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Under the Weather

I spent the day after Christmas essentially in bed, dreaming off and on, that I was moving back from Rockport, Mass., where I had spent the fall term, and had to fit gigantic bookshelves and all of my stuff into a 1997 Volvo station wagon. Very disturbing dream. I kept trying to tell everybody we could leave the stuff behind, that we shouldnít be so attached to stuff. But my pleas went unheeded and possibly unheard.

When I got tired enough of that dream I roused myself and went into the kitchen to continue the clean-up from the previous dayís festivities, which included 18 people, a dog, more presents than floor space and more cookies than a commercial bakery.

Finished, more or less, with cleaning, I flopped down on the couch and watched three back-to- back episodes of Bones on Netflix and then went to sleep.

Now, Iím not the kind of person who lies around in bed all day nor am I one to watch marathon crime investigation TV shows. But I just figured that I was unusually tiredóthe run-up to Christmas had been labor-intensive and then wildly social.

But the next morning, when I slept late and didnít think I could manage to get out from under the covers, I began to think I was becoming a very lazy person indeed. My mother hadnít raised me to be a slug-abed. I had to get back in touch with my Protestant work ethic. So I got up, shivering, put on the warmest pair of pants I have, put on some make-upóa little surprised that my hands were shaking so much when I put my contact lenses in that I basically mashed them onto my eyeballs.

Then I went downstairs to fix something to eatómaybe that was the cause of my shakiness. But by the time I got to the kitchen, I was drenched in sweat. I took off my sweater, which made me immediately cold again, and tried to find the thermometer. Maybe I wasnít just lazy. Maybe I was sick.

By the end of the afternoon I was back from the doctorís office, bedded down on the couch with a course of antibiotics, an albuterol inhaler and confirmed symptoms of pneumonia.

Though Iíd had bad bouts of pneumonia years agoóbreaking a rib one time from coughing so hardóI havenít been sick in years. And even though I feel the appropriate crumminess one does when one is under the weather, what I also feel is irritated: being sick is really boring.

For one thing, I have no energy. I donít want to move. I wonder if Iíll ever want to move again. For another, I do not feel pretty. Not at all. I just had a birthday, which makes me one year older. Add to that being sick and I find I am not at all in touch with my inner ageless beauty. Not a bit.

My daughter and I have a joke that women get colds and men get sick, meaning, of course, that a woman with a cold keeps right on doing the work she always does, using hand sanitizer and coughing into the crook of her arm. A man with a cold takes to his bed, expecting a certain level of pampering and chicken soup.

Well into my third day of this business, I want to be a woman with a cold and not a couch potato with pneumonia.

I want to get up and get dressed and put on my big, warm coat and drive to some after Christmas sales. I want to get back to my desk and the work on which I have fallen far behind. I want to have the energy for a yoga class or a trip to the gym. I want to start cleaning the house (OK, I donít really want to start cleaning the house).

Instead Iím surrounded by the accoutrements of the moderately-sick bed: the inhaler and thermometer, orange juice and ginger tea, Kleenex and Vicks, my credit card (I can shop online, anyway) and my computer. My family comes and goes, weaving their way in and out of the living room, talking cheerfully, asking if I need the TV remote, another blanket. I shake my head or make the necessary responses to what theyíre saying. Iím not much for conversation right now.

The fact is, Iím just not up to par. Pier 1 trips and yoga classes are not on the immediate agenda. Because about the best I can do is sit here, hoping my well-meaning family will realize that all I need is back-to-back episodes of Bones to pass the time and the great healing cocoon of a good sleep.

óJo Page

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