Saturday, April 26, 2008

Foggy Living

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.

11 comments:

oscar said...

Sounds like you might have a case of infection with the 'snail-brain'-virus. I know it well. I'd prefer the stomach-flu-bug over the snail-brain-bug anyday.
When I have it, I kind of feel like Kevin Spacey in American Beauty. 'Sedated'. It'll pass. Your brain had such a long rest, it will be in full spin next week. And hopefully this will result in some GREAT posts. This wasn't bad, by the way. May be missing a little coherence here and there, but hey, you're on the way back.
Take it easy, enjoy the weekend and don't forget to put on pants when you go out tonight...

Indigo said...

Sorry you haven't been feeling well.

I'm a friend of Java

i hope you feel better!

Java said...

THERE you are!!!! Lordy, hon, I've been worried about you. Ok, maybe just "concerned," if that makes you feel better. But still...
Sometimes Superman starts feeling a bit off, sort of like what you describe. And when he's sick he gets very "stupid." I have to tell him that he's sick, watch out for him, make sure he doesn't hurt himself or anyone else before he gets it together again. And he needs to be told to rest, because he just doesn't think about it.

It is rather frightening that you've been making precision cuts with a dull exacto knife.

Word verification has gotten worse in the last couple of days. I think Blogger found a new way to distort them, making them nigh onto impossible to decipher. When I'm having a hard day, any more than 5 letters sends me into a tail spin.

somewhere joe said...

You're describing my dear Patrick, and far better than I've ever read before (thank you) is spring fever. When people hear that term they envision tripping merrily down a verdant hillside strewing wildflowers from their shoulder bag and singing like a lark. No. No, no, no, no. It's not about spring. it's about fever. It's feeling like I've been run over by a psychedelic schoolbus. It's lassitude, squared. It's taking five minutes to figure out how to open my email. It's not about dancing a gigue. It's about finding the nearest bed. You want energy? Focus? Brilliance? October. Spring is for the birds.

Marc said...

Feel better, Patrick! And come to visit again soon!

xoxoxox

Butch said...

Hope you're feeling better. It's not unlike an eight-cylinder car running only, on four or six of the cylinders. Retracing your steps over and over performing some task, in and of itself, is a source of fatique. I hope you chose taking the nap, the rest will do you well. It also sounds like you may be a wee bit dehydrated. Don't forget to drink water.

tornwordo said...

Oh my you describe the swirly very well. Glad you're on the upswing.

Cooper said...

Oh, so that's what it is ... spring fever! I have it, too. That giddy, off-kilter, head-swirling kelaidescope feeling. It took me ten minutes to decide which shoes to wear yesterday. I rinsed a glass in the sink for a similar length of time. I stopped mid-sentence while reading a story to my sons like a gormless twit, staring, mouth-opened. Dario expressed it quite well, "Daddy, what are you listening to?", he said.

Listening, that's it. I am listening to the budding spring dance its unseen fever in my blood.

Jeff Wills said...

Oh Patrick. Go to a doctor, please. Everyone in my office has been getting hit by (a) bug(s), Spring illnesses are the second-worst (Summer being the real bears) AND one of my bosses got pneumonia from his cold. This is not what we wants for my Patrick. We wants much better things, my Patrick. Go to the doctor, my Patrick, else we wills keep postings comments in our awful, awful Gollum impersonations.

Greg said...

I think you've actually captured the whole spacey thing quite well and sort of delightfully, too. Sorry to hear you've been so out of sorts, but your ability to get it all down speaks to you feeling a bit better, anyway.

(I was a little scared for you when you were doing the oatmeal...actual cooking, on a stove?! What were you thinking...?)

If it's any consolation, you sound a bit like me in the garden, always backtracking for the tool I left over here, when I decided I had to start that project over there...and so on...

It probably is spring, and the trees with all their fairy dust, and like that...

(And I DO think the Word Ver phrases have become more impossible to read this week...)

Melissa said...

sweet Patrick I hope you get to rest soon - sounds like that is what is needed. And maybe some of Jeff's suggestion too.

I hope I get to see Dess's show!

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