Finding balance in the second half of life

Thursday: Better Than Fine

In Survival on March 11, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I wake up with a scratchy throat and that downward feeling that comes with realizing that it’s Thursday and I don’t have a lesson plan for the class I teach at 1. Downstairs, the cat has thrown up in three places, all of them carpeted. My Partner is not sure that it’s vomit, he thinks it looks more like poop. I dab a spot with some paper towel and bring it to my nose. Not poop. In fact it smells surprisingly springlike — earthy and green. This is because Cuddles has been eating the greens from the Spring Fling bouquet I sprang for at Family Fare yesterday when I was waiting for my prescriptions to get filled because I’d already been two days without my Prozac and was getting grumpy and droopy and experiencing bouts of extreme self-loathing.

MP makes us some breakfast while I empty the dishwasher. These dishes are not clean. They have been washed, but they are not clean. The plates and bowls are dingy and dull and the cups are coffee-stained. How long has this been going on? Could be months — it’s been that long since I unloaded the dishwasher while the sun was shining.

Before I sit down to my poached egg, I also take in the kitten-sized balls of golden retriever fur in the corners of the dining room, the wall behind MP’s chair where the paint is badly chipped, and another puke spot under the table. I take a sip of coffee, closing my eyes so I won’t see the brown stains on the inside rim.

Should not have let that prescription slip.

When I arrive at the small seminar room on the second floor of Van Zoren Hall, my class of Academically Talented middle school students is already seated in the tiers of desks that I usually haul down from their platforms and rearrange into a circle. I decide to let it go. We have just finished reading “Much Ado About Nothing” and Sarah has a question: Why does Boracchio say “listen to me call her ‘Hero,’ hear her term me ‘Claudio,’” when he intends to have Claudio there as a witness to Hero’s debauchery?

Really? He says that? Indeed he does. Sarah has highlighted the passage in passionate pink. It makes no sense to any of us. Did Shakespeare screw up?

Three hours later I drag myself in through the back door and notice a definite smell of cat pee. Eliot’s breakfast dishes are hardening on the counter but where is he? Monday’s piano, Tuesday’s Jazz Combo, Wednesday’s trombone, Thursday’s here. MP hasn’t seen him. I dig my phone out of my purse. No messages. I send Eliot a text: “?” and fall into bed. Ten minutes later my cell wakes me with the “Waltz for Debby” ringtone I downloaded in another lifetime, before my dad died. Eliot is on his way home from band festival, which he told me about last week, remember?

I do not remember.

Sitting on the — jeez, where did those spots come from — couch, I hear MP shaking up a Maker’s Mark manhattan. My favorite sound in the world. The drink he pours me glows red-gold and the first cold sip is the best I’ve felt all day.

By the time I’ve finished my drink, Eliot is home and regaling us with tales of Peter the sax player who thinks he’s all that but started playing the wrong song at festival. The living room glows like a manhattan, full of going-down sun. I love my son, My Partner, my shedding dog, my puking cats, my hairy cornered home. MP looks askance when I ask him for another drink to sip on while I make supper. I am meeting my Academically Talented students and several of their parents at the dress rehearsal of “Much Ado About Nothing” at 8:00.

I’ll be fine, I say. I’m making Kitchen Sink Quesadillas and I’ll have coffee after dinner.

Kitchen Sink Quesadillas

1 package burrito-sized flour tortillas

1 package shredded cheddar

1 can black beans

1 can corn

1/2 jar Paul Newman’s Spicy Salsa

Heat oven to 400. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and place two tortillas on each.

In a colander, in the sink, combine beans, corn, and salsa.

Sprinkle tortillas with half the cheese. Add a layer of the drained colander mixture and another layer of cheese. Top with the remaining tortillas.

Bake 5 – 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and tortillas are crisped. Serve with sour cream, avocado slices, and hot sauce.

You’ll be fine.

–Debra Wierenga

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  1. I’ve had that day. I have that house. Except it’s all cat hair.

  2. Why didn’t anyone tell us that stamina might be the most useful (and most used) life skill of all? That, and knowing someone who knows how to mix a good drink.

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