Recovering from derailment

I am rehabilitating this day, and hopefully also this week! Is that a weird statement? Yes, almost certainly, but I figure if I keep repeating it to myself, perhaps I can manifest it.

So, my “savor the Christmas season” project was derailed almost immediately. I woke up disgruntled a week ago on the 30th because I hadn’t slept enough, and I still had not made it through my mammoth to-do list that I wanted to have out of the way so I could focus on Enjoying the Holidays. (Will I ever learn to make a list that is actually manageable in the time I have? It’s not looking likely. Sigh.) Anyway. I was already disgruntled and sleepy despite a very satisfactory time putting up our Christmas tree the day before. (In fact, it was probably because of that – I knowingly chose to stay up an hour past when I wanted to in order to finish the tree, but I sort of regretted it in the morning.)

By the end of last Tuesday, though, I no longer regretted it, because Trauma was coming down the pike to squash my holiday mood: exhibit a) my father received a letter from his doctor noting a possible lesion on a lung. This news instantly sucked all of the air out of my own lungs and sent my brain careening off into a ‘what if this is our last Christmas together’ tailspin. Exhibit b) I was informed that a colleague of mine, age 49, had passed away. This also punched all the air right out of my lungs, my sails, my day, etc. I mean, how do you respond to that? I drove home in a daze, shared this info with the partner, and I don’t remember much else except feeling hollow. (I should note, I didn’t know this colleague particularly well – only met online a couple of times and in person once – but she seemed like a lovely person and of course the tragedy and proximity of it punches you in the gut regardless, right?)

The next day was a haze of alternately feeling normal and alternately wanting to burst into tears. That Friday, the boyfriend very kindly met me in Parma after work so that we could attend the above-mentioned colleague’s rosary service, since I wasn’t free to go to the funeral the day after. I finished work at 4:30, and we actually had a really pleasant time walking around Parma, admiring the Christmas lights, and shopping for his mother’s Christmas present. Intermittently, though, I would remember why we were really there and sadness would wash over me. Seems appropriate, though.

We did discover a nice little place to eat while waiting for the service to start, though, and made a note to return there under happier circumstances. Related: I discovered a useful trick for Italian restuarants. They are structured so that you can either get a “primo” (first course, usually pasta- or rice-based), “secondo” (second course, usually meat-based), or both. Secondi are usually accompanied by a “contorno” (side dish, usually vegetables, with various options available for you to choose from and pair with whatever your meat dish is). Now, if you are just feeling like vegetables or something light, there is no obvious option… until recently a friend demonstrated to me that you can actually just order two contorni. So here, I ordered a side dish of braised seasonal vegetables (delicious) and one of roast potatoes. Win!

Why am I talking about food options when someone is dead, and her 11-year-old daughter is now motherless, and my father might have a lung lesion? I really do not know.

Anyway, the weekend involved a day of Red Cross volunteering (quiet shift, lots of time to read, actually) and afternoon sofa time (always especially blissful after a morning Red Cross shift, since you’re coming off of having had to wake at 5 a.m.!), a birthday party I was honestly too tired to enjoy, and a cozy day of baking cookies with the boyfriend, slightly marred by a headache. We also watched The Holiday (very good movie for a snuggly day at home!) and later I enjoyed a quiet evening of pumpkin soup and Never Have I Ever and a long Facetime catch up with an old friend as the boyfriend went to work. All in all a good weekend, though overshadowed by recent events and the sense of headaches wasting my precious time on this earth.

Yesterday, though, was annoying. I came home from work tired and laden with a long to-do list, and was hoping for some relaxing time and then some quiet cookie-baking time (we had to finish from the weekend) with the boyfriend, but instead he had invited friends over for tea and cookies. (You think British people love afternoon tea? Italians also have a very specific and well-loved concept of “te con biscotti”. NB “biscotti” just means “cookies” in Italian, not specifically the long, thin, rock-hard items that we Americans refer to as biscotti.) This was nice in theory, but I was not expecting to need to socialize after work, and I was also really looking forward to just me and him baking time. Instead, I ploughed on, rolling out and baking the cookies, while he and our friends (who are also his colleagues) talked about work. There was nothing wrong with it in theory, but it put me in a bad mood.

I also woke up this morning tired and in a bad mood and running late, per usual. I had translations to cram in before teaching and I hadn’t slept enough and I was still stuck on the idea that if we just hadn’t had friends over yesterday, it would have all been much easier. (What can I say – sometimes my brain gets stuck). So. I am now rehabilitating this day. I had a restorative lunch involving a salmon poke bowl and watching the Babysitters’ Club on my phone, ploughed through to-do list items and teaching four classes, and am now home and ready to chug through a few more much-hated to-do activities: recording summary videos for past lessons. After that, though, a cozy dinner with the boyfriend and an episode of Casa de Papel await me as a reward. Not to mention the satisfaction of having gotten so many things done. Go! go! go!

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