By Andrea Scarpino
My mother has always wanted me to rest more than I think necessary. When I was little, this led to epic battles over naps and bedtime, with me insisting even as I was clearly falling asleep that I was only closing my eyes. To cajole me into any semblance of an afternoon nap, she had to lie down in the bed with me, and even then I only agreed because I loved the quiet games we would play as she tried to keep me still for an hour or two.
As I grew up, I had many friends who would speak in glowing terms of spending a weekend or university break in bed, of longing to devote an entire Saturday just to sleep. I thought they were crazy—and still do, in all honesty. Unless I am deathly ill—and even then—sleeping through a perfectly lovely Saturday sounds to me like punishment.
Which is not to say that I’m a model of productivity, that 100% of every waking moment is spent doing something great/important/wonderful. I have wasted much more time than I would ever admit watching marathon sessions of Intervention on hulu. And 30 Rock. And (sigh) Jessica Simpson’s The Real Price of Beauty. But when I’m bored, exhausted, feeling down, need to escape, I don’t turn to sleep. I sleep because eventually, my body shuts down. Not because I want to.
This weekend, I was supposed to present at the annual conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). I’ve been submitting panel proposals to AWP for years without success, but this year, I finally received an acceptance. Now that I live in Marquette, however, I have very limited airline access, and most available flights fly through Chicago. Whose airport just received 21 inches of snow. First, my Wednesday flight was cancelled and rescheduled to Thursday, then my Thursday flight was cancelled entirely. I tried to find another flight that would get me to AWP in time for my presentation, but everything was booked.
So instead of presenting this weekend, instead of wandering long rows of publishers in the book fair, instead of hearing some of the most famous writers in the US speak, I’m forced to stay home. There is nothing I can do to do to make a flight appear. When I told my mother, who had been incredibly excited about my presentation (even demanding I straighten my hair for the occasion!), her initial devastation began to lesson as she realized I could spend the weekend resting instead. Maybe that’s really what you needed, Andrea, she said. Maybe it’s better for you to have this time resting.
Almost every time I see her these days, she tells me I look tired and she’s taken to buying me various rejuvenating creams and lotions in an attempt to help me look more rested than she thinks I really am. But while I don’t foresee myself spending the weekend napping, I am beginning to think that having a little break won’t be the worst thing to happen. I do feel tired, run down. I do feel like a little rest could serve me well. Maybe I won’t even set the alarm this weekend. Maybe I’ll see what trashy marathons hulu has in store for me.
Poet and essayist Andrea Scarpino lives in Marquette, Michigan. She is a regular contributor to POTB. You can visit her at www.andreascarpino.com