That lingering cough I had two weeks ago turned out to be acute bronchitis. I was coughing so violently that my kidney hurt, and by late Tuesday night the pain was rippling up my whole left side—chest and back. As a precaution, I went to the emergency room. X-rays looked fine; the doctor said I’d likely pulled a muscle between my ribs, and it was tugging on my chest wall. She prescribed ibuprofen for the pain and a course of antibiotics for the cough, which is just beginning to lift. This weekend I was finally able to sleep through the night.
Not the only cloud that’s lifting. The electrical work at the house is, as of yesterday, done. The HVAC and plumbing are almost there too—only the water heater and some duct work in the attic remain. All should be complete by the final building inspections this Wednesday, and the last bank inspection will happen shortly thereafter. Julia and I have been bringing over carloads of belongings from my parents’ house. A couple nights ago, we peeled the protective blue film off of the appliances.
I’ve also been reading more. Significantly more. When visiting schools, I tell students that there’s nothing that more makes me want to write than reading books I love. A lot of times when I’m stuck, it’s because I haven’t read anything that’s moved me, anything that’s made me go, I want to write stories that do for others what this did for me. Writer’s block is very often reader’s block.
I forget my own advice. Especially lately, being sick, juggling the work on the house and work on the manuscript, my afternoons were full and I was so exhausted before bed that when I tried to read, I’d only get a couple pages before falling asleep. There was a time, a few years ago, when I had a habit of reading first thing in the mornings while I drank my tea or coffee. It set the tone for the day and stretched my sense of time, made me feel less hurried. Here was this thing—reading—that I had no obligation to do, that to do in mornings felt like a luxury. Yet in hindsight, it was no less vital, no less essential, than the “real work” of committing words to a page.
Somewhere along the way I’d lost that habit, and I’m just now finding it again.