10.11.2010

Sitting at a Study On An Early Monday Morning in Scotland

I sit here, watching the cursor blink on my laptop.

It's 6 AM on Monday in Scotland. I've been here five days now. I can't sleep.

I've never been much of a sleeper. A few hours a night most weeks, and a few days of crashing over the weekend. That's life for me. Awake more than asleep, even when my body screams out that it needs to fall over and crumple into a ball and rest.

It's the jetlag, I'm sure. The fact that it's only 1AM at home, and usually at this time, I'm getting back up from going to bed with my wife. I usually fall into bed with her about 11PM, watch the local news, flip over to a recap of the day in hockey or football (or, if neither are in season, whatever horrible movie or show is on the deep dark recesses of cable channels no one watches, like Trio or Bravo or sometimes even the shopping networks, where I learn more about knives in ten minutes than I could possibly learn in a year at a cutlery shop). I get back up, I work; the sun rises and I fall over and wish I'd gotten more sleep.

She's asleep now. Tossing and turning as the sound of my typing sometimes gets a little louder than I want it to. She can sleep through most anything. Me? The light breathing coming from the vent where the fan is blowing out lukewarm air is what woke me. The hum from the wattage converter where all our electronics lay charging is what kept me up. That and the jetlag.

I stare at the cursor blinking again, wondering what words I should choose for this paragraph and the next. What combination of letters would best tell you how tired I am, while also conveying that I cannot sleep -- and don't really want to? Such is the pain of being a writer. No word is the right word; no combination of words does the feelings justice. I'm writing this to avoid writing a story for my next book, in fact. Avoidance is the key to creativity -- if you want to excel in a thing, plan to do something else and then work on the thing while avoiding all other tasks at hand. It's the reason we can all recite the lyrics to horrible pop songs while in high school, yet can never remember the capital of North Dakota.

Pop song lyrics get you further in life, though. If you're still in school, don't tell your parents I told you that. It's the Great Secret. Nothing you learn now will help you later in life, except determining the area of a room. Trust me, if you ever buy a house, you'll want to know that when it comes time to paint or lay floor. And if you lay floor, you'll also be glad you learned your angles. Cutting a foyer is much easier if you understand that 33 degree angles won't get you much of anything except angry.

I might as well make coffee. Thank God I brought my own. There is none decent enough to pass for actual coffee to be found anywhere in Scotland. And, from what I hear, the whole of Britain. Did you know that Britain is actually also the United Kingdom, and is not simply England? I always knew that the United Kingdom was more than just England (it's also N. Ireland, Scotland and Wales), but I always thought that Britain was just slang for England. Not so. Angry Scots will ensure you take that lesson home with you if you haven't learned it by the time you arrive.

My wife stirs. I should be in bed next to her. I should be scratching her back and stroking her hair. But she's asleep and has been the past four hours, which is the opposite of what I've been. And after the second hour of realizing that my killing time by trying to be sweet was actually just keeping her awake, I decided to come over to this study and stare at a blinking cursor and pretend that, some day, this work would eek its way out of me and onto the page and there'd be a finished product to be proud of.

Instead, I decide to write about not being able to write. Or sleep.

Kettle's boiling. Time for coffee.