Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nothing But Time

I've been watching TV for 3 days and am bored with it, but so dizzy I can't grade papers. So I'm hear, sharing my head cold with you. Isn't it amazing how, when you're sick, you feel like you were the first time you remember being sick in this way?

I remember a Christmas when I was so snotty I watched TV in my room as others ate and opened presents. I recall a spring around Easter when I was maybe 6 or 7 living in Oklahoma. I remember a park. Sunlight like dark chocolate around marshmallow. The warm air full of pollen. Green grass. Dandelions on my tongue.

I feel like whatever I am imagining that, if I stretch my hand out, the scene or the object will appear in front of me and I'll be magically transported back to that place and time. Such is the pain and miracle of sickness.

I forced myself to the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum annual fall plant sale yesterday morning in the chill (today it is 55 and misting, tomorrow it will be 90 and sunny with a 40mph south wind). I bought some asclepias speciosa and purpurascens, some liatris scariosa 'alba' (the purple version is STILL blooming praise be).

Do you stand out in the garden this time of year and think, man, I could put x plant right there and it'll look fantastic next year? Then, do you go buy x plant, stand out in the garden, and try to figure out where the heck it can go? Everything is still thick enough to guide you in placement, to see what can be wedged in where (unlike that infernal spring blankness), but still, the container hangs between the pinch of your thumb on the inside lip of the black plastic, and your pointer finger on the outside. And it hurts. You fingers hurt, you eyes hurt, the impatience is joy and interminable sorrow. Help me.

I've been replaying 80s songs in my head, because I was living in Oklahoma when I first remember being sick like this. The Police. The Cars. Men at Work. Belinda Carlisle. Golden Earring. Lyrics flood my mind in a jumbled haze like the bees, butterflies, soldier beetles, wasps, and flies flood the garden on a calm and sunny autumn day only weeks before the first frosts. There is panic and desire in the garden this time of year. Frustration and antsy fear.

I am wasting my life trying to heal myself, this earth, and I am doing exactly what I need to do, to be--sitting still, restarting, rebooting, making a list, pulling myself back like an arrow or a slingshot until the moment when I can let loose and make those edits to the memoir, read those books, send out those submissions, plant those asclepias and liatris, embrace the memory I am making and will return to decades from now. When the bullet hits the bone....

Yeah there's a storm on the loose
Sirens in my head
Wrapped up in silence all circuits are dead
Cannot decode my whole life spins into a frenzy

Help, I'm stepping into the twilight zone
Place is a madhouse feels like being cloned
My beacon's been moved under moon and star
Where am I to go now that I've gone too far?

(If you can sing those lyrics with the tune in your head, we are kindred souls--now FedEx me some Dayquil, or watch the video here)


debsgarden said...

I hope your head cold gets better soon! However, one advantage to being sick is that it forces us to slow down and take time to restore our body and soul. When I was ill recently I couldn't resist going outside and being in the garden. It sounds like you made some good plant purchases— Sometimes you sound depressed, but I think you must have a streak of optimism, otherwise you would never plant anything!

Randy Emmitt said...


I've had the cold since Thursday morning. Today I felt good enough to go on a butterfly walk with my camera. So I'm sitting here just like you with an awful nasty running nose. I know all about those plants you were talking about.

Ellada said...

I do not like to be sick and stay in bed. I get bored easily.
Get well.

Indoor Fountains said...

Wow- thanks for the blast from the past. I remember being young and that song being incredibly popular. Get well.

Benjamin Vogt said...

DG--I am often depressed, but who isn't? It's what you do with it. I'm also a misantrhope, but one who hasn't given up on our good sides, either. I live a double life. I wish I could just chill out, but two days now I've had to be on campus for many hours teaching....
Randy--We got our bugs at the same time! Ah, kindred spirits. IT's either been 55 and misting outside or 90 and windy, so going to the garden is not restorative. Soon, though, it's my fave time of year to plant.
Ellada--Well, I don't get bored easily due to overactive imagination, but being still because you HAVE to stinks!
IF--I just rediscovered it, as I have been trying to do with many songs from the late 70s to early 80s. I hear it on the radio all the time, still. The early 80s appears to me my time for music, as everythign else stinks. Right? :)

Chloe m said...

Hi Ben,

I think the cure for your cold is Candy corn. Take two and call me in the morning.

Feel better.

scottweberpdx said...

Ugh...colds suck! I remember vividly being sick during one Christmas, surrounded by dozens of relatives and just wanting to hide under the bed. Then again, it does give you a reason to catch up on trashy TV. Feel better.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Rosey--You had to come here and spread your candy corn germs, didn't you....
Scott--Catch up on trashy tv? That's the only thing keeping me sane after a day of academic-ness.