Sleep, the Temptress and the tempted. She doesn’t come easily for me these days. There were times when sleep was a blessing, refuge of the depressed. Then there are dreams. I don’t always remember them. But lately, they’ve been restless and disturbed. The things in which I’ve put my trust are rocky and double-edged.
Last night, I woke up at 1:30am, restless and worried. The cats were tossing and turning, too. Kiev and Chaco had been to the vet, Dr. Tiffany, in the late afternoon before supper, hot vegetable soup. Kiev was a doll. Chaco, with his oily black coat, howled the way Siamese do, lashed out, hissed, and threatened to bite. But he is harmless, a survivor of abusive previous owners.
The fairy thin vet assistant grabbed him by the scruff, then tied on the black muzzle with pink shoestring laces that Chaco ripped off with a single paw in two seconds flat.
Domestic animals may not remember short-term inconsistencies or the emotional ups and downs of their owners. But they remember long-term abuse. It’s stored in their bodies. And as much as Liz tried to comfort Chaco, he sat through Kiev’s temperature check and yearly shots, then dove into old anxiety, emerald eyes splayed wide, as she placed him on the cold stainless steel table.
Mr. Stripeypants had gone to the vet earlier this year. So he stayed at home. Waited, nostrils to the windowpane. And when Kiev and Chaco returned, he sniffed and smelled and growled at them. The scent of squirty needles and alcohol and oozing medicine.
And that ties in with the book I am almost finished with, Ann Patchett’s Truth & Beauty. She races through the latter chapters of her friend Lucy’s addicted and chaotic frenzy. And I think of the ways that addictions plague artists and writers. Recovery offers hope. Addiction cycles around again. It’s inevitable.
Writers go to places that others don’t want to go. They are willing to look at the good, the bad, the ugly of human existence and write about it, so the details of our living history are not forgotten. And I wonder why it is I can’t sleep.
I dream of reams of money floating down from the sky and read how Ann and Lucy had more than enough money with New York parties and scholarly literature awards. A temporary balm, it didn’t matter in the end.
Writing will not make you happy. Or save you from anything. It only offers the comfort of a moment of captured truth – your truth. But back to sleep. How did I stray so far off track? I don’t count sheep.
Kiev and Chaco finally got to sleep and I rocked the bed, boing, boing, turning over and over, leaning up softly against the warm back and hands that sheltered and slowed the spinning in my head. Finally, I grabbed a warm finger, turned over on my side, crawled into a fetal position, and leapt into the next dream.
I was standing in front of a classroom, talking to a group of students about how writing will not save you; I was rattled, a skewed version of art imitating life.
And then, buzzzzzzzzzzzzz, the alarm with the microchip that connects to a satellite clock somewhere in the snowy mountains of Colorado beeped through my brain. And I rose to the dark Fall Minnesota morning.
-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, October 9th, 2007
-from Topic post, Writing Topic – Counting Sheep