[A NOTE TO THE READER: Most of the time, I write in a style that is pretty simple, even when the subject matter is not so simple. I use short sentences. I avoid adjectives that might bog down the flow of words for the reader. I take pains to excise those dreaded adverbs.
But today, I bring to you an experiment in blogging in which I violate every one of my usual writing rules.
Good luck, and remember: If you can’t get through this one, there is always NEXT week’s blog post. See you then!]
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Do you ever wake up in the morning and just lie there and think, “What if everything I know and everything I believe is wrong?”
I do this all the time.
In fact, you might even say it has become a daily occurrence for me, a part of my routine, and an integral component in that diurnal cracking in of consciousness upon the sea of dream and sleep. Within that Eternity existing between the dead of unconsciousness and true wakefulness, either sudden (such as in cases of intrusion of the blare of an alarm clock or the leap of an impatient cat) or gradual (such as in those rare cases of a fuzzy weekend emergence or prior neglect of the setting of aforementioned alarm clock), a series of foundational questions assert themselves, getting louder and louder and demanding answers in a very specific order, at the end of the answering of which I am all-too-aware of waking up and what the day ahead demands of me. For, insofar as the “Who am I?” always asserts itself first and is always followed by “Where am I?” and “When am I?” then, assuming that no surprises or emergencies have been forthcoming in the answers thus far, moves into the more specific “Why am I here and now?” and “What is it I am to be doing in the immediate future?”, I find myself compelled, in fact what might be described as excessively caught up, in progressing through the line of Q&A, to, if you will, consider the path forward or perhaps even reassess whether I want these questions to be given the same answers they were given (by whatever it is inside me that does this initial early morning answering) yesterday.
And so it was that, at the commencement of the series of unfortunate events with which this blog concerns itself, I had already moved past the “Who am I?” – going with the admittedly conventional but by now firmly-entrenched identity of “Katy” – whereupon I unexpectedly and perhaps even unprecedentedly ran into a roadblock at the successive “Where am I?” and, finding myself at a complete loss for anything in the way of a reflexive answer at first blush or a more conscientious guesstimate upon further consideration of the matter, began thrashing around within the unknown space I at that moment occupied. Indeed, although this estimation of time and place upon waking had never caused me serious trouble in the past and would seem to be among the very easiest of tasks for a fully grown person of reasonable intelligence and moderate sobriety to accomplish after any period of sleep or unconsciousness, no resolution was forthcoming at this time for, as I pirouetted in a series of increasingly spasmodic convulsions, this way and that, hoping to catch a glimpse of something familiar or grab hold of a pillow or a railing or a shoe, a book or some hair, a television remote or something (anything!) identifiable, I instead realized, first, that I was immersed in complete and utter darkness and without any recourse to my sense of sight in gaining my bearings; second, that my equilibrium upon waking was such that I could not, with any degree of certainty, even begin to describe the precise angle of my body; and finally, that I was also quite unable to feel or to locate my arms vis a vis the rest of me, and had been therefore effectively reduced to a blind lump at the other end of a pair of still-randomly-kicking legs.
And as it was being made increasingly clear to me, moment by moment, that my legs were in fact the only part of my body (or what remained of my body, at any rate) that had any degree of freedom of movement whatsoever, I determined to go for broke and launched my legs in a direction that some other part of me determined was upwards, a decision I immediately regretted for – as would seem perfectly obvious to anyone assessing this situation calmly and soberly and with the twin benefits of context and hindsight – this sudden and forceful verticalization of my body caused that part of me that I had previously assumed or at least imagined to be, under normal circumstances, the upper portion to point ever-more-directly downward, and wedging me more firmly into whatever it was in which I found myself most decidedly trapped.
Realizing that nothing I had done up until this point had gotten me one iota closer to resolving my initial conundrum and in fact had only worsened the situation, I momentarily paused in my contortions in order to ponder what it might be that was happening to me and where it was these awful events might be taking place, hypotheses that ran the gambit from the possible-but-unlikely (“I’ve fallen into a dumpster”) through the horrifying-yet-conceivable (“I have been the subject of a most halfhearted attempt at live burial!”) and finally right smack into the farfetched-Hollywood-horror-show variety (“Some psychopath is in the midst of harvesting my organs and I am in storage until he can back for my legs and brain”). However, as tempting as it was to believe that the worst fate imaginable had somehow befallen me during my sleep, none of these possibilities felt quite right and, just as I had all but resolved to resume the flailing of my legs in the hope of getting different results, the spark of a more plausible and less apocalyptic answer began flickering faintly, somewhere in the back of my mind.
I was wedged down between the cushions and the back of the living room sofa.
Now, with the enemy identified, the parameters of the challenge measured out, the extent of the danger almost within view, I found myself at last to be working towards a clearly-defined goal, and it could be said that the days – for indeed it felt like days, though, try as I might, I could not pinpoint with any degree of accuracy the length of time this extrication process had by now been going on – or even weeks of thrashing about willy-nilly were nearly over and behind me and I was, dare I say, right at the cusp of that glorious moment in which I could triumphantly declare myself free to go on about my way as though I were not the type of person likely to become stuck in a living room sofa. However, as I could see no value in pushing my weight to my right (for that would only shove me into the couch cushion, further limiting my range of motion) nor my left (which would allow for even less maneuvering as the back of the couch was both the firmest and steepest part of its entire structure), then I could only perceive two possibilities open to me in freeing myself from what was by now beginning to resemble the world’s softest makeshift sarcophagus.
My more observant readers, who might be in possession of human bodies of their very own by which some analogy to mine could be drawn, would at this point be forgiven if they were to find themselves tempted to ask why a person such as myself, already established to be of reasonable intelligence and moderate sobriety, would not end this madness once and for all by simply sitting up? Alas, I find that, in my haste to bring the reader a somewhat witty tale using the highest degree of brevity and succinctness I can muster, I might have contributed to this misunderstanding by not driving home to him (or her, because in these later days, females are apt to be able to read, too, sometimes to a degree approaching, if never quite equaling, the literacy of their male counterparts) the unfortunate condition of my arms, which I found to be either gone, or more probably, asleep, owing to the angle at which my body had rested as it was making its nocturnal advancement down into the bowels of the living room sofa.
And without recourse to my arms or hands as a means of, so to speak, “pushing off” in order to gain the desired upright sitting position, this method of escaping my sofanic plight was quite closed to me, leaving, so far as I could tell, only one route to freedom remaining: a sort of absurd backwards somersault in which, heels over head, I might afterwards find myself either kneeling atop the arm of the sofa or thrown completely clear of the accursed furniture body and on the floor that lay beyond. Unfortunately, if such a feat of gymnastic prowess did not lay absolutely outside the limits of my physical capabilities, it most certainly existed right at the edge of impossibility, and my first several attempts to flip myself over resulted only in pressing the entire and considerable weight of my bulk onto one point on the vertebrae in the back of my neck and led, in turn, to a not-inconsiderable amount of pain. Nevertheless, this process of rolling over backwards was eventually to take on a momentum of its own and as the roll reached farther and farther points along its axis upon the fifteenth, sixteenth, and even seventeenth attempt at rotation, I gained confidence that my decision to endure the accompanying pain had been the correct one and that my perseverance through this whole operation was very soon to be rewarded.
The reader (assuming in fact that even a single reader remains at this late juncture in my story) can only imagine the sense of impending horror that I of necessity was left feeling when, upon accomplishing a task that for so many worrisome moments had seemed unattainable to me, I was unable to relish my victory at all for, just as I landed upon my shins and balanced on the arm of the sofa, simultaneously trying to flap a bare modicum of feeling back into my own still-useless arms, I saw that in the midst of my previous flurry of bodily seizures and spasms, I had somehow managed to knock over an open bottle of red wine that had been resting next to the couch itself and was now speedily spilling forth its former contents onto the – relatively speaking – new carpet of the family living room.
“Dana!” I shouted out in despair. “Dana, help me!”
Without waiting for the object of my desperate shouted appeal to appear, I began knee-waddling down the arm of the sofa, onto the cushion and towards the upended bottle, all the while jerking my shoulders in a manner designed to drive the complete numbness from my arms, arms which as of yet were not even experiencing those familiar pinpricks of sensitivity which precede the mind’s renewed conscious governance of the body’s constituent parts. Recognizing that I was neither going to be able to utilize my hands in picking up the bottle nor simply await reinforcements in the guise of my wife or children, I quickly moved quickly to save the carpet from the glug-glug of wine by wrenching my legs out from beneath me and seizing the sides of the bottle with my feet.
And it was in this deplorable, degraded, and indeed almost subhuman condition that Dana found me: sitting on the couch in the early light of morning, flapping my arms around like wet noodles in a desperate effort to try and wake them, and bawling like a newborn babe, and all of this while simultaneously lifting a half-empty bottle of red wine from the floor using only my feet.
Dana looked a bit sad at finding me this way. She shrugged at me impatiently.
“My arms!” I cried by way of explanation, flapping the appendages in question all the harder until my hands slapped at my shoulders with each flap.
Dana’s eyes darted from point to point, but, as the component parts of the situation with which she found herself confronted failed to congeal in anything approaching a kind of internal logic, she, satisfied that I was not in any immediate physical danger, rolled her eyes, exhaled somewhat more loudly than was, in my estimation, strictly necessary, and finally turned back around to retreat into the bedroom, where she would no doubt spend what remained of the morning pondering whether she had made a grave error in aligning her life and indeed that of her children as well with the sort of oddball character capable of the display she had witnessed in the living room.
I, on the other hand, am thrilled to report to you that, in the aftermath of the ugly incident just described, I was able to regain the use of my arms, save the carpet, reset the sofa cushions, and even to salvage half a bottle of red wine in the process, leaving my own self-respect and Dana’s confidence in me as the only apparent victims of the morning’s shenanigans.
Just another morning in the Anders house…