Today was not my finest driving day. Let me start by saying that despite being constantly exhausted and ready for a 2 hour nap just about any time of day, somehow, I am starting to get things done. While the horrid on and off fevers and deep, phlegmy cough and dizziness have subsided somewhat, I am still totally tired, and literally surviving my commute and teaching moments via excessive amounts of caffeine and the eventual burst of adrenaline that comes when you have to talk to a group of students for 3 hours at a time. The Karagöz puppet troupe is ever-present in my psyche through this time of strange health. I think they are quite worried and don’t really get what is going on. Sometimes they talk to me in a soupy, drawn out, slowed-down-recording voice and I realize it is because my brain is tired, slow and not functioning optimally. Karagöz himself is pretty funny looking when he jumps up and down and twists – in slow motion.
The chain of tea delivery was in slow-motion as well, this morning, but it helped to get me up and out. I even drove M. to work. The little puppets were notso hot on this idea, but I was feeling the strength of morning and we managed to get there despite a lot of screeching along the way (“Watch the bicycle, how do men wear these pornographic outfits in this century?” the little ladies commented upon seeing a spandex-clad muscle man, shocked but fascinated in their Ottoman era temperaments). Karagöz just tries to get my goat by calling me a “typical lady driver.” I ask him where he gets this term -as there are no cars in Ottoman times – and he says “watch, learn and listen, m’lady, my intellect will glisten and the television provides many revisions!” Nonsense speak such as his takes time to decode.
Today, at one particularly chaotic moment, everything seemed to slow down as all of my efforts focused on forgetting my meatball sandwich and instead not hitting the parked car I was heading for. I woke up early, ready to meet a colleague before 2 student meetings, a doctor’s appointment and another student meeting after that – all in different locations in my trafficky New England town. Sleepy even after a super venti latte, I downed a Red Bull energy drink. The puppets were up to their usual tricks to keep me awake – pinching body parts, opening the window wide for fresh air shock treatment and screaming punk rock lyrics at the top of his lungs, Karagöz was at the center of it all. As I was chugging the cough-syrupy but enticing and powerful stuff, I remembered a conversation with a student from the previous day…she had caught sight of me downing a Red Bull and said -“Really, Dr. Professor, you are REALLY drinking a Red Bull? I thought only rave kids drank that.” Yup, that’s me, the caffeine addict of the moment, I thought, before I realized I was about to hit a parked car. Narrowly averted, I gripped the wheel, and soothed the terrified puppets splayed all over the car after being thrown off of their perch on top of the back seat. Many were cursing and shaking their fists at me for a bit, but they soon resumed their efforts to shepherd and guide me through my life despite their very different values. The little chorus of dancing ladies, well, they just cannot seem to understand how it is that ladies go out and work – they are doing their best to accept this reality – while secretly scheming for other ways of life to enter in.
I made it to the next stop on my busy agenda without incident. Dragging myself out of there, having promised my nurse practitioner to at least eat a good lunch, full of protein, I stopped in an Italian deli and ordered a meatball submarine sandwich. “Totally un-ladylike, madam, not even good looking köfte, these are.” Kenne’s patience with me was wearing thin. She thought another week of bed rest would be a better option. I ignored her, slumped to the side of the 1980s-decorated vinyl-sided wall, and closed my eyes for a bit, dreaming of her delicious thyme and red pepper-infused lamb meatballs. Once the submarine sandwich was in hand, I dashed to the car to eat my lunch on the way to my next meeting. I do this all the time, but rarely do I dump the whole damned sandwich in between my seat and the gear shift. It happened in slow motion and I – along with the entire puppet troupe – screamed “Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” as it played out perfectly – sauce everywhere.
So, it all got cleaned up. I was a little late to see my student. I didn’t have another accident, but tonight when I got home, the puppets staged an intervention. They have determined, they tell me, that I have to be happy, healthy and safe in life, and something has to change. They are engaging in a morning tea boycott until I can make some healthy choices in my life to get through this Lyme’s recurrence or walking pneumonia or whatever it is…at least until then, if not more, they are adding. They hopped onto my laptop and jumped around on the keys (a great string of them, each on the other’s shoulders, so their wax paper selves would have enough weight to press the keys). They are the ones who found the “modern woman” demotivational poster pictured above. “You don’t want to be that woman!” they tell me, with grave, gravely voices and stern furrowed brows. They are threatening to whisper to M. at night about the benefits of keeping me in a New England-style one-woman harem from now on…it’s getting into serious territory with these tiny wax paper figures in my brain. Something’s gotta give, I guess it’s gotta be the meatball submarine sandwiches while driving…and the public consumption of red bull…and probably a lot more than that. Let’s see what happens.