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
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
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.