I am drinking a triumphal cup of tea. A very weak and immensely huge triumphal cup of tea. There is a story behind this cup of tea, and the triumph. A tiny story, but a story.
I’m in the middle of one of my longer migraines. This one is in its fourth day. As migraines go, it’s very mild. I find it hard to see things and almost impossible to sleep, I’m sensitive to sound and my emotional peace fractures easily. I’ve had worse. Much worse. The low pain levels (for a migraine) are due to the wonder of becoming older. Some things improve with age, oddly.
None of this is the story of my triumph. It’s the backstory.
I have lost so much worktime to this migraine that I had begun fretting about deadlines. I have a thesis to finish: the biggest chapter was supposed to be in a complete draft by Monday, and where I am it’s Tuesday. I need to get some edits to an editor (who else would one send edits to?) urgently, and can’t find a bio to go with the edits. I have a really cool piece to write in the next two days. And I have a short story to finish. I need to deal with 100 emails by bedtime tonight. Plus, as soon as I finish that chapter, I’m onto the next one. This PhD is in its final months and deadlines aren’t as porous as they once were.
Now you have most of the backstory. I’ve brought you to 4 am today, when I finally admitted that the migraine would not go away and that I had to find a way to deal.
The triumph is perfectly simple. Skip most of today, and let’s move to ten minutes ago.
I have a section of a bookshelf. It holds maybe 80 books and is ¼ of the whole (very large) bookshelf. This section is my working shelf for any research. It had gaps and space because I had not yet returned all the books for this chapter. I have finished with all but one book and the shelves are very full. One day I’ll have to return the books I won’t need again for this project to their real homes on other shelves, but right now I only have one book to return and two tiny sections of the chapter to write up and lo, I’m caught up with one big deadline.
I needed something to take the edge of the migraine before I delve into the last two thousand words, and the triumphal cuppa is that something. Small things matter. So do the simple tasks that enable one to work through this lesser-stage of such a long migraine.
I was going to tell you about a cousin of mine today. A folk dance teacher who taught people to deal with problems of right and left foot by wearing different coloured socks and shoes. On the day I heard he died, I watched Easter Parade with a friend. The “I do not know my right from my left” made its appearance there, hours before I heard the sad news. I haven’t seen Robin for years, but as soon as this migraine is past, I shall dance something in his honour: it will be a short and simple dance because dancing is difficult for me these days, but it will be joyous. We talked about death many years ago, you see, and Robin wanted people to dance joyously when he died. I told him that same day, that I wanted to be remembered with stories. I wanted friends to get together and talk and eat and laugh and tell stories. I shall miss him.