I am now quite practiced at being sick. They must be getting used to me at the doctor’s office, too, because when I described my symptoms, the doc didn’t even
when I mentioned the cooing pigeon noise in my ear. Not even a raised eyebrow! Guess there’s a lot of that going around this year: cooing ear pigeon syndrome.
I spent the entirety of last week on my couch. I watched so much public television, I was staring to feel like I could give a dissertation on the Amish, The nuclear disaster at Fukushima, and French cooking.
So…. what’s with Overboard being on permanent repeat on the in-between channels on network TV? Did the copyrights run out on that movie? Did the station just buy it outright and fire their whole programming staff? I think I’ve managed to watch the entire movie in seven minute increments over the span of three days. This is the measure of how sick I was: instead of pressing a few more buttons on the remote and catching up on some of the greats in the world of cinema, I chose instead to watch Goldie Hawn scrub the same filthy log cabin about a hundred and thirty times to the accompaniment of a tuneless banjo.
A few days ago, while coughing, I found a tiny little spot of blood in my phlegm. It was just a tiny spot, no doubt from all the irritation in my throat from all that lovely post nasal drip and subsequent hacking. For a moment, I thought of changing into an ankle-length flaxen nightgown and throwing myself down on the floor dramatically and coughing some more just to make it worth the while. In the movies, it seems, everyone who ever died in the past died of coughing up blood. And they usually did it while stumbling unsteadily through a doorway and dropping whole urns of milk or wine or something that made an enormous, splashy mess when it hit the deck. Also, it provided a nice backdrop against which our heroine could collapse (eyes open, of course), a dribble of the red stuff leaking from one corner of the mouth. Extra points were awarded in my book for the number of women in linen bonnets and aprons who would first exclaim and then lurch towards our heroine before calling to another woman in a different linen bonnet who would be instructed to fetch the doctor for a bleed with the leeches or a poultice in a filthy rag or something.
I was by myself when I discovered the blood, so I calculated the time it would take to change costumes and the distance to the floor and the arthritis in my knees and decided to just toss my tissue in the trash and finish the laundry. It is entirely possible I have been watching too much Tudors.
READING: IT WILL MAKE YOU ANGRY
I have finally joined the world of the living and regular-bathers and have returned to activities that gave me no pleasure but which make it seem like I have “done something” with my day, things like shopping for shoes and paying library fines for no less than what it would have cost me to order the books online. New.
I read an article in Mother Jones (go ahead. I’ll wait for the Portlandia jokes. No, really. Go ahead. I deserve them) about what it’s like to work in a mega warehouse and to have to pack all those boxes full of vibrators and books and also vibrators and ship them FREE! NEXT DAY! to their recipients. Burdy and I recently signed up for an Amazon Prime account and I’m a little disturbed at how fast stuff gets to our door. (Not as disturbed as I am at having to shop under fluorescent lights and be alternately bombarded with standard retail greetings of good cheer when I arrive and ignored when I want to check out, so there ya go).
I’ve been thinking a bit about the issue of privacy lately as it relates to our shopping habits, and especially as it relates to the phones we carry. I’m always amused by the folks who seem to think that privacy still exists in this country. I’ve always thought that so long as you have even as much as a credit card, you’re just a trackable data-generating machine. Of course, the privacy crusaders would probably point to me as Exhibit A for thinking that way. “There used to be a time when privacy existed! And now look! She willingly “likes” ‘Cats Doing Funny Things’ on Facebook for all to see and she doesn’t think twice about it!” It’s true: I am all that is wrong in this country, starting with the fact that I sort of only kind-of believe privacy exists. Privacy is like Santa Claus- amazing when you’re naive enough to think it exists… and when you learn it’s not real, but you understand you’ll still get cool stuff, you’re like, meh, whatever.
To me, my shopping patterns are bizarre and unpredictable. To some machine in a windowless room, they’re probably as predictable as it gets. Let’s see… mid-thirty something American female living in a Northwestern state with the most massage practitioners and cute rubber rain boots per capita… phone records and Google searches reveal she’s been searching for the term “Chondromalacia”… health insurance data reveal that she’s recently visited a physical therapist… If we plug in her age and her salary bracket, recent credit card purchases for organic groceries, cute rubber rainboots, and vitamins, and we gather every other bit of data matching that demographic, we can conclude that, since she was alive and watching Oprah while she was on the air, she will likely ALSO (impulse-)buy a book about CHANGING YOUR LIFE! when she orders that Theraband to do her PT exercises.
I bet they’re just dangling that book over the box waiting for me to press “buy”. See, Privacy-Defenders? I’m as transparent as packing tape. I’d like to think I’m the Snake Eyes of shopping, too, but the awful truth is, I read like a blueprint of a typical overcoming-my-childhood, addicted-t0-shoes health-nut and, since I ordered that book online about JUST LETTING GO OF YOUR PAST TO LIVE YOUR FULLEST LIFE!, I also don’t give a damn.
THE ROTARY PHONES ON THE BUS GO ROUND AND ROUND
Last week’s bus ride was an operatic composition. The bass notes were supplied by a large man who sat in the front of the bus in the seats that faced the center aisle. He had his eyes closed and I couldn’t tell if he was snoring or talking, but the noise that came out of him was not unlike that of the monks who can hum two notes at once. This went on the entire length of the bus ride.
On top of that was the conversation of two recently post-pubescent boys who were discussing the merits of Kant, Aristotle and some other philosopher. I didn’t hear the third one because I stopped listening after “Aristotle”. And that’s because he pronounced “Kant” “Kantz.” Plural. It was the audible equivalent of sticking an apostrophe where it has no earthly right to be. I had to restrain myself from interjecting.
Anywho, these two were going at it non stop. And their voices were similar enough, and they talked rapidly enough, that they perfectly complimented Mr. Eyes Closed in his meditative chant/snore. They sounded like a set of piccolos.
On top of this was me, coughing. It was intermittent at first, but then it started to sound intentional. So, I was the accidental rhythm section to this bus-song.
Now, my right ear was all clogged up and I could barely hear out of it. I was starting to think (hallucinations: stage five of the flu) that I had been imbued with a compensating ability to hear (with my left ear) frequencies that no one else could hear. I mean, no one else on the bus seemed to be hearing or enjoying this urban opera but me.
The whole thing seemed less like music and more like noise, however, when the boys started talking about phones.
Boy 1: Have you seen those phones, those big ones, that you can, like, kinda trick people with?
Boy 2: Which ones?
Boy 1: You know. The ones that you can, like, hook up to your real phone. They’re like old fashioned phones? The ones with the curly wire thingee?
Boy 2: Oh, yeah! Those things are so cool. They’re like those phones from the ‘Eighties! I so want one of those!
Alexander Graham Bell and the leagues of people responsible for the evolution of the “curly wire thingee” are turning in their Day-Glo Jams, cuffed blazers, and woven skinny ties right now.