I feel like the last two weeks got away from me; I've not stayed on top of my life. My attention has been fragmented, and scattered, there are no groceries in the fridge, the place looks like a truck hit it, and I've been always one or two steps behind where I ought to be. I've barely been able to read emails and blogs, let alone write my own, and I think that has contributed to my sense of chaos as much as anything. Email is the main way I stay in contact with friends, virtual and not, and staying in touch with my blogging friends has become an important part of my day.
There several possible reasons why I'm so scattered. My dad was visiting for a few days, and naturally I tried to see him as much as I could. Pratt is in the final weeks of the semester which doesn't affect my work load too much yet, but all that spacey yet frantic finals energy can be contagious. I've also started helping my friend Dessida prepare her MFA thesis show, giving her any free moment I had. I'll write more on that later.
I think the biggest problem though has been this odd virus I've come down with. Two weeks ago, I worked for the all-night figure drawing extravaganza, so I expected to feel discombobulated for a few days. Then I wasn't getting enough sleep in the following week, so I thought I just hadn't caught up; now I wonder how much of my sleeplessness was effect rather than cause. A little from column A, a little from column B, no doubt.
Boy, this posting is some rivetting stuff so far, huh. Stick with me, I'm still a little loopy. Actually, that may be a good reason not to stick with me. Do as you see fit.
The symptoms of this bug were just vague enough for me to overlook or ignore them. I tend to do that whenever possible, as do most people, I think. There's still some part of me that thinks illness is a weakness of character, rather than the random reaction of my body to a pathogen. Those damn Puritans! They have so much to answer for. I felt run down, only slightly more achy than usual, prone to dizziness, and flushing that wasn't conclusive enough to indicate a fever, and I had trouble with basic motor skills. I dropped things a lot, inanimate objects kept jumping out to bonk into me, and while I managed not to bonk into people on the subway any more than usual, preventing it took WAY more concentration than I'm used to. That was true with a lot of things, actually; basic tasks, even typically unconscious actions required MUCH rumination, debate and analysis. We're talking things like deciding if I was going to put on my shoes then get my keys before leaving the house, or would it be a more efficient use of time to get the keys (at the back of the apartment) THEN put on my shoes (near the front door, and therefore on the way out of the apartment). In fact this woolly-headedness no doubt is partly why it took me so long to notice something was awry. I felt like I was observing life through the wrong end of a telescope; even if something seemed off, it seemed to be happening to someone else, it certainly wasn't anything to get worked up about, so I just kept plodding along, meeting my basic commitments, getting tasks done in a stupor.
Finally, last Saturday I recognized that things were much more off than some sleepless nights would cause. I canceled my commitments that day, which gave my body the go-ahead to collapse, and it did. I slept and lay around the entire day. Making oatmeal that evening took immense amounts of brain-power. I've made oatmeal a thousand times. I don't bother to memorize the proportions of water, oats and salt, but even so consulting the container's instructions is mostly just for verification. Usually. That evening I stared fixedly at the instructions, painstakingly figuring out that, oh, okay, the ingredients run down the left, the serving sizes run across the top so that means... hold on... right, I look at the oats, no, I, oh HERE we go, I choose a serving size... hmm, how hungry am I? Why is Coltrane staring at me? Did I remember to water the plants? It's Saturday... I've got to do laundry... I really love that vase, it was such a nice gift from Mom... what were we talking about? Right, oatmeal, that sounds good, oh look I've got the box here in my hands, what were the odds?... What is that sound? Right let's go with the heart-healthy serving, that means I look at...oh here we go, this column. Look at that, it's all highlighted too, because it's the heart-healthy portion, that should make it easy not to get lost, I just read dooooowwwn the column, the red one. Cool. We're cookin' now.
I managed to fix the oatmeal without setting the house on fire, or otherwise doing injury to myself. Anything that required cooking for longer than five minutes was probably too big a risk.
Here I am two weeks later, and I have to accept that things are still not quite back to normal. I'm not really sick enough to stay in bed, nor can I afford to give up the work, but I still need to concentrate very, VERY hard to do things like make coffee or toast my bagel. Some days the only reason I remembered to put on pants before leaving the apartment was because I needed someplace to put my keys and wallet. Fortunately remembering to check for my keys and wallet before leaving the house is completely automatic. The fact is I check for my keys and wallet when leaving almost ANY residence. If I come to visit you, I'll probably do it anytime I walk out your front door. This is a tic left over from the days I was a dog walker and had the keys to about a million apartments; accidentally locking them in one apartment would have meant a day of mayhem for me, at least one very disgruntled client, and several dogs. I was very thankful for that Pavlovian habit these last two weeks.
I offer this story as explanation and apology for the fact that I've been so out of touch, in every possible sense of the expression. I owe many of you emails, and when I don't post here, it feels like I've been out of touch with all of you for weeks. I've been enjoying your posts, but today is the first day that I've had time and brain-power to write comments. Believe me, if oatmeal was giving me trouble, you can imagine what putting together cogent thought was like, and don't get me started on the word verification process. It was far beyond my meager capacity. Might as well been asking me to write in Urdu.
I hope in the next few days to tell you about this archival mounting process I've been learning from Dessida, to help her with her show. Yes, in the midst of this fog I've been regularly taking exacting measurements of special acid-free cardboard, then cutting it with a dull exacto knife, using a jury-rigged straight edge constructed from a metal yardstick and old shelves, kneeling on a cement basement floor at City College, experiencing head-rushes of record breaking duration anytime I stood up. I mean, we're talking epic. Yet I still have all my digits, and only fucked up two pieces of cardboard! Score!
Okay, this post really doesn't have much point, except to say I've been out of it, REALLY out of it, and as a consequence I've lost touch with all of you, and I've missed you. My spaciness is still pretty evident (wouldn't you say?), made worse today no doubt due to the fact that in all my running around yesterday I ended up eating like an unsupervised ten year old boy, but I'm definitely the upswing. Seriously.
Now I need to go lie down. Or maybe shower. If I showered first, then lay down, my hair would look ridiculous. Do I care? Then again, if I shower first, maybe that will wake me up (this coffee don't seem to be doing SQUAT), and I wouldn't need to nap... but boy does a nap sound good right now and we don't start work for another hour...
This decision is too hard for me. I need to give this some thought.