The “Spring Break, Do Not Enter” sign is on the home office door, along with a Hawaiian lei for special effect—because I have a sun lamp. I’m hoping this lamp will be powerful enough to project an in-your-face “beachy sun,” which is extremely rare in the Pacific Northwest this time of year. Sometimes, I spend up to eight hours a day in my home office, with the curtains drawn, and by the time I’m done, I’ve written nearly 80,000 words of nonsense about vampires climbing the walls in search of spicy rice cracker mix, which is my kryptonite. (I go through a pound in less than an hour. I am weak and powerless against spicy rice cracker mix, so the vampires I create will be “true to life” in that respect.) In any case, when I review my draft and read all of the wacky dark things these vampires do, I hit “delete” and cry out,
“It’s happening again, Nate! It’s happening! I keep writing horror stories! Probably because it’s so dark in here all of the time!”
“Open the curtains!” he shouts back.
And, I could. I could open the curtains, but I won’t—for two very good reasons:
1) Typically the sun is not shining, so opening the curtains won’t help.
2) Sometimes I just have to get up and dance and if the curtains are open, that’s the exact time when the Neighborhood Facebook Administrators will walk by and film my sweet, sweet moves and post them to the Neighborhood Facebook page with these kinds of comments: “It looks like the neighbor on ______street is at it again. We get it: You like to dance! But you’re not very good at it! Stop! Just stop!”
So, I have one of those “anti-depressant” light therapy lamps and my expectations are beyond imaginable—as you can imagine.
Set up is easy. I don’t even need instructions. I know what to do with a box, a cord, and a light bulb: Plug. It. In. Then, I throw on a bathing suit, slather myself in sunblock and realize—much too late—that there will be no UV sun exposure—but oh, well, I’m covered and there’s no turning back now. I throw a towel down on the floor, find the Jimmy Buffet Station on Pandora online, and pull some books from the shelves in my office. I also lock the door and shout, “Nate! Alex! If you need me, I’m on spring break. I’ll just come down when I need food. Don’t ask me where we keep the air fryer. I don’t know.”
So, what can I do in my home office on “spring break?” Why, read a line from a trashy novel and then read another line from a self-help book, of course! The books on my shelves range from trashy novels to style books and classic novels in Spanish to self-help books and everything in between. For rip-roaring fun during my spring break, I’ve chosen Joann Ross’s Legends Lake and F*ck Feelings by Michael I. Bennett, MD and Sarah Bennett. Here’s a sample—welcome to my world:
“Lost in him, unable to discern whether the soft sighs that drifted into the air were his or hers, Kate sank bonelessly [sic] into the kiss, her mind swimming, her body seeming to float on gentle wavelets of pleasure”—p. 313 of Legends Lake.
“Limit your dating to the kind of person who will make a good, reliable partner, not a fun, hilarious anecdote . . .”—p. 182 of F*ck Feelings.
Spring break is going swimmingly as you can see. Except, the lamp I bought isn’t really a sunning lamp, which is a good thing, actually because I’m not supposed to be recreating any kind of tanning booth scenario in my home office. That would be unprofessional to say the least. Also, it’s just selfish. I can’t just let Nate and Alex fend for themselves with only an air fryer, while I bake away under some kind of tanning light. So, I come to my senses and wrap up my spring break, but I do feel happier. The Happy Light by Verilux, which I bought for around $70 does boost my spirits. It’s designed to mimic the sunlight, which is supposed to improve my energy and help me sleep at night.
But how can I possibly sleep when the vampires are out of spicy rice crackers and there is so much dancing to do? I guess that’s why I have the Happy Light. I can just crank it up until it—or I— burn out.
In other news: “The Fish in the Bowl Grows a Bubble” is a short story I wrote that won Headway Quarterly’s first annual writing contest! It’s published, along with process materials, on Headway Quarterly’s website. The theme was “Mutants and mutations” and the editors said they liked my “absurd” take on the theme. I love absurd things! If you want to read along, here is the link: “The Fish in the Bowl Grows a Bubble.” Cheers!
Your turn: How do you get through the dark days of winter?