Creatures Living in my Roof

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

This hasn’t been a very good week for writing. I already spoke about my video game excuse, which, admittedly, is less excuse and more curse. But there’s more. I haven’t slept well lately, waking many mornings with a terrible headache and a lethargy that doggedly followed me through the day.

Part of my sleep problems relate to video games. When I play too often, as I did this past weekend, I have trouble falling asleep because after I close my eyes, my brain decides to replay my video game experiences. I see myself pressing buttons, reviewing battles, and repeatedly reliving the games. While it sounds enjoyable, it’s not. It’s repetitive and terribly annoying, like a little mouse in my head, running on a training wheel until smoke escapes through my brain cavity and out my ears. It’s not a fun experience, and it makes sleeping very difficult and not rewarding.

But that’s only part of the story. As the title of this musing indicates, I have creatures living in my roof. On clear nights (of which there have been many over the last few days—providing proof that, no, it doesn’t rain every day in Seattle), there is the unmistakable pitter-patter of little feet on my roof. For whatever reason, the roofers back in 1986 decided to use a material that amplified sounds. My bedroom is on the third floor, right under this acoustically enhanced roof. I learned of its abilities to amplify sound the first night it rained after moving into the Castle. The rain sounded like a symphony of percussions, and it kept me up the entire night. I’ve since learned to sleep through rainstorms, although I still wake if heavy rain starts after I fall asleep.

I noticed the scratching on my roof on different occasions. I didn’t know what caused it, and those occasions were so isolated that I didn’t think much of it. It sounded similar to the scratching in the wall I tried (and failed rather spectacularly) to describe in Grelko, added together with scratching and pecking, and a weird booming sound that echoed down the big chimney. It was when the rain stopped that I began to hear those sounds more clearly. I think the sounds have been there for the last couple of months, but because of the incredible amounts of rain Seattle has been getting in the evenings (the chance of overnight rain seems much greater than the chance of all-days rain), I haven’t heard the sounds, or at least I don’t think I heard the sounds. From last night’s experience (I fell asleep at 10pm and thought I slept until 6am, although I woke up disgustingly tired with a blaring, ice-pick friendly headache), I might be waking up from the scratching and booming and not realizing it, a sort of Sleep Apnea of Creatures Living in my Roof, if you will (I won’t even try to acronym-ize that).

I initially thought the creatures might be squirrels or other rodents that found a way onto my roof. I looked around my house, but unless the squirrels learned to fly or climb a vertical, wood-shingled wall, there was no way for them to get to the roof. This morning, as I lay in my bed until after nine (thanks to a hangover from not enough sleep), I saw a shadow on the blue screen that covers my skylight. I quickly rose from bed and pulled back the screen to see the cause of the pitter-patter. It wasn’t a squirrel but a black crow (I’m not sure if there are multi-colored crows). I had thought of birds as the source of the sounds, but I didn’t think they were heavy enough to make the walking noises I was hearing. I was wrong. A family of crows decided that the roof of the Castle would make a wonderful nesting spot. I think I even heard the squeaking of baby crows, which I will call crowlettes (which reminds me of Chicken McNuggets—and, no, I don’t know why) since I’m too lazy to look up if there is an official term for them, like chicks for chickens, or puppies for dogs.

Now, I know some of you are thinking about how the crowlette must be pretty cute, and how I would be a monster to interfere with the beautiful ritual of teaching the crowlette to fly and hunt. Those people, however, were never woken up at 11pm, 2am, 4am, 6am, and 8am to the sounds of crows walking on the roof, and they never thought they had a good night’s sleep, only to wake and find themselves more exhausted upon waking than upon first closing their eyes. I guess if they were my children, I might forgive them that (although, I still can’t visualize forgiving monsters for stealing my precious sleep—I guess it is part of the brainwashing process known as parenthood). I don’t know what those crows are doing up there, but it involves ripping and scratching and pecking, and, truth be told, I’m a bit nervous to climb to the roof and find out what damage they’ve caused. This maintenance is causing me to rethink house ownership. When I lived in an apartment, I never had to worry about crows or ants or gardens. I’m just saying.

Besides my fear of knowing, I also have the physical problem of getting to the roof. I have a flat roof with no built in ladders. There is an open porch on the third floor, which the building inspector used as the platform for his ladder to inspect the roof, but the only ladder I have is a wooden behemoth that the last owner left, and I’m not sure it will fit up the stairs of the Castle onto the porch. I meant to buy a smaller, cleaner ladder this weekend, but thanks to too much video game playing, I never made it to the hardware store.

Even now, as I write this musing, trying to push my way to the Goal, I’m receiving mails about playing video games tonight. I will resist, or try to. I can’t fall into the endless withdrawal cycle that happens when I play for more than two nights in a row. When I play, the next day is always a challenge to not play. Usually, I can rely on Doolies to help me fight the draw. This past week, however, Doolies was not around when the video-game siren called. Instead, I succumbed, which led to the cycle of playing every day, and eventually the majority of hours in ever day. I broke the cycle yesterday, but a big cause of that was feeling terrible and not even wanting to play. Tonight, as I finish this part of the Goal, I know I will resist. Whether I can hold out for the rest of the week remains to be seen. I know it’s not good for me, and I know what it does to me, but it is also fun, and something Doolies and I enjoy doing together. Ugh. So much rationalization. I feel like a drug user, but I’m not. (I’m also not an alcoholic, mom, regardless of what you now believe after my drinking binge in New York.)

Like the carpenter ant problem that kept you riveted to sewcrates.com for weeks at a time, I’ll keep you updated on the crow problem. While I thought about buying an air-powered BB gun, I’m now leaning toward tossing the crow’s nest as far from the Castle’s roof as possible. That’s all assuming I can get up to the roof, of course.

I’ve wasted much of my caffeine-fueled inspiration today on work conversations, IMimg, and working. I guess it’s not exactly wasted, but I didn’t use the energy to write, which is why I originally started drinking yummy caffeine. (There might be other reasons I drink it now, more nefarious and less NEQID-friendly reasons.) It’s been difficult to get back into this writing thing. Writing, even about nothing every day, is easier when you write every day. When I take off days, as I’ve done, it’s hard to get back into it, to convince myself that this is worthwhile, and who would it hurt if I skipped another day.

It’s similar to my morning exercises. I’m still doing those, well, not doing those today, but doing them when I don’t wake up with screaming and crow-induced headaches, but I digress and repeat myself. I’m up to fifty each of the three exercises. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll wake up refreshed and do fifty, that is. The highest I’ve gone is forty-nine. But I’ll fight through the exercises as I’ll fight through these words and get back into both of them

It’s always easier to start writing when I have something to say, such as my diary entries while traveling or my crow journal entry today. The problem starts when I don’t have much to say. I’ve said before that it isn’t a problem, that the emptiness of thought or ideas is for me the springboard into story writing. I’m not sure how true that is. There were many days over the last week—and this is even before I tasted the video game tonic—where I had nothing to say and I didn’t want to spend more words on saying nothing, i.e., endlessly repeating myself about how hard this is, how I’ll never be a writer, blah, blah, blah. Even now, I’m beginning to count words, trying to hit the goal without having to delve into the dark, empty space where my story voice lurks. I’ll get there. I remember the 1,000 word goal, the 10,000 story goal, all the goals I’ve set myself that I’ve failed to meet on a consistent basis. I won’t get too down on myself, but I will try to remember that there were moments where I was dedicated, and I’ll try to revisit those moments from time and again (I never saw that saying “from time and again” before, but Word considers it a cliché; I guess things turn into and out of clichés based on their use).

I’ve been watching “Band of Brothers” again, an HBO miniseries (on DVD) that tracks a groups of American soldiers during World War II. It’s excellent watching, and I end up watching all five (or six?) DVDs at least once a year. The character development, plot lines, themes, feelings that are conveyed, everything about is exceptionally done. Every time I watch it, it reminds me of the sentiment conveyed by the line in “Fight Club”: (I’m paraphrasing) “We have no great wars, no great depressions.” While war is a terrible thing, there is something great about being part of something bigger. I try to find that in the large companies that I work for, but it’s not the same. It’s the grander purpose in life, the knowing that you are sacrificing something for an ideal, even an ideal as simple as protecting the person next to you, it feels important.

How much easier it is to find purpose when there are great evils to fight. There will always be great evils, of course, but they appear in today’s society in much stealthier forms. That’s not exactly true. It’s much easier to look back and find evil than it is to look at the world around you as it exists at the current time and find it. What you might think of as not evil may turn out to be quite evil, and visa-versa.

But I’m babbling now, trying to push toward the Goal. I did have a story idea, but it’ll have to wait (or not be written, as has been my M.O. for far too long). I’ll leave you with a list of writing affirmations I wrote while in the throes of not writing. Ironic, isn’t it?