Friday, February 29, 2008

The Great Influenza Outbreak of 2008

Sunday night. 9:38 p.m. (R. and C. are lying in bed watching an episode of "The L Word.")
C: (Turning to reposition herself). Ouch.
R: ... (saying nothing because in the middle of television shows you say nothing...not until a commercial break, and when it's a premium channel there aren't breaks).
C: I think I pushed it too hard running today. I'm really sore.
R: ... (says nothing again, but gives brief sympathetic glance, followed by look which says, "I hear you, and I care, but wait until the show is over, okay, my sweet beloved?" before returning to watch television).

Sunday night. 9:59 p.m. (R. and C. still lying in bed, credits just finished rolling.)
R: How are you feeling?
C: Bad.
R: What's going on?
C: I think I caught "it." ("It" being the creeping crud which both girls had been struggling with in previous days. "It" being the nebulous monster which causes high fevers and even higher anxieties).
R: Oh no.
C: I know. Now, get ready cowboy, it's gonna be a long ride. (Okay, I didn't really say this but added it for dramatic's sort of ominous in a playful way).

Monday morning. 6:50 a.m. (C. takes the first trip out of bed to slowly, oh-s0-very-slowly walk to the bathroom where she finds a thermometer in the drawer and notes that, oh, it's 102.9. She then tries to sit on the toilet which is so cold she practically faints. She puts on a sweatshirt, and bed jacket, and another pair of socks, and adds a blanket to the bed and crawls back under the covers.) She does not emerge until the following Friday evening. When she has some soup.

The Great Influenza of 2008 reminded me of several things. My life, on the whole is pretty blessed. After five days of being unable to lift my child, to even lift my head, I marvel at what it means to walk up and down the stairs in one's own home. I have a husband who is tender in his own quiet way and who has borne my savage grumpiness. Furthermore, he experienced my "high fever squirrelies" (throughout my life I've been prone to hallucinations and delusions when my temperature tops 103 or so. For example, I'm still horrified at the sight of Peeps marshmallow cream bunnies and chicks after they chased me in a fever-induced state when I was eight). Robert calmly listened to my concerns about Carol Burnett stealing the havarti cheese from one of my Hospice patients by patting my hand as if he understood exactly what I meant.

I had to miss yet another session of the class I'm teaching at the college, which I think makes me the worst professor in the history of the institution. And, I fear Grayson may be forever scarred by the "week when Mommy was attacked by blankets."

But, it's over now. It's blessedly done.

And the not eating for a week, and then not being able to taste for the week afterward, did propel me back into the world of pre-pregnancy weight, which was sort of the only bonus to a lost week.

Spring is just around the corner. And, oh, but we are so ready this year.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Apparently, I Have Not Received the Memo

...because I thought you could go for a three-and-a-half mile run with no repercussions after not having run for a month at the ripe old age of thirty-six.

I remember the good old days when I could run thirty-six miles uphill both ways in a snow storm.

Shit. This aging thing, it sucks.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Helpful Hints: A Drama in One Act

Her: (After reading the morning paper). You know what? I have a brilliant idea.
Him: (Looking over his reading glasses now that she has interrupted his ritual of Sunday newspaper editorial reading). Yes?
Her: (With a faraway look in her eyes). You know how expensive girdles are?
Him: (Puzzled)
Her: Well, they are. They're really, really overpriced. And you know what? You could just take control top panty hose that cost 3.99 and cut the legs out and use them for girdles and it would be a lot cheaper. Especially in summer when you didn't want to wear hose...
Him: ... (Attentive, but puzzled)...
Her: And that would save a lot of money...and you could have a ton of them. You'd just cut the legs off as soon as they got a run in them. Do you know how often they get runs in them? 'Course you'd still want to wear underwear with them, cause the crotches would rip out pretty quickly, but they'd still work...someone could actually make a business out of a bunch of 'em, cut the legs out, turn a profit real quick... Actually, I think I'm gonna write to Helpful Hints for Heloise.
Him: And be sure to include your full name and hometown on that one.
Her: Of course... I'll just sign it Mrs. R.B.P, Ph.D.

The Birds Have Been Swarming

Winston Churchill referred to that sense of doom and sadness and ennui as the "black dog of depression." It was what haunted him in the dark nights and loomed menacingly at various times in his life.

I know this presence, but Churchill's metaphor falls apart for me, because when I imagine a black dog, I see a frolicking labrador retriever with one of those doggie bandanas around its neck, beckoning me instead to propel myself out of the world of my dark thoughts and make some time to feel a soft dog tongue lapping at my fingertips as I nuzzle his wet nose. And besides, "Black Labrador Retriever of Depression" just doesn't have the same flow.

My sense of looming is more like a large black bird which circles me ominously, the kind that feeds on carrion and waste and invites its friends, melancholy and self-aborption, to join him in the onslaught. There are mornings when I wake up and the trees of my mind are black with their nesting.

It has been a hard winter.

I finally flew the white flag of surrender last week and named the circling looming for what it was. Depression. Burn out. Emotional exhaustion. Speaking the truth of the matter to colleagues, and R., and a therapist.

I have a good life. A richly satisfying life. And I am immensely grateful.

But, the bird still circles. And as often as I shoo him away, as often as I turn my head and pretend I don't see him mocking me, as often as I try to overtalk his cawing, he still sits. And waits.

This weekend has been better. The sun has been shining for two blessed days. I exercised for a good sixty minutes one day. I listened to a prophetic African American preacher at a beautiful memorial service for a client. I closed my eyes and let the music of a gospel choir take me to a different atmosphere as I rocked a sleepy Grayson in my arms. I finally wept.

There are changes that I need to make in my life to take better care of myself, because I don't want to have to leave work I feel called to do because I am too weary. There are changes that I need to make to take better care of my body, because I don't want to have to feel too tired to care for my family. There are changes I need to make to find deliberate Sabbath time, because I don't want to forever be hopelessly uncreative.

But most of all, this: there are changes that I need to make to take better care of my soul, because I don't want to avoid hearing the voice of the Spirit as She soothes me back to serenity.

I'm waiting for Her voice.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Ten Months

Dear Grayson,

I am a few days behind in posting. Mama's been a busy girl. This weekend I had every intention of writing and then realized I was way behind on working on the first lecture for my Feminist and Womanist Theologies class and so spent four hours at the downtown library while you and Dada hung out at home watching football or some such nonsense. I exaggerate? Well, yes, okay, maybe instead you and Dada watched an edition of Religion and Ethics Newsweekly on PBS.

Tonight, after so many hours working, working...sending you to church with Dada so I could work while you were gone, I had to cancel the class due to some nasty fog in the area. And with a free night, and lecture prepared for next week (which I was really, really passionate about, actually), Mama finds an opening to write you this little love note while you bounce wildly in your Jumperoo next to me whilst listening to the Big Band and Swing channel on cable.

You are growing like a those out of control nettles which Mama pulls every eight seconds in her garden. But, unlike the nettles your soft and cuddly and don't make Mama's fingers itch. Last night we went to an Un-Superbowl Party and a friend of a friend who is an MD said, "And he's how old?" I mentioned that you were average for height and weight but that, um, yes, your head was a bit large. It is after all in the 95th percentile, so why not boast? "That's what we go by," he said. "He's a big boy. He's got a big head." Someone overheard the conversation and said, "Probably because he has so much to think about." With that I will concur. Your native American name will not be "Bald-Headed-Boy-with-Big-Head" but will instead be, "He-Who-Thinks-Much."

You're venturing into new worlds as you explore the wild world of culinary delights. You're a fan of the purplish-blue variety of fruits now. Your grandpa is still mourning the fact they don't make Blueberry Buckle dessert to feed to babies and has had to suffice with given you the reduced sugar Apple-Blueberry dessert. Thankfully, for both of you, it's been a hit.

We do need to mention the Cheerios though, Mister. Apparently you didn't get the Memo that all kids love Cheerios, for you, you have no interest. I bought the Honey Nut variety (and then panicked after feeding you one and had to call the pediatrician to make sure I hadn't just lethally dosed you since babies aren't allowed to have honey...[note to all hypochondriacal mothers: Honey Nut Cheerios are Fine]), the Apple Cinnamon Variety, but you care not at all. For the Cheerios you have no love. Actually, for feeding yourself at all there is no love. However, if someone were to feed you off their finger some orange sesame flavored rice that would be superb. It isn't the taste as much for you as it seems to be the mode of transport.

This morning you delighted me beyond words. In the car on the way to our beloved Shannon's house you chirped and squawked and talked. I was interested in this and when I got you out of the car I said, "Grayson, what does the Mama Duck say?" Since we repeat the Mama Duck litany in the bathtub nightly (the counting game where we repeat about the "Five little ducks who went out one day, over the hills and far away..."), I wondered if it might have "stuck."

"What does the Mama Duck say?" I asked you of the wide-eyed stare, once again. You paused, searched your brain and then said quietly, "Quack, quack, quack." I was dumbfounded. To be certain, I waited until we got into Shannon's and asked again, "And what's the Mama Duck say, boy?" "Quack, quack, quack" you said, more tentatively this time. I almost scooped you up and devoured you whole.

I love you, little duck. I love you, I love you, I love you.

And this separation anxiety stuff? Stop your panicky looks. Mama always comes back.

But, Grayson, promise me in days to come when you're out wandering the world that anytime Mama Duck calls to her baby, "Quack, Quack, Quack!" that you'll somehow find your way back. I have a hunch your migration is going to come much sooner than this duck would like.