Thursday, November 6, 2008


When I was three years old, my mother ordered me to take afternoon naps so that she could rest from her exhausting morning of looking after my newborn sister and me. I hated it, staying wide awake the entire time. Each minute that passed felt like an hour. Beginning school was a relief. I would never have to nap, again.

Then one afternoon, about five years ago, I carried a book to the screen porch and stretched out on the daybed. My four legged companion, Bronte joined me, resting her chin on my leg. It was early fall and there was a nip in the air. I covered up with a blanket and began to read. Everything was nice and cozy. The trees filtered the sunlight. The sparrows and juncos chirped. Thirty minutes later, I started to doze. After fighting the urge, I put down the book and succumbed.

Five or ten minutes later I awoke. I swung my legs over to the side of the daybed and sat. I felt great--refreshed and alert. After pouring a cup of coffee, I went back to work on my manuscript.

The next afternoon, I returned to the porch. I tried to retrace everything that had happened the day before. My dog, my book, my blanket. Half an hour later, sleep came. The following day, I repeated the routine. I was like a drug addict, needing my afternoon fix. Who would have suspected I would ever betray my top childhood resentment?

A little guilt slipped inside me. Was I becoming lazy? After all, it was not like great things happened during the nap. I didn't solve any character or plot dilemmas while dreaming. Actually I don't think I dreamed at all. For five to ten minutes, it was as if everything turned off. I doubt a thought existed during that period. If so, I don't remember.

Some snooping on the internet provided reassurance. I learned I was in good company. Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill were all nappers. Please don't misunderstand me. I don't have any ambitions to be a first lady, a scientist, or a world leader. I just want to write good books. And maybe in some small way, taking a nap, helps me work toward that goal. It sounds like a good excuse anyway.

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