I've fiddle-faddled with the idea of posting about being a Shimer student and having a chronic illness (mine's rheumatoid arthritis), alternately deciding that it's not appropriate subject matter for the blog and that it's highly appropriate for it. I still don't know, actually, but, as the kids are saying these days, whatevs. In any case, this is not a serious analysis of how I do college with a chronic condition. It's a list of things I do on Thursdays. By way of explanation, Shimer allows you three absences per core class per semester. I ran through those very quickly. I have no classes on Thursday, however, and schedule absolutely nothing but rest on them if possible. I can't schedule flares, or bad days, but if I'm lucky they hit on a Thursday. In any case, this is what I do when I'm home sick or it's a Thursday, whichever. It's also a pretty good cross-section of what I do for fun, which , believe it or not, does exist at Shimer.
This show has eaten entire afternoons of my life.
3. Whine at Eli until he agrees to run to the 7-11 (conveniently located in the MTCC, or that big ugly building under the tube) for some of the overpriced necessities of life, such as ice cream and little notebooks. As my illness will not go away with a jug of orange juice and a few pills, I am under no obligation to eat "healthy food."
4. Amuse myself by poking at swollen joints and counting them. This is strictly useful in terms of charting progression et cetera, but also kind of cool. I am also of course defying the tropes of all of the Humanities 2 readings and neutralizing the morality of my illness by confronting it or something. I do think intelligently about these things, but there has to be a point where theory stops and the relative fun of squishy joints takes over. Words to live by at Shimer, by the way.
5. Gaze pensively at the collage on the wall across from my bed. Living in a studio is handy for that sort of thing -- one of the collages on the wall in our living room is visible from bed, and allows for countless hours of staring at cute animals and pages torn from coloring books. And yes, I swear I'm almost twenty and attending a college that challenges my intellect.
6. Daydream. Mine are long and convoluted and sometimes boring. "Oh, if only I could stand up reliably enough to do the dishes!" I cry. "If only Aristotle had dropped dead at birth!"
7. Pretend I am a devastatingly interesting literary invalid. Unfortunately, my particular illness isn't that awesome. Now, if I had the consumption, that would be a different story, as Sontag knows. Kafka had that, you know, as did Beardsley -- which lends nearly anything credibility. As it is, I share my disease with only Renoir as far as I know in terms of the famous and dead.
8. Read non-Shimer books, even if I have Shimer reading to do. As sick days are basically blacked out of the calendar, I can rationalize this very easily. A few hours of something light can do wonders. In fact, this is a sick day activity I highly recommend, but play it safe and avoid Sontag's Illness as Metaphor (see item seven), as it is not light reading. What light reading means here ranges from Proust (see Katy's post, below) to Lynne Truss. I like Stella Gibbons, currently. If you end up at Shimer, or of course already attend, drop by and I'll lend you Cold Comfort Farm. It's gotten me through a lot of boring invalidism and never gets old.
9. Tea tea and more tea. And some more tea when that's finished. Current on-the-relative-cheap favorites include Twinings Prince of Wales; Choice Organic Russian Caravan (which is pine-smoked); India Breakfast Tulsi Tea (half black tea, half tulsi, an herb native to India); Choice Organic Twig Tea (made of the twigs of the tea plant, this tea tastes mildly of mudpies); and Twinings English Breakfast (the old standby). Ginger-lemon tea does wonders for nausea, as well.
10. Play with Monsieur Pierre, a little stuffed rat from IKEA who is currently our only pet. He speaks every language but English, and with Eli and I speaking varying amounts of French, Spanish, Nahuatl, Russian, and German between us, he is a super-international rat. Привет, my friends, Привет.
Eli and the Monsieur. Guess who is whom.
This concludes my hastily constructed list of what I do for fun when resting. It's got extra veracity because I'm in the middle of a flare right now and everything. I'd appreciate some feedback from you, lovely readers, on whether this is a subject that seems appropriate for the blog. I also welcome any questions, whether about the mechanics of putting stars on a ceiling or about being a Shimer student with a chronic illness. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.