Monday, September 19, 2011

In the Dark

I suck in a quick, sharp breath, waking suddenly from a noise outside my dream. My eyes pop open and my brain becomes alert as I start thinking, analyzing, wondering if I’d simply recalled a sound from the past that presented itself in my dream, yet I know that a person draws noises into dreams from present sounds.

Breathless and panicked, my mind jumps back a minute. It sounded like a creaking door. Which doors creak when moved? Slowly, silently, I raise my head from the pillow, exposing my other ear to the air. Petrified and alone, I wish my heart wouldn’t pound so loudly. The guy in my house will hear it and find me.

I finally muster enough courage to glance up at the clock. It’s 1:47 a.m. Four hours till dawn when I can see without switching on a light. My mouth is dry, and I have to pee. Do prowlers let you use the bathroom before they attack? After five minutes, only the memory of a noise remains in my mind and no others have taken its place. What sounded so close and clear is muffled, farther away, nonexistent.

Quietly, gently, I push myself away from the sheets, small flashlight in hand, and head for the bathroom. Playing it safe and taking the risk of wetting the floor, I grab my heavy Mag-Lite, hold my bladder, and case the upper level. The guy in my house could be waiting for the sound of trickling water and pounce when he hears the flush. Of course it’s a guy. Nighttime intruders are always guys—bad guys.

The coast is clear on the upper level, and Shiloh isn’t barking a warning downstairs. I feel relieved—well slightly, after all, it’s still dark—and head back to my scary, corner bedroom.

Strange sounds and thoughts live in the murky swamplands of a dark mind at two in the morning. Noises inside a head can be worse than those outside of it. Eerie nighttime creaks and groans bring chills, goose bumps, and make me pray for light. The thought of every bad thing that has ever happened and will happen, every scary tale or movie, especially when based on a true story, invades a normal, optimistic mind that’s now choking for oxygen as it lies comatose northward from my barely moving chest.

Realizing by this time that sleep and my brain won’t be making love, I continue my chilly, damp labyrinth walk alone. As high-pitched tinnitus waves ebb and flow, ambient sounds amplify and subside.
I recall a psychic, aura-seeing minister at my monthly meeting who asked me who the three figures in my music room were. He described the spirits as his wife added details. I felt, shall I say, uneasy for months, so upon awakening nights, I found it a better choice to keep my eyes closed rather than look at who might be watching me.

When I used to sleep with Satan, he’d be drunk on Jack Daniels and breathe his snoring breath on me throughout the night, and other times he’d think I was sleeping and whisper demonic names and evil things toward me—words I would never say out loud and try never to think. Ungodliness abounds in his fearful mind.

Silence clears the air. During the day, silence is a treasure far away from my home. In darkness, most of the camouflage of daytime noise is stripped as bare as I feel. Every creak, crack, and thump screams its sinister intent. Aches and pains grow uncontrollably, from knowing I worked too long in the yard to wondering if I’m dying of cancer. Incomplete projects morph into nefarious physical forms. Inner tumult from worry about money, kids, home repair, and relationships are all exacerbated while another part of my mind begs for stillness, tranquility, restoration, peace.

Relationship noise can be the worst. Like entering a dungeon, heavy iron gates slam behind me as I enter my room. Every word spoken between me and the other person is reinterpreted a hundred ways, each worse than the last. I see every twist of body language, feel desperate, smell my dank isolation. I know the other person hears my thoughts. He’s probably thinking the same thing under sweet, warm covers, smiling.

Strangely, a glow touches my eyelids. I realize I slept from 4:30 till 6:30.

And then, grrrrr-owl. What the… I realize, the freaky sound that awakened me at 1:47 was only my gut.

Guts. The only thing I lacked all night.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Contagious Painting

I caught something from my friend Anita, but I figure it’s nothing a few good bottles of Malbec can’t knock out of me. Not only did symptoms begin today, but I got the four-colored strain. And to think I’ve strived to stay so sane all these years.

Today I painted, the worst chore I can imagine. I actually opened four containers of paint at separate times throughout the day and appropriately applied their contents. I’d rather clean a toilet than paint, but since I’m not swimming in money, I tend to be a handyman, attempting projects I have no ability to be doing. But being po’ means you try stuff that those of mo’ means don’t have to unless they want.

My friend Anita is a paint precisionist. I’ll have to make her new business cards with a new title. (It currently just reads Wonderful Human Being and See Pee Accountant.) In painting her home, she has to have the tint or shade just so. And if it’s a bit off, which is often the case, she has no fear. This girl will leap onto a ladder twice her size, hold a roller twice her arm’s size, and gobble up almost as much paint as I do wine. But it’s not a contest.

So today my friend Norm was going to come over and help me paint the bottom half of my home’s rear—kind of like giving the house new panties. Well, ol’ Mother Nature offered us some much-needed moisture, so Norm didn’t come over, and as we were all praising the Lord and licking the grass, ol’ Auntie cracked open a tall one.

First, a can of warm something, like tan, the color of my kitchen, foyer, and hallway.

No wait. First, I must tell you how frightening it is for me to begin painting. In fact, last night I lay awake from 2 a.m. till 4 a.m. (normal) wondering why I am so scared of painting, and here’s what I came up with. When I was 17, I painted Nana’s house, a very large house. Aside from some brick, she wanted the color green, with white trim. The white was standard white; the green, well, right now I’d call it putrid green, because on the final day, as I listened to the Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz,” 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love,” and Starland Vocal Band’s “Afternoon Delight,” I was reaching the pinnacle of the white trim, the crest, the tippy-top.

Ka-chunk-ka-splash! The damn white paint fell off my ladder and onto the slimy, bird-poop, I-don’t-give-a-shit-if-it is-environmentally green main color of the house. If I hadn’t sworn until that point, I certainly developed a liking to it that day. I was exhausted, in pain, frustrated, and really, really mad.

That is one reason why I hate painting.

The other is less dramatic. In 1990 I hired maids to clean the home Mr. Ex and I built, ’cause it was big and I was working from 40 to 65 hours per week, sometimes out of state and country. Every two weeks after the maids’ visit, I would have to drag out the paint can and touch up all the vacuum cleaner cord’s black marks on every smooth, hand-troweled corner of this big house. And I paid those people! And I fired them.

So I hate painting. Plus there’s the prep and cleanup, which stand on their own as being teenage-girl difficult.

But today I smoked a little sage. Actually I prayer-cleansed the home last night using salt and sage—it just smelled as though I’d smoked it. So I was primed. A little terra cotta touch up here, a little pinkish brown touch up there, and the Wall. I decided to take whatever color I already owned and brush it on a brick wall in my soon-to-be library. Just to get an idea, I artistically brushed strokes of terra cotta (after touching up my daughter’s wall) on the brick. I’ll admit, it looked cool. I was New York bound, or at least Santa Fe.
Then I remembered: I’m not that cool. So I grabbed the can of a soothing light brown and painted the brick. It took three point five hours, one huge helping of Chinese leftovers, and two cups of something white my sweetheart bought for me. But it looks great! Even Shiloh likes it.
So here it is, 8:20 p.m., and I feel good about wagging a brush at a wall.

And tomorrow? My home’s panties and afternoon delight.