how I can’t really relax, and wish I could

I have been in a general putter, sleeping, reading, television, book cataloging. Yesterday the mathematician  and I went to lunch in a little town about a half hour south of us which I like because of two particular shops where they sell high end arts and crafts. And I mean: high end. Gorgeous one of a kind furniture, art, clothing. Everytime I go to this place I know what it would really mean to be rich. I can’t imagine walking into that shop and saying:

I’ll take this whole set, please. Oh and the gorgeous adirondack type chair of birds eye maple, with hand tooled and painted leather cushions and the carving and painting on the arms? No, the one there in the corner, four thousand bucks– but now that you point out the other one, I’ll have them both.

The mathematician was hoping that I’d find something I love for oh, a hundred bucks and point it out so he could sneak back there and buy it for my birthday, which is coming up way too fast. Because you know I’m turning FIFTY. How’s that for a jolt? It makes no sense to me, how such a thing is possible.

I’ve got flu symptoms. My hope is that this is all fallout from finishing Queen of Swords and it will go away soon, but definite flu symptoms. Headache, gut ache, swollen glands, and bone pain. It’s the bone pain that gives it away. I never really had the flu until I was about 35. I believed I had had the flu, but once the real thing digs in, you realize what the fuss is all about. I remember, from that particular illness, two things: the feeling of ground glass in my bones, and telling the mathematician that I was dying. I said this in a quiet voice in all seriousness, that’s how bad it felt.

So you’ll understand when I say I hope I’m wrong here. Probably I’ll know one way or the other by tomorrow morning.

The good thing, of course, is the repeated jolt of remembering the book is done. I wake up in a oh dog I should be writing panic and then collapse, remembering: done. I think about going to the dvd rental place, am consumed with prophylactic guilt, and then remember: done.

I never have learned how to relax. It’s partially my upbringing. Adult children of alcoholics (my mother) often have this thing where they stay away from alcohol (me) but can’t keep off the adrenaline (also, in a big way, me). Some of us are indeed addicted to chaos. I don’t think I’m that bad, but I do gravitate toward it. The movie Changing Lanes did the best job I’ve ever seen of getting to the alcohol-adrenaline connection. This was, in my opinion, a really underrated movie — if nobody else got any nominations out of it, Chap Taylor, who has credit for the story and the screenplay, should have. Certainly Ben Affleck was at the top of his (rather limited) arc. And then there’s Samuel L. Jackson. Maybe I’ll watch it again.

4 Replies to “how I can’t really relax, and wish I could”

  1. I know what you mean about the flu. When I really had it instead of just a heavy cold, I thought I needed to go to hospital. I was hallucinating and had what you described, that awful bone deep burn. Look after yourself.

  2. I had the Real Flu in high school; I remember they were calling that year’s strain the Beijing Flu. It was unbelievable, and like you, I have never tossed that word around lightly like I did before I experienced that week-plus of feeling like I had been wrung out like a towel in some horrible machine and then set on fire.

    Well, not QUITE that bad. But close.

  3. That is so interesting! I had never heard of the connection between alcoholics and adrenaline junkie. My mother was also an alcoholic, and while I stay as far away from drink as possible I crave drama and mayhem. I’m bored out of my tree if SOMETHING exciting or energetic isn’t happening. Maybe that is why I am a journalist?

  4. Deborah — There’s a book called Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet Woititz that does a pretty good job of outlining the general problems kids of alcholics face as they grow up and then often hold on to. I first read it when I was maybe 37, and it was a shock to me to see how much I recognized of myself and my cousins (who were in the same situation).

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