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The Joy of the Common Cold

Reflections from the field

I’m sick. It started out mild but, on this, the 3rd of January, I find myself drowning in mucus with a throat that doesn’t know how to withstand the coughs I’m subjecting it to.

“Do you feel better today?” my husband asks hopefully.

“Grunnnnckkknaugh,” I respond, burying deeper beneath the covers until only the top wisps of my hair are visible.

The thing I hate about being sick, aside from the snot bubbles, is that my brain doesn’t work right. Instead of flowing along like a merry little stream of confusion, it switches in and out, revealing images like the slides in a viewfinder, each thought a world in and of itself, but with no relationship to or recollection of the previous slide.

It’s as if I have a mind sphincter that squeezes out my ideas one at a time in little cookie dough blurbs.

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A visual representation of my mind

Here are a few of the stray dandelion seeds floating in and out of my sickly brain.

In the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer there’s an episode where Sarah Michelle Gellar has a cold. The plot never addresses this, but it’s clear from the actress’s lowered timbre and demeanor that she isn’t feeling great. Of course, it’s an episode where the world is ending and things are hopeless.

And it makes me think, because you don’t see that very often in entertainment. Actors fighting the sniffles. Imagine having a cold at the end of the world. You’re a slayer and you have to save the universe, but on top of that there’s a constant pressure in your ears and you can’t get a good night’s sleep because every time you start to drift off, mucus slimes its way out of your nose, threatening the sanctity of your pillow.

It’s a good thing I’m not a slayer, because if I had to save the world right now, I’d probably just take a shot of NyQuil and let everything die.

Last night I dreamed that my husband fell off the side of a ledge. He was basking there, enjoying the sunshine, then suddenly he was shaken from the side. Everything got very slowmo and I watched as he start tumbling over the edge. At first I was like, “Oh no.” Then I was like, “This couldn’t possibly.” Followed by, “Oh God,” “Wait,” “NO,” “Please,” “Whyyyyyyyyyyy!”

I was pretty relieved to realize I was dreaming. I woke myself up and looked over to where my husband was sleeping happily, probably dreaming about zombies (one of his favorite things to dream about). I wanted to wake him up and tell him how nice it was that he was still alive, but decided against it, since you never know when he’s in the middle of a particularly satisfying zombie kill.

I might not be feministing properly.

I had a job interview for an interesting position and they asked me my preferred salary range. When I gave them a ballpark figure, the person I was talking to responded, “Oh, I think we can manage more than that for this role.”

And my first thought was, “Oh, then you won’t want me for it.”

Never mind that I have decent experience, the standard allotment of talent, etc. My brain decided to throw in the towel when it heard there was a possibility of being fairly compensated for my work.

I don’t know if this speaks to my level of confidence, or to a history of working in the arts where one is expected to survive on Starbucks gift cards and the occasional positive review.

Today is my birthday. It’s weird having your birthday right after the holidays, because you’re at a place emotionally where you want to hide for a while. At the same time, starting a new year with a new age tends to force a lot of reflection. Which is a good thing?

When that reflection doesn’t occur through a screen of boogers and crumpled Kleenex.

Rating of my December Karaoke performances by song:

  • Somebody to Love by Jefferson Airplane — 4 out of 5. For some reason I really hit this one and there were a few points where I was holding a note and thinking to myself, “Huh! I didn’t know my voice could do that. Not half bad!” I started imagining a career as a rock star. Because my brain still thinks I’m young. Because dancer and writer isn’t risky enough.
  • We Belong by Pat Benatar — 2 out of 10. Yikes. This didn’t go as planned. The music was a bit loud and a few of the sounds that came out of my throat would have made a frog ashamed. Perhaps I should rethink my dreams of music stardom and continue cracking away at my novels.
  • Me and Bobby Mcgee by Janis Joplin — 45 out of 100. This is the point at which I grew existential and bored of my own voice. Ennui doesn’t make for a compelling Karaoke performance, unfortunately. Janis deserves better.

So, I guess I’ll take a shot of some immunity boosting something or other and drag myself out to the store. Hopefully the next time I write something on Medium I’ll have a functioning brain instead of a thought-pooping brain. Maybe it will be great. Happy New Year, everyone! Eat lots of garlic. Don’t wear uncomfortable shoes or underwear. Don’t put up with meanness. Don’t drink and drive.

Thanks for reading! Sarah is a freelancer who exists on twitter and instagram and redbubble.

Engaged in inadvisable wordsmitheries and other creative acts.

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