A Night in Pat's Brain
Yet another sleepless adventure.
Turn off TV; walk dog around the block. Put on favorite long nightdress with a chicken pattern that husband says is the best birth control ever made. Ignore him. Brush teeth. Open windows, kick dog off bed, fluff up pillow, bite off a gummy bear's little foot, kiss husband goodnight. Turn out the lights.
Husband begins to snore...give him a gentle shove...he continues to snore...and snore harder until you screech his name out loud. Half-roused, he asks why are you out of bed and gathering up your pillow. You thump off and settle into the narrow, comfy bed in the back room.
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Why isn't the piece you started on Sunday working after four days and at least eight drafts? Why even bother writing about the essay, On Domestic Writing, by Alicia Kennedy? Just because you found her renaming food writing "domestic writing" somewhat silly? Annoying, even? Why is it annoying? Because it doesn't make any sense. Good food writing, like good literature, incorporates everything this “domestic writing,” seems supposed to be. It’s the word domestic, that’s it, a well-worn term once used to limit women writers.
Now you have to get up and go to your desk, find the links to the class-action sex discrimination lawsuits women reporters in the 1970s pursued against their employers, The New York Times and Newsweek, for limiting them to writing about what the men bosses called domestic issues—food, the home, fashion—instead of hard news. It’s close to midnight. Turn off the computer, walk past the (if possible) louder-snoring husband, and settle once more into bed. Decide the whole venture of explaining this all is silly and annoying, who cares, doesn't make any sense. You’ll ditch the piece tomorrow.
Now you have no story for this week.
May have fallen asleep.
12:45 a.m., or thereabouts
Cat discovers you and starts pawing your stomach, purring as loud as the husband’s snoring. You start fantasizing about a place of your own, a small quiet place that doesn’t allow dogs or cats. Husbands will be allowed conjugal visits.
Precisely at 1:37 a.m.
Cat leaps off your stomach to the window beside the bed because there’s a racoon on the porch taking shelter from the rain. Cat starts squawking and tapping the window until he’s bounced off to the floor.
2 to 3 a.m.
The brain goes into overdrive delivering some real zingers:
Maybe you couldn’t finish the piece because you’re a lousy writer.
You’re a lousy writer.
Wait! Remember, a friend told you that the Amazon ratings for your first book, Pie Every Day, have mysteriously zoomed astronomically high in the Pie Baking Category: #3 on Kindle and #10 on books!
But everyone knows those numbers are made up.
What’s that poem by Anne Sexton you like that’s all about ringing the bells in Bedlam? Maybe get up and find your copy in the bookcase across the room.
Didn’t she commit suicide about your age?
That’s not a good line of thinking. Turn away from the bookcase.
Maybe try husband’s insomnia remedy: warm milk.
After 3 a.m.—clock in small room is broken
Go downstairs and take down a pan but remember you shouldn’t do that because you’re lactose intolerant. Decide on a bowl of walnut chocolate swirl ice cream instead, as if that’s not filled with lactose. Fill up a large bowl and wander over to the back door.
Have to get out into the messy garden tomorrow, at least gather up the fallen branches from the storm.
Except the physical therapist who keeps you walking told you that very afternoon your pelvis tilts and your hips are crooked. Plus your dominant hand is mangled with tendonitis. He advises against gardening or doing anything else for awhile. Maybe by July.
You’re old, old, OLD.
Your stomach begins to kick up dust over all the lactose you just ingested, so you pour yourself a hefty shot of Gaviscon.
Trudge back to bed
Storm is picking up. No snow yet, ground hasn’t even frozen. Weren’t there buds on the lilac bush?
Global warming, auuuughhhhh!
Hope the racoon is ok.
Hope the racoon isn’t eating through the chaise lounge’s protective cover and gnawing the cushion.
You love that cushion.
Maybe sneak past the husband to retrieve the gummy bear package for a whole bear.
It’s already 4 a.m. You’ll be comatose for the whole day.
Comatose sounds soooo good.
In wanders an unexpected guest: the article you read about the BBC posting recipes for dishes that cost less than a pound (you look up current exchange rate: that’s $1.23) because people can’t afford groceries and children are going hungry.
How can people in one of the world’s wealthiest nations be going hungry?
Oh, wait, there are children here who are going hungry, too.
Feeling ashamed and angry, you vow to donate more/volunteer at some local food bank.
The household budget isn’t what it used to be and you’re not pulling in any money from writing.
Maybe you should get a job. Go back to waitressing or bartending.
Tilted pelvis. Crooked hips. Mangled dominant hand.
Such a failed writer.
A surprising oldie but goodie waltzes in: you shouldn’t have left the oldest son in Shea Stadium’s parking lot when he was 16 after he ragged on the husband throughout every inning, specifically for ruining his life by being a good father. He arrived home in one piece after jumping a turnstile but continues to bring up the incident to this day.
You’re a bad mother.
You forgot your sister’s birthday was yesterday!!!!
You’re a bad sister.
OH MY LORD IN HEAVEN! SHUT THE FUCK UP!
5 to 7 a.m.
Give up. Go downstairs and make a cup of tea. Unlock the front door and pick up the newspaper. Wonder if you’re the last household on earth who reads a physical newspaper.
Read the paper, grateful for yet another gift of hilarity from Congressman George Santos.
Decide to fry up a nice egg for yourself in a lot of butter. Toast two slices of bread while you’re at it and slice an orange up, too.
Feel a tiny bit better. Take another shot of Gaviscon.
Around 7:30 a.m.
Husband comes downstairs and asks what happened to you.
Tell him he was snoring but in a nice way instead of screaming it at him because he does have many good attributes, such as he puts up with you.
He says he’s really, really sorry.
You say it’s ok.
Hand him the paper, go upstairs for a warm shower and a thick slathering of moisturizer.
You don’t notice that your sweatpants are stained and there’s a rip under the arm of your old flannel shirt. In fact, you wouldn’t care if you did.
Open your computer, read the failed essay about On Domestic Writing.
See how you can fix it.
You really don’t care to.
You would rather go back to revising the book you’ve been working on for years.
It’s a wonderful book. It absolutely can be. It will!
Approximately 12:28 p.m.
Crash into bed with the dog on one side and the cat on the other. Husband tiptoes in, covers everyone with a quilt, kisses the top of your head, closes the door.
Everyone falls asleep.
Here’s a beautiful haunting essay written by Kim Foster about a lost teen and hunger. It’s a stunning example of powerful writing—food or otherwise. And she’s about to publish a book so look out for it or pre-order!
It's a pisser that little muscel up there! I've often think there should be a club to do a phone marathon. And yes, that nioghtgown! He's lucky I haven't named each chicken
Oh my sweet dear professional writer ,
how you paint such a hilarious repitois of your mind thoughts and visuals!.
Love the two portraits...I so relate to the romantic imagery, and then the heartfelt reality
Thank you for lifting my day with laughter at the expense of your wellbeing.