1) Toured cool places in the north of England. Came face to face with an incredibly minor difference between a monarchy and a democracy when a castle museum was closed because the Queen still owns the castle and a duke of something-or-another wanted to stay there.
2) Flew back to the U.S. The parents in the seats in front of us drugged one of their children with cough syrup. The baby cried for 6 out of the 8 hours in flight. The mom lit up a cigarette the second she hit fresh air. Will miss the Emerald City in the oddest ways, and not in still odder. Nine months is long enough to pass being a tourist and into actually living in a place, but not quite long enough to settle and feel like a permanent resident. Now I sometimes feel as if I've have an unsettling dream, the kind that stays with you in feeling if not in plot for the rest of the day or longer, and am surprised when I find evidence that I have not.
3) Did not go straight to the Burned Over District, instead headed up to New England for a friend's child's graduation from a prestigious college. Visited a few archives in the few days between arrival and graduation. Unmedicated and feeling less than my most fabulous self, I wandered around the multi-day graduation festivities feeling like a village idiot and completely alienated from everyone in sight. I wanted to return to my teenage self and tell her that a place like this existed while also knowing the circumstances that would have entirely prevented me from ever attending a place like this prestigious college.
4) Salvation arrived in the form of the graduation speaker. A woman in her fifties with a history of underachieving followed by late blooming with an occasional fuck-up due to self-loathing along the way. Finally, someone I could relate to! She ultimately found success and an honorary degree from this prestigious college.
5) Drafted to help friend's child move out of the dorm. Was not sure that this was something to which I had agreed, but realize that didn't really matter because sometimes you just have to step up, So attempt not to be a total jackass about it. Don't succeed as I manage to do all assigned tasks as slowly as possible. Miss a step on the stairs and my foot receives the entire weight of my body rolling across it. Didn't feel broken, but within an hour I can put no weight on it. Pain mitigated by wine at graduation party held by friend of friend's child.
6) Go to emergency room next day. X-rays, prodding, suspect break in large bone located somewhere in the complex that makes up the main part of the foot. Get a brace that appears to be half of an old school plaster cast. Get appointment with orthopedist for the next day. Get hostile attitude in suspicion that I'm a drug seeker when ask to get happy pill prescription refilled. Suck it up because my appointment with a regular doctor is a month off and I cannot spend the next month wallowing in the funk of my unmedicated brain. Instead, wallow in the funk of self-pity that I will not be able to workout for who-knows-how-long and see my running days ending, never to have the awesome endorphin rush ever again or to know the power of my own legs, and slowly becoming my morbidly obese, deeply unhealthy, and intently self-loathing parents. Also, wonder how I'm going to manage life in a split-level ranch. Who ever thought that was a good architectural design never had to deal with a physical disability.
7) Orthopedist determines that foot is not broken, just sprained. Sends me off with a lesser brace. Feel less sorry for myself. Encounters with three people who have permanently loss the use of their legs makes me feel embarrassed for my self-pity, but doesn't end it. I would not be a very inspirational disabled person. Indeed, I'd be downright nasty.
8) Discover that I like wheelchairs. I have crutches, but the grocery store has wheelchairs. Fun! I'm sure I'd be able to pop wheelies in no time. I might be a downright nasty disabled person,but I'd totally have the cool moves.
9) I'd also have massive upper body strength. After the wheelchair at the grocery store and three days on crutches, my deltoids, triceps, and biceps are in more pain than my foot. Maybe I could take up boxing -- put in a wheelchair.
10) Upper body strength -- and balance -- come in handy as I use my disabled time to paint the room that will become my office. It used to be the Gentleman Caller's -- now the Gentleman Companion! -- oldest daughter's room. Like many a teenager, she turned to caves for interior design inspiration. The room's walls were deep red and the ceiling dark pink. A cool look actually. In fact, with my antique armoir (a hand-me-down from my aunt) in there, the feel became downright Victorian. Still, despite two windows, the room was too dark for me to survive, even with a medicated brain, through the winter. Do you know how many coats of "Mimosa" yellow ultimately cover red? Three -- with primer in the paint on two. Only two of "Marshmallow" -- also with primer in the paint -- covered the pink ceiling.
11) Turn to the bathroom. Walls and ceiling were royal purple. The Gentleman Companion requested that I keep the walls purple. I don't mind, because the purple is pretty. It is just too dang dark and cave-like. The ceiling is now "Marshmallow" and the room brighter.
12) First, however, I tore down the sliding bathtub/shower doors. I hate those. You can't clean either the tub or the doors very well; and, despite your best efforts, they become gigantic mold traps. Ick! Pulling the thing off, especially with a wounded (but much better) foot, made me feel very butch. So did reattaching the tiles that came off with the braces. I'm pretty sure that I destroyed some of my respiratory capacity from the fumes that I generated while getting rid of the soap scum and mold that had build up in there. I'm also pretty sure that I have a touch of Howard Hughes's issues about cleanliness.
13) How does one de-catify a house? The Gentleman Companion rented the house to a lovely young academic couple. Like many lovely, young, academic couples, they had a pair of cats. Long-haired cats. I grew up with dogs, so know about shedding; but dogs' fur only gets about as high as the dog can reach. Cat fur gets places the cat only wished it could climb. On the ceiling fan, an inch thick on the top of the armoir, behind the books on the top shelves, on everything in the linen closet. Holy cow! (Here, the Gentleman Companion and I have a disagreement. He thinks they didn't clean very well. I, on the other hand, think that they did a good cleaning job. When you have a pet, your standards for cleanliness incorporate a bit of fur into the equation that non-pet owners do not.) Now, in and of itself, the catness would not be an issue; but the Gentleman Companion has a child with a serious cat allergy. he had hoped not to rent to cat owners, but it isn't as if hoards of people with whom you would care to entrust your house for nine month are flocking to the Burned Over District. Beggars can't be choosers, in other words. We just had no idea how catified the house would become and what a task de-catifying would be. After over a month of constant cleaning -- including wiping down walls and vacuuming air vents and replacing carpet (a needed task for decades, now) -- we still have no idea if the place is safe enough. She visits in a month. I suppose we will find out then.
14) Still miss my analyst. Need a new one, but finding someone who is cool with the concept of analysis and some background with Jung is more difficult than in a major metropolis. Severe social anxieties are hampering me in ways you cannot imagine -- or maybe you can, but it still is no way to go through life, especially when you have to start actually being somewhat social again
15) Meanwhile, foot recovers and I get back to running. Hills. My thighs are massive but solid. Have to go in a bit because the heat, while not nearly as bad as in other parts of the country, does make those hills that much higher.
16) Meet Digger for a lovely time at a surprising art museum off of an exit on the Thruway. Who knew major American impressionists had works hanging in a public library there?
17) Meet a colleague at a neighboring university for lunch. I just reviewed her book, too. It was a good review. I like writing good reviews. The only problem with good reviews is narrowing all of the good things into the allotted word count.
18) Agree to review another book. It is a very bad book. American Studies, when done well, amazes you with its mastery of multiple disciplines. If done poorly, you end up thinking that the person is a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. In fact, you wonder if they are even a jack and not just a dabbler. (Not that there is anything wrong with being a dabbler, but should trees and libraries and readers waste themselves on this?) This book is an example of the latter, the worst problem being that the author has no grasp of the basics of the argument's starting point. If an undergraduate turned this in, I would give it a poor grade; but this is by an important scholar. So, nobody me will pan a pointless book by an Ivy-leaguer who is praised by other Ivy-leaguers. (Do you ever lose respect for a scholar when they praise patently crappy work?) I have some trepidation. I also want to channel Dorothy Parker.
19) Have not gotten my writing groove back. Am productively procrastinating, with the review, preparing to teach in the fall, reading books that I will assign now that I can assign something other than the text book, trying to learn about world history since I will also be teaching that (everyone has to teach that), but not actually putting words on the page. This is quickly becoming a problem that I hope to remedy today.
20) Why do I have to remedy it? Because I'm giving a talk in two weeks -- less than two weeks, now. I know what I'm saying, I just have to get the script together. Will give a more academic version of the talk in October, and a similar talk in September. Want to get it all done now because, once the semester starts, I'll be back to the usual after a year of being spoiled. This means facing the Smoke Monster who has been hovering just at the edge of my peripheral vision. The only way to do that is to write.