Saturday, March 29, 2014

Powered by the Flu

For an entire week, I have been isolated within my own space-time continuum. I have been entombed in static electricity and paper-flavored apathy. 

The flu struck me down. It attacked just like a short chick in a black & white striped shirt at a punk show: Out of the corner of your eye, you see her jump off the side of the stage near where you are, way outside the moshpit. 

You think she's skinny and harmless until she shoves like a bullet through the crowd and clips you at a weird angle. Suddenly you're wobbling off balance wondering how the fuck that just happened. 

When you're sick, day and night coalesce. At some point, I dreamed I lost my coat somewhere and was walking around in short sleeves. I wasn't super upset because I didn't really like this coat anyway. But I had no idea where I'd left the coat, and that bothered me. I had things to do, but I kept considering retracing my steps to find the coat. It was somewhere in midtown near the park. An infinite loop of this imaginary incident haunted me for days.

The nice thing about being unquestionably contagious is that no one bothers you. You create a pillow fort and you live in it. You're the Queen of your King-sized bed. You begin to packrat all manner of items and devices in towering arms-reach piles:

  • tissue boxes
  • 8 tubes of Chapstick tumbling around in your blankets so whenever your ass has a "Princess and the Pea" moment, you remember your burning lips and are pleased a remedy is so close at hand
  • A basket of single socks you think you might match up but never do
  • books your mother gave you
  • a dozen half-full glasses of water you will not drink because they are now warm and contaminated with your own germs
  • iPad, iPhone in "do not disturb" mode
  • piles of old postcards that gradually collapse and disperse and stick to your sweaty arms
  • slightly stale crackers left over from your last party
  • cough drops in a bag with a gaping vertical rip right down the middle, nestled amidst a ballooning heap of crinkled cough drop wrappers.
  • power cords, usb connectors tangles of audio cables
  • several unused remote controls for the stereo which is playing the Earth, Wind and Fire greatest hits double album at a low volume on repeat from the time your husband leaves for the office until the time he comes home and insists it needs to be turned off
  • some almonds
  • pencils and pens

Wallowing in fever, I achieved new heights as a database programmer. I was in the flow, glued in the pocket. I spent obsessed hours constructing complicated if|then logic. Then I applied short codes and tinkered with RegEx. After that, I analyzed pages of longtail keywords. Meanwhile, someone asked me to review a meeting agenda and I simply couldn't do it. I couldn't write three bullet points for a slide. Shit, I couldn't even read the slide.

When I went back to work after 5 inpatient days, I told Mitch I was like a one-trick nuclear reactor. My attention span was endless, but the circumference of a pin-prick. Rainman-style.

Mitch said that he'd just read some article about how when men come down with a man-flu, they lie like lumps and do nothing. But when women are sick, they suddenly get all focused and efficient. I couldn't find this article online, but I enjoy when science can anchor a slightly strange blog post with substance and intellectual heft.
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