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    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Some Strange Music Draws Me In

I grind my teeth. I have nightmares. I try to call out but I can’t. My nightgown is twisted with the sheet. I have to pee. Then I have to drink. Sometimes my right foot  burns with a passion. I realize what is wrong with my screenplay. I realize what is wrong with me. I want to get up and take my lap top into the tv room. It’s 3:33. Christ. It’s not about making my lead more sympathetic. The whole thing is in the wrong key. INT. BEDROOM – 3:33 A.M. Emily Dickinson twists in her bed covers, checks her Blackberry for comments. Craves apple juice, room temperature.   What keeps you up at night? Regrets. Mistakes. Scenes at the altar of I should have said that. All those sentences.  The parade of punctuation marks. Period. Period. Period. Are you with me tonight? Am I tapping at your window?  Can you write a word? On a quiet wave? On the beaded glass? Inside your small palm?

How do you sleep?

38 Responses

  1. I sleep like someone whose favorite Mother’s Day gift for the past eight years has been a nap in the middle of the afternoon while the kids are having a wonderful time at the family museum in another state.

  2. Get up. Take your laptop into the TV room. Sleep when you can, write when you must. I am with you always.

  3. The other night I counted characters–as in140. Seriously. I was composing tweets, instead of counting sheep, and it worked. I fell asleep halfway through the third “Spirit under the stairs” sort of response to a DM I answered poorly earlier in the day.

  4. I sleep as little as I can to function. The word “function” is used loosely.

  5. “Twig: population 189”

    I lie awake all night, with my 2 green rubber earplugs in, listening to the air in my head scream that the first lines of every chapter, of every paragraph, are wrong wrong wrong!

    • Jesus, Teri.

      i lie awake at night listening to the air in my head scream that the only thing right about my WIP was “Twig; population 189.”

      • Now you know I was lying awake with this way before Twig. Like for the last 4 or 5 years!

        And last night there was some stupid song playing in my head, so Twig actually had the night off.

    • Why can’t that second sentence BE the second sentence to your WIP? I’m drawn in…

  6. my dreams are better than movies

  7. How do I sleep? Fitfully.

  8. A good night for me is sleeping six hours without waking. This doesn’t happen very often.

  9. I used to have dreams where I tried to call out for help but couldn’t. (Don’t they say that if you can call out in a dream you are dead? Or awake, presumably. Weirdos).

    Turns out when I was pursued by a strange man with a gun down a dark street I really could scream my lungs out for all my worth.

    It was a good feeling till the neighbours came out of the houses to tell me to keep the noise down!

  10. For the last three weeks, I’ve awoken between 1:30 and 4:00 a.m. Each time, I’ve felt driven to write, and I’ve churned out something before dawn. Last night, I slept 8 hours, and this morning, I feel unsettled, as if I’ve done something wrong and am anticipating some kind of punishment.
    My silly fear today is that I won’t be able to write during daylight, but need the company of the waning moon and oh-so-bright Jupiter to get anything done.

  11. The way I see it, there are two roads. One I remember from way back. It’s where ugly gargoyles and evil dreams worst than nightmares lived. I’d always keep one eye open because it felt like my life depended on it. I remember needing straps to keep me still. I didn’t want to wake the monsters. Then there was the other road, a deep-seated tunnel that kept unnecessary noise from getting in. I don’t ever remember getting a choice in the matter. It was the road that chose me. For a short while I traveled down the first one. I walked in my sleep and found dark rooms filled with unusual objects that scared me. But then, after some time, I found myself on the second road. There is nothing unexpected here. Everything living is in deep slumber together. I have no idea how I got here. I hope I can stay forever.

    • This reminds me of the Gates of Dreams – the one of horn, the other of ivory, from Greek mythology.

      I also dream of passages – of hidden rooms behind the ordinary walls of my house, populated by strange societies, or people in hiding from some unknown force or terror who seeks them. Everything in my dreams is colourful and textured and sneaky with double meaning.

  12. Sleep is my ultimate, least favorite activity; delaying it as much as possible allows time for the WIP, sewing, piano practice and reading. Between 9PM and midnight-ish the phone rarely rings and the drowsy quiet of the neighborhood insulates me from needless distractions.Thankfully, six hours of sleep is my normal recharge requirement! On those rare insomnia nights, though, I perform some procrastinated household chore – like ironing – until sleep IS the better option.

  13. I nibble on a 10mg Ambien, start with half and gnaw at the remaining nub, snaking my arm over to slide the bedside table drawer open to retrieve it, my unsuspecting “dr. tylenol” husband (he’s never taken anything stronger than ibuprofen in his life) konked out beside me, until I lapse into something like sleep for five, if I’m lucky, six hours…

  14. If it’s after 4am, I just give up and lay in bed for an hour or so, thinking, ruminating, worrying, writing something in my head that I’ll forget about in 15 minutes. Earlier than that, I drift back to sleep by thinking about my latest sexual fantasy. Currently this involves my neighbor, us meeting by chance in a nearby city, getting a room and her starting out by modeling an impossibly sheer nightgown before we …Zzzzzzz. I don’t know why these thoughts put me sleep, but it is better than counting sheep.
    Do you know why men have a hard on while we sleep? Stops us from rolling out of bed.

    • I fall asleep like a child. But my horny beloved has made me his sleeping pill. As soon as I’m really out–when I’m in that heavenly, deep, early sleep–he comes to bed and starts scaling the wall of pillows. Afterward, he’s out cold and I’m on the sofa with my laptop, staring at my pages.

  15. On good nights I tell myself stories as I fall to sleep. On bad nights I wake up at 1 or 3 and worry about my house and my soul. The two are usually connected.

  16. How do I sleep?

    Like a rock, unless I’m sick or angry, or if I’m doing things that I know will keep me up. Since I have no children and work from home, sometimes I just don’t care. At one point I was going to bed at nine and getting up between three and four. Got lots of writing done, and all my chores finished by ten or eleven. Life felt so spacious then, with the added bonus of a reboot everyday because of my late morning catnap. That golden era passed due to a move, but I’m working my way back. There are lots of ways to make sleep easy and plentiful, but there’s always a huge resistance to changing habits.

  17. Lately? Ambien or not at all. My insomnia gets really bad. I read an entire (bad) novel during only the hours I was delirious with exhaustion because I couldn’t muster the concentration to read anything decent.

  18. Insomnia and I are good friends. Worse since I started writing, coincidence?

  19. I dream of cracked foundations. Awake to the muttering of my husband, still alive, still breathing, a reminder that life holds on, does not easily abandon us.

  20. As my mother (step) would say, “How do I sleep? The usual way–horizontally.” But she’s a bitch, and I’m –not.

    So, how do I sleep? Poorly. Wake up unrested. Need a nap as soon as kids leave for school. Rarely think of anything coherent about my writing at those hours.

  21. I sleep like the dead 6 nights out of 7 for 8+ hours.
    Unless: a) I fear I have made a fool out of myself that day and exposed myself to the world as such, and all my self-protection and fantasy certainties are gone or b) one of my children feels hopeless or in despair. I get over the first after a sleepless night and a day, the second is the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced.

  22. I have the most wonderful bed. I have the most wonderful sheets. I have the most wonderful pillow, the most wonderful quilts. They beckon all day long. Then, Lunesta.

  23. Hot, cold. Dog, cats. Locked or unlocked doors? Snoring (my own). Unmet deadlines, unfulfilled fantasies. Recurring dreams of flying with outstretched arms over the city, only to have someone reach up from a rooftop and smack me down. (I can only guess what this hints at. Bobbi?)

    I haven’t managed more than half-hour snippets of sleep through the night in more than twenty years.

    But that’s normal, right?

  24. not sleeping in november. isn’t that a writing contest?

    ps can’t write poetry. failing class.

  25. When that happens to me, I usually get up and write–doesn’t have to be for long, maybe ten minutes, even if it’s just writing a few notes. And because I live in a small apt, I have to write in the bathroom or I’ll wake my husband up. I find that after I do that, I won’t toss and turn all night. Also, I drink a cup of chamomile tea with honey every night before I go to bed.

  26. Wave? Did somebody say wave?

  27. Eh. I tend to wake up at 3, 3:30, with helpless hamster-brain about some combination of schoolwork, overdue reviews, essays promised, blog posts to get on top of, books to be read, job applications to be submitted. I’m trying to learn how to give myself over to it — to embrace the fact that if I’m lying awake at 3:30 it’s because my mental shutoff valve isn’t working, which means that I might just have a better line to my subconscious than usual. There’s a notebook and pen next to my bed, and I’m working on just embracing the obsessive thoughts, diving in, letting myself flow with them instead of the old back-to-sleep discipline of breathe in 1-2-3-4; breathe out 1-2-3-4. So far I’ve gotten a few good insights and a first line that’ll carry me through a review I need to get done this week, so that’s all good.

    Then again, if I’m lying awake obsessing on something that’s NOT an intellectual puzzle, I’m back to breathe in 1-2-3-4; breathe out 1-2-3-4. And good luck.

  28. Night-sweats and falling, and my girlfriend has screaming nightmares sometimes. It might be a limbo for the honest hearted. I’m not sure. Neither of us has ever hurt anyone in our whole life. I’m not happy with any popular explanations, religious or scientific. I get to about 4:30 now, after the time change, and our 6 pound cat gets up on the shelf next to our bed, it’s a weird sort of bookshelf that someone left out for free, and is about two feet above the bed, and pounces on any open spot on me she can find. My stomach one morning and my shoulder the next. I try to get mad at her, so I can teach her a lesson, but she is just too goddamn cute. I just can’t do it. I heard that Einstein slept in cat-naps, so I’m going with that theory and trying to not go with the theory that you just must have eight hours of constant sleep. Apparently, from historians, and here is where I contradict myself, but don’t you worry, this is a mild one, if you were a caveman, you would probably only sleep for a few hours at a time, otherwise you were breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I really hope that one day I will find that the popular phrase, The big sleep, is true.

    • oh, man, I’m gettin’ way to personal here, but I just got a call, it is now 4;45 Pm, for a 2am start time at my job. Besides being a genius award winning writer, I drive a redi-mix concrete truck. it’s quite the angry freak-show, believe you me. There are a whole lot of angry construction workers that want to help roll the shit down hill, again, believe you me. The dispatcher who rang up said, Hey! I wanna give you a heads-up, you have a 2am start time. It’ll be on your voice mail after six but I wanted to give you a heads up. I told her, this is my first running with the big-boys now, you mean so I don’t get too drunk. She said, yes, Jeff, something like that. She’s an Army brat. I said thank you very much, work is good. She said, Yes, it is. Sleep? Whatever.

  29. I always wake up at 3:30 am with my daughters on either side of me (little sneaks)……and worry for a few minutes what it might mean for my marriage that my husband prefers sleeping on the couch.

  30. It’s 03: 13 here in Bangkok, and I want to get going on the scenes I plotted all day, today (yesterday), so I guess not very well.

  31. I read Poe’s “..little slices of death…” line in the 7th Grade and promptly began to dread sleep.

    The Emerson fan swept back and forth between our twin beds, cooling me, then my sister, them me again at fourteen-second intervals, by my painstaking count. Was Poe right? How did he know? How would I know if he knew? So it went until sleep came.

    Then I grew taller than every boy in my class in the 8th Grade, and I decided that big girls don’t cry. They sleep. Soundly.

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