Trying to Emerge from a State of Cafard

That was a word that I had heard a long time ago (I forget where), and had almost forgotten about it.  It jumped out at me when I was browsing through The Journals of John Cheever, and it perfectly fits my recent state of mind.  (In case you’re wondering: ca·fard (kȧ fȧr′) noun melancholy, boredom, listlessness, etc.  This definition is courtesy of, by the way.)

Susie and I went to a used-record event sponsored by Colleen’s Collectables (sic) last Saturday.  It was held in the social hall of Ascension Lutheran Church on Morse Road, and it was a textbook example of violation of fire code.  There were just too many people crammed into too small a space.  Several of the customers rode electric scooters and wheelchairs, and for the life of me I don’t know how they managed to maneuver.  Susie and I are both able-bodied, and we felt claustrophobic.

I showed admirable restraint in my purchases.  Susie did well for herself.  She bought an American Idol CD, a $4 Discman, and a deck of Elvis playing cards.  I bought Steph several Osmond and Tom Jones LPs, and for myself I bought Jazz Impressions of New York, a Dave Brubeck Quartet recording that has yet to make it to disk.  (I’ve played it several times.  My favorite cut on it used to be "Autumn in Washington Square," but that was quickly displaced by "Upstage Rumba.")

Susie came home sick from a wedding party that night, mostly upset stomach and lots of sneezing.  I stayed home with her Sunday instead of going to church, and once Steph got home from teaching Sunday school, we presented her with gifts (Japanese incense from me, a vase from Susie).  Steph and I watched The Shawshank Redemption while Susie rested upstairs.  (On Saturday afternoon, Steph and I watched the 1967 Valley of the Dolls.  I’m wondering if that’s what contributed to Susie’s general queasiness.)

By Monday, both Steph and Susie were sick.  Grogginess, no appetite, anything inside them coming out both ends at warp speed, high fever–the whole nine yards.  I left work at 11 a.m. yesterday to be with them, although I may have taken off early anyway, since there was hardly anything to do.  Steph spent most of the afternoon in bed, and Susie was downstairs, active but draggy.  Both of them stuck to the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) for most of yesterday, so I was sure to eat outside their presence.

Both Steph and Susie have recovered.  Ohio now has its fourth case of swine flu, but the thought never crossed our minds that H1N1 was raising its ugly head in our household.  (I remember the big swine flu scare in 1976, after one soldier at Fort Dix, N.J. died from it.  He was its one and only casualty.  There was a huge drive to inoculate the entire American population, and the newspapers ran front-page pictures of Gerald Ford in the Oval Office getting his shot, and then it turned out the vaccine made more people sick than the virus did.  It faded very quickly from the public eye, scant weeks after everyone was led to believe swine flu was going to be worse than the post-World War I influenza epidemic.)

I watched the post-Palmerfest riots in Athens on Channel 10 Sunday night.  In all my years "studying" and living in Athens, I never saw any gathering, alcohol-fueled or not, get that far out of control.  I still marvel at the fact that no one was killed Saturday night, in between the bonfires and the general unruliness of the crowd.  (Just before I left Athens for good, I remember sitting in Baker Center watching the Tiananmen Square uprising on CNN, on the big-screen TV in the main lounge.  A woman I was watching this with said, "The only thing that would cause O.U. students to rise up like that would be if they banned alcohol on campus.")

I’m hoping that typing this blog tonight will get me back into the mode to do other writing.  This has hardly been one of my more stellar entries–it’s more of a what-I-did-today type entry, but it’s better than nothing.  Even my emails, both from home and work, have been slacking off lately.  Worst of all, I don’t think I’ve written in my handwritten diary for a week now.  (I have numerous issues with 12-Step groups, especially Alcoholics Anonymous, but "one day at a time" is especially applicable with journal-writing.)

Well, this is a start, at least.


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