Nap Note:
La Belle Paméla
31 January 2019

¶ Yesterday was the first day of convalescence that didn’t seem odd, that I didn’t feel adrift. I had a to-do list, and I got everything on it done, except for changing a $20 bill for two tens so that I can finally complete our Christmas present to grandson Will. It was idiotically satisfying to check things off. 

As a result of all the activity, my foot was fairly swollen last night, and, as usual, I found it hard to believe that a night’s sleep, stretched out in bed, would really undo that, but it did, as usual. The result of this see-sawing is that I feel optimistic in the morning and a pessimistic at bedtime. Maybe it isn’t the see-sawing; what could be more natural than to feel hopeful in the morning and fearful in the dark? Slowly, bit by bit, the foot appears to be returning to normal. The daily infusions appear to be doing their job. I never manage to stay off my feet as much as I think I ought to do, but it doesn’t seem to have any lasting effect. I am waiting for some extra-wide canvas shoes to arrive from an online outfit that specializes in wide shoes for men (which I will need anyway, even after the infection is completely vanquished), so that I can stop wearing a now-shapeless rag sock on my right foot while my left is more comfortably shod in a slipper.

But the absence of oddness, I know, had a lot to do with getting used to the absence of drink. It isn’t so much the drink, which so far I don’t crave and don’t even much think of (except at moments in the evenings when water begins to taste insipid), as it is the consequences of not drinking, viz a clear head. Having a clear head all day means that I don’t spend time stumbling around with a mild headache or reproving myself for a mite of overindulgence (as if overindulgence were the problem). I don’t throw up my hands and give up for the day, resigning myself to being good for nothing. I don’t do all sorts of negative things that used to take up a lot of time. What do I do with that time? 

On my to-do list yesterday was “nap, 3-6.” The idea was not to go to sleep but to get into bed and watch a movie. Getting into bed for two hours — the three hours scheduled on the to-do list indicated a time frame, not a duration — kept me off my feet, and the movie gave my reading-and-writing eyes a break. I watched François Truffaut’s La Nuit Américaine, which I’ve seen only once before. (It’s called Day for Night here.) Why just now for a second look? Many reasons. Jacqueline Bisset, of course; she’s at her most gravely beautiful, as ravishing as Charlotte Rampling but altogether without the discontent and hostility. Graham Greene — did you know that the novelist has a cameo role? He plays some sort of insurance adjuster, and he delivers his one long line as if he were the most constipated habitué of Clubland, impossible to imagine chatting with Shirley Hazzard on Capri, much less dwelling on the thorns of Catholic faith. More seriously, Nuit is a droll movie about the weariness of filmmaking that is never quite funny. It ought to be funny — think of Madame Séverine blowing take after take of a lengthy scene by opening a closet door instead of the right one — but one is driven mad with sympathetic exasperation that, even more madly, the director, Ferrand, does not share. Truffaut himself plays Ferrand, as a figure of almost insane buoyancy and infinite adaptability, someone who does a great deal of cajoling, but  but who never resorts to authoritative diktat — not with the actors, anyway. Is that how Truffaut really worked? Finally, I was hypnotized by the title of Ferrand’s film: Je Vous Présente Paméla. I’d been mumbling this over and over for days. 

Also on my list was an errand to Fairway to buy lemons, for Kathleen’s Arnold Palmers. Somehow I’d forgotten to put lemons on Tuesday’s shopping list. I went early, and was rewarded with an almost empty store. Temperatures were at a record low, but I managed the short expedition without too much discomfort. I wore the other slipper, of course, not the sock,

And I typed up all those writing project notes before they became incomprehensible. It was only because I had read them over several times the day before that I was able to decipher them at all.

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