September 11th, 2008


The West Putney nursing home

Well, my houseguest is ill, and I think I am, too, but not as much as she is. A little congestion, a tight throat, is it really different than the feeling of living with allergies every day? (Aside from the fact this is highly communicative, obviously.) I felt a bit like I was walking through toffee yesterday when we were in Cambridge but it was obvious I wasn't being knocked on my butt like she was - the stairs up to the platform at the Putney Bridge tube station really winded her (made her legs burn, actually) like they didn't when she was well.

Anyway, I'm up now and have had a toasted crumpet with pesto and a poached egg on top and several chipolatas for breakfast, and am now working on my tea. I'm getting bored. I don't know how to sit around. I should probably work on cleaning the house - it sure needs it. Tonya's still in bed - perhaps something will happen when she gets up, but mostly I get the impression she's relieved to be able to spend a day pretending like she's not on vacation half way around the world and can just spend a day doing nothing and not feeling guilty about all of the great stuff she's missing out on. (I'm mortified by the thought that she might not see the Elgin marbles before she leaves.) I'm listening to Jordi Savall and really enjoying it.

Maybe this can be LJ story time, and I can tell the tale of gooseberries I promised to ergotia a month ago, or talk about how I handle feeling rejected, or ... maybe I'll do that Proust writeup. Or I'll do the "Best Cheap Eats in Theatreland" story on my other blog.

Boy, it's quiet here.

Maybe I should just read a book.
Sea dragon

My day home (sick day)

What I've done:
1) watch river go up
2) read LJ
3) read DJ, NY Times (great article on how finances affect a couple's success, recommended reading for all)
4) checked prices to Barcelona for October
5) tried and failed to contact American friend living in Barcelona
6) checked prices to Krakow for around Christmas time and decided not to go
7) saw email for cheap tickets for Fat Pig (not an anti-fat show - see review here) and bought four (for the deal, 20 quid seats, call 0870 060 6637 and ask for the email deal - as I booked early I also got two extra tickets for free, which the two people I was hoping might want to go turned down - shall try again elsewhere)
8) mopped the kitchen floor
9) took a shower
10) made lunch (fresh fetuccine with pesto and halved raw cherry tomatoes, yum!)
11) watched the river go down
12) started a post on Gongfu Girl
13) checked houseguest was not dead as she hadn't made it out of her room at all (the cold is hitting her hard, I think)
14) called shadowdaddy to ask him to pay a bill and tell him about the theater tickets
15) held a book I am supposed to review in my hand
16) hit LJ again and again
17) ran the dishwasher
18) looked at the full sink suspiciously (seriously, how can the sink be full while the dishwasher is also full, and running? Are they breeding?)
19) brushed the cat
20) tried to convince someone else to be a fourth for the cool sound and light art thing at the Royal Opera House Saturday night
21) checked in with other sick people to see how their colds were progressing (I'm apparently the healthiest of the bunch)

Right, I am going in tomorrow, no doubt about it.

Friendship according to Proust (as interpreted by Alain de Botton)

For months I've been yearning to put this quote in my journal, but couldn't because my copy of How Proust Can Change Your Life (by Alain de Botton, whom I can apparently pay to have lunch with me via the "School of Life's" hire an expert program - and since no one else I know is going to talk about this book with me, why not him?). It's the best insight on life I've had (well, received) over the last year, and I think it is good enough to share with the world. I mean, I'm in my 40s now, what more do I need to learn about how people behave? But among all of the subjects I have studied, this has been the one I have found most tricky: what makes people work, and how do you form and keep friends. De Botton provides this illumination, as distilled from A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu, on the degree of insincerity that friendship demands:

"There seems a gap between what others need to hear from us in order to trust that we like them, and the extent of the negative thoughts we know we can feel toward them and still like them. We know it is possible to think of someone as both dismal at poetry and perceptive, both inclined to pomposity and charming, both suffering from halitosis and genial. But the susceptibility of others means that the negative part of the equation can rarely be expressed without jeopardizing the union. We usually believe gossip about ourselves to have been inspired by a level of malice far greater (or more critical) than the malice we ourselves felt in relation to the last person we gossiped about, a person whose habits we could mock without this in any way altering our affection for them."

This has been the thing I've learned: people actually have extremely fragile self-images, especially with regard to their friends and how they see them. It's most certainly true for me, and I've seen plenty of proof of it being true of others. It's been a surprise to realize that the normal teasing I do could actually wound someone quite deeply, but it's also been good for me to realize that people can mock me (or quite sincerely criticize me) but still hold deep and strong affection for me. And I've also realized it's completely natural for me to be quite wounded when I've found out how poor people's opinions are of me - but now I have a bit more perspective about how the hurt I feel magnifies my interpretation of the poorness of their opinions. I'm just a little creampuff, but in some ways, we all are.

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I love Mr. de Botton's bio on the School of Life website: "Alain has spent years poring over Proust’ letters, essays and fiction not in order to gain a PhD on a new interpretation of some minor character from In Search of Lost Time, but in order to share with us all the power of literature to change our lives." That's why his book is awesome. Maybe if we have lunch together he can help me figure out how to take my passion and do something interesting with it, because I certainly could care less about the dull regurgitations other people have produced ont the topic.