Today is Thursday, the 4th of July, and I suspect it will be a night of pop, pop, popping all around the town. If you’ve been reading my columns through the years you already know about my bah humbug approach to the whole snap, crackle revelry. There’s this thing called sleep, which I often struggle, so being startled awake over and over until the wee hours makes me cranky. There, I said it. Then there’s the pet issue.
From the shaking dingo hiding about our feet to the startled cats zipping about, trying to get a snack, is an exercise not unlike ballroom dancing. One foot here, the other there and now quickly shuffle sideways and slide. As the felines have aged — two are close to the 20-year mark — they have lost their hearing and seem oblivious to why the others are completely stressed out. During the moments when a huge blast detonates and a boom can be felt, they look about like confused elders. “What the heck was that,” their yellow eyes question.
On this celebratory day however, I’m actually in better spirits from my usual oh-how-I-hate-the-4th-of-July banter. Working on book edits, I figure I’ll brew a full pot of Sumatra and work until the sun comes up or I crash at the keyboard. After all, what’s the point of trying to snooze when every 10 minutes I’ll be awakened by screaming sizzles or shrieking sparklers?
I figure it will comfort the dog, too. She can sit on my feet, all 40 pounds of her, to ensure I stay right where she needs me. Restroom trips and coffee cup refills with her pasted to my side will ensure we settle back at the keyboard pronto. Cats darting about in crazed fear won’t even faze her if I shut my office door and pull up Pandora.
It’s a solid plan and seeing how Mr. Harris can sleep through anything, he won’t mind a bit. It never ceases to amaze me how he has spent his life either waking on an instant to save life and property or snoozing like the dead when off duty. This is a genuine skill and pretty darn remarkable. He can also get up and take care of business, whether it’s his or the dog’s, and immediately fall back into slumber.
If I am awakened by the cat who insisted he did want to sleep indoors, but then at 4 a.m. realizes his mind has changed, I will never return to dreamland. Instead, I lay there pondering plot lines, character flaws and whether my query letter is really as snappy as it should be. Load, reboot and repeat. This will continue for hours until I have yet another novel idea I’m desperate to peck out, only to realize I’ve got 45 minutes to get ready for work.
Chances are a lot of you are off work Friday and plan for a long, celebratory weekend. Here’s hoping you’ll be safe in the festivities and mindful of those who might not appreciate ongoing nights of noisy cheer. After all, not everyone has a manuscript to polish into the wee hours or the opportunity to pull an all-nighter.