I remember damage

by Jonah

Berck woke up with a sore throat on Monday last week. He took a rapid test and tested negative. But he was miserable all week. I brought him home chicken soup from Chick-fil-a, along with a chicken to make him chicken tortellini soup, except I didn’t have any tortellini, so I used ravioli that had been in the freezer since spring 2020 when I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get any floatable stuffed pasta in my grocery pick up order, so I ordered all four possibilities and then ended up with all of them. This was in the days of the mystery shopping bags that the hard working grocery employee would load into the trunk of the newer Audi, while I sat in the driver’s seat wearing a bandanna over my face and thinking, Please don’t get closer than six feet to my window.

Berck has been bitching about all the things filling up the freezer, so it was a good time to use the ravioli. They were covered in ice crystals, so I carefully rinsed each raviolo off before tossing it in the soup.

Berck complained of sleeplessness and also fatigue, and then I started making him take cough syrup because, yes, you are actually coughing and just because one of us can’t sleep doesn’t mean both of us can’t.

On Friday he was feeling better, which was good because the airshow was Saturday and Sunday, and we’d been looking forward to going to it ever since Jess said he wouldn’t be able to fix Berck’s crashed race car until after the Pueblo race, which was scheduled for the same weekend. I was hoping to be able to finish sanding the crashed nose of the race car on whichever day we didn’t go to airshow.

But Saturday I woke up with a sore throat and overflowing sinuses. I guess the incubation period was five days. I spent most of the day in bed drifting in and out of sleep feeling really lousy. Berck had impatiently complained that we couldn’t watch the HBO miniseries Station Eleven until I had read the book, which he had bought for me and I had apparently completely forgotten that I was supposed to have read it.

I didn’t feel like doing anything else, so I started reading Station Eleven.

This was a mistake.

Saturday night Berck asked if I’d gotten far enough in the book to watch the first episode, and I replied that I’d read about half. He decided that was good enough. The problem is that neither the book nor the television series are told in chronological order. But the television series is aggressively adapted (according to the show runner), so it turns out that, despite the both of us having read the book, we still don’t know what’s going to happen next. I’m not convinced this is a terribly bad thing, as the mini-series has introduced some really engaging and satisfying plot points. (Also, it took me a weekend to read the book. The television show is way, way longer than that.) It’s like someone read the book halfway through and then decided to write the rest themselves, kinda like DALLĀ·E 2 trying to finish the Sistine Chapel, but make it “better“.

Mackenzie Davis is a perfect Kirsten (well, except for too much hair and teeth). She’s bad-ass and a little hysterical… and Canadian! The original is set in Toronto, but HBO has to set it in Chicago for its American audience.

Now, I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic narrative, and I always try to be prepared. I’ve been asking for a cross-bow for Christmas since I was a kid, and no one will buy me one. But I’m telling you that reading the first half of a book about how everyone dies of the flu and then watching the first episode of the mini-series based on the book while you’ve got the worst cold you’ve had in a year was a bad idea. Of course, it might have been the methamphetamines, I mean, pseudoephedrine, but I spent the night having intense dreams about knife throwing and then not really being able to breathe all that well. (Also, I need to practice gutting animals. I’ve been taught how to do it, but never actually done it myself. I know the important thing is not to rupture the gastro-intestinal tract. The one thing I know first hand is that, the moment you kill the animal, all the fleas immediately jump off it.)

Berck ended up going to the airshow without me, because by Sunday he was feeling peachy (he said it was the best weather for an airshow he’d ever been to). I got up and tried to do some dishes and laundry and then went back to bed and also finished the book. Berck and I have a deal that I clean the kitchen but I do it when I want to, and I really didn’t want to. So Berck has been cleaning the kitchen, which he does while sighing loudly. He also likes to listen to records when he’s in the kitchen, so if I position myself by a speaker, I can’t hear his constant sighing. He cooked me dinner, and I had a few bites. On Monday I heated up the soup I had made him, but I only had a few ravioli and put the rest of my bowl away because I didn’t feel like eating.

I now know that ravioli is the plural and raviolo is the singular, because in Station Eleven Jeevan is a a paparazzo, or otherwise known as a member of the paparazzi.

On Tuesday I had to drive down to Colorado Springs because I’m in the Novavax trial and they get very excited if I get sick because they want me to catch COVID so they can see if their vaccine is working. So even though I felt awful and hadn’t gotten much sleep, I drove down, nearly hitting a deer on our road. I was scared driving on the interstate because I felt like I couldn’t focus. But I survived. They had me sit in my car in the ally behind the clinic. Angel, the best phlebotomist at the clinic, came out dressed head to toe in PPE. She asked if I had been hydrating, and I admitted that while I had brought a bottle of water with me and had been planning to, I had forgotten to (the driving was hard enough to concentrate on). It probably helped that I was sitting in the sun so my veins were near the surface, and she got some blood in each of her many vials. “We just need a little,” she said. But when she took my forehead’s temperature, it was over 99. And when she took my pulse ox, it said 88%. I suspect that might have been because I was wearing a KN-95 in an attempt to keep from infecting anyone else. She had me briefly walk briskly, and it went up to 94%, which is about normal for me at 6,000 feet. She gave me a nasal swab. The physician’s assistant came out without even a mask and gave me a short physical. She listened to my lungs while I breathed and said they sounded fine. The trial coordinator said he would let me know if I tested positive but that it was taking him about 3 weeks to get PCR results back. He asked me to let him know if I tested on my own and came out positive. (I took my temperature for the vaccine trial testing app that night, and my forehead temperature was normal.)

I stopped by the office and someone brought some checks out to me that I needed to mail out, along with some envelopes.

Berck was curious, so he had me take an expired rapid test, though that meant I had to listen to him heavily sigh as he cleaned the kitchen while I was waiting around for 15 minutes.

Pretty darn negative

I woke up in the middle of the night last night coughing uncontrollably, so I made my way to the bathroom as quietly as I could to down some Tussin DM and then went back to sleep in the other bedroom, because if one of us can’t sleep, it doesn’t mean the other person doesn’t get to either.

Today I felt much better, which is about how Berck felt five days in. I actually ate something, and we watched the penultimate episode of Station Eleven. I’m actually really curious about how it will end, since the book and television series have taken completely different routes. Will they end up with the same result just by different means?

I’ve found it funny and sad that the television show hasn’t really had to work hard at finding sets of rusting and overgrown abandoned buildings. They’re everywhere in North America. Perhaps we’re already post-peak civilization.

But any post-apocalyptic narrative where humanity lives on is probably a happy ending. Unlike my new favorite podcast, which I’ve listened through twice now: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/105-the-end-of-the-world-with-30006093/

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