In case it is not easily accessible.
Today is the first day I only feel sick. Yesterday was better than the day before, but entirely focused on building up enough strength to get to my car and drive 2.5 miles to get tested. (Made it — but shit myself on the way back, reminding me briefly of a time when that would’ve mattered.) The week before that was spent on my back, pouring sweat and staring up through that skylight, literally delirious with fever. Normally this is what I’d have called “being really, really sick,” or “a drag.” But thanks to a battery of underlying conditions and the unique leadership style of Our President, what I was doing is called “dying” and that’s not actually something I’ve ever gotten to do before.
To be clear, I don’t get the results back for a couple of days still, so I don’t know if it was Covid. But I live in a hotspot and my closest place for supplies is probably Ground Zero (Open ‘til 2:00am!) People are mostly masked, but the ones who aren’t you don’t want to fuck with. I’ve been safe for 6 months, probably got sloppy: one of those times I was touching my face around the mask before getting home. If it wasn’t Covid, then there’s another King Hell knock-you-on-your-ass-and-hold-you-there disease out there and I’ll have to submit myself for study ‘cuz this wasn’t the goddam flu.
The major symptoms in my case: profuse sweating, paralyzing weakness and blinding headaches with just the slightest motion. The first signs were around sunset and by the next morning it was all full blown. It had a distinct taste: like caramel and tobacco. My mind was still normal: overwhelmed by all the things I thought I had to do… all nonsense by the time it was dark.
The Thing I’ve Been Most Afraid Of — knowing my life was being cut short because of Donald J. Trump…? Didn’t Mean A Thing: Nothing Did. Any conscious thoughts I might’ve had about expiring were all variations on Cat Stevens’ “Moonshadow” My life, relationships, ambitions, possessions… all just meaningless baggage I was about to leave behind. America, Free Speech, the Election… Trump… what was I even thinking? All of that was worth nothing compared to the way those branches moved in the wind, or the wisps of cloud floating beyond them, and what those things meant.
And the moon! Every night the moon would pass through my tiny little piece of the sky, slightly orange from the fire smoke, just skimming the edge of the tree, sometimes dancing in and out of clouds. I think it was the 2nd night when I woke up and saw it there. I was pouring sweat and literally too weak to move and thinking “What Luck!” I used to think these would be things I’d find unbearably sad to see, knowing I was about to leave them, but it wasn’t like that at all! There was so much to be considered in each moment even if I died tomorrow, that was centuries away! Just seeing them NOW was overwhelming.
The moon was a rock (“how far? I don’t know, Long way 200,000 miles I think”) being lit from the Sun (“Huge, Helium? Hydrogen? Gasbag CONSTANTLY EXPLODING but not, you know, exploding EVERYTHING, 92 million miles, certain) over the horizon somewhere out of sight. There’s dirt and dust on the pane but the orange of the moon is from forests to the north and east that have turned to hydrocarbons and dust in the atmosphere. Vast swaths of Ancient Redwood and Ponderosa, once infinitely complex ecosystems — now just a layer of soot floating in the sky (three miles up? five?) I vaguely recall this as having been sad, but there is no sad anymore — only various levels of amazing.
The slight orange tint to the moon starts firing off images in my head of Ponderosa and Redwood forests: high granite vistas in the Sierras and bike-touring back in my 40s. The way one or two needles always pierced the spandex when I’d sit down and just gaze out into the airspace, listening to the breeze whispering through the needles. The Redwoods had a different holiness and deeper silence and all the pictures in my mind were ferns and moss and dappled light, dripping limestone and perfect little creeks.
In the Sierras I was always alone, but the Redwoods came with a guestbook filled with the words and faces of long gone friends and lovers. all flashing through my mind all asking to be remembered, The one I picked I knew the instant I flashed on it because it was an experience I knew I’d never forget and yet hadn’t remembered for thirty years. I’m in a meadow surrounded by redwoods, eighteen and a half years old and lying on my back on a Mexican blanket, reunited against all odds with my One True Love since age fifteen and looking up at what will always be the most erotically beautiful woman in the world rocking on top of me, her eyes closed in ecstasy. When she arches her back I notice something high in the sky above us: a Monarch Butterfly, alone against the cloudless blue. It was a Perfect Moment that lasted about two seconds before a bird came from out of nowhere, snatched it out of the sky and disappeared. I spent the next minute watching with horrified fascination as this one tragic butterfly wing slowly tumbled through the still air straight towards us, knowing somehow if it hit us we were doomed.
Missed by about six feet. We had seven good years and one bad, but we were doomed in the end anyway.
I did try to write a post. It was on the fourth or fifth day and titled “You Don’t Want This” and tried to summarize about half a dozen unfinished freewayblogging essays and the last 20 years of my life.
I think it’s day 5 where I can’t move. Worst sickness I’ve ever had — insane sweating, headaches. all of it. Except breathing is ok thank god.
These are some of the 1100+ signs I made about Trump/Russia. We need to find out if this was our job.
Duty to Warn
duty to warn
Just before getting sick I had one of those really embarrassing moments of personal clarity where I found myself gobsmacked by the obvious: whether y’all think this is legal, illegal, frivolous, futile or gay, at least one reason there’s still only eight of us putting up signs is that literally nobody besides me is asking you to. Maybe this was clear to y’all from the start, but for some reason it was a huge goddam Eureka! moment for me. There’s something going on I just don’t understand. If I’ve been wrong about any of this 1st Amendment/Right to the Commons/Unlimited Right to Post/Duty To Warn stuff, Please do not hesitate to tell me! I’d like to get on with my life, now that apparently I’m going to continue having one.
I think it’s obvious Commander-in-Chief Fuck-You-All-And-Your-Votes intends to BushVGore his way through this with Infectious ACB so I hope our leaders have a better plan than 20 years ago.
separated at birth?
I googled “Carrie’s Mom” with nothing more than ideological snarkiness in mind, but seriously people: look at that.
I was tripping about as hard as I ever have for about five days on nothing but fever and whatever endorphin/dopamine cocktail my mind saves for the last hurrah. My physical requirements were getting to and from the bathroom (a five foot traverse that still made me feel like Sir Edmund Hillary) to keep guzzling water and taking aspirin to fight the fever, and to keep finding reasons not to have myself hospitalized. The fever was amplifying underlying fears and superstitions that the hospital would be the end of my road — the end of my freedom
JESUS CHRIST! THAT’S BLOOD!
Fuck You No it’s not.
You’re Pissing Fucking Blood!
No. It’s dehydration. Really Bad Dehydration. In case you haven’t noticed we’ve been swimming in sweat for three fucking days.
What if our kidneys are failing, or we’ve got Pancreatitus or who knows what kind of shit?
Well, we don’t. If we did it’d hurt, or something.
You don’t know that.
Okay, fair point. How about, Because Fuck You. Does “Fuck You” work?
I am a terrible doctor/patient, and these one-person conferences would always end the same way: go back to bed, go back to sleep. Deal with it later.
I probably should’ve checked in. I was delirious and had no idea or means of taking care of myself. But I’d fallen in love with my little piece of the sky and I didn’t want it replaced by Tucker Carlson. But mostly it was because the magic had started kicking in and I fiercely wanted to hold onto it. Along with the weird granular thinking of the waking hours and the half-state in between, the most psychedelic aspects of the extended fever state are the dreams, which are constant, extremely vivid, exceptionally unpredictable and grotesque. I should probably actually research the physiognomy of this, but it’s always seemed a natural result of a brain that’s slowly boiling.
Because I’ve got a suite of underlying issues that make Covid an assumed death sentence for me, the whole “constant, vivid, unpredictable and grotesque dreams” part of the onboard entertainment package could’ve gone very badly wrong, but fortunately my Entertainment Director added one simple, perfect rider to my contract.
I’m not a big believer in the supernatural, but if there’s an exception it’s the sixth sense that develops between twins and parents and children. My daughter and I were separated far too early, by distances that were too large and reasons that were too small, and so it’s always felt like we connected in some strange, borderline paranormal way to compensate. The best example would be her having no idea what my first favorite songs were, but there were two of them and they revolved around each other like a binary star in the center of my musical universe: nothing else ever came close. They were the Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel and the Lacrimosa to the Mozart Requiem. By strange coincidence those were her first favorite songs as well, they always remained so and nothing else ever came close. Believe me, we’ve checked for all possible sources of cross-contamination, there aren’t any. And while I imagine those two songs probably rank pretty high in a list of early favorites, that’s only one example. There are others.
Anyway, some kind soul saw fit to make sure she was in almost all of my dreams. That’s what I meant by “the magic” and what I was most afraid of losing by going to the hospital. Because of the fever the result was an extended father/daughter road movie written and directed by Stephen King. It was always just the two of us in a variety of vehicles driving around America. Half the time it was modern day and half was this creepy nostalgic American midwest circa 1963: lots of weird little one-intersection towns with frightening diners and unfriendly strangers. Law-enforcement was never our friend and no matter how ugly something was there was always a good chance it would turn into something worse. Now I know that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun but trust me, it was a blast.
Some episodes were perfectly normal — just talking and driving — with some plot going on that never quite comes to fruition. And some were just visually spectacular, without any supernatural elements: driving through sandstone canyons in Arizona and Utah, or watching snow blowing off the top of the Wasatch catching the moonlight on some fantastically clear and starry night.
There were two or three nightmares where I’d lost her and spent the whole time searching either frantic or heartbroken. Then I‘d wake up and find it was just a dream. She was just fine and I was a half-delirious old man soaking in sweat, barely able to move and about one minute away from shitting myself on my deathbed thinking ”Thank GOD!”
The beauty of fever dreams is their vividness gives them such a sense of weight it distracts you from everything else. When I’d wake up I’d just lie there transfixed, poring over the details. I knew I was dying, but so what? That wasn’t until later. What’s important NOW is figuring out the yellow apartment dream. (It was a good one too!)
It’s taken me about three days to write this. Still no word on the COVID test but apart from the sniffles I’m feeling about 100%. The more time I’ve had to think it over, the more certain I am that my pharmacologist saw this as our Farewell Voyage and broke out the Really Good Stuff ‘cuz I have never tripped that hard for that long, and that’s coming from an old pro.
Two quick last thoughts:
1) The most useful thing you can do for someone who is dying is allow them to see the sky.
(Hospice people and skylight people should get to know each other.)
2) The most powerful political weapon you have is your vote… on election day.
On all the other days it’s the First Amendment.