Wednesday, January 25, 2012

put a jar of Vicks on it

Regardless that Portland is the hippest thing since sliced tofu (even though Brooklyners beg to differ), when the end of January comes along it's always clear that I live in the valley of death. Oh, sure, there's a bit of Old Wives Tale in that adage about Willamette Valley's Native American translation, but if you look around at the pallid faces, the wadded Kleenex, the lines at the supermarket pharmacies--you'll have to concede that when it comes to prolonged post-nasal drip, the Pacific Northwest rules.

The stack of medicines in the photo? Currently, they are the regime of my husband, but we like to play "tag--you're it" with our winter crud, so next week, I'm sure it'll be me squeezing saline into my brain via clogged nasal passages. I'll be the one hacking up phlegm at 3 in the morning.

Ten years ago, I was writer-in-residence at Fishtrap. With two of my three kids, I ventured to the Wallowas for the winter to hole up in a riverside cabin to write and teach. Idyllic, yes? Well, sure, sort of. The writing, teaching and out-in-nature part was terrific. The not-so-terrific part was that my kids were sicker out there than they've ever been. Infections, febrile seizure-inducing fevers, trips to the emergency room via ambulance, cool compresses and hot toddies. There was this Little House on the Prairie feel, complete with aggressive deer that attacked us with their craven hoofs as we made our way to the minivan, my 2-yr-old swaddled in a quilt.

Thankfully, this neighborhood I live in now has a dearth of deer--aggressive or otherwise. (Though our local coyotes and raccoons take down the occasional backyard chicken.) What we do have is plenty of mucus. Less dramatic than toddlers and fevers, but annoying, gross, and tenacious. The plus side? More downtime (aka writing time). The silver-lining on winter blech is word count (but remember to wash your hands before touching your keyboard)!


  1. Oh yuck! That is the downside. Here, it's allergies. Especially this year with the crazy warm weather. We already have daffodils and tulips in full bloom.

    I have to say, this title made me laugh out loud. Brilliance.

  2. Oh Lisa! I would trade our spate of 37 and rainy for flowers and hay fever any day. Well, except in June, July and August. Daffodils and tulips--really?? Wow! The only thing blooming in my yard right now is day-glo mold sprouting from my lopsided Christmas wreath.

  3. Well, I'm impressed you can write with head clogged. I was down for about three weeks with bronchitis and felt complete void of a creative thought. Mostly amazed at how creative my body could be in humbling me by getting so sick when I fancy myself as being so healthy.

  4. But then you get in that feverish space that's not unlike being drugged out on your characters, right? Where your novel-in-progress floats in and out of your dazed, half-conscious head? Of course, it's true, when I feel like that I usually just sleep--and dream that I actually wrote...


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