2012.10.24 Evil grandmother needs beauty sleep

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

I have known for a long time that I must mend my evil ways, but that was driven home in a very horrible way a couple weeks ago when I flew to Miami to visit not just one, but both of my grandchildren.

October 12 was the earliest opportune time for me to visit my miracle grandson Ryland after he came home from the hospital, and, lucky me, Caroline would be there, too, since her dad had a conference in Miami and the whole family accompanied him. 

It’s been a whirlwind fall with a trip to Portland, Oregon, in early October to learn more about the pilot phase of the Pushing the Limits program that our library will participate in this winter, before zooming to Miami after recouping one day in Morenci to coordinate the Prime Time program.

On my way home from Portland, as I sat in the Salt Lake City airport surrounded by some pretty amazing treeless mountains, eating ridiculously high-priced frozen yogurt with four toppings while talking to David on the phone, I could feel the telltale tingle of a cold sore emerging on my upper lip. 

I had successfully batted down that tingle in the days before the trip, so I was sure I would again. However, I was operating on four hours sleep after having had only two hours sleep each of the previous nights. 

Blame it on reading. Before attending the workshop I was assigned two books,  “When the Killing’s Done” by T. C. Boyle and “Thunderstruck” by Erik Larson. I had creepy-crawled my way to the end of the Boyle book (rats figure in prominently) and was trying to finish “Thunderstruck” by Erik Larson before the 8:30 a.m. start of the workshop. 

I slogged through “Thunderstruck” on the plane going out, in the airport during my layover in Seattle (before I discovered Fireworks, an incredibly fun store), and in the Rose Garden while my friend Sondra walked the gardens alone and visited the Japanese Garden. 

Among the roses, I sat on a bench in the sun; finally absorbed in the book. More than 300 pages in and the excitement level finally picked up. It really is a fascinating book, but I felt like I was in college again, sitting in the hallway typing the tail end of a paper minutes before it was due. Wait. That wasn’t me, but I witnessed a fellow student engaged in that desperate activity one day in Morrill Hall. 

I am 54 now. It’s been 32 years since I graduated from college. But there I was at 2, 3, and 4 in the morning, still reading, while Sondra snored on. Just so you know, if you participate in the Pushing the Limits program, it’s OK if you haven’t finished the book before you attend the discussion. 

The discussion will be all the more fascinating if you do read the book in advance, but it’s not required. Nobody will test you. You won’t have to sit in the back of the room and slink down hoping the professor doesn’t notice you. There will be two videos to watch which will generate ideas and give you gristle to gnaw on, food for thought. And you can just listen to what others have to say about the book. You’ll get a lot out of the program just by showing up.

But I knew I wouldn’t have that luxury.  There would be no slinking; I had to finish the book. I was glad I did; I was able to follow along and participate in the discussion and contribute suggestions.

But, oy, at what expense! I didn’t know it then, but the tendrils of that Herpes simplex virus were wending their way to the tips of my lip.

The sun, the lack of sleep, the stress of travel, of driving a rental car alone in the dark in a strange city with many bridges over a river that runs through it, the wanton consumption of decadent foods such as Voodoo Doughnuts (“The Magic is in the Hole”) and Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Cracked Pepper ice cream from Salt & Straw.

All of it came to a literal head, bulging out first in a red bump and then the blister. I thought I was going to nip it in the bud, but it blossomed into a first rate cold sore. Ready to cancel the trip rather than expose my grandchildren to the virus, I checked in with Rosie. She didn’t mind me being around Caroline; she and Taylor are also among the 70 percent of adults in whom the virus lies dormant. 

I was staying two nights with them in a hotel and two nights at Ben and Sarah’s. I figured as long as Rosie was OK with it I could visit with them and maybe the cold sore would be gone by the time I’d be shifting over to Ben and Sarah’s.

Alas, the cold sore was too active to risk potential harm to Ryland. I could only look at that precious baby from afar, not hold, kiss, and nuzzle him up close. Oh, the pain—to be so close! I flew home early—and went to bed early.

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