It’s five minutes after nine on Monday night, and for reasons unknown, sleep is pressing in on me like the pile of papers waiting patiently on my nightstand to be graded. They hail me as if groupies at a rock concert, I avoid them, but their presence is so damn loud.
My eyelids are heavy, I long to slip under the warm blankets, and out of consciousness. The last thing I want to do is grade papers, but I’m scolding myself, because I have no valid justification for falling asleep this early.
With herculean effort I ignore the signals, staring down those essays as if an arch enemy, as part of me caves to the enigmatic pull of sleep. I blame winter. It’s been dark for hours and my body thinks it’s well past midnight. Is it possible to miss something as remote as the sun?
The other distraction is self inflicted, an on-line course I recently enrolled in, paid for out of my teaching funds, and for reasons unknown I have committed to this folly for a consecutive one hundred days. What was I thinking?
It’s hosted by the infamous Seth Godin, a workshop for creatives, and it started today.
I had to post a written declaration for the entire community to witness, committing to daily posts, interacting with others, and being accountable for my work. Do you understand the implications?
This will require authentic engagement with other creative types, making valid but clever comments, resonating with perfect strangers, concocting new meaning from randomly spewed blurbs, and worst of all exposing myself to the intense scrutiny of writers, as if a grape aspiring to become wine, but ended up a raisin. Again, I blame the sun.
Yes, that’s where my thoughts are going, out of my neat little cluster, and into the world
Giggling to myself, because this is my life in a single metaphor, I want to be sipped, savored if you will, but I feel more like a chewable substance, full of irony.
With sweaty palms I hit the publish button and posted my commitment to the entire community. I felt naked, exposed, but damn was I daring greatly.
The interaction was surprising, people start tumbling out of cyber space, dropping atomically correct nouns and verbs on my pitch, quoting my hastily scrawled passages as if William Shakespeare (minus the penis and receding hairline), and making connections that God herself could not have created, because she rested on the seventh day.
Who thought this was a good idea?
Clearly I’m dealing with over achievers, you know the type, intent on making a ruckus (in fact there is a board specifically delegated for the “ruckus makers”), the stand outs, and for you nosey types, I’m not on it! These people pop up all over the platform, as if fleas on a dog, parasitic behavior if you ask me.
My preference is to stay well under the radar, throw me some shade, so much better for aspiring grapes.
Returning to the tabs on the Creative’s Workshop platform, I listen carefully to the detailed instructions about dailies, prompts, and tagging, I have to write them down on paper because “I’M NOT A DIGITAL NATIVE,” and I refuse to ask for tech support.
After publishing my first daily, I exchange a few banters with the students in my digital homeroom (there are 25 of us), then sit back, and wait. The comments start appearing as if snow in July, I stare at the mounting notifications with utter terror. Then I start pitching, lobbing, and tagging until my brain hurts.
There is this slight pulsing sound in my middle ear, barely audible, a persistent whine if you will. The pressure on my frontal lobe is causing a dull ache that waves outward like heat. You can’t see it but trust me it’s there.
“This wasn’t just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.” Dorothy Parker
Void, empty, flat as the blank screen of the television, maybe I should put on the news?
All I want to do is relax, let my mind sneak out like a wayward adolescent, I tuck the computer in the bookcase, give a cursory glance to the stack of crinkled papers on the nightstand.
I feel myself drifting off, losing sight of this world, slumbering into the next.
“What can I do when night comes and I break into stars. Osmosis. ” Nayyirah Waheed
It’s weird how memory ceases to function when sleeping, I loose all sense of time and space, although the sequence of events playing out before me seems plausible, I find it odd how easily I slip into the reality with which I’m presented.
The image that abducts my reality is that of a raisin, as in I’ve actually become a raisin, but I’m not the least bit concerned.
Looming over me is this old, cracked cereal bowl, resting on the scratched surface of a pinewood table, as if a cat warming itself in the sun. I’m all knowing in my dreams, like God, omnipotent, although currently confined to a single setting, my vantage remains endless.
There is an audience of wilted yellow tulips in an etched glass vase, ironically a basket of plastic grapes has been pushed to the side, stalked by a set of penguin salt and pepper shakers, smudged with fingerprints.
A glorious sliver of light filters through the partially draped window, a lace curtain hangs limp, tattered at the edges.
I realize the lone raisin, stranded on the table as if a turtle on its back, is me, taunted by the thought “the more wrinkled the raisin, the sweeter the fruit,” but I don’t want to brag.
I think it is hysterical that I’ve become a shrinking, dry, wrinkled, dense, morsel, but even worse raisins can be deceptive.
“Raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues.” Woody Paige
Humored by the absurdity of it all, the soft form, this oddly staged domestic scene, when I hear laughter coming from the crackled bowl, soft at first, then it builds. I lay there because my options are limited, when someone who sounds like Morgan Freeman says, “when you’re acting above your raisin, this makes us all gloriously happy.”
I wake, thirsty, disoriented, still in my clothes, with a stack of ungraded papers gloating at me from the nightstand. Grabbing my phone off the charger, I check for notifications from the workshop, there are twelve.
What the hell. Don’t these people sleep?
It’s now well after midnight.
I take a moment to consider what happens when our dreams are deferred, the perfectly ripened grape dries up like a raisin in the sun, and the consecration we hoped for never happens.
Before I drift off again, and end up in some pinewood coffin, I crawl out of bed, and make a commitment in the light of the moon. I’m going for it Seth Godin, showing up in the dailies, engaging with others, breaking out of my shaded cluster. Look for me on the ruckus board!
A furry witness lays down by my feet.
I’m Living in the Gap, drop by anytime, we’ll create a new vision for 2020 (get it).
- “If there are occasions when my grape turned into a raisin and my joy bell lost its resonance, please forgive me. Charge it to my head and not to my heart.― Jesse Jackson
- “Something as simple as the sun asking me out. The perfect date.” Nayyirah Waheed
- Acting in ‘Star Wars’ I felt like a raisin in a giant fruit salad, and I didn’t even know who the cantaloupes were. – Mark Hammill
- Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence. – O. Henry