Saturday, March 5, 2016


The last couple of weeks did not go as planned.  In fact, the original plans had to be scrapped entirely, and new plans put in place.

First and foremost, I came down with a nasty, stubborn little cold.  The kind you remember getting when you were a kid.  I haven't had a cold like that in years.

For the first 12-24 hours, I was in denial.  I figured it was "a little cold" and that "all" I had to do was take a decongestant, stay low-key, and go to bed early, and I'd have it on the run by the next morning. This was last Friday.

So imagine my surprise when I woke up last Saturday morning and felt NO better.  In fact, maybe a little worse, if by "worse" you mean that the OTC decongestant wasn't worth a fiddler's damn and all it had done was ensure that I was "non-drowsy" for several of the wee hours of Saturday morning.   

I awakened at 5 a.m. on Saturday and decided I needed to regroup.  I began drinking hot water with lemon and honey by the gallon--because hey, did I mention?  this cold had one of those coughs that sound like you're about to lose a lung--and I set up shop on the couch for the duration.

My state of denial continued through Saturday, during which I reminded myself that "this kind of thing happens," and that really, the fact that I wasn't cured in a mere 12 hours wasn't "that bad," and that obviously, certainly, Sunday morning would see a total recovery.

When I awoke on Sunday morning and realized that I would be spending ANOTHER day basically bed-ridden (couch-confined, actually), I began to cuss.  And cough.  And lament.  

I had reached the bottom of my optimism barrel.

This happened, at least in part, because of an innate sense of vanity.  When it hit noon on Sunday, I realized that I would be standing in front of a room full of impressionable young minds in approximately 24 hours. 

And at that point, I looked like a cross between Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer and a mouth-breathing bullfrog.  I couldn't really hear anyone or anything that didn't have its volume set on the highest possible setting, and I was prone to suddenly barking like a seal, courtesy of a cough that was triggered by things like... breathing. 

My precise thought was, "Dear God, I really can't teach like this."  But because I felt so crappy, I couldn't quite piece together what the alternative was going to be.

And then, miracle of miracles, the cold began to retreat.  Suddenly, inexplicably, thankfully.

By Sunday night, I felt better.  By Monday, I was able to teach my class, even though I felt wiped out afterward (3 days confined to bed or couch takes a toll).  Tuesday and Wednesday were even better, and little by little, the stubborn little thing that wrecked my world for a week has come under my control.

The good news in all of this is, bed-ridden enabled me to read.  I read Imre Kertesz's Fatelessness. Kertesz is a Hungarian writer and a survivor of Buchenwald--Fatelessness is a fictional novel that tells the story of a 14-year-old boy who survives Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

And yes, if you're wondering, reading a novel like that when bedridden with a mere cold definitely prevents you from feeling too terribly sorry for yourself.

Because unlike the protagonist you're reading about, you at least have food.  And hot water.  And blankets.  And no Nazi SS officers are awakening you at dawn to insist that you perform 14 hours of grueling manual labor.  

I also read Monica Sone's memoir, Nisei Daughter.  Sone was a second-generation Japanese American: she and her family were interned in Camp Harmony in Washington and Camp Minidoka in Idaho during the Second World War.

Again, a narrative that offered an implicit check against any tendencies towards self-pity that I might have been entertaining last weekend.

And through it all, there was knitting.  I made a virtue of necessity and worked on a cardigan that included miles and miles of mindless stockinette stitch.  I didn't want to risk anything more complicated, given my congested brain.

Long story short, the change of plans went about as well as could be expected.  And now, I'm a mere 5 days away from Spring Break.  

Bring it.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."