I did such a stupid thing tonight! I put something on the stove, and promptly forgot about it. Of course it started to smoke, which set off the fire alarm. Since I live in faculty housing at the university, my apartment is alarmed in the same way as a university dorm. Do you remember the nights when the dorm fire alarms went off, and we all had to file outside in our pajamas? I’m sure every university student has to go through that at least once. It’s a rite of passage.
The problem was, I couldn’t get the alarm to turn off again. It just kept beeping, in that incredibly loud, industrial, university fire alarm way. There’s a button you can push to turn the alarm off, but it wasn’t working. So I had to call building maintenance. The maintenance man came in about half an hour, but in the meantime, I put Persephone the Cat in the bathroom, which was the quietest part of the apartment, since I didn’t want the alarm to hurt her sensitive ears. And I went out into the hall, to escape from it myself.
That did give me an opportunity to meet my upstairs neighbor, a lovely woman who lives in the beautiful nineteenth-century apartment above me. She’s a Trustee of the university, and a friend of Elie Wiesel, and when she mentioned that she had met Katie Couric at a graduation event, I mentioned that I had met her too, at a cocktail party, since I had worked for the same firm as her husband. (She is much smaller than you would think, but just as perky.) So there was a silver lining to that particular cloud (of smoke).
This experience has led me to formulate a principle for myself: When you’re tired, don’t cook. Make yourself a cheese sandwich, eat a cereal bar, cut up an apple . . . But don’t turn the stove on!
The central problem is that I’m exhausted. There’s just so much work to get done, and it’s going to be like this for the next six weeks or so. After that, I will only be teaching three classes, rather than the current four, and my schedule will get easier. And then the summer will come, and I will be traveling around Europe in my usual way, going wherever I wish, seeing whatever I wish to see, meeting people. That will be lovely . . .
This is all worthwhile, all worth the exhaustion, because I’m in the process of changing my life into the one I want to live. I just have to remember, in the meantime, to take care of myself as much as I can. Which leads me to another principle for myself:
While creating the life you want to live, try not to kill yourself.
I’m tempted to post two pictures that I posted earlier on Facebook. Should I? Yes, I think I will. The first picture is one I took of myself last week. It’s of me completely exhausted, taken in the bathroom mirror.
The second one is of my street in Budapest. Yes, that’s Múzeum Utca, with the park around the Nemzeti Múzeum to the left, and the California Coffee Company on the corner. That’s where I go for my latte and free wifi in the mornings, and for a sour cherry brownie when I’m craving one . . .
I’m in the process of rearranging my schedule and my life, and this is the hard part. But eventually, it will all have been so very worthwhile . . . (I just have to not kill myself in the process.)