Thursday, April 17, 2008

Insomnia Is Not For Sissies

Okay, so once again it is midnight and my alarm clock is just sitting there on the nightstand, mocking me with its nasty little blinking LCD.

And once again I am lying awake, wondering if it's too late to go back to sleep, calculating how much time I have left to sleep if I can get back to sleep in the next ten minutes, and sending evil thoughts to my spousal equivalent who could sleep standing up if the need ever arose.

Sleeplessness is nothing new for me. Some of my earliest memories are of lying awake, tossing and turning and praying to pleasegodpleasegodpleasegod let me fall asleep, all the while remaining wide awake. In the course of those early years of insomnia, I tried to take the sage advice of my elders. My mother advised me to, "Close your eyes and think of Jesus."

Maybe the Jesus Thing would have worked if she hadn't been raised Catholic, and had a crucifix with Our Lord and Savior bleeding to death hung at the end of my bed. This did little to assuage the sleep demons, and in fact, incited guilt and fear and more reasons to lose sleep.

My grandmother used to tell me to close my eyes, then she would brush her calloused thumbs over my closed lids in a rhythmic, slow slide that often did send me off to la la land. Alas, these days I don't know anyone with calloused thumbs, aside from One Legged Bob (he holds up a sign at the corner of Braker and Mopac proclaiming his One Legged-ness). While I often give him a dollar on the way to work, inviting him to my home to rub my eyes would probably not be relaxing for either one of us.

I'm pretty sure this is not a condition that plagues only authors, although Sara Bird recently told me that she takes half an Ambien and falls right to sleep.

I think that's wonderful. But Ambien has been known to cause certain members of my family fall into a deep and peaceful sleep only to wake up naked in the rose bushes. Of course, that person also knocks the wonder drug back with Grand Marnier, but who's to say that that's what causes the Naked Thing?

Better to be safe than sorry--no Ambien. My little desperate housewife neighborhood couldn't handle that kind of pressure.

During these long moments of sleep-deprived dementia, I worry. I worry about the world peace, starving children, the new book I'm supposed to be writing, and the books I've already written, even though I know there is nothing I can do about them now. This thought pattern usually devolves into worrying about where I put my keys earlier, if I remembered to lock my drawer at work and the difference between infer and imply.

It is in these moments that flashes of brilliance befall me, and I jerk upright in bed to scribble them down before I forget. Of course, the night's Flash o' Brilliance is rarely as brilliant as I thought, and that's only if it's actually legible.

So now I have two more things to worry about tonight: The fact that I'm not as brilliant as I think I am, and now I have ink stains on my sheets.

Insomnia is not for sissies, but it is, apparently, for whiners.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stuff I've Written (as opposed to stuff I wish I'd written)

Okay, so I'm getting back into freelance writing thing, which means rooting through Google, old files and all other venues that have provided a financial platform for all the tiny thoughts that glom together in my brain--occasionally in coherent, if not witty and intelligent, fashion. Here are some of my favorites . . .

This was a cool assignment from Writer's Magazine, that required some cool interviews, some semi-cool research, and only two-and-a-half bourbon and Diet Cokes.

As for stuff I wish I'd written (not including anything written by Dorothy Parker, Lillian Hellman, Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett): The Secret Life of Bees, Out of Africa and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

There are more to this list, but these are my trusty shelf of Always Reads that I save for when times get tough, like when I'm selling a house, or moving, or something is canceled, ie West Wing and Calvin and Hobbes.

What are your Always Reads?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Aaarrrggghhh! I'm selling my house!

Okay, so I know there are a million things worse than selling a house, and I realize this because trust me, I've been through all of them. So, we get a contract, they want us out by April 25th *that is not a typo* and then last night they back out. I'm still in shock. We were getting all our stuff into storage, buying an RV to live in, and the suckers backed out.

So that I don't go into an all out coronary, I am regrouping. And, I've made a major, difficult decision.

I am *gasp* selling my stuff.

There's something to be said about downsizing, especially since everyone in my family is fundamentally opposed to it. When I say they're opposed to it, what I mean is they ask me to store all their stuff. Enough stuff already! Yes, it's good stuff, and yes, it brings back many happy memories, but
enough is enough!

It was painful, but I sold all of my bookshelves today, and am in the process of putting all my other stuff on You don't realize how hard some of this stuff is to part with until people start putting their hands all over your stuff,
then start loading it into the back of their mini-van. I feel better about the bookshelves because they went to a good home--a four-year-old little girl clad in SpongeBob jammies, who climbed into the bookshelves and asked me if she could have one of my books. I get asked this a lot, but not often from a dimpled, tow-headed four-year-old who got out of bed to come see my bookshelves.

Since some of you have asked me what I'm letting go, I will post here, along with the story behind the stuff, because, if you are a writer, you know there is always some Big Thing attached to each and every thing in your head, heart and house (all of which could be called the same thing imho).

So, Here's the chair I sat in R's lap as he asked me to move in with him. I'm asking $50. And one of the two file cabinets that I stored all the research for both Scoop & Dead Copy. (Those are going for $10 each). The lawn chairs I bought for $90 each, but am letting go for $30 each because where I'm going I'm not going to have a yard for a long, looooong time. Then there are my grandmother's suitcases, all three for $30, and the cow skull I got in Mexico to celebrate my divorce from the King of the Rednecks (look for that book soon). Make me an offer on the skull. But I will tell you, it has really good mojo. If any of this looks interesting, shoot me an email and make me an offer. I'm off to go on a photo safari to get rid of more of my stuff...

And btw, the house is for sale too.

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing
My friend Pantera with Tahoe & Me

Tahoe and a new friend at the signing