Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fever state

This week I've had the flu.  On Tuesday night I went down to Philadelphia for a conference, and by Wednesday morning I knew I would be that guy -- the one who coughs, the one who sits on the aisle so he can leave the room easily, the one no one wants to sit directly next to, the one who is obviously ill but in denial about it.  So the conference was a roaring success.

Wednesday night, back home, was a disaster.  After dinner I coughed so hard that I threw up my meal.  Lying in bed I would wake up, shivering violently.  Then I would feel incredibly hot, sweat coating my skin.  A weird melange of images and thoughts was tormenting me -- snippets of songs I didn't want to hear, visions of a rich a chocolate cake that I worried would make me vomit.  It was such a strange loss of control over myself.

The next day I didn't eat anything except a bowl of ramen.  Poor L stayed home for the snow day to watch me and LB, who is also sick with a throat infection (not related, thankfully).  I tried not to worry about work, and watched as my inbox filled with all sorts of requests, worries, questions.  L brought home a Coke for me to drink, and I threw that up too. 

On Friday L went to work, and the nanny came over to the apartment to watch Alice.  I slept most of the morning away, then spent the afternoon stuck in the bedroom, hiding from the nanny.  I didn't need her to see me in my fever state, in the same pajama pants and t-shirt I'd worn the last 72 hours.  I felt like the crazy old woman in the attic in Jane Eyre.  Finally L came home so I could emerge.  I actually had the desire, and ability, to eat dinner, and I went to bed later than 8 pm, which was real progress.

Today I'm feeling better but as good as I had hoped.  All things considered, this has been a fairly miserable week.  I can't remember the last time I had the flu, but right now it seems like some kind of perpetual state of being that will never, ever improve.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The old mattress

Today the sleek new sofa came.  This arrival initiated a cavalcade of change around the apartment.  To make room for the new sofa, we are converting the extra bedroom into a sitting room, so we had to move the old sofa -- the ancient sofa, the sixty year-old sofa that my grandparents had originally brought to Charlottesville, that I had brought to Charlottesville fifty years later, that I had brought to New York after that, that my daughter had scratched and tumbled upon -- into the extra bedroom.  I spent the morning dismantling the old bed in the extra bedroom, the first bed I had owned as an adult.  We put the deconstructed bed frame in the baby's closet but the mattress had to go to the garbage.  She was good, but she was old.

Every time I open the door to our elevator I wonder if a wall of water will come tumbling out.  This time, as always, no flood emerged.  I wheedled the mattress into the elevator and began the journey down to the basement.  The mattress was abutted against the wall behind me.  I felt a rush of affection and nostalgia.  I leaned back into the mattress one last time, thinking of everyone who had slept on it.  I prayed the elevator would not stop on its way to my destination so that no one would see me trying to stand and lie down on the vertical mattress.  The mattress was firm and familiar against my back.  I thanked it.

In the basement I dragged the mattress through the hallway and out into the alley.  I knew as soon as I brought the mattress into the cold unfamiliar outdoors that its side would become etched with ice and salt.  I shoved the mattress along the cold pavement until it came to rest against the building.  Now it was cold and wet and unusable.  The old bed was now stacked in the closet.  The new sofa was sleek and firm and beautiful.  The new sitting room was warm and inviting.  There was no space for regret.

Monday, January 17, 2011

There goes my baby

Child development update!  

Pro: Today I feel like she really started grasping the whole "bye bye" thing, opening and closing her fist as we furiously waggle our forearms at her.  An awesome achievement.  Bye bye!  BYE BYE!!!

Con:  It was a day of minor head injuries.  First there was a loud thump during her morning nap, and when we ran in we found her sitting in the crib, bawling, with the mobile above her completely tangled up and demolished.  She had a nice mark on the right side of her forehead, which was later matched by a mark on the left side of her forehead, when she smacked into the tub during her evening bath.  Although she now looks like a Klingon, she was still in good spirits and making good eye contact, so everything appears to be fine.  It's fun to see her pushing herself and trying to break all the boundaries she encounters, from reaching up to manhandle her mobile to stretching through the bars of her crib to play with the textured surface of the laundry basket.  What a wonderland our apartment has become.

Faux Thanksgiving 2010 (A look back)

I was cleaning out my inbox tonight and found this photo from Faux Thanksgiving 2010 -- our fifth annual celebration.  This was all the food we (ok, L) prepared for our feast.  This has become one of the happiest nights of the year.  The Core comes over -- that is, our four friends who have been the bedrock of our time in New York -- and traditionally we eat like kings and drink and play Taboo.  The menu, courtesy of L: baked brie with apples and bread; butternut squash soup; turkey, yams, mashed potatoes, rainbow beets, roasted broccoli, stuffing, baked apples, and salad; and pumpkin pie with cool whip & strawberry-rhubarb pie with ice cream.

This year, for the first time, we had two kids sleeping in the bedrooms while we reveled.  Unlike previous years, we conked out around 10 and the evening whimpered to a close shortly thereafter.  But it was still epic. I was just proud we had a dining room table this year -- it was the first time we weren't eating with our plates on our knees.  Adulthood!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Make it happen

One of my goals for this year is to try to get a little more serious about writing.  In the summer of 2009 I took an online short story writing course, which I loved.  Over that period I wrote a story that I liked, and then just let it sit in a drawer for a long time.  I recently pulled it out, reread it, and was not horrified.  I took this as a good sign.  One of my goals for the year is to see this story published, somewhere -- so I've spent a lot of time in the last few weeks revising, rereading, and sending it off to top-notch publications in which it has absolutely no chance of appearing.  But hey, it's a place to start!  And why the heck not?

I'm reading a biography of Raymond Carver, and reading about how his first wife propped him up and how his work was rejected over and over again.  I have no chance of developing as a writer and trying to make something of it if I'm not putting myself out there -- so now I am trying to start.

I'm also trying to take another fiction workshop course through work this semester -- hopefully I can find a seat among all of the undergrads.  I will be amused if everyone else is writing about college kids, and my stories are about young married couples with babies, debating the move to the 'burbs. 

Anyways -- today was a crap day at work, and there is nothing on TV tonight, so I have been submitting the story to various places while "The Bachelor" yawps on the television.  It was not a good day today, and by the end of it I realized all I wanted to do was come home and give my kid a bath.  But sure enough, I felt a little better after that.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Hello, 2011

Looking back on 2010, I keep thinking of that Frank Sinatra song, "It Was A Very Good Year."  2010 was a year of gifts and blessings, beginning with Alice's arrival and continuing through a new job I love and a much happier life overall.  L has written about how some years are years of waiting, biding time, while others are years of fruition.  Reaping what you have sown, or, more likely, reaping the windfall of blessings you may or may not deserve.  Coming off an extremely eventful 2010, I don't know what to expect in 2011.  We've talked a little bit about goals for our family, and I have some goals in mind for myself professionally and creatively.  But even if 2011 is a year of merely biding our time -- that is, living this wonderful, precarious life of ours, raising our daughter with some degree of purpose, doing our best at meaningful work, trying to be good to our family and friends -- that sounds great to me.   

When I was was a very good year...