Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Heading for Some Moisture

Let's be frank for a moment: I feel like shit. I feel like a tired and wadded up piece of Kleenex, one of the dozens I've used up in the last few days since I came down with my cold that immediately turned into a sinus infection. A sinus infection that makes me sound like I'm setting myself for a joke when I moan aloud that my face hurts. (Yeah? Cuz it's killin' me!)

These last few months have just been a bit...much. The death of my grandpa, the roller-coaster of worry and optimism with my dad's hospital stay, and then his death, and everything in between has left me just....tired. And dry. It is the great thing about daily life with small children, yet also the very brutal thing about daily life with small children. Yes, you can lose your grief and laugh and smile at their darling ways and the cute things that pop out of their mouths, but you also are forced into forgetting your grief, or at least putting it on indefinite hold, while you meet their never-ending demands for juice, kisses for boo-boos, trips to the park, juice, bedtime stories, breakfast, lunch and dinner and always, always, more juice.

I feel very dry, both inside and out. Nothing left for tears, and not enough lotion to cure this tightness in my face. Yes, I have a cold, and yes it's that time of the month, too, which brings with it yet another zit on my once-nice complexion, and then there are the near-constant twinges of back pain from either my lower back or my shoulder blade (they take turns), and that thing that happens when I'm rushed or anxious with the kids (and really, when am I NOT?), feeling like I need to gasp for air like a fish out of water -- pant, pant, pant. Oh, and today my right eyelid has a very relaxing and attractive twitch, too, which has lasted for about the last 12 hours.

God, what an old lady! I was thinking today, that yes, I finally feel my age. At least my age. All those years of laughing with girlfriends: "oh, I'm 34, but I feel exactly the same as always!" "36? Last time I checked I was still 27!" But today, ladies? Today, I feel every second of my 38 years. And then some. I'm feeling about, oh, 43. And it is not good.

I know that all this aridity of the soul is not because I live in a very dry near-desert climate. But I'm hoping, hoping, that when we arrive in the Portland area in a few days, that some of that greenness and wetness and moisture will have some effect. It has to. Traveling from the land of record-low rainfall to the land where they've had record-high rainfall this winter has got to be good. And we have plans to go to this place:
Nice, huh? That's Multnomah Falls, in Oregon. Yes, there are in-laws waiting there too, but I like my in-laws and now is not the time or place to mention that my first-ever panic attack happened when visiting their home for the first time. I need a change of scenery so badly, so badly. I hope this little jaunt up to the Pacific Northwest does the trick, at least for a while.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Like, Wow

So I finally got my hands on a copy of Little, Big, and finally finished reading it this weekend. What a long book. I felt like I've lived a few lifetimes since I started it, sometime back in early April. It was a world and a landscape unto itself and excuse me if I blush just a little bit when I say that its main plot is about a family who seem to be related to, or at least are very close to um, the wee folk. As in fairies (faeries?).

But the book and it's many subplots and tone are about so much more than just the fairy-folk, and the reader is given only passing, sly glimpses of them throughout most of the story. Since I have a nasty sinus infection and my head feels too stuffed with cotton to create a single, lucid sentence, let me just give you some of the critiques and credentials listed on my copy: Let's see...the book and it's author, John Crowley, won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel back in 1980. The Washington Post writes that it's "the greatest fantasy ever written by an American." And finally, the esteemed and very crotchety academic and critic, Harold Bloom, says, "It is literally the most enchanting twentieth-century book I know."

So there. Let me not spin my wheels any longer justifying my reading of this 538-page work that concerns a very old and powerful deck of tarot cards, a grandfather trout who lives in a deep, cold pond and surfaces when summoned by members of the Drinkwater family, or a very old and powerful wizard of a woman who turns into a stork in the book's final chapters. Or the fiesty Puerto Rican girl who lives in the City and has a Destiny, which turns out to be turning into a fairy princess and sailing upon a craft made of spiderwebs and acorns.

Forgetting the plot entirely, I was enchanted early on by the gorgeous prose and lovely, crafted sentences, and also the humor and intelligence that guided my way. I smiled and leaked a happy little tear onto my pillow when I saw that I was in the care of someone who could write:
"The gregarious weeds that frequent roadsides, dusty, thick and blowsy, friends to man and traffic, nodded from fence and ditch by the way. Less and less often he would hear the hum of a car; the hum would grow intermittently, as the car went up and down hills, and then suddenly it would be on him very loud and roar past surprised, potent, fast, leaving the weeds blown and chuckling furiously for a moment; then the roar would just as quickly subside to a far hum again, and then gone, and the only sounds the insect orchestra and his own feet striking."

Yes, exactly -- the weeds blown and chuckling furiously. For some reason, this mix of high intellect and lowbrow, sort of slapstick humor reminds me of Annie Dillard in her nature essays -- abstract, obtuse and terribly brainy, and then she throws in a knock-knock joke to prove a point. I'm such a sucker for that sort of thing, and I suppose that's why Dillard is high on my list of all-time favorites.

But I digress. Little, Big was a great read, a good companion for a lot of late and troubled nights of late. I only wish I'd read it first in darkest December, for it's mysterious big house of Edgewood that the story revolves around reminded me of winter nights and crackling fires. But I hear that many people, Harold Bloom included, reread this book often to uncover further meanings and discover new things, so I suppose a winter reading isn't out of the question.