Wed, 11 Jul 2012 18:20:37 -0700
Okay, uncle. Uncle. Ow.
I think I've found, for the first time since college, my limits. I've been oscillating toward this all year -- there was a beautiful moment in mid-January when everything seemed perfectly balanced: Work, friends, amateur choir, singing with the SF Symphony Chorus. But the evening of that first Debussy performance, out for a glass of wine after the show with friends I'd run into who had come to hear the concert, I met a nice young man who extolled David Foster Wallace, walked me home, and got my phone number. And I've been seeing a lot of Lion-O ever since, bringing me from the sweet spot between boredom and overcommitment, blazing straight past red-line, and landing me squarely in the territory of a datacenter running on reserve power, its cooling systems failing, and hardware beginning to melt. April dipped a toe in those irradiated waters (now barely covering spent fuel rods) but righted itself; June, however, approached full-on Fukushima territory. The month saw 11 rehearsals and 6 performances over my two ensembles, 3 operas (in attendance) for good measure, oncall shifts during rehearsals, one giant postmortem, and scuba lessons.
And so I crashed my immune system. Unlike the datacenters at work, I don't have a spare one and can't upgrade to newer models, and so the above schedule effectively DOS'd me. I spent the evening of the Fourth of July huddled under a duvet with a box of Kleenex on MacRae's couch, sipping chamomile tea with honey and babysitting the pager, finally cracking A Supposedly Fun Thing after almost 6 months, as he and his roommate climbed Corona Heights in search of fireworks. Thursday was worse. And yet Friday morning, buoyed by the marvels of modern medicine and my overall health having moved just slightly up and to the right, I boarded a plane with him to Nashville.
May I recommend, for your next illness, the restorative powers of 10 hours of sleep per night in an heirloom four-poster bed in Belle Meade? Endless tea, summer dinners of tomatoes and cottage cheese with squash from the garden and Chablis? Pontoon boating in 100-degree weather on Center Hill Lake; attempting to water-ski with the brothers (his ankle still barring him); sharing his old, illustrated copy of A Little Princess in the family car on the drive back into town to dinner? Rainstorms, observed from the stone archway of his grandparents' manorial home, and later through his living room windows, wetting the rosebushes outside, twilight sinking, as you finish a DFW essay on the couch and he naps, heavy and warm in the summer air, on top of you? I won't recommend the pre-dawn flight back to California to catch a full day's work on Monday morning, but the rest constitutes what I now believe to be sound medical advice.
Back at work, healthy, and without evening constraints for the first time in what feels like an eternity, I think something has to go for the fall. The Symphony Chorus is exacting but too heady to drop -- after each performance of Beethoven's 9th two weeks ago, the audience would leap to its feet, then literally roar when Ragnar came onstage and indicated us; after the penultimate show, MTT told us with great sincerity "you give good fugue" (I actually blushed) -- so it may be IOC, if only for one season.
In the pool 12 days ago with a double wetsuit and full scuba gear on, I felt short of breath. Realizing it wasn't panic, but just the physical symptoms thereof, I grabbed the two layers of 6mm neoprene and pulled them away from my chest, holding them there so my ribcage could once again expand fully. Took off one wetsuit, and I could breathe again.
The same has just got to happen to my schedule: One wetsuit has to go.