Thursday, May 20, 2010

Three Month on the Island of Indolence

I think that what had given me a bit of spark, or at least enough to last for a couple of days and lodge itself in my subconscious is that my cane and I reluctantly went to the opening day of Suffolk Downs (coinciding with the Preakness). I would have rather stayed in bed reading, but being at the track has consumed me for the last five years and I could almost remember that feeling. Besides Krissy really wanted to go. She gets a great kick out of (cliche?) betting $2 on some horse that I think has a chance because I know the trainer's history. 

My leg hurt, I could hardly remember the names of the people I knew, I didn't get the rush of joy that I always have when I'm at the races, but somewhere, down in my core, I was dimly happy to be there. 

Opening Day is always crowded. By mid-week, a few people will be there, the old die hards. But it was nice to see a large group of people on this 75th Anniversary of an institution that was once of important to Boston and the presence of many families, out enjoying this pleasant day and nicer to see that ride, Ronnie Prince, who you can just glimpse riding a pony in this photograph. I've known him five years or so. He's one of the folks I video taped and interviewed, a good exercise rider whose getting to be in his late fifties.

Having once again proved that I'm totally ignorant of the simplest and most practical details of life, I was actually surprised with Julie told me that lying down all the time after you've started physical therapy is counter productive if you've provoked your muscles by walking too much (honestly, walking two hours a day, up hills, are you kidding me? When you've been lying down for two months?). "I'm supposed to be up all day?" I didn't say, though I sadly registered the information.

She reminded me of my beloved auto mechanic (who had six children, I think) who chided me after I left my car overnight in his lot with the hazard lights blinking because I couldn't find the button to turn them off, "You are teaching at MIT and you can't figure out this small problem?" And he was right. There's a missing part of my brain, the part that says, "Take it easy" and "Go slow" and "Get up, damn it, don't just lie there."

My next physical therapy appointment is Friday and I can't say that I've done spectacularly well in the staying up department, though I had one day in which I spent five hours of feeling like my self, the self I remember from three months ago. That self worked on the computer for quite a while (Oh, actually, the computer and me, revising, working again!) and walked without the cane and without pain, even if slowly. But she had disappeared by the next day, perhaps because I'd done too much. Or perhaps because the call of reading Richard Feynman's letters was too great. I'd read most of his other books several times when I was in Nova Scotia visiting my parents. Of course, I didn't understand them, my father did, but I couldn't help but fall in love with his exuberant curiosity and enormous intelligence, his love of lock picking and bongo playing, his prankster nature combined with his no-nonsense approach to fame that strangely dovetailed with self-confidence. 

I did get up to go to the dental hygienist yesterday. She's fussed over my teeth since her children were quite young and used to stop by the office on their way home from school. I always liked to make my appointments late in the day so that I'd get to see them and overhear those parent/child conversations about what needed to be done later in the afternoon. Since she poked at my teeth three months ago, she helped her son move to his first real job after college, driving all the way to Ohio with his things. She was just a tad sad to see him go. I was quite pleased that the prednisone had, in some ways, helped the gums, which is not to say that there wasn't some damage done by my having gotten so weak, the electrolytes so out of balance, etc., etc. At least she promised me that she wouldn't go into any damage detail. I got a free pass for that session.

And then we went to Feet of Clay so I can take a leave-of-absence. I've just been paying the monthly fee while I lie here on this island of indolence. I'm not yet ready to start driving, since I've manage to put my right leg out of commission in such a clever way. And when I am back in the driver's seat, the car will head to Suffolk Downs and the barn area.  On Saturday, I was reminded of all the work that I have piled up....lots of video interviews of folks who work on the backside, and transcriptions from then that need to resolve in a book proposal. I have six months to a year of work to do with all that material if I can just get myself moving again. My brain has been extremely slow. And now without the prednisone rush that I got in the middle of the night for many, many weeks, I don't even have the illusion that quick, efficient thinking is possible. Of course, in the middle of the night, when I sprang awake and alive, I just lay there absorbing fascinating Public Broadcasting Programs or reading, so it didn't do me a bit of good in terms of my work...but it was such a nice feeling. Now that I'm down to 10mg a day, that's gone.

I think there will be one more session at the Victoria when I am driven out to finish my grades on Sunday. But then this pleasure will be over. Actually I don't like, have never liked, spending money on restaurants. It seems like such a waste. But I have to admit it's been a very good investment, both for my pleasure of eating and the company of Krissy and Chris who both love to eat out.

Last night I fell asleep early, as has become usual, and woke up in time to see this strange English man on Letterman. He was quite scuzzy looking, definitely shady, too anxious and eager, not all that attractive though I usually like men with very long hair, talking too fast with disconnected sentences (though he had quite a remarkable shirt and tie on). Russel. (Damn, how do you spell that?) It took a while to face that this was Russel Brand, whose book I had read and praised on my blog. And I did like the parts of it that dealt with his perfectly wretched childhood and his father's porn watching obsession that infected his boy at the earliest age. The Cuban in London made some salient comments about what his character really is, but I'd never gotten a glimpse of the person. I'm sorry that I did. In this case, Cuban, you were right, though I still thought parts of the book rang true, hard as that is to believe after seeing a bit of his persona.

Again, I'm very behind on blog reading. I hope to catch up soon and not lie there reading about the brain and early childhood language formation.


  1. Melissa, dear:
    I'm glad you are posting again, which must mean you are feeling a little better. Thanks for the glimpses. I share your admiration for Feynman--such an engaging, original person. His wife's name was Joyce, right? And he lost her.

  2. His first wife's name was Aline. She was in the hospital for TB when he was working at Los Alamos and died there. He was married later for two years and then had a happy marriage to an English woman, I can't remember her name...two children. I'm reading the letters that his daughter edited and don't want to finish them because he'll die.

  3. I'm glad you're back. As for Russell, like any medication, you have to take him slowly and at regular times. Once the bottle is out of date, discard completely. He is very funny, I just don't know whether his self-destructive nature has noticed or he's bent on wrecking himself. And how long will the (abusive/difficult) childhood excuse last?

    Great post. Nice to see you back on the saddle (pun intended) :-D

    Greetings from London.

  4. 生存乃是不斷地在內心與靈魂交戰;寫作是坐著審判自己。..................................................