Photo credit: the3drevolution.blogspot.com/
Last week my niece Terese performed in her J-Term project "Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL," a play based loosely on the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, marrying themes of human evolution and space exploration with adolescent angst and growth. (Play description from the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts J-Term site: Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL, A Creative Collaboration. A brand new and collaboratively created performance piece directed by Jon Ferguson. Highly physical and visual, poetic and comic, this new creation will explore themes of birth, life, death, courage, excellence... and space travel... and infinity.)
It was Flu Day 24, and I was determined to power through. I attended the play amidst a fever induced haze and settled comfortably into groovy space jazz, amazing performances, and a bittersweet story about breaking free from the confines of childhood's safe basement. My niece, of course, was brilliant as the older sister, and the lead was off-the-charts fantastic. I fell in love with the dog. It cannot be easy for a teen girl to play a canine, but that actress nailed it.
T and I headed home from the play and decided it had been too long since we last viewed 2001. We spent the rest of our weekend embedded in monoliths and symbolism, and learned that HAL is not a clever letter deviation of IBM... or is it? Each night my fevered dreams took on Kubrick's themes of evolution and intelligence, usually starring my Albuterol inhaler. Good old AL, rhymes with HAL. Another Kubrick coincidence? In some dreams AL stood as the monolith of progress, a tool to help me breath. In other scenarios there were piles of empty ALs, like the bones the prehistoric hominids used as weapons.
My wheezing woke me several times a night. I could imitate a harmonica chord, our elderly equally asthmatic cat Olive, the smoke alarm. One morning I thought Oskar was standing over me, as he often does, chirping his request for breakfast, "Feed Me Now. Now. Now." But as I opened my eyes I realized it was just my lungs begging for a cleansing hit from AL.
With my doctor's intervention I am finally on the mend. I still have to sit up while sleeping, and at least once each night AL calms my wheezing. Five weeks of flu and acute asthma is like spending a lifetime in space under suspended animation. January is one of my favorite months, but I lost it all. I made an attempt at celebrating my birthday, but then missed out on the annual Saintly City Cat Show. I couldn't read, write, or enjoy a glass of wine. To be clear, I still attempted to read, write, and enjoy a glass or two of wine, but I wasn't very good at any of it. Now, I am less like a comatose space traveler and more like Ebenezer Scrooge awaking on Christmas morning determined to live life to the fullest, "I am not the man I was."