November 9th, 2011

Harriet Vane

"the sleepless night, which was the tax for such an evening ..."

Dear friends and readers,

My header is taken from Austen's Emma: it's the narrator's description of Emma on the night of her engagement to Mr Knightley after she has gone to bed:  "and in the course of the sleepless night, which was the tax for such an evening, she found one or two such very serious points to consider, as made her feel, that even her happiness must have some alloy ...."

All this is to say that two days ago I broke out in the worst case of hives I've had in years.  I knew my skin on my feet and legs and behind my knees was itchy while at the EC/ASECS conference, but had not realized the extent of it until I got home Tuesday and saw what my scratching had done.  I was flashing with it, made nervous, felt hectic. I found my old Benadryl and took two pills, tried to buy more but discovered that (as with Deconamine), because insurance companies fear suit if the tiny percentage of desperately poor people turning anti-histamines into a drug kill someone or themselves, I like thousands others am to be deprived of this strong essential help against an allergic reaction.  I had to do something and took two more pills.  And that konked me out for hours -- not having had any for years (literally).

I woke with quiet skin, some places with light rashes on my body, but if I could stop scratching I could control it.

What brought it on -- about 7 to 8 weeks of intense emotional turmoil within due to good (I want to stress this) good changes in my private life.  It began with my mother's cleaning woman, Irene, calling me to say my mother had gone missing from her phone, and culminated in this past weekend's active mostly very happy (for me) conference.  I played a major role in half of Dryden's Marriage a La Mode (the comic half), chaired a panel (not very well, I flubbed the introductions and was without poise), dined and wined with kind friends who mean a lot to me.  I enjoyed all the sessions very much and as at Bethlehem, you'd think someone had my interests in mind. Then it was Burney; this time professional women, actresses, memoirs. One paper by Temma Berg was especially good: I began to like Elizabeth Hamilton's book, or will try it again.  I'll write about these at Ellen and Jim Have a Blog, Two.  The only thing I didn't do was dance.  (Alas.)  In-between news of Caroline again (scheduled for a serious operation!) and Yvette's job actually a self-respecting decently paid one coming within reach (or so it appears) after all my efforts.  if you had watched me during any of this (except maybe the play acting), you'd have said what a quiet comfortable life she leads; but you'd have been wrong. I was in a state of intense excitement in my way.  I was told I looked elegant! It must have been the lovely shoes and hat.

I'm sleeping badly too, at most 4 to 5 hours a night, and even those very light sleep.  My unconscious wakes me with these dreams that are realistic re-enactments of something that occurred in my past, deep past and just this past week or so. So I read for a couple of hours a night; that's how I knocked off Sarah Waters's Affinity, and am now into Mary Nash's superb The Provoked Wife: Life and Times of Susannah Cibber.

During the day all fine. Today it was just beautiful with variegated colored parasols for trees. Morning light back again.

Gentle reader, as I'm typing this I want you to know my toes are itching me.

Quiet surfaces yes. There's a passage in Johnson's Rasselas which is probably a propos about how the most satisfying of experiences has its undercurrent of distress and melancholy, but I'm not good at calling passages up from my memory. It was Miss Shuster-Slatt who remembered the line from Emma for me. I should probably ask my good friend, RJ, for the Rasselas passage.

Sylvia (trying hard not to scratch around her waist) glass of wine in hand, looking for a good film adaptation to sink into


11/10/11: Journalizing: the hives are back again tonight more strongly than they were on Tuesday. I've taken two more of the Benadryls and swathed my skin in a cream. I'll buy more cream tomorrow. I've a runny nose and took Claritin-D for that.  How others manage in this life I don't know.  Now I'm shivering; my throat is parched, yet I was hot before.  Time for another movie.