Friday, December 02, 2016

Rainy Days and Wednesdays

I love the rain. The rain when I lived in Seattle, rain in the morning, with Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier in the distance. The kind of rain that seems to be a part of the landscape.

Or, rain that comes in a sudden, cloud-burst in summer and sends people fleeing for shelter and laughing as they run. Or, rain on a Saturday afternoon that provides the perfect excuse for not going out to do those errands that aren’t that urgent anyway. A quiet time to make a mug of cocoa and curl up with a book.

And then there’s the kind of rain we’re having in Albany today. A Wednesday work-day rain that makes me want to pull the covers up over my head and spend the day in bed. Too much to do, gray and sad outside. A day when you wonder if anyone would notice if you didn't put in an appearance.

Wednesday. With no classes to teach today, I decided to spend the morning working at home. I had an article to revise. I intended to check the headlines in the news and then write.

The headlines were depressing. I clicked on an entertainment blog about Tuesday night’s episode of The Voice, when Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton performed “Jolene.” I had heard some of it from the kitchen during the show and rushed out to watch. I’m a Dolly Parton fan. I decided I had time to watch the video of the complete performance.

My cat, Harry, was hunkered down on top of my desk when I started my impromptu concert. By the time I had pulled up the YouTube video of Dolly performing “I Will Always Love You,” followed by Whitney Houston’s live performance of the same song, he had climbed down into my lap to have a nap. All sixteen pounds of him, stretched out and comfy.

But then I happened on the videos of Simon Cowell and his fellow judges on X Factor responding to a nine-year boy who was so stricken with stage-fright that he began to cry. His mother came out to comfort him, a judge rushed up on the stage to hug him. He tried again and sent his voice soaring, I wiped away a tear or two.

Then I noticed my YouTube search had brought up some Reba McEntire videos. Yes, I’m also a Reba fan. I grew up in the South with country music. By the time I’d gotten through her videos about heartbreak and triumph and grief and comfort, I was sobbing out loud.

Harry raised his head, opened his eyes, and gave me what I’ve come to recognize as the cat equivalent of a dog's empathy. The look that says, “Are you all right?” while you know your cat's also thinking, “Really? Are you really about to make me jump off your lap. I’ll give you five seconds to get it together.” I laughed and got it together and assured him that everything was okay. He closed his eyes and went back to sleep. And I realized it was okay. Instead of being sunk in gloom, I felt like putting on my royal blue sweater and a smile and heading out the door.

I need to remind myself from time to time of what music – from country to rap, from jazz and movie theme songs to classical – does for my soul. I am a visual person, and sometimes I forget to stop and listen. I forget that music can make things better.

This morning also gave me another way of thinking about my characters. What does my protagonist do when she wants to hide under the covers? What is her “go to” for coping with melancholy? Does she watch old movies (Lizzie, my crime historian) or go for a four-mile run (Hannah, my police detective). I’m not sure yet what Jo, a new character does. But it's something to think about.

What do your characters do?


Mary Jane Hopper said...

What a delightful way to spend a cold, rainy day! We all need that kind of day once in a while.

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

I second that, Mary Jane. What we used to call a "mental health day".