“Being a writer invades my life 24/7.”
When I read that line in Shonda Rhimes’ book Year of Yes, I thought, Exactly.
I’m not even sure when I transitioned from wanting to be a writer to being a writer, but at some point it took over my brain. All day long I take mental notes of everything I see.
The Wal-Mart employee with the raccoon eyes, snapping her gum as stands frozen, starring at a shelf, a product in her hand. Is she putting away returned items? Is she doing a price check? Has her brain frozen in place? Does she know her eyeliner is running? Does she care? Maybe she's depressed? Maybe her boyfriend just broke up with her this morning after he used her toothbrush and took the last bagel. Maybe....
The squished toad on the driveway, guts spewed out its flattened mouth. Did the driver notice before they ran it over? Did I run it over? The flattened skin has the same texture as a football.
The pink hue to the light at dusk and how it makes everything softer, the same way snow makes everything look cleaner.
These are the details of my day that might work their way into my next novel. Which leads me to think about the details in the novel I’m reading and how they must come from the life of its author. She definitely spends too much time in cemeteries and has an affinity for stationary.
This morning, my daughter’s tire blew out while driving to her first day of her senior year of high school. Certainly, there’s a metaphor there. Maybe an essay? Blog post? As she shared the details of the green handled screwdriver that had somehow punctured her tire and was now sticking out of it like an arrow to the heart, I took a mental snapshot for a scene in the novel I’m working on right now about a quirky young woman who catches few breaks.
Walking the dog, I found myself narrating my actions as if I was in the story itself. “They crested the hill and were surprised to find that every single apple had fallen from the tree during the wind storm the night before. The ground was colored red and green and yellow like a stoplight.” Okay, bad simile there, but still, I continued. “Passing by the ground hog hole at the top of the pasture they saw a flash of brown. The baby groundhogs scurried for shelter and the dog strained at the leash….”
I can’t seem to stop my brain. I tell it to chill, but it doesn’t listen. Maybe I should sign up for yoga or learn to meditate. Something to stop my busy brain. As I cleaned up the breakfast dishes, I thought about a woman I know whose cancer has reached the point of hospice. I wonder if she’s written to her children. They are small now and it’s impossible to truly tell them goodbye, but has she written to the people they will be as young adults? Has she told them what she dreams for them?
I’ve been brainstorming for a class I’m going to teach for mothers of infants and toddlers this fall for Wellspan. I’m excited to explore the power of writing in a young mother’s life. Not just through sharing her experiences and trading parenting tips on blogs and websites and magazines. Motherhood is rich with writing opportunity if you see yourself as a writer, but I’m hoping to talk about more than that. I’m hoping to reach the women who don’t see themselves as writers but who can use writing to connect with their children, to document their lives, to be absolutely sure their children know how much they love them. Life gets messy for everyone. Parenting is complicated. Writing can help you sort it out. It can help you figure out what matters. It can put you in touch with your heart.
Sometimes I’m frustrated when I can’t seem to put into words what I truly feel in my heart. The perfect words that floated through my thoughts as I ran along our country roads this morning, escape me when I finally sit down to type them out. When I read the writing of someone like Shonda Rimes, who so easily, almost embarrassingly, spills her heart on the page, I think, “Yes! That’s it!” I’m grateful for her talent and strive to open my own heart unfiltered as she does.
I find there to be a magic in writing, a power well beyond me. So I’m grateful for this 24/7 invasion. It makes my days richer, even as it means that my mind is preoccupied and sometimes I forget about the clothes on the line or the tea I left steeping on the counter.
Writing makes life more real for me. I’m awed by the potential power it holds. Maybe this next sentence will change a life or lift a spirit, bring back a memory, or at the very least, make someone wonder. Maybe it will shine right through, all the way from my heart to yours.
I need to write about writing.
That’s what I've been telling myself for the past several weeks as my website blog stagnates.
But what writing wisdom could I possibly offer? The internet is smothered in writing wisdom. It is everywhere because, well, writers write. It’s not like horseshoers or knitters or firemen. You could write about those things on a blog and fling it out on the internet and there would probably be a great need and a great audience to find. (Not that horseshoers or knitters or fireman don’t write—some probably do, it’s just that all writers write.)
I tossed ideas around in my head all week. What could I write about that isn’t already being written in five thousand gazillion other ways by writers far more successful than I? What unique writing wisdom do I have to share?
How about How Starting a New Group on Facebook Allows You to Waste Time Legitimately’? (You’re building your platform!)
Or, The Millions of Ways You Can Wander twitter Aimlessly and Still be Working’? (again, platform, baby!)
Or, The Ten Best Teas to Write With’? (Most writers drink tea. Okay, nevermind, most writers drink coffee, but my kind of writer drinks tea. There that’ll set off a controversy! Bring on the comments!)
Or, Search and Rescue of Forgotten Documents? (this wouldn’t be a technical treatment of the subject, it would be more about interpreting the weird titles you gave your work ten years ago)
Or, Writing for Your Dog? (something completely new!)
Or, What it Says About You as a Writer if You Answer Instantly When Someone Comments on Your Facebook Post? (For some reason unknown to me, a little Facebook thought bubble pops up in the lower righthand of my screen every time someone comments on my posts on Facebook. Of course, I take that click bait!)
The possibilities are endless.
So, today I’m writing about nothing.
But you probably figured that out by now.
The reason I’m writing about nothing is that writing about nothing is still writing. It’s still exercising the writing muscles. And that’s what it usually comes down to. The writers who succeed are the writers who write. I know lots of very talented writers who don’t write. They think about writing. They plan to write. They say they are writing. But success really does come down to actually writing.
Talk later. I’ve got to get back to writing.
For the first time in a very long time, I have the opportunity to ponder – what should I write next? I’ve got projects aplenty, but this next one is truly up to me. I get to pick!
I’m coming to the end of the final edits of my third book for The Story Plant. That completes the deal. Oh, sure, there’s still copy edits, proofreading, cover design, promotional stuff, the begging for reviews, and the launch. But that’s not up to me – that’s dictated by the book, the publisher, the editor, and readers. That whirlwind will keep my mind busy, but my heart needs a new project to keep me sane.
I could (and I have) started a new women’s fiction novel, but I’ve just finished three, so it might be fun to work on something different.
I could pull out the manuscript of a memoir I wrote five years ago about breaking my horse True and raising my kids. The only problem with that is I’m not finished with either project.
I could go back to my young adult novel and tear it apart looking for clues as to why it hasn’t sold. How many times can I re-write it, though? At some point we all have to say, “Uncle.”
How about a cookbook to accompany my Live Intentionally book? That could be fun (and fattening?).
I could comb through the plethora of essays, used and unused, that clog my laptop and pull together a parenting anthology of some sort.
My kids are the center of my world, as such, they’ve figured into plenty of my writing. Someday, they may call me from their therapist’s office to complain, but for now they roll along, oblivious to their literary appearances. But writing about my kids is getting trickier. It’s harder to use them as material. They’re still cute and rife with wisdom, but it’s only a matter of time before they protest when neighbors mention that I’ve written about them – again.
In the past 15 months we’ve had 44 foster dogs and I’ve written about each one of them. I’ve discovered that not only is writing about dogs fun (and they never complain when I post embarrassing pictures on my blog), but it’s popular. In fact, after nearly ten years of blogging, I can confidently say that people would rather read about dogs, than kids or organic food or being a parent or writing. (All topics that I’ve blogged about in the past.) Another Good Dog has over 2700 followers now and seems to pick up more each week. People like dogs.
And it’s easy for me to write about our foster dogs. I love them and I’m passionate about rescuing them. I don’t worry that you’ll think I’m nuts because I plan my weekends around adoption events or meeting the transport van. I’m not afraid to post pictures of my living room with the dog crates or the demolished stuffed animals or the stacks and stacks of towels for the puppies. I don’t apologize for the permanently installed baby gate that traps you in my kitchen or the odor that occasionally wafts out of the puppy room. And when adopters pull out of my drive with my latest foster, the tears are happy tears. Fostering feeds my soul.
So, maybe that’s the next project – a dog book.
“You’re famous!” my friend commented on Facebook after seeing me on a regional TV news program.
That week I was a guest on an abc affiliate news show as the author spotlight – a popular reoccurring 2-3 minute feature. Months ago, I watched a few other authors – some were excellent, some awkward, but it was reassuring. I thought, I can handle this.
The morning of my appearance, I sprang out of my bed, nerves already tingling. I took the dogs for a 3-mile hike, trying to steady my racing heart. I didn’t mention my appearance to my kids as they swirled around preparing for school, negotiating car rights, and searching for the sweatshirt that somehow walked away all on its own.
Once they departed, I argued with my hair and lost, changed my clothes five or six (or maybe twelve) times before settling on black sweater, black pants and purple scarf – hoping it would make me look professional and trim and in control, none of which I felt that morning.
I arrived at the station and checked in. Then I waited with the other guests making nervous non-conversation about nothing. We were given a tour of the studio, which reminded me of my teen’s bedrooms – messy, cluttered, with odd messages tacked to the wall that made no sense to me. Then we were left in the green room to wait for the host to brief us.
The other guests on the show seemed like grownups. There was a lawyer, plus his handler – a marketing specialist hired by his firm to prep him and support him. I wished I had my own handler like him who kept saying, “You got this, man, no worries.” Another guest was an elegant older gentleman who had the I’ve-seen-it-all attitude of a veteran of regional television guest appearances.
They shared ‘guy talk’ – business, stock market, mutual friends, while I tried to focus on my ‘lines.’ Prior to our appearance, all the guests had to write out the questions the host should ask and the answers we would give. This should have made it less stressful – knowing what she would ask and what I would answer – but in reality, it made it more stressful for me. What if she asked one of my questions and I couldn’t remember my answer? I looked over my lines and wished I’d thought of better questions. Where did this book come from? Duh. My life. My heart. Instead, I’d written a lengthy explanation of why I wrote the book. Now, it sounded pathetic.
Finally, it was my turn. The very cool, Gen-X producer escorted me to the stage and I watched the tail end of the cooking segment before another person handed me a microphone and had me snake the cord up through my sweater. The director reminded me to look at Amy, the host, and not any of the cameras. I noted that she had a teleprompter at every camera with the questions I’d written. (My answers were not included.)
Moments later, Amy whisked in. She smiled at me, “Doesn’t it look great?” she asked nodding toward the screen behind us that was now filed with the gorgeous blue water of my book’s cover. It did, but I couldn’t say anything, my nerves had locked my vocal chords so I only nodded. We sat in silence as Josh, the producer, called, “30 seconds.” I tried to think of small talk to engage her in, but snatches of my answers reeled through my head and I had a momentary panic in which I couldn’t even remember the names of my three main characters. Just before Josh called, “5,4,3,2, and go,” I thought, I am never doing this again.
The interview went by in a blur as I tried to still my nervous hands and not to speak at my normal cheetah-pace. Amy introduced the book and said, “So, tell us what the book is about.”
That wasn’t one of my questions!
What was I supposed to say? She’d just summed up the book in her introduction, “Girls’ Weekend is about three moms who go away for a weekend and don’t return.”
I panicked and then I reached up and touched my nose – for no reason, and I found myself thinking, not what the book was about, but – why did I just touch my nose? Finally, survival instincts kicked in and I recited one of my answers – not caring if it really answered her question, only focused on surviving the moment and NOT touching my nose again.
Amy asked me two or three more questions and I fumbled through the answers without touching my nose and then she asked, “So how can we find your book?” to which I said something about my website instead of saying – “Anywhere books are sold” which was the line I had written. In the end, it’s probably a moot point because anyone watching this particular episode was unlikely to go out in search of the book written by the nose touching, nonsense spewing author all in black.
So, yeah, being an author is incredibly glamourous. And now I’m famous, too, sort of.
Summer is here and writing time is at a premium. Even so, I’m diving into a new story and loving every moment of it. I restarted/rewrote the first few chapters five times in different point of views and tenses trying to figure out which one was best and finally landed on the winner yesterday. Now, I can just write, write, write if I can find the time, time, time.
Girls’ Weekend is off and running and while I should be doing the real work of promoting the novel, I’m distracted by the new story. It’s like this illicit affair I’m carrying on that’s keeping me from paying attention to my spouse.
The gardens are overrun with weeds after the monsoon, I mean May, but even as I yank and toss weeds, snatches of dialogue float through my mind.
Dylan said, “Can I ask you something?”
“On whether it’s a good question.”
“How would you know unless I asked it?”
“I wouldn’t, but you would.”
He looked confused. She got that a lot. She stopped wiping the table, put her hands on her hips and peered over at him.
“Do you think it’s a good question?” she asked.
He was quiet for a moment, but he looked at her intently, as if he was trying to see if he recognized her or maybe, she thought, he was checking to see if she was crazy.
He nodded. “I think it might be a little borderline crazy, but you seem like the kind of person who could handle that.”
“Okay, shoot,” she said.
My current foster dog requires a minimum of 4 miles walk/run every day and as we truck down the road, twists and turns of my plot keep my mind so busy, neighbors pass by and I forget to wave or Gingersnap stops to pee and I drag her for a few feet before realizing why she isn’t following me.
The kids are all home now, so there is a daily negotiation over car rights, snack food, and the Netflix password that was mysteriously changed. I try to be present with them, even as my mind is drifting to the Cayman Islands where my characters have now landed.
The plane rolled to a bumpy, tilted landing. Kat watched the palm trees and ragged shacks rush past her window. If you’re going to be poor, living on the edge of a runway in paradise was probably a great place to do it.
As the plane taxied to its gate, she watched a dog running along the other side of the fence that separated a sad little neighborhood from the runway. He was sandy colored, with pointy ears. He barked and lunged at the plane, then sat down and wagged his tail as the plane passed – his job done. A heavyset woman in a tank top, kicked at him and then turned to wave at the plane before going back to hanging up laundry on a line. Kat lifted her hand to wave back and pressed her fingers against the cool glass. The woman scowled. Surely she couldn’t see Kat. The sun was so bright – a few shades brighter than back in Campbell. What am I doing here?
The planed slowed as it approached the terminal. Two men in tattered cargo shorts wearing bright orange gloves leaned against a fence smoking cigarettes and watched the plane maneuver itself into its parking spot. A little boy clung to the other side of the fence behind them about halfway up. One of the men banged the fence and he tumbled back to the ground. They laughed and ground out their cigarettes before ambling towards the plane.
Dylan was still sleeping, so Kat waited until everyone else was off the plane before nudging him awake.
“Huh?” said Dylan. He looked at her, surprised for a moment, but then she saw reality wash over him. “Shit,” he said.
“Precisely,” said Kat. “Now get your ass up. Everyone else is off the plane.”
My summer goal is to finish the first draft of this story – following it where it takes me. And while I’m excited about the strawberries that are nearly ripe, the beach vacation at the end of June, and the warmer weather for riding, I’m even more excited to see what happens on my laptop.
IT'S ALMOST TIME!
In just a few days, Girls’ Weekend will be released! I’m excited, nervous, and more than anything – stunned. It feels maybe a little bit surreal. When I first wrote it, it was my own private fantasy and not something I thought I'd ever be publishing.
I wrote the first draft of Girls Weekend when I was in the throes of heavy-duty motherhood. I was busy raising a 2-year-old, a preschooler, and an elementary aged kiddo.
When, my husband’s work situation changed, we were forced to leave a home we loved. The new area felt foreign to me and I struggled to find friends.
Because we’d moved suddenly and hadn’t been able to find a suitable home, the house we were living in was under constant construction as we renovated it ourselves to meet our needs.
Money was tight and I became an awkward Mary Kay consultant to try to help pay the bills. Suffice it to say – I was underwater and I truly wanted to run away. So I did. Every afternoon during naptime.
I’ve been asked several times now if I am one of the women in Girls’ Weekend. I’m not one of them - I’m all of them. I didn’t realize this until recently when I was editing the final draft. Each of the women faced down one of my biggest fears as a mom.
Meg tackled the biggie – losing a child.
Even the idea of it takes my breath away and can reduce me to tears. I’m a world-class worrier and watching my now teenage children get their drivers’ licenses has raised the bar even higher. My own mother lost a child, my brother, when he was almost a year old and I’ve often marveled at the strength she must possess to have survived.
Writing Meg allowed me to safely face down that nightmare.
Charlotte is my wild side. She is the woman who always wonders – did I pick the right man? She follows through on the crazy fantasy that every woman thinks about at some point in a long marriage. What if I had an affair? What would that be like?
Writing Charlotte (who had plenty of scenes that were too R-rated to make the book) allowed me to dabble on the dark side of marriage.
It was probably hardest to write Dani. Many of us question, midway through life, if we followed our dreams. And if we didn’t, is it too late to set off after them?
Writing this novel set me off after my own dreams. So much has happened since I first began this story. It’s evolved and so have I.
Writing Girls Weekend taught me many lessons.
The first of which is that writing a novel is really fun. It makes my heart happy.
It taught me that I have something to say.
It confirmed for me that good friends are critical for survival.
It gave me a whole new appreciation for my own husband.
But mostly it taught me that imagination can be healing. It can take you to new places – not just in the world, but in your own heart.
As a pantser (a writer who does not outline, rather follows a story wherever it leads), I meet many of my characters when they appear on the page.
I do know the main characters before I start, having spent perhaps months getting to know them before their adventures begin. I interview them and write dozens of pages filled with their answers, my observations, sudden inspirations (he’s obsessed with peanut butter, she always speaks with full words instead of contractions).
I imagine them while running, driving, cleaning, even having conversations with strangers. Sometimes I forget what I’m doing and wind up arriving at the school or ball field having driven there on autopilot instead of the store or appointment I set off to visit.
And then I begin a story with those characters by my side, ready to lead me in.
But the other characters – many times the ones who carry the story and make it interesting, those characters surprise me when they turn up on the page.
At a recent bookclub gathering I attended, one of the members said, “Oh that Leroy – I hated him. He was scary!”
I said, “Me, too! Whenever he turned up in a scene I got really nervous.”
They all looked at me in surprise as I explained I had no idea who he was until he walked onto the page.
“But where did he come from?”
I thought about it and told them I thought he was a blend of a couple awful men I met at a trailer park where I went to pick up an underprivileged teen I was mentoring when I was a young adult. Each week when I arrived in my little pickup truck with the vinyl seats, no air conditioning, and a radio propped up on the dashboard, to whisk my charge off to the library to study or my apartment to cook a meal, I had nervous conversations with them as they smoked their cigarettes and regarded me suspiciously.
Returning my charge there in the dark, I was always anxious when the trailer door opened and her step-father grumbled that we were late. He scared me, but she had to live with him. I wondered and worried about her for years.
Twenty years later that man who frightened me so, still frightens me, but I controlled him on my page.
Another character who turned up as I wrote I’m Not Her was Trevor, a precocious first grader. Carin opened Leann’s door, and there he was! I was as surprised as she, and quickly fell in love with him, too.
Trevor is the innocent kid I see being dragged along crying into the Wal-Mart or playing with the boxes on the shelves at the grocery store until his mom smacks his hand away. He is all the children who catch my attention when they wiggle in church, fuss standing in line at the post office, annoy their overwrought parents by their sheer curiosity and energy. “Kids are resilient,” I was told when I mentioned my concern for kids I witnessed in my work volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. They bring sunshine into dark lives on a daily basis. Reading The Catcher in the Rye as a teenager, I was captivated by the character Holden Caulfield, but not because he was such a cynical oddball bucking the system, but because he revered children and wanted to protect them from the world he viewed as unworthy of them. That’s where Trevor came from. He is the kid I wanted to rescue.
I would guess that for most writers, characters come from their own experiences. My son, also a writer, has a t-shirt that says,
“Careful or you’ll end up in my next novel.”
I would contend that there is an inherent danger in befriending a writer for this very fact. We can’t help but write from what we know. It’s not deliberate. None of us set out to write a character based on someone we know- at least I don’t. But when a mind is freed to wander, you just never know who might turn up.
Recently, I’ve had the tremendous privilege of speaking with several book clubs about my novel, I’m Not Her.
I love chatting with people about the story. They are always surprised when at some point I reveal that when I started writing the book, I had no idea how it would end.
And then they are even more surprised when I tell them I was as shocked as they were when Leroy turned up.
After that, I’ll confess that I wasn’t even certain what the story was about when I started. I just turned it loose and followed where it led.
Wait! That’s it? You didn’t have it all worked out ahead of time?
I feel like I’m letting them down as a writer.
I explain that I started with a character and a simple premise – What if a skinny, privileged young woman ended up in the body of an obese, impoverished young woman? What would happen?
With my forthcoming novel, Girls’ Weekend (May 3, 2016!), I started with- What if three overwhelmed moms went away for a girls’ weekend and decided not to go back? How would that work out? How would their families deal with it? What would they do?
No outline. No planned plot. Certainly, no ending in mind. I feel guilty when I explain this. I’m an author – it really should sound way more organized.
Truth is, I’m a pantser.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it has nothing to do with pulling down the sloppy sweatpants of an unsuspecting friend in the locker room. A pantser is a writer who writes by the seat of her pants, pulling stories from her mind without a net. No outline, no long thought-through plan. For me, it means tapping into an internal muse and listening to the story.
The flip side of this is a plotter. This is a writer who follows a pre-thought-through outline. I wish I were this type of writer. It’s a more efficient process and a very successful one for many big-time writers. They most likely know they have a best-seller on their hands before they write a single word.
Me? I don’t know if I even have a cohesive story until I’ve spent several weeks typing away – flip flopping between being certain I’m the next Tolstoy and flinging myself on the floor in disgust because I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. I can do this multiple times in the span of an hour.
As the words pile up and I know the end is near, I become anxious. How will this end? I find it hard to focus on the rest of my life, always distracted by the laptop in the corner. And when it ends – such relief, even if it was certainly not where I thought it was going.
Writing that first draft is the best part of the whole process! It’s like watching a movie. I never know what’s going to happen. It’s crazy-fun and puts me on a mental high that resonates through my days.
But the months of editing that follow – that’s a grind. That’s not fun at all. Tearing apart something that spun itself out of my heart seemingly of its own free will is not easy. Not easy at all.
Welcome to my life this month. Sigh. I’ll get through it, in fact, the end feels near.
Meanwhile, a new story is brewing. I catch glimpses of characters and hints of their predicament almost daily now. I can hardly wait.
I haven’t run in over two weeks. It’s pretty much killing me.
I’ve finally been sidelined by foot pain that the foot doc and the acupuncturist couldn’t fix. The only thing left to do is rest.
Not my strong suit.
My mind is spilling over with all manner of ideas-questions-dreams-stories-paranoias-fears-worries-odd thoughts.
Running dispels the crazies for me. It helps me process my life and find a balance between what is a good idea and what is me-being-nutso. It tamps down my fears, checks my anger, and gives me perspective into parts of my life and people that I was eyeballing under a microscope.
Bottom line- I need to run or I become that grumpy friend who doesn’t cooperate, that nagging wife who keeps to her side of the bed, and that overbearing mother who wants all the details. Ask my family. Ask my friends. Heck, ask my current foster dog – I need to run.
I’ve known for a long time that I need to run for my health and well-being, but these few weeks are confirming that I need to run for my writing, too.
Lately, when I sit down to write, the thoughts tumble out incomprehensibly. I can’t organize them. They spill over the page and when I re-read them I realize not only am I rambling, but the casual observer would wonder if English was even my first language. Story ideas zip past like clouds in a hurricane and I’m never able to grab ahold of them in time to get them on the page.
I feel scattered mentally. What was I about to google? Who did I mean to email? What was I going to write about? Which kid needs me to pick him up where? What did I volunteer to bake for which event? Who was Will Bailey on the West Wing again? He's doing a new podcast...
Tonight I start teaching an 8-week class on creative writing. I pulled out my syllabus to fine-tune it and was instantly distracted by multiple new ideas for writing exercises. I tried to scribble them all down. My mind ping-ponged between idea after idea. Ugh. Focus. Once I had tonight’s plan cemented (for the most part) in my mind, I glanced at next week’s. One note stuck out – repetitive physical exercise is great for allowing your mind time to play. Exactly. I teach that because I live that.
Sometimes the best thing a writer can do is go for a hike. Or wash the dishes. Or run the vacuum. When your body is busy, your mind can wander. I’ve had most of my best ideas at times other than when I sit in front of a keyboard and try to make it happen.
If I wasn’t convinced of this wisdom before this month, I am now – if you want to sort out a plot, imagine a new character, expand a fledgling idea, or find some writing inspiration – get moving. Get off your butt and let your mind move.
#amwriting #runningwriter #needtorun
We bought a new bed. I know, not so exciting for you, but still. When you consider how many hours of your life you spend in your bed, this is a big deal.
Not only did we buy a new bed, but I’m now sleeping on the other side.
For pretty much all our married life, I’ve slept on the right side. This was determined in our first house because I wanted to be closest to the bathroom (I’m a girl). And then it made sense because I was closest to the door – so the kids could reach me first. For some reason, that was a priority back in the day.
So, for twenty years I’ve slept on the right side. Neither of us gave it a thought – even when staying in hotels or friends’ houses, I always took to the right side of the bed.
But then we went on vacation in February and rented a lovely condo on the beach in Grand Cayman (to celebrate aforementioned twenty years). This condo was tastefully decorated and in the bedroom there were several breakable pieces of art teetering on a rickety corner cabinet and a dresser in this room with a ceramic tile floor (either they were cheap breakable pieces of art or we were the first people EVER to rent this condo). The bed was large and lovely and consumed most of the room. From the right side of the bed there was a long and winding path to the bathroom that took you past several of these pieces of art, plus a chair with corners. So, for the first time in my married life, I chose the LEFT side of the bed which had a direct path to the door/bathroom with nothing but my own feet to trip over or break (there was a step-down involved so this was still a distinct possibility).
Sleeping on the left side was odd. It felt novel and kind of fun. For a moment it seemed like I was sleeping with someone new – who is this guy on my left?
When we came home I decided to stay on the left. (We’re wild like that.) It still feels odd. But I like the new perspective.
Back to the new bed. I don’t like the bed. It doesn’t sit up high like the last bed. And it’s not soft and cushy. Plus, it’s a king size bed so sometimes I forget there’s anyone else in the bed with me.
I miss my comfy pillow-top, princess-height, queen size bed which now resides in my guest room. We had a guest last week and I was actually jealous that she got to sleep in it.
The new bed is fancy and modern and has all kinds of high-tech features. When we were picking it out, we had to lie on a “sleep evaluator” which recommended the best bed for your size and sleep habits. Nick and I lay on the mock bed/sleep evaluator, completely dressed while it took measurements and the sales guy blabbered on about its amazing abilities. But here’s the only thing he said that I remember – “When you use this system to pick out your bed it comes with a 90-day money back guarantee.” As if anyone ever returns a king-size uber-fancy bed.
Sometimes when I wake up at night and can’t sleep because I’m on the wrong side, all alone, on this squatty hard bed, I think – I’m gonna haul this baby back TOMORROW!
But I don’t.
Because it’s supposed to be good for me, much like kale – which I’ve learned to love and now eat every week.
I’ve still got about 30 days to make my decision. Hubby says, “We can return it, but I like it.”
So it’s my problem. It’s my decision.
I’m weighing the options here. First there’s all those hours of my life spent on this bed which the sales guy says will last 30 years. That’s like 87,600 hours. Of. My. Life.
If it didn’t require two large men to move it, and I didn’t know they are legally obligated to throw it out, there would be no question.
A bed is a lot worse than a few plastic bags in terms of filling up the land fill.
Here’s hoping this bed is kale, because the clock is ticking, and the guy on my left is no help.
(When I started this post it was going to be about how sometimes when you get stuck writing, all you need is a new perspective, but somehow it has spiraled into my personal whine about my bed. Maybe I’m distracted?)