Painted Desert

Painted Desert

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dance and disease are the same

I haven't made a blog post in a long time, so I want to make a blog post. But I haven't had any adventures. Except this: the worst week I have had in forever.

We will start with the pneumonia, my second bout in as many winters. I've been told that people with lupus are especially at risk for pneumonia, but I wouldn't know if it's really the lupus that's the problem. Nobody I know has had very good luck with germs this year.

What do you get when you kiss a guy?
You get enough germs to catch pneumonia
After you do, he'll never phone ya
I'll never fall in love again

...pneumonia in popular culture, courtesy of Dionne Warwick.

The thing is that I have no insurance, and also nothing like a sick day policy at my little part-time job. Illness costs. After sitting for several hours at a clinic I got the antibiotics prescription and I got a prescription for cough syrup with codeine, which was welcome as I'd slept 10 hours total in the previous 3 nights, but in her effort to find something affordable for me the doctor managed to write an Rx for a drug that is no longer available for purchase. So, no codeine. Meanwhile the antibiotics, while affordable, typically cause, er, particular changes in my body that require other medications to take care of, which is another expenditure... all in all, even without the cough syrup, things added up.

The next day I got my first parking ticket in Denver. I just didn't see the sign saying 1 hour parking only. But, hey, I was already having a profligate week... why the hell not?

The next day, the researchers canceled on me. Craigslist is a wonderful repository of opportunities to make money, which includes job postings but also includes postings for research studies that you may or may not qualify for, that may or may not compensate you for your time. I had applied to a number of these and had finally qualified for one, and they were going to pay me $175 for my time. Until their preliminary research led them toward a different demographic and I was told I was no longer needed.

Then a couple of the odd jobs I'd lined up fell through.

Friday... well, I've been trying to get on unemployment for a long time now. This has been hampered by the fact that I worked for the federal government, from which I needed documentation of my wages to show to the state before I could qualify. For some reason, the federal government has been averse to sending me a W-2, perhaps in a noble attempt to save three cents. But my third request was a charm, and it finally arrived. I plunged forward with my unemployment application to find that I also needed a Colorado driver's license to qualify.

I waited for an hour at the DMV before being told that I couldn't get one, because my CT birth certificate didn't meet their specifications. I would need to order another one from CT. Okay.

Research revealed that Connecticut takes six weeks to process birth certificate requests, and I couldn't afford the fee for an expedited request.


Also, I got another parking ticket on Saturday. I was three minutes too late coming back to my meter. I have no problem with the parking regulations here in Denver--honestly, how hard is it to plan to get back to your car in 1 hour or 2 hours?--but I have been in a pneumonia-induced haze the past week and have simply not been lucky. Or perhaps the universe in its infinite wisdom has decided that with far more money leaving my bank account than is coming in each month, and an evil bacterium general building an army in my lungs, the thing I needed most was not a job interview or even a nice cup of tea but two parking tickets. Because the universe is mysterious.

Also, I just got a medical bill for stuff that happened over a year ago in Rhode Island. My response to this is not important but it contained lots of exclamation points.

I was almost glad I got the second parking ticket, though, because it pushed last week from the realm of the tragic into the realm of the absurd. I'm going to blame last week on the moon. THE SUPERMOON. I have been told I'm supposed to be especially susceptible to the effects of the moon because I'm a cancer. I happen to think astrology is total horse hockey, but I'll suspend my derision for a moment if it allows me to make some kind of coherent story about the last 8 days of my life.

For the record, I am about as sensitive as a rhinoceros in a kevlar burka. I won't talk about nice. Someone at the hospital must have confused my birthdate with that of... I don't know, the door mat. I'm going to invent my own astrology sign. It could be called "the squiggly thing" and people (such as myself) under this sign would have the following traits:

Prone to pneumonia
Middling fashion sense
Good at Bananagrams

This would be our symbol:

People ask me if I like Denver and I say that I like it very much, but I don't know anything about it. All I know is that I like the people I've met. It's been a rough winter. Also, I can't find my three-legged pig necklace, which is supposed to be good luck in Chile. The only thing that has kept me sane are my friends, who are extraordinarily kind and generous and interesting people.

They offered me space in their homes when I was homeless, car rides when I was carless, jobs when I was jobless (it's not their fault I don't know CAD), Starbucks gift cards when I was internetless, as well as separate offers from a onetime nurse and almost-doctor to come listen to my chest with a stethoscope. My friends have covered countless lunches and brunches and dinners out, lunches and brunches and dinners in, drinks at the bar, herbal tea and vitamins and cold medicine, show tickets, parking fees, and gas to make it to the snowshoeing trail. They made sure I had somewhere to eat for Thanksgiving (gluten-free stuffing and Arabian coffee) and St. Patrick's (corned beef and cabbage, natch). They have passed my resume on to their boss and taken my list of requirements for a mate and they keep their eyes open. Mostly they keep me company and distract me from my problems.

I would like to honor all this somehow, but I won't list names for fear of leaving anyone out. I am enamored of those of you I met last summer and those of you I met last weekend.

I have been thinking about poetry lately and I shall share some here, partly as a gift, but mostly because people who have been sick for four weeks straight ought to be allowed to inflict poetry on others, quality be damned.

First, a note: I have not missed a night of dancing. There were a couple nights I only danced to a few songs and then went home, because pneumonia is a terrible thing. But pneumonia is a terrible thing. I was so demoralized by the end of each week that I could not manage to wish for anything other than the comfort of my friends (who were at the bar) and the rehabilitation of losing myself for a few moments in a beloved pastime. I tried to capture this in a weird conversation I had a couple weeks ago... weird partly, but not wholly, because the conversation was composed of limericks... and I adapt that effort for you here:

You say managing germs is the game,
But I've got this fever to tame--
And the follows I know
Who now share my cold show
Us that dance and disease are the same.

And lastly I leave you in the company of A.E. Housman, who is my favorite poet, because the ardent melancholy of his works approaches beauty in its totality... much in the way that, say, the movie Open Water warmed my heart with its keen commitment to being totally and incredibly depressing.

Are these things cathartic, or are they simply lovely for not trying to be anything other than what they are? (Some of you who have seen Open Water might argue that it is not, in fact, lovely at all, but whatever! It's my blog post.) In either case, Housman's Terence, this is stupid stuff ends with the tale of the king who deliberately built a tolerance to poison by taking it in small doses, and:

They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt.
—I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.

I don't mean to suggest that the tribulations of my week were all to the good, as they will inure me to future trials; I think in the end they just sucked. I also don't mean to say that this rather depressing blog post was somehow good, in that it will shore you up to face the harsh reality of the world. Just poetry, man. Poetry's great.

1 comment:

Mom said...

You are not obnoxious nor cranky!

A poet, yes.

I love you,