When I was in elementary school, I was constantly feigning illness to try to get out of going to school. I say “try” because, like most parents more concerned with their child’s greater well-being than with their immediate infantile desires, my mother saw straight through my ruses and was having none of it. Why would a nerdy kid “good” at school have hated going to school so much? The answer is no doubt an unnecessary dissertation on pressure and stress and social abjection—rather than deliver it, I refer you to the 1980’s oeuvre of director John Hughes. But when I got to college, everything changed, just as it is supposed to. I loved going to class. I was fully invested in my work. And I developed a delightful habit—nay, tradition—of motoring through each semester on sheer willpower and sunshine, and falling desperately ill as soon as all the final papers and exams were in. The first time I called my mom to report that I was sick, it was like this:
[Imagine the Calvin & Hobbes strip where Calvin doesn’t get out of bed even though it is Saturday and his mom runs for the phone. The internet has taken it away from me.]
But eventually it became old hat. This is all a very long way of saying it will surprise no one who knows me to know that since the term has ended and my final grades are all in and all I have to do is attend holiday events and feel Christmassy, I have come down with the flu. A MEAN flu. A fitful-dreams-in-the-daytime-making-me-wonder-whether-I’m-already-dead flu. A too-sick-to-read-or-play-video-games flu. It is cruel! But what is kind of interesting is how I can actually feel various medications working on a more minute level than ever before. I pop three Advil, and I can feel my temperature decreasing by degrees. A few hours later, I can tell it’s time for more because I can feel the ache creeping back into my legs. My body has become a fascinating animal.
This morning I was propelled by a need for fluids and drugs out of bed at an unlikely hour, and my feverish brain had the brilliant (read: not brilliant) idea of going to work on my ever-lingering book project. After a couple hours of work (read: idiotic typing) I realized that there is a much better place for me to type words when not entirely sound of mind, and that place is here. So here I am. I did save what may be the version of my book proposal that actually gets sent to presses in the next couple of weeks. So there’s that. Oh and hey, news—I got a grant to go to London sometime next summer to do research at the British Library. Oh, Canada! If ever there were a good place to be a flu-addled academic in the humanities, it would be you.
If I can kick this thing by Tuesday, we’re New York–bound for Christmas. I had a NyQuil-induced dream about the song “Jingle Bells” encoding something sinister. I forget what it was, but the chorus made something bad happen. Really bad.