Christmas is coming along nicely. I've got swollen glands, a sore throat, headache and dizziness. Cancel the parties, throw on the 'I'm-at-home-feeling-ill-all-enveloping-robe-thing, hunker down into the sofa and complain to The Poet from time to time about my aches and pains. Please note, this requires sympathy only from him, since everyone else seems to be getting the same bug, and anyway, compared with...hill of beans...and so forth (is Casablanca on the telly this year?). Moreover, my feeling poorly strategies are very similar to how I spend every day - cancel parties, robe-thing, hunker down and complain.
The plan is to work on Christmas. The Poet is writing the index to his Guernica book and I'm writing a piece on virtual life for the LRB. We'll stop and eat some roast pork from time to time and then watch movies (or better still the CSI or Monk Christmas Special). And all around there will be that amazing peopleless silence of everyone having gone home to somewhere else. Perfect. There was a suggestion from The Poet in the Autumn of not giving presents to each other because we already had everything and we're far too old to need symbolic gifts, and I agreed, until a great sadness overcame me at the beginning of the month and I had to confess I wanted a present and that if I didn't get one I'd fall into a great well of something dark that goes back to way back when. In fact, I'm simply irredeemably materialistic. I need regular treats or I can't be sure I'm alive. I am a woman of no substance. I've always said so, but people choose to believe that it's some charming conceit of mine. It's true that the brighter you shine the light on the grim truth, the more people laugh gaily and exclaim how witty, indeed how wonderful, you are. The more you explain that you aren't, that you are speaking the simple unedifying truth, the more they shake their heads in admiration.
It's the same thing with my writing books. 'No,' I moan. 'I know the other books turned out more or less OK, but this time it's different.' And The Poet (or The Daughter) replies, 'Yeah, yeah...' 'No, this is serious. I mean it. And why shouldn't it be true?' 'Why should it?' they say, and get on with their own lives for all the world as if mine were not much more important.
I've never understood how people have the confidence to apply probability theory to their own lives. They assume that if it hasn't happened X times, it probably won't now. (Doubtless, I've got probability theory entirely wrong.) But why shouldn't it? Or why if something is only a 1000/1 chance shouldn't it happen to me this time? Who knows if it already hasn't happened 999 times already? This must be a bone deep understanding of the nature of things. You either assume if it can happen it will - or you assume it won't. I have an innate knowledge of the one rather than the thousand. It may strike you that I'm making the assumption that the one is always a negative event.
Well, of course it is.
On the other hand in far-away Canada, my seven year old friend Cuan is reading Metamorphosis and laughing his head off at it, which cheers me up no end.