Monday, February 16, 2009

A Nice Weekend

We all took a few days off and went to Chicago to see a good friend receive an award. We reconnected with a number of alums and generally had a low-key, relaxing weekend with only a little work and lots of great people. Shea had a four-day break from school, so went with us, which was also nice. It was a good time together, though by the end of the Sunday Michael finally succumbed to the horrible chest cold we’ve been passing around and he looks to be down for the count while he battles through it. It’s a fierce bug, and we’re paying attention. I’m still spluttering around weeks later, and Shea’s sore throat and congestion come and go. Another friend started with this cold and now has pneumonia….

The hotel we stayed at this weekend had an interesting shower curtain. It immediately struck me as an anti-Psycho shower curtain, as the top was a see-through mesh and the bottom opaque, so even while showering, it was possible to see the rest of the bathroom. It also had magnets at the corners that sealed it to the metal bathtub, so there wasn’t any leakage, which was another nice touch. After noticing and appreciating the curtain, the next public place we were in had curtains just like it (except gold instead of white) dividing its public areas into smaller spaces. Have I been missing these all over the place, or are they just coming into vogue?

The award ceremony took place in a room that had red wallpaper with a black-flocked pattern; it gave me vertigo almost instantly, though it’s possible there was something about the number of people in the room, too. In any event, while we were very happy indeed to be there, the physical cost meant that we cut the evening short and went back to the hotel before dessert was served at the after-ceremony dinner. The food and company were spectacular, an indication of how much I reacted. We’re still figuring this out as we go, and are beginning to hone in on the visual stimulation of some settings as particularly costly to me. On the other hand, I’m learning that I rarely fall down from the vertigo, it is just unpleasant, and there are lots of situations where I can focus otherwise and get through whatever is on the agenda. Eventually, though, there’s a cost in fatigue.

This week brings what I hope is a completely-doable level of activity, starting with teaching today. It’s the fourth week of class, so the students are beginning to get into the swing of things, which brings sharp improvements and a sense of accomplishment for many of them. It’s a fun part of the semester. A little more sunshine would be nice. Where do we place the order?

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