Sunday, February 12, 2006
LIFE TAKES A SNOW DAY
This morning woke to a predicted blizzard. All plans cancelled. A day deferred. So I put my hands behind my head and stayed in bed, thinking about all kinds of crazy things. Like the book tour I may or may not be going on next year. Traveling to 10 cities in 10 days or 14 cities in 14 days seemed about the remotest thing I could imagine as I lay in my bed, the snow whirling outside my window, turning the world where things like book tours happen into a white blur.
Instinctively, my eyes drifted to my closet. Now I don't know much about what people wear on book tours, but I can tell you one thing--it's nothing included in that closet: a lifetime supply of waitressing shirts, some pilly sweaters, and a few dresses which that have been taking up space for a decade or two, waiting for an event worthy of playing "dress-up". (Not many have come along.) Clearly, I need to go shopping. (And from my last post, you all know how skilled I am at that.)
Then more serious issues intruded. Nevermind what I'd wear: how I would ever get to the airport on time? I've never traveled alone, and the one time I took a trip with two of my kids, we had to run breathlessly for the plane. Then there was the issue of sleeping. How does a world class insomniac, who can get so overstimulated by a shot of brandy and a really good conversation that she doesn't sleep for two days, ever catch any Zs travelling from city to city in 14 days? I imagined how I would look by the time I reached the last city, sleepless, bleary eyed, and wearing the last of my frayed waitress shirts...
I wanted to get up at that point, since clearly nothing good was happening inside my head, but first I had to face the ultimate book tour bugaboo: what would I do if no one showed up at my readings--or if a lot of people showed up and I stepped up to speak, opened my mouth, and nothing came out but a frog-like croak. I could almost envision my slack jawed self, in her unfashionable clothes, and the hair that has never once in XX years known the meaning of a "good hair day".
At that point, I leaped out of bed, eager to shovel snow or build giant snowmen with carrot noses or tunnels to China--anything but be left alone with my own ruminations. But by then I was too exhausted from something that had nothing to do with today, and may well never happen.
"What's for breakfast?" my son asked.
"Breakfast? Are you kidding me. I'm too worn out from my book tour."
At that point, my husband gently reminded me that most writers don't even get a book tour (only something like 15%, actually) and I should be so lucky to worry about frogs popping out of my mouth on the road.
Well, that knocked me back to reality. At least for a little while. (I'm a writer, remember. I never stay in reality for too long.)
But it was still a day off from life. There was time to lay around in my pjs, drinking my coffee and reading the paper. One article I read said that there were four basic personality types: the Explorer, the Builder, the Negotiator, and the Director. Didn't really feel that any one of them described me, so I went around my house taking one of my little surveys. (My family is used to my nonsense.) No one else seemed to see themselves fitting neatly in those categories either. Aren't we all a little of each at different times?
Of course, there were lots of other things in the newspaper, too. Scary predictions about the economy, the environment, the continuing furor over the Danish cartoon. Usually, I would have gotten myself into an uproar about some of them. I might have even followed a couple of unsuspecting family members around, reading aloud from the most disturbing bits of news until I had defused my anxiety by passing it along. But it was a snow day. That meant I got to coccoon and ignore the larger world.
I took blankets and pillows onto the couch with my college age daughter who was home for the weekend, each of us in our corner like a pajama party, and took in a guilty pleasure. Single White Female, a movie I'd never seen but always been a little intrigued by, was on TV. An on-line review described it as "gruesome and pointless," but that didn't deter me. When it comes to gruesome and pointless, everyone has their weakness. Now me--I don't care much for macho Bruce Willis style stuff, and the endless creativity of serial killers and the writers who think them up would never cause me to give up a couple hours of my life--even on a snow day. But give me a good story of psychological obsession and I'm hooked--especially about two women. Somehow the cartoonish violence and pathological identification almost seemed like a metaphor for the dark side of female friendship. Gruesome and pointless it may have been (and slightly pornographic, too, especially when watching with a daughter!) but if I enjoyed every wasted minute.
Jennifer Jason Leigh was wonderful as the deranged roommate. Even her lustreless hair managed to give off fumes from the asylum. (Actually, she looked a bit like my fearful imaginings of myself on a book tour.) Wondered idly what happened to her--and to Bridget Fonda, whose angular face and body were ubiquitous for a while, and then just seemed to disappear.
Later, we had wine, and homemade chicken soup and bread. We played with the dogs, and checked out the Olympics, considered the fate of Michelle Kwan (can someone really be called a dinosaur at 24) and cheered Shaun White's amazing half-pipe performance (not to mention his hair!) Then we cleaned up while the snow eddied around the house, locking us in--and giving us permission to do whatever we wanted.
Oh yeah, a day off from life is good every now and then. But tomorrow, I look forward to getting back to work.