The Fourth Quarter

I don’t know how this is happening.

Madison and I made a critical mistake over the break and the consequences manifested themselves last night. She and I got locked into a routine of going to bed well after our school/work week bedtimes, and as a result neither of us could sleep when we wanted to last night.

At 9:30 Madison came into my bedroom and asked me to close her window completely. “Is it too cold?” I asked her. “No,” she said. I hear it until I closed the window. “Was it the crickets?” I asked. “Yeah,” she said. Apparently they were too obstreperous for her. I leaned in to kiss her good night and noticed her eyes were swollen. “Have you been crying?” I asked her. “Yeah,” she said, before she began to produce a new set of tears. “What’s wrong?” I asked. I already knew. “You don’t want to go to school tomorrow?” I said. She had the heels of her palms jammed into her eyes but she nodded anyway. “Me, too, Mad,” I said. In attempt to clam her, I told her the following story – completely ad libbed:

There was a boy who stood at the bottom of a green mountain. When he tried to look up at its peak, the yellow sun was so bright, it hurt his eyes. The boy decided he was going to climb the green mountain. “Are you ready, Cocoa?” he asked his dark brown puppy. Cocoa barked and wagged his tail. The boy began his hike and it was easy at first. The land at the bottom of the mountain was flat and without many rocks. When the boy looked up, he noticed a small crack in the mountain. “I bet that’s where waterfalls are when it rains very hard,” he said. “Let’s check it out.” When the boy and his puppy arrived at the crack, he found that it was small, but large enough to enter. “You wanna take a look, boy?” the boy asked his puppy friend. Cocoa barked. The boy took out his flashlight and turned it on. It was so dark in the cave that the beam from his flashlight looked like a white stick stabbing out into the distance. Cocoa growled. “What is it, boy?” the boy asked. The boy looked ahead of him. He thought he saw a small white dot. He turned off his flashlight. He was right. In the distance, he thought he could see light at the end of the cave. The boy turned his flashlight back on and headed for the light. The white dot grew bigger and bigger until it was no longer just white – the boy could see green outside of the cave. When the boy and his puppy finally made it to the exit of the cave, Cocoa took off. “Wait, Cocoa!” The dog ran off and disappeared on the other side of a low hill. The boy ran to the top of the hill and saw a beautiful stream. At the edge of the stream, he saw Cocoa. The puppy was sitting next to a very large blue horse.

It was at this point that I stopped with the story. I had talked myself into a corner where a large blue horse stood. Madison had her eyes closed and I kissed her good night. “But I’m not tired yet, dad,” she said. Sigh. I told her to close her eyes and sleep would eventually come. I didn’t think I was lying, but I did feel foolish half-an-hour later when I was reading some Chuck Klosterman and it was almost 10:30.

I woke up with a headache which I immediately thought was weird because my alarm clock pulled me from a dream in which I did not have a headache. The lesson, as always, is that real life is never as good as what’s going on in my head. Anyway, I zombie-style brushed my teeth, but washing my face woke me up. I got ready, gathered my things, cursed the darkness of early morning, then headed out.

Come at me, 4th quarter!

Come at me, 4th quarter!

When I got to work, I immediately got to work. I wasn’t tired and my headache had mysteriously and unceremoniously vanished – like my metabolism. Sadly, I know one of them will return eventually. But so yeah, I started banging out today’s necessities while my internal monologue continued to whisper How are you doing this? I didn’t answer it because I didn’t and don’t have an answer. It’s got to be adrenaline because I can’t think of a single other logical reason why I’m not dragging ass this morning. Also, my knees and my abs (hidden under a nice layer of fat) hurt from my few passes on the Slip-N-Slide. That’s not going to help.

Sure.

Sure.

I am going to need all of that adrenaline tomorrow morning because I’ve got the late softball game scheduled for tonight. I bought breakfast in a cup and hope that at some point this afternoon – after work but between the game – I will be able to steal a nap. It’s possible. I know that sleeping then will make it harder for me to sleep later, but I trick myself by thinking that the hour I steal in the afternoon will count toward whatever is stolen from me tonight. This is what I tell myself. Also on the list of things I tell myself:

If Lynnette likes the side-comb, it’s fine.

The Mets might make the playoffs this year.

I will totally not procrastinate this quarter, let’s close it up on a strong note.

I will find the time to write some kind of fiction this week.

Why do people lie to themselves? Follow up question: Why do people believe the lies they’re telling themselves, even when they know they’re lying as the words are flashing across their brains? Well, I tell myself that these are things I need to do in order to survive.

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