The kid's book reviews of soon-to-to-be-published middle-schools books will go on Pinterest, under Quinn Cummings. The random thoughts which go through my head and my need to make fun of Huffington Post can be found on Twitter (@quinncy). You can find me on Facebook, but I stand by my original statements that I hate Facebook worse than poison wrapped around okra in a light beet-sauce.  In sum, it's 2013 and you're going to have to work hard NOT to find me. You're going to find yourself thinking things like "Oh God, her? Again?"



Waiting patiently for the cerebral chip implantation.