Kage Baker, like any sensible person, liked to sleep in on Saturdays. She didn’t get to do that much as an adult – despite a vow at the end of high school that she was never going to see a Saturday dawn again.
The first thing that Scotched that idea was a tendency in our late teens to come home as the sun was rising, especially after a Friday night out. Momma’s house faced east, and as one climbed the 54 steps from the street to the front door (the yard was almost vertical) one was bathed in the earliest light, breaking over the Hollywood sign to the East. It’s a wonderful memory now, of course; at the time, we were like a pair of slugs in a rain of salt water.
I remember one amazing summer, shortly after the Beatles broke up (sob). A tiny little theatre down on 6th street near MacArthur Park played Beatles movies all summer – all the legal ones, all the bootlegs, all the home movies and cartoons and even Magical Mystery Tour : which is proof that not even the Beatles should always be given artistic control. Anyway, we’d stay in the theatre until it closed at 1 AM, then get beer and Chinese food and drive up to a pull-out on Mulholland Drive. There we would sit and eat and drink (and discuss stories) until the lights of the LA Basin began to fade. Then we’d coast around the curves of Mulholland, saving gas by not turning on the engine until we reached the base of Woodrow Wilson Drive and had to drive uphill again, and eventually go to bed.
Good times, good times.
After that, many Saturdays and Sundays too were taken up with art shows. No galleries – Kage sold her water colours and ink studies in parking lot shows. On a good day we made enough for a bucket of KFC, which is pretty triumphant when you are barely 20. But it necessitated getting up early, and loading the car with stands and boxes and stacks of paintings, and getting there in time to snag a good space and set up before the middle class finished breakfast at IHOP and came out to exploit us. The Bohemian life is tougher than most people think.
But around then, we discovered the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. Along with the multichronistic extravaganza that took over our life like neon kudzu, alterations in sleep patterns became needed. If we indulged the urge to stay home Friday night (Clean sheets! Showers! Flush toilets!) then we had to get up at dawn to drive out to Faire. And if we had gone out Friday to Southern Faire, or been on The Bus overnight to get to the Northern Faire, there was no sleeping once the sun hit the tent and turned it into a Reynoldswrap Baking Bag.
So when Faire was in season, there was no sleeping in on weekends, either. It was one of the biggest reasons we started coming in on Friday nights and sleeping on site – that extra fraction of an hour Kage found she could stay in the sleeping bag. And then we left the tent in Actor’s Camp and moved into the intra-inter-dimensional hooch of the Green Man Inn, and she got nearly an hour a morning more of sleep.
But I got up, if I’d been to bed at all. It was my best thinking time. Even now, when I could sleep in all I wanted … I literally cannot sleep. And it’s not the minor intrusions like the cat that wants to sleep on my pillow (I can sleep on the cat at need) or the corgi that is sitting up like an otter to beg for treats (why? Why at my bedside at 6 AM? What is the weird corgi reasoning in this? There are no dog treats in my pillow!) or the little parrot voice under the cage blanket calling seductively, “Hi? Hello? Meow?” and then singing Rule Britannia.
I can sleep through all that. I can even sleep through wondering why most of what wakes me up isn’t human, and why I seem to be sleeping in a zoo. What I can’t sleep through is my mind starting up on the story while I am still asleep … A cook is about to bring news of a dead butler on the local beach. There is a fox terrier to name. I must count the guns on a 175-foot long hermaphrodite brig. I realize I need someone to have shot Herbertina and no one has.
Good times. Good times.
Tomorrow: the end is nigher.