Monday, April 12, 2010

A couple of weeks in the life


I'd tell you to make an effort to see Le Nozze di Figaro at Lyric Opera, but it’s too late. You’ve missed it.

After a fine dinner at Lyric’s relatively new restaurant, JT and I attended the March 24 performance. Singing, acting, music—all good. Opera, like everything else, is fighting for limited attention spans and budgets, but at least it has multi-generational appeal, from the well-heeled, gray-haired sophisticates and us middle-aged folk to the college students waiting patiently in queue for their $20 tickets (qualified undergraduates can attend a full-length Mozart opera for 1/10 of what you would pay, or just a few bucks more than the price of movie tickets at Showplace Icon). I admit to nodding off for a few moments here and there during the last acts of the 3.75-hour performance, which I blame on a combination of PMS and rising at 5:00 a.m. I was smart, however; I took Thursday off as a personal day, which made getting home at 12:45 a.m. less painful. That’s after waiting for one bus, then walking to a different stop to wait for another, then finally catching the familiar #6 Jackson Park Express on State Street. While waiting for the #151, I noticed that more than security guards seemed to be at work at Hyatt Center. And then a white-haired woman, briefcase in hand, joined me at the stop—where and on what had she been working until nearly midnight? I don’t miss the long or late hours of consulting, and, while some of my work had some immediate impact on a subset of workers and retirees, it’s all been forgotten, I’m certain. I’m reminded of how much of what many of us do every day is transient at best, futile at worst.

Feeling somewhat more energetic Thursday, I performed some of the Saturday chores. I almost could have gone as far as spring cleaning, especially as it seemed to be a chilly and, for some reason that I can never explain to myself, I didn’t feel like venturing out. I did make some progress in The Road to Monticello. By evening I was dreading even the one-day return to work.

As I lay reading, think to get to sleep early, I slowly noticed that I was feeling chilled, although the room wasn’t cold. Even under comforter and blanket, my extremities stayed icy. And the congestion that I’d been denying for a few hours had filled my sinuses to bursting.

Great. A fever. Plus the third respiratory illness since mid-January. Supplicating the echinacea deities doesn’t help.

By Friday, the fever had passed, leaving a full-blown cold in its wake. But wait—there’s more! My period made its slightly delayed appearance. Between the cold and the cramps, and with too much time for reflection, I sank into a little depression. Tears came, tears went. On Saturday J. took me grocery shopping and to the Big Easy; I spent most of the rest of the weekend sleeping, writing letters, reading The Road to Monticello, and playing Bejeweled for iPhone. It’s (check one): ___ relaxing ___ addictive.

On Monday, work, which I should permit to be no more than an irritant, added to the weight of illness and out-of-whack hormones.

To console myself, I headed to Borders to pick up the D’Aulaires’ illustrated versions of the Greek and Norse myths—then and only then thinking to look on amazon.com, where I found them for a significantly better price. I never seem to learn.

I’m not the only one who’s not feeling so hot. Wednesday morning, the 31st, I noticed Hodge was behaving strangely, and that evening evening I watched as he made dozens of trips to the litter box when he wasn’t wandering around restlessly, meowing and occasionally dribbling urine on the carpet. (I recommend Anti-Icky-Poo.)

At the veterinary clinic the next morning, Dr. W. asked if I can pill him. “Yes, but I’d rather not.” Neither of us needs that stress. While Doc and a teen-aged observer looked on, Dr. W. gave the unhappy beast his annual physical and groped his empty bladder—he was piddled out. Earlier, Dr. W. had told the young observer, “He WILL bite. Not MAY bite, but WILL.” While he flipped him about and pinned him down, Doc gave him various shots in various parts of his anatomy, then we bustled the 15-pound bundle of futile fury into the carrier. Dr. W. said to the girl, “There, do you see any blood on me? Do you see any blood on him? THAT is what I call a successful appointment.” Hodge, safely encased, didn’t seem convinced.

So for the better part of a week, between coughing spells I kept an eye out for yellow drips on the carpet. This isn’t quite how I envisioned spending what I feel more and more to be my dwindling time here.

Friday, April 9, I got together with relatives from New york, which made me very happy. For a time, I felt I belonged somewhere again and that my entire childhood wasn’t just a myth lost in time.

J. has had to work the past two Saturdays, so he has stopped by on his way downtown for dinner at Bonjour. I feel relaxed outdoors there when the weather permits, and I am sure I was better company this Saturday than I have been in years. I can’t promise that I won’t relapse into the sour person I seem to have become and don’t like.

On Sunday morning outdoors at Bonjour two men across from me called me, “Miss” and asked if there was more to Bonjour than the obvious. At first I couldn’t think what they meant and said, “No,” but immediately I realized that they were referring to the French restaurant across the way, La Petite Folie. The older man went to look at the menu while the younger told me that his companion drives everywhere instead of walking like he does and therefore misses a lot. I thought this would be especially true of La Petite Folie, which is in the middle of the courtyard and can’t be seen from the street. The older man came back and described a menu item, asking the younger to guess how much it cost. “$20?” he answered quizzically. “$8.50,” the elder replied triumphantly. “It pays to get out of Lincoln Park.” They asked one of the Bonjour girls if the quiche is made fresh; she assured them that it is. Their quiche order arrived soon after, and their comments indicated their approval. Before I left, I noticed each had ordered a different kind of cake for dessert.

Madame and crew did the neighborhood proud.

After scrambling on Friday to pay my 40-cent library fine (inflation!) and renew The Road to Monticello, I have now accompanied Thomas Jefferson and his little entourage to Paris. I am also reading the aforementioned Greek myths as told and illustrated by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaires, which somehow I missed out on as a child. I need to make up for lost time.

In the meantime, they call me Mr. Phlegm! Or should. This cough has worn out its welcome, and then some.

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