Monday, December 13, 2004

My Dear, I'm Still Here

No, children, I'm not dead... I only wish I were. This chest-cold is lingering, or should I say malingering, and I am really tired of it. Tired from it. Tired because of it. Just tired. If you know the words, go ahead and sing along.

On the other hand, though my throat is raw and my sleep is disturbed and the Robitussin is giving me the most atrocious gas, all this coughing is doing my abs no end of good. I nearly have a waist again! And it tends to suppress the appetite, so I've also lost another two and a half pounds this week, despite going rather spectacularly off my diet on Saturday. So I guess it's not all bad.

Besides, I have spent so much time at home (if raucous lung-hacking coughs aren't enough to ruin your social life, horrific what-crawled-up-your-ass-and-died gas certainly will) that I have been able to get some good solid writing work done. I posted a finished chunk to Worst Luck just now, so you can go read it. I still haven't quite gotten to the end of the chapter, or maybe I will start the next bit as a new chapter. I don't know yet. But it felt like a good stopping-place, so I stopped and posted. Let me know what you think.

But I haven't been completely devoted to the Muse these last few days. On Saturday, for example, Caroline took me to Santana Row for window-shopping and dinner for my birthday (which isn't for another two and a half weeks, but Caroline can't be with me that day because she's working, and so we had it early). We had a grand time touring shops full of merchandise we couldn't possibly afford and so were not tempted to spend, though Caroline did take time to try on two cocktail suits at the St. John boutique (which was beautifully decorated and just a little bit intimidating). And not all of the shops were out of our range, I actually got my Christmas shopping started with cute and unusual gifts at good prices for the Grandmother (she's impossible to shop for) and my coworker JB.

I really enjoy rummaging among really expensive things that I can't buy. Luxury goods are just so... luxurious. Simply running your hand over the toe of a man's boot at Gucci or over the back of a superbly laquered antique Chinese chair at Kim3 (either of which would bust both my credit-cards) gives me a thrill that is sensuous to the point of being nearly sexual. And with high-end designer clothing and furniture, I am fascinated by the detail-work... for example, I spent a good ten minutes figuring out how the ruffles were attached on an unspeakably gorgeous ice-blue silk blouse at Escada.

So anyway, after fondling many tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, Caroline and I had our dinner at Maggiano's Little Italy, where the food was plentiful and good... but mostly plentiful. Caroline is a glutton, as she will be the first to admit, and is unnaturally impressed by being served too much food at once, so we ordered the Family Dinner Special where you choose two from each category of dinner — two appetizers, two pastas, two vegetables, two entrees, and two desserts — and share them all, family-style; but although we picked at each other's food, since there were two of us and two choices in each course, we just got things for ourselves.

However, there is no way in the world you can expect one person to eat one of each of these, the portions are unspeakably huge, and so leftovers are pretty much de rigeur... so much so that they even have special bags for them. Caroline (who'd eaten here before and was an old hand) ordered things that she knew her boyfriend would like, since she knew she wouldn't be able to eat them all there, glutton or no... she just isn't big enough. Nobody could eat that much food, unless they'd been in training for years.

I did a pretty good job of trying, though, repeating the mantra of "slow and steady wins the race," which got me through my Thanksgiving dinner. Being on a diet, I feel like I have to make a special effort at eating hugely and well when I go off the diet... I mean, if you're going to do something like cheat on a diet, you want to get as much into the experience as you can. Analogously, if you're going to cheat on your partner, you want to do it with someone hot, and you want to fuck as much as possible before you go home... cheating isn't worth it if you're just going to have a quick fumble in the backroom. The same with food — no point in cheating with just a cookie scarfed down on the sly, you want to go the way of the Roman Emperors and eat more than you ever thought possible.

So I put away two dozen steamed mussels swimming in butter and herbs, some taboo but tasty cheese-toast, half of an enormous Caesar salad (I had to stop when the dressing started tasting too fishy), six vast raviolis filled with veal and mushrooms swimming in cream sauce, half of an impressive slab of grilled salmon on a bed of garlic arugala (I brought the other half home), an entire bunch of asparagus drizzled in warm oil with flakes of romano cheese, some of Caroline's shrimp and a couple of stalks of the broccoli destined for her boyfriend, and a truly epic dessert of profiteroles (puff pastry filled with ice cream and drizzled with chocolate and covered in the most amazing cocoa-dusted whipped cream). And since this dinner was in honor of my birthday, the dessert came with candles... though at my express request, nobody sang.

I won't tell you what I wished for, unless it comes true.

What's funny, though, is that looking at the list above, not much of it wasn't on my diet... everything is allowed except the cheese-toast, the pasta, and the dessert. And the pasta wasn't all that pasta-y, anyway, it was mostly meat and cream... fatty certainly, but not starchy, and starch is the villain.

It wasn't so funny later that night, when I tried to go to sleep with all that sugar and fat running riot through my system as my diet-inured digestive tract wrestled with that lucullan feast. I was so high on the sugar that I didn't get to sleep until after two, and then woke up at five-thirty with indigestion, and didn't get back to sleep again until about half an hour before Grandmother called me to get up for church.

As you can imagine, I was miserable... three and a half hours of sleep on top of a chest cold, and I was a little constipated, and didn't eat breakfast. And then the gas really got started. So I left Grandmother at the service, got a scone and a nonfat latte from Starbuck's and came back, and dozed in the car for an hour or so (with the window cracked). The coffee got me "regular" again, which sent me hurtling into the church restroom, and the scone and milk settled my stomach; the dozing helped too, and then after church ended and we went to eat brunch (eggs and sausage, nice and simple) I felt much better.

Still, "much better" wasn't good enough to go out and honor my commitments to the shows I'd intended to do. I made a few phone calls and begged off, on the grounds that aside from being utterly miserable myself, I was also emitting foul odors that would make everyone else miserable. Cookie was very understanding, and though the other calls were never returned, I assume they understood, too. Nobody wants a coughing flatulent drag-queen in their midsts.

I eventually settled into the couch to suffer in front of the television. I don't know what it is, but when I'm tired and sick, I am far too emotionally vulnerable to Cuteness. I found myself watching a double-feature on ABC Family that, in normal circumstances, I would have avoided like the plague: Eloise at the Plaza and Eloise at Christmastime. I was sucked in, though, by the presence of the divine Julie Andrews, the exquisite Christine Baranski, and the deliciously and adorably sexy (to me) Gavin Creel... not to mention the gorgeous Plaza Hotel, in which both movies were shot; and before I knew it, I had succumbed to the mischievous but optimistic and generous charms of Eloise, and found myself kvelling up with happy tears at the end of each movie. The Christmas one was especially sappy, I actually sobbed a bit at the end.

I was so embarrassed with myself that I got up and left the room, starting to work again on Worst Luck and leering over the beefcake at Most Sexy Guys before I finally went back to bed and got some sleep.

Today I felt no better, but I went to work anyway and, after delivering my flyers and before doing some word-processing for my boss, I got some more writing and leering done. Then after work (I skipped the gym, I didn't think I could walk a treadmill without coughing up a lung) I took Grandmother shopping at Long's for stocking-stuffers and other various and sundry... then came back here and finished the chunk that you will no doubt be reading as soon as you're finished here. Won't you!

Well, the hour is getting late again, my children, and I'm too sick to stay up. So I shall bid you a gaspy adieu, and talk to you again soon!

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