One of the nicest things
about home improvement is that it’s not self improvement.
Sure, our homes store
our selves along with our stuff, and they reflect our personalities, for better
or worse (Does your apartment have a Closet of Doom too?), but they aren’t the
My self won’t leave me alone, but my apartment, mercifully, has
doors (Maxwell, don’t you ever miss your doors?). People are messy and fragile,
but most apartment projects–for us renters anyhow–never go too far
awry. That terrible pink was painted over in a snap–would that all my bad haircuts,
decisions, memories, could be covered over so easily. Some things–favorite
sweatpants, special mug–need no improvement–and others–head colds, heart-ache–just
have to run their course.
When it’s February 18th and I still haven’t written
my thank you notes, my easy chair accepts me anyway. Frankly, my interest in
the gym is waning, and don’t even talk to me about yoga. But shelving? Shelving
never fails to fascinate.
And though my
spices are exquisitely organized, I can never remember all seven habits of highly
annoying–er, successful–people, any more than I can remember all seven dwarves.
Today’s dwarf, though, is definitely Sneezy, and the great Portugese modernist
Fernando Pessoa says it best:
I Have a Terrible Cold
I have a terrible cold,
And everyone knows how terrible colds
Alter the whole system of the universe,
Set us against life,
And make even metaphysics sneeze.
I have wasted the whole day blowing my nose.
My head is aching vaguely.
Sad condition for a minor poet!
Today I am really and truly a minor poet.
What I was in old days was a wish; it's gone.
Goodbye for ever, queen of fairies!
Your wings were made of sun, and I am walking here.
I shan't get well unless I go and lie down on my bed.
I never was well except lying down on the Universe.
Excusez un peu ... What a terrible cold! ... it's
I need truth and aspirin.
--translated by Jonathan Griffin
Besides truth and aspirin,
and zinc and vitamin C, at times like this I need the following potion, which
I offer to you in compensation for the germs I left all over the Q train:
- lemon juice
- freshly grated ginger
- minced raw garlic
- ground cayenne pepper
- hot water
Mix up a big pot of the
above, in as strong a proportion as you can stand, and after inhaling the vapors
for a while, start drinking it down in little sips and don’t stop until you
are healed or run out of caper movies on DVD, whichever comes first.
What’s your favorite home remedy? (SGH)
P.S. Keep those Shelter Odes coming to PoetLaureate@ApartmentTherapy.com!