Saturday, October 21, 2006

Late Night Ramblings

I have a love/hate relationship with books. I love being immersed in a good story—losing track of time, that sense of coming out of a fog as you try to bring yourself out of the book and into reality. But it’s almost 2 in the morning, I just finished The Thirteenth Tale, and I really need to get some sleep. Yet, here I am, sitting on a rollaway bed in the dark in the living room of my mom’s apartment, trying to type out my thoughts so that I can silence them in my head.

Before I finally gave in and opened the laptop, I was lying on my back, staring up at the ceiling. There are no ceiling tiles to count. I can see things in the room clearly because there is a nightlight plugged into the wall behind me. I’ve left it on in case my mom, or me for that matter, has to get up and go to the bathroom. Besides, I’ve spent many a night sleeping with a light on—people who scare easily but insist on watching scary movies at night often do. So, with the absence of ceiling tiles, I stare at shadows. There is a large rectangular one just above and barely to the left of me. I can’t figure out what it is, so I move my arm, which is resting under my head, thinking that if the shadow moves, then I’ll have my answer. It doesn’t move. Then I realize, it’s the chair leg next to the nightlight. Ah! Now I can see the slight curve on the bottom as the leg starts to taper in.

Now, I stare at the ceiling fan, or rather at the shadows of the blades. If I squint and stare long enough, they almost seem to rotate. I thought about leaving the fan part on because I like the room to be a little cool when I sleep because I love to huddle under covers to stay warm. But this ceiling fan has a high-pitch buzz like a fly circling before it dive bombs right by your ear or nose, trying to make you swat at hit and hit yourself. Flies are diabolical that way.

Being in the living room of Mom’s apartment, I can smell the faint odor of tomato sauce from the chili that Jay made (a very good chili, by the way). Tomatoes in chili cooking smell wonderful, but acidic, tinny sauce sitting in a can in the trash doesn’t. I get up and tie the bag closed as quietly as I can and move the trashcan around the corner. I think about replacing the bag, but I’m afraid that big THWAK I make as I whip in open will wake up the whole apartment complex.

The motor on the refrigerator just went on. Good. I’ll close my eyes and try very quickly to go to sleep. I’m one of those people who isn’t very good with silence. The other nights I’ve been here, I’ve listened to my iPod when I couldn’t sleep, even though a friend scolded me that I could strangle myself. Self-preservation seems to help me, but this night I’m saved by a dead battery. It’s not cold enough for the heater to come on or hot enough for the air, which is my other “white noise” that I wait for. So, I try to get to sleep while the refrigerator is humming and blocking out the silence.

But no joy. It cycles off as I think of a book where an old woman tells a young woman a story about twins and ghosts. About scandal, death, love, loss, and redemption. A story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. In my mind I see quick edits of a young woman working and living just above a bookstore, completely enveloped by it; of an old woman in a wheelchair, draped with jewel-toned shawls and protectively hiding a damaged hand; the ruins of a stately home; the snow drifts on a Yorkshire moor through a window where a cat sits impatiently twitching his tail, waiting for it to melt so he can resume his nightly wanderings. I can’t let the book go. It creeps back into my thoughts, even as I try to steer them in another direction.

So, I end up sitting on a rollaway, typing on a computer in the dark, waiting for the motor to cycle on the refrigerator again.


Gary James said...

Based on your evocotive recommendation I've just ordered Thirteenth Tale from Amazon. I'm really looking forward to reading it now.

Kell said...

Gary--I hope you like it. I'm always hesitant to recommend books since my taste is a little out there. Let me know what you think.

Newt said...

I let Dad know you finished it and that you really enjoyed it. When we talk he always asks how you were coming along.

I love the way you describe what is stuck in your mind. I believe that I had many of the same images floating around.

I also had to tell him that you didnt' want to finish it. He was the same way. He put the book down for a few days before he finished the last 3 pages.

I love when a book is so good it seeps under your skin and wont' let you go.

I hope you are enjoying your time with your family.

queen of light and joy said...

I love books also, and a good book that keeps me up late into the night even better. I don't know what it is about a good book that keeps me up late at night, because who wants that when you have to work in the early morning but it's like finding a new friend who you invite over for something hot to drink and then find yourselves talking until the sun comes up. *le sigh* it's been a while since I read one of those books.

Chelle P. said...

I love this post! Very well-written. I can totally picture the room, the sights, the smells, the (lack of) sounds.

By the Mom says that when she huddles under the covers (as you so aptly put it), it's called being, "coverlicious". I don't think she coined it but we have whole-heartedly adopted it into our vocab.

susan said...

Kell...when all the sounds are funny and you just can't sleep, you are supposed to go crawl in bed with your Mama!

Kell said...

Newt--I really wanted to slow down on those last few chapters, but I have absolutely no self-discipline. I had to know! Now that I'm home (just), we'll talk more! I think I still have your email.

Hi Queen! Good to see ya. The Thirteenth Tale is the first book in while that I've stayed up with because I just loved how it was written in addition to the story. And I'm so anal that I have to stop at the end of a chapter or a section.

Hey Chelle P! It's so good to see you again! "Coverlicious" I love it! I wasn't sure if huddle was the right word, but it was all I could think of at the time. I'm going to be doing a lot of that now that I'm back in Nebraska--lows in the 30s.

Hi Susan--Well, if she still had that big ol' king size bed, I just might have. I had a lot of experience with that when I was a kid.