I’m pretty sure squid ink coming loose on my skin mid-scrub defeats the purpose of soap.
I’m not one to need a cause to be miserable. I’m so obsessive that a loose string on the upholstery can send me into an existential crisis. Why is everything so hard? Why must I endure the indignities of bad craftsmanship? Even while driving, I will torment my brain with images of nicks, lint pulls and frayed edges on the furniture back home until a near traffic accident floods me with adrenaline and resets the whole neurotic slideshow.
So it’s a good thing I don’t get sick often because when I do, the darkness of existence descends on me like an evil magpie pecking at my skull to take away my reason. That means, if I read on CNN that some Ebola patient has been transported to the US, I immediately think, great, that’s what I’m going to contract next. Of course, for someone who claims never to get sick, in the past three months, I’ve contended with a high mystery fever, a patch of skin so itchy it makes me psychotic, spots before my eyes, bug bites of unknown origin and even a neck brace. And that’s only some of what I’ve endured like a not-so-silent martyr.
Then comes today, marking six straight days of unadulterated, by-the-book misery because I didn’t listen to the cries of my germaphobe self while witnessing my coughing, sniffling Typhoid Mary of a family member handle my food. She was already grumpy due to something I’d done – because in my family, everything that goes wrong is due to something I’ve done, beginning with my tardiness and ending with the fact that as the wild-spirited, unemployed, unmarried boho (as in, bohemian), I make an excellent scapegoat.
While I masked my horror, my family member spread food with her hands on a plate for me. It was her idea of an olive branch. Take note, I don’t want you touching my food even if you’ve just bathed in rubbing alcohol and wrapped yourself in plastic wrap. But although I knew better, I accepted the plate from her and ate it all up, and went so far as feign mm mm enthusiasm. You see, as the family fuck-up, it’s my job to shove peace down my throat when it’s offered to me.
A to-the-minute 36-hour incubation period later and, fuck me! That’s me saying “fuck you” to myself. It so happens that I’m as much pharma-suspicious as I am germaphobic, and since we already know I’m right about the latter, it stands to reason I may not be wrong about the former. So up until the fourth day of misery as described in full detail below, I refused antibiotics.
The left side of my throat is the color of a roasted beet and the size of a homegrown strawberry (they’re much smaller than store-bought ones). It’s caused me to nearly choke at least five times in the last six days because swallowing my own saliva is akin to swallowing wood chips tossed with cactus thorns. I keep praying to the heavens to just kill me, because that would also solve my rent problem. But then I see the numbers incrementally go up on my new YouTube channel, so I become curious to stay alive long enough to see where they end up.
By the end of the fourth day, I was whimpering to a spoon and had tears coming out of my eyes as I tried to swallow soup. I finally decided that since I was going to / begging to die anyway, it may as well be from antibiotics.
The Perfect Man, whom I briefly dated and who is now somebody else’s boyfriend, picked up my antibiotic prescription and came over with the bullet-shaped pills, along with my modified ingredients for a spicy hot toddy: Cognac, fresh ginger, limes and honey.
I insisted he bring a flashlight and look at my throat so he could see the battle-wounded mess and feel adequately sorry for me. While this examination took place, we thought it’d be funny for me to video record him photographing my wide open mouth displaying my unhappy tonsils and uvula – alien-looking parts of the anatomy that ought not be presented under the best of circumstances. This endeavor proved bizarre, somewhat obscene, and not at all funny. So I’m not posting the offending images.
The Perfect Man held his breath around me and failed to catch the microscopic assholes tearing at my throat. Also, here’s a thought, I took care not to handle his food! Or maybe, the buggers felt no need to migrate since they already had the ideal host in me with my extreme ideas of “live and let live.” I mean, if god is god because he grants life, then wouldn’t I be godlike and munificent to allow a stretch of life to these odious organisms? I’d have let them party away and run their course if they weren’t intent on bringing tears to my eyes every time I swallowed the mouthful of saliva I’d let gather for hours. I also discovered I couldn’t move my tongue without feeling hot pain in my ear. This tongue-ear phenomenon happened frequently because I found reason to waggle my tongue and talk even when completely alone. Blame WhatsApp.
Although it was one big bash in my mouth, I still went to my auditions. That’s because one, I’m a warrior, and two, the aforementioned rent problem would be wiped away with a single booking. One audition was of the “red carpet unrolls itself for her” caliber of dress and took place before I succumbed to pills. So I was already slightly delirious with fever without the need for arbitrary mishaps to mess with my head.
First there was the shower. Wretched farmer’s market soap marbled with something black, I’m pretty sure squid ink coming loose on my skin mid-scrub defeats the purpose of soap.
Then there was the lip-gloss. It followed the lip-liner I meticulously applied a little at a time over five or six red lights while driving. I pulled out the lip-gloss with one hand while I steered with the other. There was a seashell stuck to the tube, one I’d thrown in my purse the week before at the beach while attempting and failing at surfing. I smiled, threw back in the shell and proceeded to squeeze out globs of gloss inside the outline I had drawn. Only once I used the tube for spreading, did I realize that the contents of the seashell had emigrated through the cap and I was in fact gluing sand all over my lips.
In the audition waiting room, I perfected the art of keeping three feet away from people without letting them know that’s what I was doing. Also, I didn’t handle their food! I kept my lips pressed together and answered with a lot of nods while casually sliding away grains of sand from my lips with my fingertips, which confused the women around who interpreted it as a mildly seductive gesture.
I was grateful it was a no-dialogue commercial audition, other than for my slate when I had to announce my name to the camera. That’s when I realized if a drowning kitten were rescued and became human but still half-mewled, it would make the sounds coming out of my throat.
Soon I learned that ibuprofen is a miracle. A doctor friend of mine surely must possess vast knowledge of pathology, pharmacology and whatever else they study in med school, but the single most valuable advice he imparted to me was, “Take 800 mg of ibuprofen every six hours for the pain.” I took 400 mg every twelve hours because I’m fond of my liver, but let me tell you, while it didn’t completely eradicate the pain, it made the difference between wanting to live or die. If you know me, you know I’m not a fan of doctors, but I sure am a fan of my doctor friend, due to whom I can eat soup that isn’t seasoned with my own tears.
I began this writing on the sixth day of my walkabout through the circles of hell. Today is the ninth. While halfway better, I’m still sick enough to lie around and watch Sherlock. On the first day, I could’ve beaten this bacterial dance party before it turned into a full-on rave. But I stayed up until 10am the next day editing the BlogHer video I made with Aussa, which incidentally, you can find on my previously mentioned YouTube channel that’s kept me alive. The irony of Arianna Huffington’s sound byte from the same blogging conference isn’t lost on me: “Dahlink, you’ve got to sleep your way to the top.” In other words, getting enough sleep at night was her biggest advice to the multitude of women in attendance.
What do I take away from this journey in which I eat splinters for sustenance and chant die motherfuckers, die to the ravers in my throat? This: Having watched so much Sherlock, I now have a thing for Benedict Cumberbatch.
- Get enough sleep.
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