Words, Words, Words

October 18, 1999

Has it really been over a month since my last entry? Time passes quickly when you have too many excuses for not writing--namely, that I had too much to write about, and an incapacitated hand. Admittedly, the hand excuse is not new, but after running low on fortitude and stiff upper lip I've begun dipping into my stock of self-pity.

The operation, which you will recall was to fix a dislocated finger, took place under a local anesthetic. They kept pumping more drugs into me so I hardly felt anything, except when they were twisting my whole arm around to get X-rays (in real time). I was told several times to breathe differently.

The surgeon initially tried to force the bone back into place without making an incision, which is basically what he'd tried three days earlier. It didn't work this time either.

So he cut me open and my hand was a bit of a mess. As he explained afterward, I have "low-quality bone". In fact, a piece of my finger bone broke off when I dislocated it. The surgeon decided to wire my finger together, then wrapped my hand up with three of my fingers outside the splint; I still couldn't use it much, but it wasn't quite as restrictive as the last time.

Then I left the operating room and my hand began to hurt like the devil. Fortunately we still had the pain pills from the last operation, and I sent my mother chasing after the resident to get a prescription for more. After the first couple of days it wasn't so bad, but it was at least three weeks after the operation before I stopped taking them altogether.

We'd originally planned to leave on Saturday, but put it off till Sunday so I could recuperate. My mother brought a pillow to rest my hand on, which came in very handy in the car and the theaters. (The splint was so heavy I needed some kind of cushion.) I can't possibly do the trip justice at this point, so I'll just do a few capsule reviews:

West Side Story was fun, but there was just no way it could surpass the movie. A few scenes had more impact live (I jerked in my seat at the final gunshot), and of course every song in the score is a classic.

The Alchemist was a competent staging of Ben Jonson's comedy. A good play, and I'm glad to have been introduced to his work.

Richard II is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, and this is the first time I've seen it on stage. In hindsight I may have gotten my hopes up too high for this one; I enjoyed it. but not quite as much as I expected to.

The School For Scandal is an immensely funny comedy. I've seen it before, but for some reason it didn't make as great an impression the first time.

A Midsummer Night's Dream redeemed the play for me; I had a lukewarm opinion of it, thanks to a tepid Royal Shakespeare Company production I saw a few years ago. This time around it was actually funny.

Pride and Prejudice was a disappointingly untheatrical production which used spoken narration to link the best snippets of the novel together. It's impossible to actually have a bad time watching Austen, but this was nowhere near as good as it could have been.

Rebecca was a so-so melodrama, with a couple actors edging a shade too near caricature. My hasty generalization is that this style of direction may be common to the Shaw Festival plays, making comedy more successful than drama.

A Foggy Day, which restores the Gershwin/Wodehouse movie A Damsel in Distress to something near the original script, was the best play of the trip. A funny script, good songs, and lots of fun dancing--I *like* characters who suddenly start dancing.

Heartbreak House was Shaw being typically brilliant as he talks to himself at great length. Very funny, but long, and the plot was rather incoherent. Marvelous fun, though.

Easy Virtue was the first Noel Coward play I've seen. He seems to be a minor playwright; entertaining, but the two classes of society he focussed on are hardly the most interesting ones.

The meals there were wonderful, with a couple of minor exceptions, and I perhaps overindulged my laziness by letting my mother and my sister do more for me than I ought (although I would have had to object pretty strenuously to stop them and, really, it's not as if I didn't have a good excuse).

After I got back the splint came off, revealing a quarter-inch hook sticking out of my finger. (My sister's considered medical opinion is, "I think it's disgusting.") The idea is that when it's time for it to come out the doctor can just grab the end of it and pull. According to the technician who took out my stitches, it is surprisingly less painful than you'd think. This takes place tomorrow, by the way. I still won't be able to type (I can't get all four fingers on the home row at once), but hopefully a week or two of therapy will take care of that. The more I use the hand, the faster it will get better, so I'll push to do as much with it as I can.

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