Cabin Fever

“Why’re you getting all dolled up? You going out somewhere?” he asks.

“I get all dolled up every day,” I say, smearing in Nude Beige and brushing Tender Rose on my cheeks. “I may not look like it by the time you get home in the evening, but I do it just the same. Besides, I haven’t been anywhere in three weeks, so why would you think I’m going somewhere now?” I throw a little powder on top of everything and reach for my flat iron before I feel like I’ve sat too long and need to go lie down. Again.

Tomorrow will mark three weeks since I had surgery, an LAVH. The three incisions are for the most part healed, but I still have pain on the inside. My schedule still includes a lot of resting and reclining. I miss being able to bend over and pick up things; I’m tired of picking up things I drop with my toes. I miss being able to lift more than five pounds — like my dog, for example, and a gallon of milk even pulls at the abdominal muscles. I miss my walks. I miss putting the dog on her leash and taking her around the neighborhood — she pulls and the resistance is more than I need. I miss my yard work. I’m at the average halfway recovery point now. I’m ready to be there.

Sometimes I catch myself dancing to the Weather Channel music. That’s pretty sad. I want to do a cartwheel in the fresh grass. I’m getting somewhat impatient. I want to do something.

I have cabin fever. I want to get out and go…somewhere, anywhere. I stand in the driveway and look down the sidewalk and wish to follow it. I want to go to Home Depot or Betty Reed’s Produce and buy flowers and plant them in pots for the patio and front porch, and I need ferns for either side of the front door. I want to go to the Main Street Festival in downtown Franklin this weekend. It’s the first one I’ve missed. I’ll miss the birdhouse exhibit — I buy a new one every spring.

Oh, I’ve had a few outings. I’ve been to Publix twice, tagging along while my husband does all the buying. I drove to the board meeting of the Council for the Written Word, then rushed home to the couch. My husband drove me to Barnes and Noble for Susan Gregg Gilmore‘s signing, and again, I was glad to get back to the couch.

The couch has been my place of comfort over the three-week period. My pillow has become a fixture there, along with a soft silky throw, and I lie there with the dog cuddled at my feet and read. If I weren’t so addicted to my former life of activity, I might be content to just stay there. Truly, I’m thrilled with the reading time. I’ve gone through four books so far: Even Mississippi by Melany Nielson, She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel, The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard, and Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore. I speed-read/skimmed one: Away Down South by James C. Cobb, author of my favorite Mississippi Delta resource, The Most Southern Place on Earth. I’ve kept the Amazon packers busy. Three more books arrived a few days ago (thanks, Sarah!) — all about the Mississippi Delta by Delta authors: Lanterns on the Levee by William Alexander Percy, The Celestial Jukebox by Cynthia Shearer (a novel), and From the Mississippi Delta, A Memoir by Endesha Ida Mae Holland. I’m halfway through the latter, the story of a girl raised in the black community of Greenwood during the late forties, fifties, and sixties during the civil rights struggle. It’s a coming-of-age story, very raw and real — astonishing honesty and candor — enough to break your heart and make your blood boil to see in black and white what it was like for some to grow up there, as some of the rest of us lived there in it all, but didn’t know the full story of the differences between white and black.

For now, I must settle for going to faraway times and places only in the pages I read. I will be a good patient (fingers crossed behind my back) and when it’s all over, I will put on a pair of tight jeans (which won’t be a problem by then) and run across a meadow full of wildflowers, the sun on my face, the wind in my hair. Or at least walk around the block.

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7 Comments on “Cabin Fever”

  1. sarahemc2 says:

    This may just be me, but was She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel really the best choice, given that you’re supposed to be staying ON the couch? I can’t imagine any book making me feel worse–and more likely to end up like the mother in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape–if I were confined to couch-sitting. We’re sorry your stuck, and promise to work harder to entertain you! (I’m speaking for both Sherry and myself here, because I’m presumptuous like that.)

  2. Kathy says:

    Okay, I confess. I’m up and around the house more than I’m on the couch. Don’t tell anyone. I do rest and read, though. She Got Up Off the Couch is sunshine, wine, and roses compared to my other reading. I do, however, like Kimmel’s first memoir — A Girl Named Zippy — better. Geez, I could’ve put that former title to great use in crafting my essay, but I’m not the sharpest tack in the drawer right now.

  3. inktarsia says:

    I’m with ya, Sarah. The ‘Istas to the rescue. Kathy, I notice a little imbalance in your reading selections that might address the ennui:

    1) JoAnn is the only writer orth of the MS state line. For a little more faraway: May I recommend temperate rain forest (This Place on Earth, Alan Durning) or southwest (Anthropology of Turqoise, Ellen Melloy).

    Even better, I’d suggest Helen Hanff (84 Charing Cross Rd) AND the sequel. Got both from my library. Then I rented the movie again. It will restore your passion for pith and the written letter. It will be a shot of tabasco in your cocktail.

    2) Kathy, I’m not seeing any bonbon-worthy fiction genre. It’s commendable to spend time productively, but may I also recommend Martha Grimes, Nevada Barr (nope, stick to books set north of the Mason-Dixon line), Elizabeth Peters. Janet Evanovich #12.

  4. kathyrhodes says:

    Ha! I get your point. But it is all by design, serving as research for my memoir and novel. I’m a little embarrassed that I haven’t already read some of these authors, having grown up with the Percy name. This is an old book. A while back, I spent three years reading only Southern women writers, most of them with first novels. That did make me unbalanced. I’ve read the Helen Hanff books — have them in my library and have also seen the movie. Isn’t that delightful? There’s man here in Nashville who gave me these books; he had actually talked with her on the phone. She autographed his books. Haven Kimmel’s memoir is set in Indiana. That’s the north. But you’re right. After I finish all these Delta books, I’m gonna have a southern accent! Thanks, ‘Istas! Y’all are great. Oops. Yous guys are great. (How do you spell yous?)

  5. inktarsia says:

    Lucky you, to have Duchess Helene on the shelf. Her letters are a few brief lines, but they have whole stories behind them. As a kid I loved the “Ellery Queen” series on TV – I think she wrote the scripts for that.

    Ah! For fun, how ’bout “The Ladies of Missalonghi” by Colleen McCullough, or “The Blue Castle” by L.M. Montgomery. Both have a nearly identical plot (what’s that about, Colleen?) but each with a feisty triumph over what keeps women silent and compliant. Hmm, I sound like a women’s studies major.

    Hankerin’ for that sweet potato casserole from Ajax.

  6. Kathy says:

    And catfish and fried okra! Though I didn’t have okra at Ajax. I recall having a salad with fried catfish strips on top. Thanks for the book suggestions. I’ll put those on my list. First I’ll have to tell you about the new book I ordered…soon.

  7. sarahemc2 says:

    Okay, no talking about Ajax. I’m really trying to stick to my diet… again. But, really, ramps are MEANT to be fried in bacon grease. And now, of course, I have a hankering for fried okra, too. (But Putt and I had the fried pickles one night and they were really kind of awful.)

    Have you read “The Glass Castle?” It has some Kimmel-ish overtones, or at least I thought it did. Not as impressive… I was a little taken aback by how little insite the author seems to have into her past as an adult. But then again, I’m always wanting folk to see the good in the difficult people in their lives, and am always disappointed when the best we get is grudging affection. Others have told me that even the fact that she still loved her parents was a miracle. Feh. OF COURSE she loved her parents. But I don’t think she ever understood them.


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