1. G is no longer sick, except for the traditional lingering Cough of Doom. My grandmother says these sorts of coughs won't go away until the sap rises in the spring. I don't think there are any maple trees in California, so perhaps we're supposed to use a different milestone, like "when the pollen flies" or "when the jacarandas bloom and drop their sticky crap all over your car."
2. Now that G is well, it's my turn to be sick. I'm not as sick as she was, and in fact I don't think I have the same thing she had, but I'm more than sick enough. I went to bed on Thursday feeling decidedly ill, and had one of those nights that seems to last forever -- the kind where you wake up shivering and in pain for the fifth time, and it's still only three a.m. I've improved since then, but I still don't feel like myself. I really hope it stops soon, because we've lost two full weeks to illness at this point, and I have other things to do.
3. I want to enter a personal-essay contest I found online, but I can't think of a single thing to write about. It makes no sense. I go on and on (and on) about myself in this blog, but as soon as I try to write something real, my brain freezes. Why?
By yesterday evening, I had not been outside, except to throw away trash and get the mail, in something like 54 hours. We were running out of essential items (cough drops, Motrin, pudding) and G, with a 103-degree fever, was too sick for me to even think about taking her out.
Luckily for me, P's mother turned up around 6 p.m. to drop off some chocolate-covered strawberries for G, and I heard the angels singing, because OMG another adult! She was barely through the door before I said "Can-you-stay-about-twenty-minutes-great-thanks-bye!" and dashed off to the grocery store, which was full, and I mean full, of men wandering around with flower bouquets and $6.99 bottles of wine. I did not see one woman buying anything remotely Valentiney, which made me wonder:
a.) Are men really the only ones who are expected to cough up the Valentine loot?
b.) Do women just plan their Valentine gifts far enough in advance that they aren't buying them on the way home from work?
c.) Were all the last-minute grocery-store guys buying flowers because they wanted to, because they would catch it from their wives and girlfriends if they didn't, or because they were hoping those cellophane-wrapped bouquets were their ticket to getting lucky that night?
I was insanely tempted to roam around the store offering unsolicited advice to these hapless souls -- sort of a roving relationship counselor, helping them maximize their Valentine's Day dollars. No, no, get the Ferrero Rocher. That's a good flower choice. Psst, condoms are on Aisle 6. But, I had to get home to my sick child, and there was no time. Maybe next year.
Speaking of the sick child, she finally woke up fever-free this morning for the first time since Tuesday -- she's still a little wobbly and has a terrible cough, but she's on the road to recovery, thank goodness. She was so determined to see The Spiderwick Chronicles last night that she suggested she could wear a surgical mask to the theater, and when I said that there was no way I was taking her to the movies in a mask, she volunteered to "do all my coughing in a tissue." Hmm, very thoughtful, but no. I think we're going to see it with friends tomorrow afternoon, assuming she continues to improve, so she should be satisfied soon enough.
Two days ago I posted about going to Chuck E. Cheese's House of Contagion. Today, G is sick. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.
Anyway, here we are, dealing with a fever, sore throat and hacking cough. I'm torn between feeling sorry for G because she's ill, and feeling stressed and guilty because I'm missing work at an incredibly busy time. G, for her part, is worried that she'll miss her class's Valentine party and won't be able to see the Spiderwick movie, which she's been preparing for by reading the books over and over. I promised I'd take her this weekend if we can't go on opening night, but when you're nine, waiting two days to do something you really want to do feels like a disaster of epic proportions. I just hope I don't come down with Chuck E. Plague as soon as she gets better, because that would really be the cherry on top of this cake of crap.
Unlike most people who find themselves without a partner at this time of year, I'm not all that bothered by Valentine's Day. P and I were of the "every day is Valentine's Day" school of thought: we did nice things for each other all year long, so there were no great expectations attached to that day in particular. We'd get each other cards and maybe a small gift, but neither of us could have cared less about diamond jewelry, long-stemmed roses and expensive restaurants.
The thing that's worrying me about V-Day is not that I'm going to be alone (in fact, I won't be alone, as G and I have plans to see The Spiderwick Chronicles that night), but that it's likely to lead to the dreaded situation where I have to tell someone who doesn't know it that P is dead. This is an ongoing problem at work, where we keep getting new people who see the family photos at my desk and assume, logically enough, that P is around. I can easily see myself having this conversation before the week is over:
Innocent Bystander: What are you and your husband doing for Valentine's Day? Me: Well, actually, we're not doing anything because he died two years ago. IB (shocked and embarrassed): OMG!
Or, there's this equally unpleasant option:
IB: What are you and your husband doing for Valentine's Day? Me: Nothing. IB (thinking that P must be a real jerk): Oh.
The last time I dropped the "he's dead" bomb on someone (I thought I'd slipped it into the conversation very casually, but apparently not), the poor woman I told was so mortified that I ended up feeling a lot worse for her than I did for myself. I can explain what happened pretty matter-of-factly at this point, just as I could discuss his illness in clinical terms when he was alive -- it's the way people look at me, as if they think I'm going to fall apart right in front of them, that makes it so awkward. I really don't want to go there again, but I'm not sure how to avoid it. Sometimes I wish you could still wear a black armband to signify that someone in your family had died. It would make things much easier.
G has been begging to go to Chuck E. Cheese, so this afternoon I took her, on the condition that we were just going to play games and not buy food. Yes, Chuck E. Cheese on a weekend afternoon -- just go ahead and hand my Mother of the Year statuette over right now.
I'm a germophobe at the best of times, and Chuck's is just a seething petri dish of contagion: runny-nosed four-year-olds everywhere, dirty tables piled with people's gnawed crusts and used drink cups, and let's not forget the games themselves, which are invariably slick with old pizza grease and smudged with hundreds of fingerprints. If there were a place where the urban legends about hypodermic needles in the ball pit were true, that would be the place. I sucked it up for G's sake, and she had a great time, but you'd better believe we both washed our hands when we left. Yuck!
For the last two months, I've been doing 30-40 minutes of cardio 5 times per week, plus weights 3 times per week. While I haven't been dieting per se, I've also been more careful about what I eat -- more fruit and vegetables, fewer cookies and chips. And I've lost a grand total of ...
On the bright side, weighing three pounds less than I did is better than weighing three pounds more. And my overall health and fitness have definitely improved: climbing the stairs at work used to feel like summiting Everest, and now I can do it easily. Also, it's February, and I haven't yet had the plague that traditionally fells me sometime in December, just in time for Christmas. These are all good things. But still ... three pounds? After all that work?
Stupid middle-aged metabolism.
It's not that I hate myself because I weigh more than X number of pounds, where X = some arbitrary number between "more than a supermodel" and "less than I weighed when I was 9 months pregnant." My current weight isn't terrible; in fact, it's (barely) within the normal range for my height. But it makes me uncomfortable, and more importantly, it makes me not feel like me. The self-image that I carry around in my head is of me weighing X number of pounds, where X = "about what I weighed when G was a toddler, plus a pound or two because I'm older now." That's not what I see when I pass a mirror or look at a photo, and the disconnect bothers me. Losing P was enough of an identity crisis in itself; I don't need to add looking different, and not in a good way, on top of that.
I was mulling all this over last night while pedaling away on the stationary bike (mmm, irony -- almost as delicious as cake) and I thought that really, any sort of angst over appearance is foolish when you look at it from a historical perspective. If I were the age I am now in, say, the fifteenth century -- assuming I hadn't perished in childbirth or been carried off by typhoid -- I would have been pregnant as many as 20 times, experienced life-threatening and possibly disfiguring diseases, and have lost several teeth thanks to poor nutrition and dental hygiene. I'd certainly have no access to sunscreen or hair dye, except maybe henna. In short, I would not only most likely be a grandmother by now, I'd look the part too. Here I am, fretting because my pants are a size 10 instead of a size 6, when by the standards of our ancestors I'm preternaturally youthful and totally hot! Silly me!