Saturday, January 21, 2012

unbirthday party

Woke up this morning to a mini-icestorm. Paper thin sheets of ice covering deck and driveway. Skip went out to get the paper, but came back exhausted from the effort. Some friends are supposed to be coming for dinner tonight. I have no idea if they'll actually brave the cold and slippery roads, but I put on some Coltrane, made espresso, and began marinating chicken for a lemon-olive tagine in case. Now my fingers are yellow from turmeric and saffron threads, and I keep an anxious window-watch, waiting for the sand/salt truck to come. Very quiet outside. Much too cold for the yappy dogs who usually vex my Saturday mornings. No wind--just grey, still, cold.

It's been an interesting transition back into the rat race of teaching and service that marks the beginning of every spring term. My classes are fine, although I've already had at least one discussion that troubled a number of students. Luckily, they talked to me about it, so I can do some damage control before the next class. Mainly it's been hard to get a handle on my class prep schedule. Find myself struggling to keep up with the reading-- even more so than usual. Probably because my "other" world-- the world of Skip's illness--always shimmers in the background. I imagine it like a stage scrim-- a sort of ghost world separated from my day-to-day distracted life by a sort of reflective skin, a permeable membrane. Easy to get caught up in memories and, sometimes, raw emotion. Lump in my throat the other day while talking to a student about theater theory, because I mentioned a play Skip and I worked on once. Not sure how in the world I'm going to be able to discuss Artaud with him without sobbing.

Skip's doing well. Back at work in the studio after a very fatiguing and fatigued post-chemo week last week. One more good week before he gets hammered with another treatment. He's reading On the Road, and understandably dreaming of open spaces. Says he keeps hearing Kerouac's voice as he reads-- slowly, slowly-- through that crazy stream-of-consciousness prose.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Year; New Treatments

It's been about a week since Skip had his maintenance chemo treatment-- which consists of one drug instead of two. And the week has been all too sadly familiar. The first two days were okay and then extreme fatigue and listlessness set in. I think I was overly optimistic, thinking that alimta alone would be much easier for Skip to handle; it has been somewhat easier, but there is nothing like the dramatic difference in energy and drive. I had imagined. So a difficult week, since we both have to readjust our expectations. I had been planning to go to The Society of Cinema and Media Studies conference in March, but I don't think I am going to be comfortable leaving him alone for three days, even with friends to help us. Sorry to miss the conference and especially sorry to miss seeing friends and former students, but these long naps are worrisome, and there are times-- when he's too quiet for too long-- that I check, heart in throat, to make sure he's all right.

The balmy warm days of last week have given way to true winter as the Canadian cold front has snaked down to us at last. Snowy and cold, so we've been making lots of fires. Yesterday, Skip opened the paper and saw a terrible picture of a house completely destroyed by a woodstove flue fire. He blanched ( hard to do since he's a bit pale these days) and went to the hardware store to buy a creosote log-- and we spent the evening "cleaning" the flue while watching Raoul Ruiz's strange 4 hour epic Mysteries of Lisbon-- the only film adaptation I've seen that actually feels like a 19th century novel. Amazing long shots through portals-- and shots that open up from pictures and puppet theatres into actual live-action scenes. These coupled with a camera trick that makes everyone look as though they're puppets on strings gives a strange claustrophobic feeling even in the panoramic scenes. Very effective.

Skip's been re-reading Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, and I sadly took most of my leisure reading back to the library. I'm teaching again and, like the students, have a full load of required texts. I did keep a volume of Philip K. Dick stories, which we're both reading at bedtime. Started with "The Adjustment Bureau". We watched the film, starring Matt Damon, a few weeks ago, and I was curious about the original story, since the film seemed so un-Dick-like in so many ways. More romantic than Dick and not nearly sly enough. (For people who don't know the story, the premise is that the world is kept on track-- and things happen as they do-- because of the corporate machinations of an adjustment team. Usually we don't see the men-in-black because all runs smoothely. But occasionally there's a glitch. We're in the wrong place at the wrong time; we meet someone we're not supposed to meet. And then they have t go into high gear and erase our memory banks). I'm about half way through the story now and so far it's much funnier than the film. It's a dog's failure to sound the alarm that starts all the bizarre adjustment glitches in the story-- and the scene in which the "clerk" in black confers with Fido is super, deadpan mordant humor.