So I've been working on a book. Not really working.
More like writing. And I wouldn't call it a book. Right now it's just a few dozen pages. Hardly book-length.
However, I guess all books have to start somewhere. Every book I have ever read was, at one point, just a few dozen pages as well. So maybe that means there's hope for my book even yet.
I don't have much time mind you. Between my 20 hour a week job and Isaac and Scrubs and company and the holidays and my blog, I don't have many extra hours in the day to write. But I've been dabbling. Just a bit but dabbling just the same. I dabbled more before Isaac was born. Since he's arrived, the dabbling has been more limited. There's no telling how much more limited it will be when Elijah joins the fray.
I hesitate to tell people this fact -- the fact that I am (sort of) writing a book. I hesitate even when they tell me that the story of our infertility and Isaac and Elijah, and the daughter who hasn't been born yet, is worthy of something people would buy.
"You should write a book," they say. And I smile and nod but don't say, "Well, actually, I have been . . ." It sounds lame to me. And it somehow makes my "dabbling" much more concrete.
I hesitate for a lot of a reasons. Will I finish it? Will it be any good? Would people buy it? Is my writing actually any good? Does anyone really care about the story I can tell? Should it be all truth? Some fiction? All fiction? Funny? Sad? Serious?
When it is just me writing it, and I don't tell anyone about it, it doesn't really matter. But as soon as I say it out loud, well, then, it seems to becomes something I am really doing, and something people ask me about. What if I quit? What if I don't finish this book? What if it never goes anywhere? I told people I was writing a book. If I tell people I'm writing a book, I need to do it. But if I don't tell them, then it is only me who knows and the pressure is only pressure I put on myself -- not pressure from anyone else.
So that being said, I'm not really sure why I am telling "my blog" this right now. I just feel like it. As I have written previously, sleep has been a problem for me lately. It's basically due to rib pain that prohibits me from sleeping on my back or right side. And it's rib pain that makes sleeping on my left side something that needs to be "just right" for it to be successful. The stomach is obviously not a possibility so finding a position that I can nod off in has become problematic.
I've turned to sleeping, basically, sitting up. JB
sets up a great little "upright bed" for me each evening and this allows me to get 3-4 hours before early morning shows up, and I have to saunter back into the kitchen for some Tylenol to try to help the rib pain dissipate enough for sleep to return.
It is during those wakeful hours that I think a lot. And last night I thought a lot about my writing and this book I am (sort of) writing. I wish I had the energy to get up and actually write
during those wee hours of the morning
. I come up with a lot of good things during those hours that I can't, for the life of me, remember when I get up the next morning.
But last night I remembered the book I was working on and the fact that I hadn't touched it in many months, and this morning, I decided to open it again and write a bit more.
I feel that if there is some pressure on me, I'll be more prone to work on this (sort of) book and I figured my blog was a great place to enact pressure.
So, without further ado, I share with you just a short passage from the pages of my (sort of) book. In this way, I put some pressure on myself. People have read part of it. Now I have to finish it. Right?
In theory, yes, but I still make no promises. All I promise is to share this short passage.
So here you go . . .
* * * * * * * * * *I did not want to call him again crying.
And yet I did not have anyone else to call.
I quickly dialed the number to his pager, followed by our home number and the pound key. Then I put the phone back in the cradle, slowly mumbling a prayer that he wasn’t busy – that he could call me back right away.
He did. And his voice on the other end of the line immediately slowed my breathing down. My rock. So solid all the time.
“What’s up?” he quickly asked.
“Pretty,” he paused. “You been crying?” I nodded. And even though I didn’t say anything, I think, somehow, he knew I had nodded. “I’m sorry.”
I wanted to say so much at that moment. I wanted to tell him I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t live here. I couldn’t be here. I couldn’t exist in this perpetual state of sadness. I didn’t want to cry anymore. I didn’t want to hurt anymore. If the pain would just go away. If my heart would just quit wanting what it couldn’t have. Then, I’d feel so much better. I’d be happy. I wouldn’t cry anymore. I wouldn’t have to call him crying anymore. We could laugh and kiss and be young again.
But I did not say any of that. I didn’t need to.
“I’m so sorry,” he said again. And then a long pause. “Listen, I’ve got to get back to work. But when I get home, I have a surprise for you.”
“It’s a good surprise. It will make you feel better. I promise.”
I’m sure, in his heart, he wanted to hear me get excited about the surprise, but lately, I knew he’d settle for just an acknowledgement. “Okay,” I said again and then mumbled a good bye.
I hung up the phone and glanced at the clock. Home would have to wait quite awhile. It’d be hours before he’d be home. But just hearing his voice made me think that I would make it through today. I wasn’t sure about tomorrow, but today, I could do.
I stood up from my desk and made my way to the bathroom where a handful of tissues and a splash of water on my face made me feel a little better. A quick look at my watch. Two o'clock. Maybe he’d home by seven. That was five more hours. That would only be twelve hours without him. I could do twelve hours. I could do five more. Back out of the bathroom and across the hall. Back into my broken office chair where six new emails were waiting from the few minutes in which I had taken a break. Five more hours.
* * * * *Just a few weeks earlier I had been nearly as sad. But not nearly as lonely. Our ninth year of marriage wasn’t much different than the three which had preceded it. We were still living in the frozen tundra of Rochester, Minnesota. (Which, by the way, is quite different from Rochester, New York – much to the chagrin of all the unfortunate souls we had heard of, including my friend Ebby, who had booked tickets into Empire state instead of the one with a thousand lakes and had to eat their ticket. Still Rochester but much whiter. Much colder. Just be careful when you book airline tickets.)
Sorry. I often have trouble remaining focused on the story on hand. (Something, that if you stick with me through this entire story, which I, at the moment, have no idea how long that will be, you’ll quickly see.) The important part of the story at hand was not that people accidentally flew into the wrong city. That’s where the digression took place. The important part of the story was that for the last four years, we had made our home in this amazingly cold place that had only two claims to fame. The first was that it was the headquarters of IBM. And the second and more well-known fact, was that it was the home of the Mayo Clinic.
The Mayo Clinic was what had brought us to Minnesota in the summer of 2003. My husband had decided at twenty-five, that he in fact did not want to be a graphic designer. To heck with brochures and websites and corporate identities. To heck with his Associates Degree from the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute. What he in fact wanted to do, was be a doctor.
At the time, the only doctors I knew were the ones I went to. Doctors were an ethereal being to me. I could not comprehend my husband becoming one. But my husband was a dreamer, and I was flexible, and so I would ride the wave of the doctor dream until a new dream emerged. I made only one demand and that was that we did not accumulate debt in this quest to become a doctor. He agreed. He took the MCAT and signed a paper at the U.S. Air Force recruiting office which would pay for school and pay our bills while we were there. He also spent his free time flipping through this two hundred page book which detailed all the medical schools in the country. I can’t remember now if the book was blue or green. One of those anyway.
Each time he’d tell me about a school he wanted to apply to, I would open up that two hundred page book and focus intently on the details – the average GPA, average MCAT, class size, percentage of accepted applicants. When he told me he wanted to put the Mayo Clinic on his list, I turned to the corresponding pages. The average MCAT score was higher than his. The class size was under 40 – the smallest in the country. The percentage of accepted applicants was below one percent. “Go ahead and apply,” I eagerly acquiesced. I hate to admit it now, but I truly believed he had no chance of getting in. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in my husband. He was smart and diligent and a great conversationalist. I knew he would interview well. And I knew he would be a fantastic doctor. I just believed in the odds more. Less than one percent chance! I felt pretty confident that I wouldn’t need to buy a heavier coat anytime soon.
My husband put it on his list and called it his “dream” school. “If I get accepted there, you have to promise me, we’ll go,” he said one night over dinner. Of course we’d go. It was the Mayo Clinic! For the weeks and months that followed, I called it “Frickin’ Minnesota” whenever he discussed where we hoped to be going that summer. We had grown up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the furthest point south in these here continental United States. I’d gone to college in Kentucky to play basketball, and my boyfriend, now husband, had followed. But Kentucky was still the south. It still had summers. I could not even comprehend somewhere as far north and as incredibly cold, as Minnesota – as “frickin’ Minnesota.”
But I’d soon comprehend first hand. A phone interview and a campus interview later and my husband was the recipient of a phone call that would change our lives. Was he interested in accepting a spot at their little medical school? Heck yeah he was interested. There was never a moment of debate in our home. We never discussed the offer. We celebrated immediately knowing that we would go from the moment the phone rang. He was accepted. And we were moving north.
So the summer of 2003 took us to Rochester, Minnesota and I spent the next four years calling it my home. I could write a whole book just on how cold it was for me in Minnesota, but, well, if you visit Rochester (Minnesota not New York, although I would venture to say Rochester, New York isn’t exactly balmy) in January you can just see for yourself. It once hit forty below with wind chill and it once snowed nearly 20 inches in May. I’ll just leave it at that.
But for all its ice and wind and snow and teeth chattering and frozen nose hairs (did you know that actually happens?), Minnesota had been home. We had made friends. We had found a church. I was writing for a few places and working more than full-time doing what I loved. And now? Now I was back in the Sunshine state wishing we had never left the Polar North. Now I was warm but calling my husband, begging him to come home early from work so I didn’t have to be alone. I missed that frickin’ cold land of a thousand lakes something awful.