"The reason you're stuck.." Violet says. " spend too much time in your comfort zone."

Violet is a friend. She scares me.

"I walk around feeling uneasy, dislocated and alienated. Is this my comfort zone?” I say.

"That's your comfort zone…”

“It feels uncomfortable."

“The uncomfortable is your comfort zone."

"So outside of my comfort zone. How am I supposed to feel?"

 "Uncomfortable," Violet says.

“I already feel uncomfortable. So I’m always out of my comfort zone. Job done.” I say.

“You feel uncomfortable with the comfortable which makes you feel uncomfortable. You need to feel uncomfortable without the comfortable which will make you feel uncomfortable in a different way. You need to rezone your comfort zone.”

"...rezone for..." 

"...the uncomfortable..." she says.

"...which is what I already feel..."

"...which is your comfort zone..."

"...of course...”


“Do you think everyone has a comfort zone?” I say.


" you how about…people in the camps like Aushwitz what was their comfort zone? Because it probably wasn't very comfortable."

"Are you comparing yourself to the people in the camps? You’re uncomfortable. They’re uncomfortable. I should smack you.”

“You are forbidden from applying The Smack.”

“It would get you out of your comfort zone.”

“It would hurt.”

“How about just once. On the fat part of the cheek,” she says.

“Are you saying I’m fat?”

“You make things up. Everybody has a fat part of the cheek,” Violet says.

“What about the people in the camps? I’ve seen pictures. No fat part.”

“Now I’m gonna smack you. Ready?”

“We’re in a crowded Starbucks.”

“Here it comes.”

“I’ll leave.”

“It’s on it’s way," she says.

“Okay, no. Stop.”

“How do you feel?”

“Extremely anxious and stressed.”

“Which is out of your comfort zone.”

“…of merely anxious and stressed.”

“The smacking hand rests. Mission accomplished.”

We finished our coffees in silence. Violet leaves. She has to go study. I call my therapist. Ask if she can squeeze me in. For another session. Today.


"Only way I leave there is in a pine box."

My 94 year old mother.


Her condo.


The medical team at the Geriatric Clinic at the Ottawa Hospital.


Being diagnosed with mixed dementia. Alzheimer's and Vascular. And encouraged to move to an assisted living environment.

"I don't like people."

My mother.



People. It turns out. Populate assisted living facilities.

"Only way I leave my condo is in a pine box."

A week later. Phone rings. I answer.

"Hi, can I speak with Alan," the Woman says.


"I'm from the Alzheimer's Society. I got your number from the Geriatric Clinic. Just want to know if there's anything we can help you with in dealing with your mother?"

"There is one thing. She lives in a condo. She says she'll only leave it in a pine box. But she needs to go food shopping and she enjoys pushing the shopping cart. Do you know where I can get a pine box with leg holes?  Hello? Hello?"


I'm taking a bath. Imprinting my rubber ducks. Again. (I suspect they're suffering from early onset Alzheimer's. I just can't get a Physician willing to give a diagnosis. Liability issues, no doubt.)

When I notice. My knee is no longer submerged. Leg hasn't moved. Knee no longer submerged.
Now calf. Now entire body. I am lying in the tub. And I feel naked.

My bathtub stopper has stopped stopping. 

The bathtub stopper has two responsibilities. Stop water from escaping down the drain. Prevent snakes and other amphibians from rising out of the drain. On the latter my bathtub stopper has Hall of Fame numbers. In  the year and a bit since owning the stopper no snake or amphibian has gotten through.

A little over a year. And the stopper has stopped. Stopping. Of course I wonder. Was it my fault?  I worshiped that stopper. Kept it in a cup of water so it wouldn't crack.  Put it by the window so it would have lots of light. Read it poetry. I read my bathtub stopper poetry. Anna Akhmatova. Rainier Maria Rilke. Prince. ('When Doves Cry' makes Seamus Heaney's 'Blackberry-Picking' seems like MC Hammer's 'U Can't Touch This')

I should've listened to my friend Kay. Whom I call K. Because she seems more like a K than a Kay. She cautioned me against that stopper.

At the hardware store. In front of the bathtub stopper rack. She wanted me to consider other stoppers. But I couldn't take my eyes off that stopper. It had a certain je ne sais quoi. I thought it would last forever. It said so on the package. 'The Last Bathtub Stopper You Will Ever Need'.  K now disputes the claim. She says I was reading between the lines. "There aren't many lines on a bathtub stopper package," I say.

I'm lying in the empty bathtub. Shivering. Picking up a new bathtub stopper seems like climbing Everest on crutches. Insuperable.

But I have to do it. I have to.

For the ducks. 


Sometime in the night. Phone rings. Interrupts a dream.

In the dream my Centaur friend Barry and I are playing mini-putt against Friedrich Nietzsche and his Theory of Eternal Recurrence. Nietzsche breaks a lot of putters. He has a problem getting the ball through the Windmill. But the Theory putts like Ben Crenshaw in his prime. And the outcome is always the same. We lose by three strokes.  And Nietzsche's moustache spikes the ball. Every. Single. Time.

I answer the phone.


A woman speaks.

"It's over, okay?” She says.  “Done. Finished. Don't call me. Don't text me. Don't Facebook me. I told you-. Very simple. I told you-. All I wanted-. Between you and me. Me and you. All I wanted. Sex. You know. Bend me over and make me take the Lord's name in vain repeatedly sex. Simple, right? Instead. In-stead. You ask about my feelings. With such punishing patience and empathy.  How are you feeling? You wanna know how I'm feeling? Pissed. Because you keep asking me how I'm feeling. Do I ask you how you're feeling? No. They're your feelings. Just like my feelings are my feelings. You can do whatever you want with your feelings. Whatever you want. My feelings. I keep them in a safe place. Somewhere nobody can get at them. I mean nobody. Not even me.

"Uh,” I say.  

"I'm not finished,” she says. “Which, by the way, are words I wanted to hear from you a lot. And again. And a lot. I'm not finished. As you ride me like a racehorse. Instead you say things like I read that poem you gave me. It's really good. Keep writing. How incredibly condescending. Who are you? Yanni? The only reason I gave you the poem was to get you off my back. And onto my front. So you could plough me like a potato field.


"Let me finish you tyrannically sensitive, crushingly supportive a-hole. You really crossed the line when you wanted to cuddle. I. Don't. Cuddle. I thought the notarized letter from my attorney made that clear. If that wasn't enough how about when I bent back your middle finger until it snapped. Or when I bit into your arm and drew blood so that you had to go to the hospital and get stitches. Most guys would've gotten the message. You. You write on your Facebook wall. Why do I love my girlfriend so much? She keeps me in stitches. Your optimism is like a North Korean labour camp. Oppressive."

"Excuse me," I say.


"You've got the wrong number."

Long pause.

"When you answered you said hello. Brandon usually says hi so…" she says. 

"I'm going back to sleep," I say.

"Can I ask you something?" 


"How was that? What I said. How did it seem?"

"Bit harsh.”

“Yeah, I didn’t want him to think I didn’t care.”

 Long pause.

“Yeah, I can see that. But not really. I have to go back to sleep,” I say. And hang up.

I get back into bed. Close my eyes. 

And wonder what people mean when they say what they mean. 

I also wonder where I put my Abe Maslow decoder ring.


“Here, the loveliest most beautiful apple you’ll ever have,” Steve says.

Steve is an aquaintance. I know him enough to know him enough.  

“You didn’t say the tastiest,” I say.

“If you don’t want it.”

“Hold on.”

I couldn’t refuse. I hadn’t eaten in four months. And I was in the middle of a massive field in the middle of county Nowhere.

It looks…so…beautiful. If there were a Fruit Hall of Fame this apple would hang in the Delicious Wing. It’s almost to good to eat. But then there’s this thing about the four months of no food. So I take a bite. Not a big one. Not a small one. A just right one. The just right one isn’t always the best choice. But it is always just right.

“Heyyy, that is a tasty tasty apple. Sweet and juicy. Not too sweet. Not too juicy. Good call.”

“Told ya.”

“That you did, my acquaintance.”

I take another bite. Yum. Yum. I am looking forward to spending a lot of quality time with this apple.

A third bite. Can this get any better?

A fourth. It just did.

A fifth. Ow! Ow! Ow! OW! What was that?! Something’s coming out of my mouth and it’s not saliva. A finger touch reveals…blood!

“Dude, blood is flowing from your mouth,” says Steve.

“Thank you Captain Obvious.”

I check out the apple. No razor blade just a really sharp piece of pulp. Do I take another bite?  The blood is pouring from my mouth and it’s sore like a son-of-a-bitch. Hmmm. How can I condemn an entire apple over one painful bite? It’s a complicated apple. It’s got dimension.

Big bite. Yuch! Ugh! Pugh! The worst taste ever. It’s like I bit into a rotting corpse. I look down at the apple and see a couple of maggots crawl out. Disgusting! Just yech disgusting! It looked so beautiful!

Need to take another bite to confirm. Yech! Peh! I spit out a couple of maggots.

Okay, one more. I mean, it was such a beautiful apple. I can still see it’s perfect shape, vivid colour, captivating stem.

I chomp down. Yechhhh! Ugh!!!!

Another bite. Uch! The worst! Although you kinda get used to the maggots. They’re like squirrely Nibs.

I keep eating. My teeth fall out. My gums redden and rot. It's such a lovely and beautiful apple. How can this be? The pain must be some kind of illusion. The sweet and juicy taste will return on the next bite. I'm sure of it. So I continue eating.

Along the way I make friends with one of the maggots. He sits on my shoulder. I call him Mark. He calls me Adam. The little guy has difficulty with the letter 'l'.


I need to clear my head.

I've been working on a script for hours and the words aren't coming. Maybe they had a prior engagement. I don't take it personal. Okay, maybe a little. They could've texted, or e-mailed, facebooked, tweeted, ninged. Matter of courtesy. How long have we known each other? Shared laughs, tears. I mean I was at 'bris's' bris. What does it take to ning? Really.

I even put out potpourri. What word doesn't love potpourri? They don't love potpourri. Really? Then who would've tipped them off? Why?  Something Nicole Richie once said  summed up my thought at that very moment: “It's hard to tell who has your back, from who has it long enough just to stab you in it....” I'm looking in your direction hardwood floor.

So after having consumed a pot and a half of coffee and chewed on about a dozen chocolate covered espresso beans, give or take a dozen, I go down to the local amusement park. To clear my head. I wander. Until. I come across...The Scrambler. 'To clear, one must first scramble.' I'm sure I heard Deepak Chopra  utter those words. Or was it Wavy Gravy? Doesn't matter.

For the uninitiated, The Scrambler is an amusement ride with three long arms which revolve around a central post. At the end of each arm hangs a group of seats which revolve in a circle. When the ride starts up, the arms spin, the seats spin...there's a lot of spinning, in all directions.

A schematic:

I'm standing by the ride in progress and see an eight year old girl whipping around, laughing, waving at her friends, having fun. Fun. I can have fun. Fun is fun. Fun is nuf spelled backwards. I must get on that ride to scramble and clear and save the script. Beads of sweat convene on my forehead. My right leg shakes like I'm doing an Elvis impersonation. Teeth grind. It's not the coffee. Don't blame the coffee. Did I have too much? NO! You didn't have enough. Who are you? I'm your coffee conscience. I know Juan Valdez. We're not close. Fresh mountain grown coffee from the hills of Colombia. Buy a ticket.

I hand the operator a bunch of money and tell him to give the change to support concussion research on the Mole in Whack-A-Mole. He laughs. "I'm serious, man," I say.

There are two seats available. One is beside a really fat kid eating an ice cream cone. Who lets a fat kid with an ice cream cone on a ride? Ice cream can become airborne. The other seat is next to... a vision of beauty in the form of a woman who looks like she stepped out of the pages of Vogue, after stepping out of the pages of Mother Earth, the New Yorker, American Heritage of Invention and Technology, and Die Freundin. She had silky dirty blonde hair, wore cat's eye glasses and had on a flowery light 70s dress. Her face radiated glowing luminosity. Not sure if I just broke some kind of law using all those words together. I'll accept the consequences. I have in my back pocket a copy of Viktor Frankel's 'Man's Search for Meaning' just in case I'm imprisoned. No need to flip a coin on this one.

While the operator locks us in...

"Um, hey, hi...Alan," I say.

"Cali, I have a cousin named Alan. Are you ready?" she says. And smiles.

I break my 100 year ban on the use of the letters OMG together in succession.


After the ride I must get her number. Who knew the Scrambler was the place to meet beautiful women?

"Me? I was born ready," I say.

Turns out I was not born ready.

The ride starts up. Our car whips around, gathers speed and heads straight for the fence. We are heading straight for the fence, my coffee conscience says. HOLY SHIT! We are headed for the fence. We will hit the fence. We will go through the fence. We will topple. And nosedive. And plunge. Our heads will bang the ground repeatedly. I won't be able to eat pudding without assistance for many years. 

It might be instructive at this point to interject my experience on amusement rides. When I was a kid I ventured on the merry-go-round once. Two words: death trap. The horse behind me was always this close to taking a nip from my back. I had to continually spur my horse to stay out of reach. The ride's flashing lights and blaring organ music was, no doubt,  a disorienting technique the ride owner  picked up from the CIA. Rides were really not my amusement park thing. I preferred the bench. 

"We're gonna die!"

"Isn't this fun?"

I close my eyes and pray to every deity I ever read about including the Norse Goddess Frigg. What the frig, Frigg? WHAT THE FRIG?!



Her laugh echoes like she's a mile away. I'm feeling stretch and squash. Arms rubbery. I get panicky. What's happening?! Be cool, Coffee Conscience says. Coffee Conscience sounds a lot like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.

After a time I open my eyes. I'm still alive. However. Everything looks different. The lights shine bright and swirl and twist. We're moving slow. I look over at Cali. She's standing on the seat with her arms outstretched. "I'm Queen of the Scrambler," she says.  I feel so light like I could fly away.  Chocolate covered espresso beans appear. Float in the air. I grab and stuff my face, offer a few to Cali. She's pre-occupied... reinventing the wheel. Literally. She has a wheel in her lap and a toolkit beside her. She's a dream. This is when I notice them. Small elvish characters. Purple skin. Stripped to the waist. They all look like James Franco. They're taking apart the mechanics of the ride. "Not cool, mini James Francos," I say. "Write another self-critically acclaimed novel!" They don't listen. Parts of the ride fly past. My heart beats faster and faster like Hummingbird wings. "We're gonna die! Again!" I shut my eyes and pray mini Seth Rogens will show up and talk some sense into mini-James Francos.

Time stretches.

"Open your eyes. You're missing all the fun." It's Cali's voice.

I open my eyes. WHOOSH! SNAP! Back in the present. Just in time to catch another car whipping at us. At the last second it turns away. If I survive I promise to devote my life to the lepers of the world...actresses over 40 in Hollywood.


"The safety bar's loose. I'm sliding out!"

Cali laughs and LAUGHS.


I shut my eyes again and like Brontes the Cyclops who loses his contact and has shown up at Lenscrafter 15 minutes before it opens I must hold on and wait.

And. Wait. Wait.

"Hey Alan. Alan. You can open your eyes now. Ride's over."

I open my eyes and see Cali's radiant face. It's all good, Coffee Conscience says. You're comin' down.  It's like the space capsule has been opened and I'm stepping out. Then the embarrassment washes over me. I lost my sh#t in front of a beautiful woman.

"That was fun. I'd do it again," I say. "I mean, not now, but, you know, another time."

She hands me a card. "Call me." Leaves with a small wave.

The card reads:

Dr. Calliope Wallop

'No Fear'

Perfect. Because. I am. A no fear kinda guy.


A woman is at my door. She is not happy.

"Return it now or I will rip your balls out with a flush cutter and use them as gel pads in my Mizuno Wave Riders," she says.

"Hi. I’m Alan and you would be…"

"My name is the burning sensation you'll feel when I shove my fist up your ass and practice my carpal tunnel exercises in your lower colon."

"I’ll call you Jenny," I say.

"Give back that magical moment you stole from Jeffrey," she says. 

Jeffrey steps out from behind his girlfriend, waves. I nod. I met Jeffrey two hours ago outside a Starbucks. He was begging like a homeless person...begging for people to take some of his life's magical moments. Thought I'd do him a favour. Looked like he could use one. Then take those moments and give them to a worthy cause. What charitable organization couldn't use a man's magical moments? Unless the man were, say, Hitler.

"You mean bought," I say.

"For a subway token. Barry Bond's scrotum of a subway token. That magical moment was our 2nd anniversary dinner. Twelve courses of gastrorgasmic rapture at WD-50 in New York. A bottle of ‘Millsesime Grand Cru’ Brut Pierre Paillard 2002. On a winter night that was like out of an Andreas Feininger photo."

"No need to go all Travis Bickle on me. You can have it back. And you can keep the token. You can also have the other magical moments Jeffrey unloaded on me," I say.

"Other moments?" 

"Yes, here..." 

“…antiquing on a warm July Saturday in Prince Edward County…you sold that moment?” She stares at Jeffrey.

“I like antiques. But I’m not crazy about them like you,” Jeffrey says

“…the first time we kissed?”

"It was great bit my lip."

“…the early autumn night on the dock of my brother’s country home on Lake Rosseau where we stared up at the stars and talked of our future together. You sold him that moment? That moment!”

“…you pushed me in the lake after, don’t you remember? I couldn’t swim. I nearly died. Your brother had to pull me out and give me mouth-to-mouth. At least he didn’t bite my lip.”

'Jenny' isn't moving. This can't be good. I fear she will pull out a shank and this will turn into a scene from OZ.

"Jeffrey?" Her voice goes soft.

Jeffrey scratches the back of his neck, eyeballs the floor. She raises his chin until they are at eye level. He gently pushes her fingers away. She doesn’t resist.

"Those moments. Those were-. Those were your moments more than my moments," he says.

"They’re both of ours."

"No. You-. You step on my moments. I want magical moments…that are my moments. Mine." He sounds like the Elephant Man when he declares he's not an elephant but a human being. 

She continues looking into Jeffrey’s eyes like she's looking for a lost button.

"Okay," she says. Her hands slide up and down Jeffrey's arms. “A magical moment that's all yours.”

He nods. 

Her hands travel down his arms. She leans in and whispers in his ear. I can’t make it out. For the first time he smiles. She lowers to her knees. Now, I’m no Dan Savage but I know when a guy is about to get...“Nice meeting you,” I say, close the door, rush to the radio and turn it up. 

Then it occurs to ‘Welcome’ mat is in the line of fire. I hunt around for matches, lighter fluid and my winter gloves. Goretex. My search is interrupted by loud knocks. Please be Jehovah’s Witnesses? I open the door to reveal a grinning ‘Jenny’ and Jeffrey. 
“We're wondering if you can do us a favour...” Jeffrey says. The two giggle.

“We don’t have enough for a taxi. But we do have a magical moment you might be interested in,” she says. They giggle again. That was one giggle too many.

I quickly shut the door and reach for the Goretex gloves.


I am being followed.

Which is not the same as I have a following. If it were, the words would match.

They don't.

I am being followed.

By a cat.

A tabby. A mackerel tabby.

It boarded the same downtown subway car as me and exited at the same station seven stops later, followed me up the stairs, outside. Could be a coincidence. But it seems too coincidental to be a coincidence.

Why is a cat following me? For questions like these I call my neighbour Lora (see My Neighbour Lora). She's a poet. She traffics in the unknowable.

"Hey Lora, why am I being followed by a cat?" I ask.

She pauses. A long pause. A pause that feels like the pause had paused to consider the pause. I eyeball the cat six feet away. It's rubbing up against an elderly man's leg. The elderly man smiles, pets the cat. Don't be fooled elderly man. That cat isn't the cat it wants you to believe it is.

"Lora? Still there?"

"Alan, you're not the one being followed. The cat is. So stop following him." Lora says and hangs up.

Whoaa. What?

I'm following the cat? This was a formulation I had not considered. I sat down beside the elderly man on the bench. Watched the cat roll on its back.

"Just because you're losing, doesn't mean you're lost," the elderly man says. To me. Not to me. I don't know. He wasn't looking at me when he said it. He takes out a linen handkerchief and blows his nose.

"Did you just quote a Coldplay song?" I say.

"I heard it at the hospital. I'm getting chemo for my brain. Tumour size of a grapefruit up there. The five for two dollar grapefruit. He's right. The singer. Just because I'm losing doesn't mean I'm lost."

"Right," I say.

How can Lora say I was following the cat? I was in front of the cat. The cat was behind me. If I were following the cat, I'd be following what's behind me.

"Hey, who did you see first come out of the subway? The cat or me? I think that cat's following me. My friend Lora thinks I've been following the cat," I say to the elderly man.

"Your friend is wrong. You haven't been following the cat..."

"Phew. Good to know."

"'ve been following me. Just like the cat," he says.

Whoaa. What?

"Why would I follow someone who quotes Coldplay lyrics?"

"Why does anybody do anything?" The elderly man says.

"What kind of answer is that?" I say.

"What kind of question is that?" He says.

The cat licks its paw, stops, looks up at me, looks over at the elderly man, pauses, goes back to licking its paw.

I feel like I'm in a Harold Pinter play.

I should leave before the elderly man so he doesn't think I'm following him. Too late. The elderly man gets up from the bench and walks away. Seconds later, the cat follows.

They must expect I'll do the same. Not a chance. I'm staying right here. He's wrong. Lora's wrong. I'm not the one doing the following.

After about a half hour a woman sits down beside me. She's tall and slim, short auburn hair, translucent skin, a face that would've caused Plato to reconsider the form of Beauty. I want to make her spinach lentil stew.

"Excuse me. But-. You are so beautiful I'd like to make you spinach lentil stew," I say.

"That's nice. I have a message from my grandfather. He's the elderly man who was here."

"Okay." I should want to crawl into a hole after that exchange. Yet-. Her face. She seems to know.

"Stop waiting 'til the shine wears off," she says.

"That's the message?"

"That's the message," she says.

I lean back. Close my eyes. Take a big breath.

What is the world coming to when elderly men quote Coldplay lyrics?


I am watching a snowman attempt suicide. And it's not going well.

He lights stick matches. Tosses them at his body. The flames die quick against the wind and snow.

It's early evening. Dark. Cold. I'm on my way back from food shopping, weighted down with bags. Of food. Home with heat is near. A snowman is in distress. Can I turn my back?


I'm 6 years old. I build a snowman in front of my house. Takes me all afternoon. It's not perfect. It's got lumps. And looks a little like the Elephant Man. But it is borne of my sweat. And, of course, the snow on the ground. And it is good. To complete my creation I reach up and christen its' nose with a stubby carrot. Just as I let go of the carrot my creation shivers and topples on me. Snow gets in my mouth, eyes, nose. I'm crushed. And crushed. Why? I ask the snow at my feet formerly known as The Snowman. Why? I never made another snowman that winter or any winter since.


I call 911. "What's your emergency?" "A snowman is committing suicide," I say. There is a long pause. "I'll send the Easter Bunny out right away," the dispatcher says and hangs up. The Easter Bunny? The snowman doesn't need eggs. He needs help. I could inform the family upon whose lawn the snowman sits. What if the kid sees his creation in such deep despair and becomes traumatized?  I don't want that on my conscience. Only one thing to do.

"Hey," I say.

The snowman doesn't answer. Just continues striking matches and tossing them at his body.

"What're you doing?" I say.

"I'm sequencing DNA. What the fuck d'ya think?" he says.

"You're trying to kill yourself," I say.

"Move to the top of the class, Einstein," he says.

"Any reason?"

"None. My life is great. I sit out here all day getting whipped by the wind, smacked by snowballs from spoiled little brats, and pissed on by dogs. I've never heard a Mozart concerto, seen anything by Van Gogh, or..." 


"...felt the cold touch of a snowwoman." The snowman's head slumps forward. I catch it and put it back on.

"You have no genitalia."

"Really sensitive. Genitalia does not define gender. They're there. You just have to dig."

"I'll take your word for it," I say.

"In a few days some local brat'll knock me down. My life will be over. Maybe-. Maybe you can help," he says.

"This isn't what I'm thinking is it?"

The snowman looks at me with those big button eyes.

"Geezus." I start pacing. "You want me to pimp for you."

"Think of it as matchmaking."

"You want me to build a snowwoman."

"Right up against me. So I can feel every lump," he says.

"You don't understand. The last time I did this-" I say.

"I know."


"Snowmen talk," he says. "Listen, however she turns out she will be beautiful. And she will be loved."

"Geezus, Maroon 5?"

"That's all the mother plays," he says.

 "I really don't think I can do it."

"You can. You must. For both of us."

"Hey, Deepak Chopra. I need time."

"Not too long. Sunrise is coming."

I walk. End up at Aroma in Forest Hill Village. Warm up inside. 'She Will Be Loved' by Maroon 5 comes on. Tap on my window knock on my door/I want to make you feel beautiful. Isn't this all the  snowman wants aside from snowsex? To make the other feel beautiful? To know the feeling of making the other feel beautiful? To give. With love. Even if it's snowlove. I slip on my gloves. It'll be a long night.

A few days later I walked by the house. Even though the cold weather hadn't changed, the snowman and snowwoman were no longer standing. They had somehow melted into a frozen puddle on the ground.


A few hours ago I fell asleep. When I woke up, I was still asleep.

This is a problem.

I need to do laundry. If I'm asleep, how will I know two socks aren't balled into one before I toss them in the washer?

So here's what I'm thinking. I go back to sleep, wake up, everything will be the way it should. Thing is, I'm already asleep. Not sure how I will get back to sleep when I'm already asleep. I could stay up asleep, and hope that I fall asleep from being asleep, so that when I wake up I won't be asleep. Yeah, that's worth a try.

On my back. On my bed. Eyes closed. Fence. Sheep. Jump-.

This won't work.

Light is seeping through my eyelids. I need something to block out the light. Something like a sleep mask. I have a sleep mask. A production company included one in a bag of swag at the launch of their fall line-up one year. Given the quality of their shows, including the mask now seems prescient.

On my back. On my bed. Mask on. Fence. Sheep-.

It's dark. Too dark. Way too dark.

I feel like Clarice Starling at the end of Silence of the Lambs when she's in the psycho killer's lair stumbling around in blackness, while he stalks her sporting night vision goggles. What if somebody is outside my mask, in my room, sporting night vision goggles. They can see me. I can't see them. Because I'm in the dark. Because I'm wearing a sleep mask. Because I'm asleep awake and I'm trying to get to sleep so I can wake up.

I can lie here paralyzed with fear. I can lie here paralyzed with more fear. Or, I can take my chances and run.

I run. Jump up. Scream. Flail. Smack into the door. Fall back. Take off the sleep mask. Rush out. Close the bedroom door behind me.

In the hallway, my heart pounding, I determine I must go back in so I'll know. I swing the door open, make a quick check under the bed, in the closet, under the bed, in the closet, under the bed. No creature sporting night vision goggles or otherwise.

Every inch of my body tingles.

And then I realize...I am not asleep awake anymore.

I am awake.

I make a note to send my fear a gift basket.