Friday, August 27, 2010

Falling Asleep

I once fell asleep while teaching an English class at UCDavis in the spring quarter of 1990. It was 8 in the morning, a muggy bathtub of a morning, with jasmine or something else heavy and soporific in the air, but still: I was sitting at a desk, teaching people about some thrilling point of rhetoric or another, when I suddenly got droopy, drooly, and then shut my eyes and fell asleep. While talking.

That was the morning I knew I wasn't cut out for that professoring thing. I fell asleep and when they woke me up I was mad at them. Not embarrassed, not apologetic. Peeved. I just wanted them all to go away and let me be.

Now I'm a stay-at-home writer. I lie about software, mostly. Sometimes I tell Oriental tales about agile teams or spin a salty yarn about quality control. One memorable day I wrote a series of haiku about travel expense forms. I might have been the only person who realized that the structure was actually a very intricate meshwork of image and internal rhyme derived from a medieval Japanese handbook about haiku. I might have been.

Today, though, it was all earnestness. Earnestness about activating responsive tactical teams and leveraging things and people (should people ever be "leveraged"? It sounds so. . . cold. . . . ).

Anyhow: earnestness + conference call + time zone shift + looming realization that another weekend is about to be sacrificed to gods I do not worship = nap time. When I snapped awake, I was once again peevish with those "around" me and wanted them all to go away and leave me alone.

If I'm not cut out for this writer thing, what next?

Sister 1 is MBA. Sister 2 is lawyer with an eye on higher things yet. Father is millionaire oilman. Dog has press-worthy survivor story and is much sought after as example of how the spirit of New Orleans endures even here in the frozen north. Husband is tenured professor with massive brain and elegant vocabulary--and speaks many languages fluently. There is some pressure here to keep up.

Or--maybe--give up?

If I had a number of diamond bracelets and perhaps an abalone cigarette holder, I could probably pull off the stay at home mom thing with elan, but I've discovered I require a fair amount of mad money. Like a LOT of mad money. Would not working make me less angry, but madder still? Could I really do this thing, this quitting work thing?

One thing's for sure: if quitting my job means feeling compelled to go on Grade 2 field trips, you can just forget about it right now. I'm in for the gold watch.


  1. Best post ever!

    I recognize these things you speak of although, admittedly, I have no job. It's driving me batty. I know I know, I study. Having a job isn't in the cards right now with school and two kids.

    But by not creating in some capacity, any capacity, I am adrift. Working on that.

    You can't not work. But minor adjustments are in order perhaps?

    Tell me about that hound!

  2. Jennie, you've had the treat of meeting Emi and her family...but I have had the uber luck of visiting Lorraine!

    Elvis is QUITE the hound! Handsome, sweet, stalwart, a true Southern Gentleman. He even barks with a drawl. But as fabulous as he is...and as humble (perhaps doubting?) as Laurie is...she is a very amazing story as well. Don't let her tell you anything less!