10 May 2010

Losses, Actual and Possible

Yesterday and today felt more autumnal than spring-like.  This is amazing, when you consider that we had summery weather only a week ago.  It's supposed to be chilly--at least for this time of year--for the rest of the week.  

I'm tired, again.  After my classes, I had two long meetings and then students wanted help with one thing and another. And I would have spent even longer than  I did at work--As it was, I was there for nearly another five hours after my obligations for the day ended!--had I not simply decided that I needed to leave.  For that, it looks like I'm going to be subjected to a furlough.  So I'm supposed to take a unilateral 20 percent pay cut for doing the same work.  And my bills won't decrease by 20 percent.

On top of that, I found out why I haven't heard from Janine and Marie-Jeanne for a long time.  They are two friends of mine in Paris.  When they came to New York in the summer of 2003, they, our friend Diana and I took a lunch and shopping trip to Brighton Beach.  It was my first "girls' day out" and, as Diana said tonight, none of them knew what to expect:  I had "come out" to them over the phone and by e-mail, but they had only seen me as Nick, not as Justine.  Diana, recalling that day, said, "I said to myself, 'I hope she's pretty.'  Then, when I heard you were having your surgery, I said, 'I hope she doesn't become prettier than me."

"Don't worry.  You're safe," I deadpanned.

"I'm not so sure about that."

"Well, I'll never be upset with you for being better-looking than I am.  You're a wonderful person."  I could almost see her blush over the phone.

That banter was just an interlude in a litany of bad news.  Janine's has gotten much worse since the last time I talked to her or Diana.  Janine had a tumor which grew malignant.  Then she had a stroke back in the fall.  She had to move from her apartment to a hospital to a nursing home.  Of course, she's angry:  She is one of the most independent and creative people I've ever known.  Now she can't even go outside by herself and can't always remember people.  

"It must be so hard on her," I said.

 Diana agreed.  "But," she added, " it's really hard on her sister and the people around her.  It's hard to see her that way."

"It hurts just to think of her that way," I lamented.  "Whenver I saw her, I felt as if I were in the presence of life itself."  

"All we can do is hope.  But things don't look good."

Still, we hope.  Maybe, just maybe, we tell ourselves.