when to stick your nose in the lilacs

by bam

antibiotics are one thing. they work, as i’ve seen zillions of times, when your throat is raw as if sandpaper-rubbed.

they manage to quash all sorts of bugs. the ones that bring fevers deep in the night, the ones that make bones feel practically poisoned, what with all of the aching and all of the shaking.

oh, they might come in horse-pill dimensions. or in thick goopy glop that your children must swallow, after they’ve scared you with all of their gagging.

unfortunately, all of life’s pains are not the bacterial kind.

every once in a while the wallop is brought by nerves that are shot. so tired. so spent. so flat-out-of-steam.

it’s been one of those weeks around here. make that, one of those months. oh, go wild, call it one of those schoolyears.

in simple declarative terms it is this: junior year of high school, at Big Pressure High, when the course load is thick, is intense, is wholly immense.

without spelling out the hair-pulling moments, without counting off the nights without sleep, let’s assume for the sake of discussion that there have been plenty of both.



heck, whole pyrenees ranges, stretching clear to barcelona.

and as i sit here typing, i have reason to think that phase one of the torture might just have lurched to a close. a young lad i happen to know, one 6-2 and counting, he is, at this very hour, lifting the flap on his messenger sack, extracting 12 pages of thesis from there in the depths, and plopping said load on the desk of his teacher.

no more worrying about that.

the junior theme, now typed, paper-clipped, bibliographed, is checked off the life list.

and so, people, we inch our aching, tired, slumping mortal frames into recovery phase.

there is only so much of a siege that one little house can endure.

and the typing all night seems to have hushed. i hear only the sound of my keys, the ones at the ends of my bone-tired fingers. there’s nary an echo from that room up above.

how then does one begin to salve the worn-ragged nerves of a parental unit (a pair of those, thanks be to God) now spiraling down from highest alert?

one begins, i suppose, by emergency airlift to the grocery store. who let the milk jug run dry? and where is the bread to smear with the butter that’s nowhere in sight?

why, lordy, this cottage has gone to the dogs.

everywhere i look i see blackened nibs of eraser. crumpled up bundles of paper. the evidence of a house stumbling through finals.

no, wait, the finals aren’t yet.

that’s phase two of the torture.

but for now, for this one brief moment in time, we are here at the end of our rope. ooops, i mean, grind. the agony is, for the weekend at least, temporarily lifted.

and i’ve 48 hours to pull it together. to fill up the fridge. to soak in the tub. to indulge in the alka-seltzer fizz that comes with returning to normal.

okay, so it’s relative normal. (and might look to you, if you peer through the windows, just this side of hysterically nutty.)

take a deep breath, dears.

ah, yes.

what’s ahead of me now, as i sit here and practice the fine art of breathing, is a day of unscheduled calm. block after block in the appointment book left utterly blissfully blank. (who knew if we’d be screeching the car to the curb, as we delivered the paper, with seconds to spare? a trick i’ve perfected, learned back in the day when the name on the paper was mine.)

the task that’s upon me, you see, is to prop myself up like a couch pillow, one that’s been thumped with a fist.
i need here some restorative tricks. the emotional equivalent of a russian masseuse to bang on my door and order me down on the rug.

i’ll begin, i suppose, by sticking my nose in the lilacs.

my dear blessed mother, she left me a jar by the sink. she’d gotten a call from deep in my darkest hour. when i was nearly at wit’s end with this paper that would not get done, and the distress was starting to steam from the holes in my ears.

she did what mamas do: she listened, and hmmm’d, she attempted to soothe. then she went to her yard and snipped off the necks of an armload of lilac.

perhaps, like the nosegays of victorian times, the ones whose primary purpose was eclipsing the bodily odors, i ought to pin on a clump, somewhere up by my collar. perhaps a walking stalk of lilac would keep me from feeling so woozy.

and perhaps after that i’ll head out for some trowel therapy. that always works, to dig in the mud. and today, with the rain, it is muddy. the ooze might do me some good.

a tall mug of soup would be fine. one that’s laced with herbs from my garden. the chives at the moment are wholly in bloom, and carry a stiffening bite.

a trip to the farmer’s market is surely on the docket. as is a sacred shabbat after sundown, and a whole afternoon to prepare.

i am blessed, utterly, truly, to have at my reach a whole apothecary of emotional fixes and soothers of nerves.

i do believe that what’s ordered is a day of whispering quiet. i will tick through my thanks for getting at last to this day, one circled in red on my calendar.

and as i wrap my tired aching self in a blanket of vespers i will putter around, putting myself back together again.
so that when monday rolls around, i’ll be primed for the slam of phase two, the torture continues.

what are the fix-its that line the shelf of your emotional apothecary? what do you do to recover from an overdose of stress, and too many sleepless nights?