Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cold and Cranky

"I probably am a cranky writer, but I am actually a fairly nice, normal person. Since I'm a grouchy writer, of course I have friends whose books are doing way better than mine."

- Sarah Vowell

My productive energy bubble burst around dinnertime last night. It began with a few sniffs, and what was that – a kink in my neck? Then the realization – oh no, a cold! I couldn’t even blame this one on my two children or the hundreds of students I’m confronted with each week, with their snotty noses and hacking coughs. My husband was finally feeling better on his third day of illness, which meant that I was going to be sick for at least five or six days. His bouts used to only last for twenty-four hours, but in the last few years he’s sick for up to a whopping three days. Aging is a bitch. Meanwhile, I’m convinced that if I lived in a time before antibiotics, vaccinations, and indoor heating, I would’ve died in childhood. I get everything – every stupid virus that makes its way around.

After dinner, my friend helped me clean up and wash dishes, while she plied me with Emergen-C. I didn’t know if it would work, but I was wishing at least for a placebo effect. Then I took some antihistamine and went to bed, hoping and not hoping to get a sub call. I didn’t know if I’d awaken, up to working, but since I’d taken off this Friday (when my husband reads this, I'm in trouble) because my sister is visiting, it meant that I’d only work one day this week. Most paychecks are less than when I was a teaching assistant. As with most nights, I dreamt I was teaching, so I think I should get paid anyway. In this dream, I had my own classroom, which was a nice change to my real life. Unfortunately, I woke up periodically due to being sick. Why is it that when you’re ill, all you want to do is sleep, but when you actually go to sleep, you’re too sick to do a good job of it?

I didn’t get a sub call, but my poor husband felt flimflammed, since I decided to wear a dress, which is usually his visual clue that I'm working. First I was going to let my kids take the bus, but I’m on the Art Committee at their school and I’m in charge of the monthly Art Challenge. I needed to make copies for all the K-5 students and stuff them in the teachers’ mailboxes. This month, the challenge is for the children to draw a picture of their favorite animal that lives in a cage or tank. When the new art teacher heard that, she was upset about thinking of animals caged in zoos, but I explained it was for small animals that live in people’s houses. Somehow, that placated her, though I wanted to point out that even little critters probably want to roam free. It’s like vegetarians who eat fish – why do the fish get to die, while the fowl, pig, and cattle get to live? Is it because fish aren’t furry and cute? I’m probably making enemies with this entire train of thought.

Upon returning from school and the supermarket, I came home, and did some computer work. I figured my sister should be calling soon to tell me she was on her way. In fact, I was awaiting the call before taking a nap, to fight this stupid cold before she got here. By 10:40AM, I could no longer wait, and went to bed. First my phone rang and then my cell phone beeped with a message at 11:03AM. I know she didn’t know I was sick, but I wanted to pick up the phone and complain. Perhaps I should’ve put all the phones on silent and I guess I could’ve been proactive and called her first, knowing she almost never gets that 10:00AM bus, no matter how hard she tries. I’m sure she’ll argue that this isn’t true, but… it is.

When I awoke from not really napping, I checked e-mail. The Art Committee was beginning to bug me. I was going to miss the meeting tonight, so I sent an e-mail this morning to say what I was working on. I mentioned that I’d booked the wrapping fundraiser at a local toy store, and would be looking for wrapping volunteers soon. The liaison e-mailed to let me know that the eighth-grade had booked on the same day for their end-of-the-year field trip. I like promoting art, but many times I feel like quitting because, being from Generation X, I’m not a big participator in groups. We’re supposed to be apathetic, but I’m trying to support my children and the school. I found the e-mails from the toy store in September and forwarded them to the woman from the toy store. Luckily, I had booked first, so eighth-grade had to choose another day. Good thing, because in my grumpy state, I was looking for an excuse to quit the committee, and let someone else do the art challenges, coordinate the wrapping, and book author/illustrator visits.

When I checked e-mail again, I had already had a real rejection from the agents I submitted to yesterday. Now I’m down from ten to eight. At least it was complimentary:

Unfortunately, our YA list is very specific at the moment, and we are

only reviewing more on an extremely limited basis at this time due to

our current list’s needs and how we are trying to develop that list. I do

regret to tell you this, as your work sounds intriguing; however, I’m sure

you will have no troubles finding an agent to represent your work.

I think I’ll wait until my other manuscript is polished, and try her again. If only I knew what was on this specific (and mysterious) list.

Checking regular mail was also fraught with issues. I received a snail mail form letter rejection from an October submission. Then I found a confusing bill from my husband’s gym that was too much to figure out in my sick state.

I should learn my lesson to do as little as possible when I’m sick, which probably includes ignoring e-mails and refraining from posting. I already had another post on-hold, so why am I even writing? All my early paragraphs are nearly the same size, so I’m clearly not qualified to be editing today. I’m running a low-grade fever, and I have things to do: cooking dinner, two hours of killing time at Taekwondo, and laundry. And I need another nap.

If my sister reads this before she arrives, she may just turn back. I don’t blame her.

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