8:00 to 10:30 p.m. 
Sing "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes." One of us is exhausted (it's that special kind of exhaustion that can only be achieved by singing "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" for two and a half hours) and would very much like to go to bed. 

10:51 p.m. The three-book limit is imposed, and to my great relief, Senorita Knobby Knees dozes off without much protest. It's absurdly late, but because I don't get home from work until 7:00 each night, she doesn't want to go to bed at 8:15. Do I feel guilty? You bet I do. 

11:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. 
A little more ghostwriting. 

12:31 to 12:35 a.m. 
This is my time. I opt to spend it getting an MBA, locating those weapons of mass destruction (turns out they've been on the upper shelf of my linen closet—to the left of the washcloths), force North Korea to stand down, cure cancer, and eat a small piece of cold chicken. Anyway, that's my plan, but knowing I have to water my evil neighbor's ficus tree tomorrow makes me skip straight to the barbecued chicken thigh and call it a night.

Sometimes I think pain without suffering, anger without brooding, being a parent, earning a living, maintaining friendships (hell, maintaining hair color), connecting with the universe, and dancing as fast as you can without screaming, "Stop the music; I want to sit this one out," just isn't an option for anybody anymore.

We shoulder-roll out of bed in the morning and gulp coffee from Styrofoam cups on the way to wherever we're trying to go. We catch the sound bite, not the speech. We send the e-mail, not the love letter. We wait our entire lives to exhale. But I don't want to wait my whole life away. Nor do I want to wait until I retire 18 years and 11 months from now...though I'm secretly hoping to develop one of those bubbly personalities that get you picked for Deal or No Deal, where I will win $400,000 dollars from Howie Mandel. We'll save for another column what it means that even in my fantasies I don't win the million...

My point is this: Spring is here! So this Saturday, I'm taking back my life or, at the very least taking a nap. If something's gotta give, it's not going to be me. I'm confining my work to regular business hours, forcing a friend out for coffee, reading for pleasure, bringing home daffodils, and eating a neon pink marshmallow Peep with Miss Julia Claire Labusch. It's far from a solution, but it's a start.

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