I can't believe I haven't been here since the end of February. I apologize to all my regular readers. What have I been doing? The first thing that comes to my mind is I've been living my life which, by the way, has gotten somewhat hectic. No, I haven't stopped writing. I've managed to fit that in whenever I have time to sit down.
I'm still running my business, although the house is still up for sale and I hope to be living in Vermont by next year at this time. The bed and breakfast started getting really busy again the end of January. It stayed that way through most of May. But has begun to slow down again. We got through the Kentucky Derby with two new helpers. The employee thing has been in flux since John quit last Christmas. Hoping it'll stabilize soon.
I am still working on re-writing the first three chapters of my memoir, Operatic Divas and Naked Irishmen. It is definitely getting better, but still is not where I want it. I've included excerpts from my first chapter below
Operatic Divas and Naked Irishmen
The Big Move
I walked toward the windows at the front of the apartment as sunlight from the living room began to creep into the dim hallway, falling on the glossy hard wood floors that extended straight ahead and throughout the entire apartment.
“Yeah, I’m gonna start my second career” I laughed a little nervously as I told him.
“Bet you’ll be glad to get away from the little darlings?’
“ Not really, Mario. I’ll probably miss everyone like crazy.” Mario and I never socialized outside of school, although I wouldn’t have been against gazing into his dark brown Italian eyes at dinner in some nice restaurant. But we took breaks together at school and talked about the kids a lot. I loved being a teacher and was always thinking up ways to entice them to learn.
“What are you going to do in Louisville? You bought a house there, right?” Angie said.
“Yeah, a beautiful, Victorian, like the ones down on Fullerton Avenue. Only those in Louisville are a lot cheaper. But just as big.”
“ How big?”
“Almost forty five hundred square feet. Five bedrooms and three baths.”
“And you’re gonna live there all by yourself? Marcie’s eyes widened.Saturday at 9:11am · Like · 4
“A bed and breakfast?” everyone said in chorus. You would have thought I’d said I was jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge.
“I never heard you talk about wanting a bed and breakfast,” Angie said.
“Me neither.” By now I had the attention of the whole room.
“I never really thought about owning one until I saw this house,” I said.
“You mean you’ve decided to open a bed and breakfast cause you want a Victorian house? Marcie asked.”
“Yeah, she’s crazy, right?” Mario looked straight at me and winked.
“I am not. This is a brilliant idea. I can live in a beautiful, historic home and make some money at the same time. The business will pay for the mortgage.
“I didn’t know you knew how to run a bed and breakfast.” someone across the room said, with a smile and a modicum of sarcasm.
“Well, actually I don’t, but how hard can it be?” I said, trying to convince myself. I had a very romantic notion of what a bed and breakfast was and had no idea it was a business. I know, unbelievable for someone who’s supposed to be fairly intelligent. But stupid or not, I was doing it. I was such a risk taker, the thought of doing it excited the hell out of me.
I did not quit school and go into cancer treatment hibernation. I continued as planned. Every day, for eight weeks, I went to the Michael Reese Cancer Center for radiation in the early morning, took classes at the university in the afternoon, and worked as a teaching assistant, in the evenings. That’s how I had always handled unpleasant things. I threw myself into the solution or the business at hand, or just went into denial for a period of time and dealt with the aftermath later. I’d gotten very good at it over the years. I was great in a crisis.
I spent most of my recuperation period alone. Although Kylie had taken me to the hospital for my biopsy and lumpectomy, she did not offer to help in any way afterward, nor did she call to see how I was doing. In many ways, I wasn’t surprised. Thank God for Kristie, who called and emailed on a regular basis and let me know frequently how concerned she was. In fact she offered to make the trip from Austin, where she lived, to Chicago to be with me a while. But, as usual, I preferred to handle the situation alone.
The radiation was scary to me, so I helped myself through the fear and anger by drawing pictures of "The Radiation Team from Hell.” They sat hunched over on motor cycles wearing helmets and goggles and looking fierce as they came after me dead on. I pasted them on the wall over my dissertation desk and talked to them disparagingly every day. Somehow, this diffused their power over me…a technique I learned while reading how psycho-therapists treated patients with panic attacks. As usual, I got myself though another traumatic ordeal.
My cancer was only stage one, so fortunately they got it all with a lumpectomy and I hadn‘t needed chemo. I treated myself to the summer in Africa. It was very expensive, but I’ve never regretted it. It took me away from the angst of a year of studying, teaching, and cancer. And it helped with the depression that came once that year ended and my mental state plunged.
I went on Safari, gorilla trekking, and sight seeing…from Kenya to Tanzania. to Lake Kivu, Burundi, Zaire, and Rwanda. Over that summer, my state of mind gradually stabilized. When I returned to Chicago, I was ready for another year of teaching choral music, and Chaucer to high school kids. I was glad to get back to teaching. I loved it, and it took my mind off of everything else.
I finished checking the apartment for things the movers might have left behind and looked out the window again. This time they were gone, on their way to Louisville, Kentucky. I hated to leave this place but decided I better get on the road. It was a five to six hour drive straight down I-65 and I wanted to get there before dark....