Tuesday, February 02, 2016
Some Feverish Thoughts
I think Ben capitulated to this virus first but kept pushing himself to go to college. Then Paul got it. "How are you feeling?" I'd say, and he would go through a disturbing little routine of looking at me with watery eyes and saying Uhhhh? and wiggling his fingers over his head while putting his chin in the air and waving his head from side to side.
And now that's exactly how I feel. Very Uhhhhh and very much like something is wrong in my head, besides the usual.
So I am lying in bed with a teacup and a thermometer beside me and my head anointed with mint oil, which is supposed to stop headaches, and since I have lots of time to think, I am thinking that it's too bad we only live one lifetime.
Because there are so many things you could dedicate a whole lifetime to, and you have only one go.
You could buy one of those empty stores in Harrisburg and have a little fabric/paper/tea/thrift shop.
Or you could get medical training and work in some underserved part of the world.
Or you could design and sew clothes.
Or you could have a little farm and grow produce and sheep and chickens and flowers.
Or you could be a full-time writer.
Or you could have a big family and do lots of cooking and listening.
I chose the last one, obviously, and I do bits and pieces of the others, such as writing a little bit and taking out the stitches from someone who didn't feel like going back to the doctor to have his stitches out, except I don't really do the store in Harrisburg, but I sort of scratch that itch by selling a few things on ebay, such as the sewing pattern from 1939 that I bought for 25 cents and that is going for $12.50 with one day left [she bragged humbly].
Lately I've had this misguided grandma craving to make little dresses, so I sewed two of them with no particular little girl in mind. But in between seams I made cheeseburger soup for James H. who had surgery, and washed kitchen counters, and also took two cats in to get fixed, which didn't go so well, because we had signed up Beatrice and Peppermint Patty, but Beatrice the Dumbest Cat Ever disappeared, and the cat carrier wasn't latched right and broke apart halfway out to the car, and there was a blur as a cat disappeared around the camellia bush,and I ended up taking in two cats who were not Beatrice and PP, so I kind of lied, since the vet people were very big on specific names, but this was a program to fix low-income cats and my voucher was going to expire the next day.
Emily had just learned in one of her classes that pretty much everyone tells white lies as a way to make society run kindly and smoothly, and she was insistent that she is an exception to this, and so is her whole family.
The others in the class felt that if you didn't tell white lies you were blunt and unkind, but Emily says she knows plenty of people who are kind and diplomatic but don't lie.
"How does this skirt look on me?"
[skirt emphasizes belly and is higher in back than in front]
"Well, I think it would look good with that long gray sweater you have."
We also note that Smuckers are utterly honest and direct, wandering into "blunt" territory now and then*, but you always know where you stand with them, which I like.
*see QOTD below
I am scrupulously honest most of the time, but I wanted those cats fixed without any more drama or babies.
So maybe having a big family is the way to go, because you get at least a taste of all the other lives you'd like to live.
I read this cool article the other day about this guy who dressed up for a day in different costumes. He was a security guard for a day, and a mechanic, and a doctor, and a priest. The priest part was especially interesting.
You can read it here.
I am so used to being in identifiably-religious garb [long skirts, hair in a bun, veil] that I don't give it much thought. But it made me think about the identity and responsibility that a person takes on by looking distinctly religious. There's an expectation of behavior, and honesty, and trustworthiness.
And, in the case of the priest, of helpfulness.
There's a very American belief that what you wear is your business and yours alone--whatever expresses Who You Are and is comfortable. Other cultures are much more context-oriented (I think that's the word) where clothing carries a message and tells how you fit into society and whether or not you respect yourself and others and the situation you're in.
Mennonites are big on clothes and the messages they convey.
Like I said, I don't mind the connotations of my clothes, as long as they don't make people nervous and distant. I want them to feel safe, but maybe that's more a matter of the expression in my face than my clothes.
I want people to feel that they can ask me for help.
I have a feeling we choose our clothes and then our clothes make us take on an identity without us realizing it.
My mom always had a manner and voice that she used on "Englisch" people, and another one for Amish and Mennonites, and another for her family.
Last Halloween I wrote about how Margaret and I dressed up and went trick-or-treating, and I said it was the only time we did. Well, there was one more time, sort of. I put on a pair of brown corduroy boys' pants--not my brothers'; probably something Mom picked up at the Catholic rummage sale to make comforters--and I think a paper bag over my head, and I went out the back door and over to the front, and knocked.
Mom came to the door. "Now who could this be?" she said in her most Englisch-people voice, and it was the strangest experience to be addressed thus. So I pulled off my bag and laughed and laughed.
This subject sparked a discussion on Facebook, and Rhonda Strite from Georgia said,
My older sisters, who were in their upper teens at the time, had a friend from a distance come and stay a few days. My brother Jeff and I were, I suppose, about 12 and 13 respectively.
We children and this friend went shopping one day and found this curly, chestnut brown lady's wig at a thrift shop which someone in the party gaily purchased. When we got home, Mother was gone and the house was empty, and we decided to dress Jeff up and put the wig on him and all be sitting primly in the front room conversing politely with this "stranger" when Mother walked in.
So they had Jeff put on one of my dresses, and they put this wig on him and we were all splitting laughing because he looked for all the world like a girl, or a lady...it was sort of hard to place exactly what he looked like.
And then Mother drove in the lane, and fast and furiously, we straightened up and took our places demurely, and began to act like "company", which was utterly unnatural altogether..
And she walked into the front room from the entrance hall of that old farmhouse and there we were all sitting properly, and here was this stranger....but no one offered any introduction or explanation. She looked around, trying briefly to assess the situation, when suddenly the stranger rolled onto the rug into the middle of the room in a wild giggling fit, and all the rest of us just sat there and watched her giggle.
Mother had the blankest, lost-est look on her face. She had no idea who this person was or what was the proper thing to do, or how to analyze ANYTHING...
Till we all just lost it and he snatched the wig off..
Afterward Mother said it was the oddest feeling ever, because there were these curiously familiar aspects, (Jeff was famously giggly at that specific point in his life) and yet there were not any other pieces to the puzzle that fit in anywhere..
I said her mom must have felt like she fell into a time warp or something, with this stranger laughing on her carpet. Rhonda said, "She laughed heartily and VERY SATISFYINGLY when the truth came out so it was all worth it."
It is approaching suppertime and I am going to let the family fend for themselves, seeing as how there is baked chicken in the fridge, and leftover cheeseburger soup, and quesadilla materials, because everyone in the family is capable of fixing themselves a plate of decent food from materials on hand.
I am not nostalgic at all for the days when I didn't get to just go be sick when I was sick, and if I didn't fix them something they pretty much didn't eat, and hungry little Amy scattered a bag of chips like snow all over the bedroom floor and I lay desolate and vomitous on the bed in the middle of the mess.
I don't miss that part of those days at all.
But I do miss the little people.
Quote of the Day:
Paul: [comes in the door with pink roses for me 'for no reason']
Jenny: I like it when Dad buys you flowers. It shows that you love each other. Not that I don't already know you love each other! And it's not loud like kissing.