Tuesday, February 17, 2009

February 17, 2009

I feel like I am crazy. I am fairly certain it's either the illness or the medication.

Earlier this week, for context:

"You've got Influenza B," Anne the nurse practitioner says as she reenters my room. My lower back spasms painfully. She reaches into the deep, white pocket of her cotton coat and brings out her prescription pad. I am not given a prescription to bring to the pharmacy. No, Anne calls my prescription in. "You're highly contagious," she says and indicates that, based on my high fever, the illness is not only alive and kicking but fighting to reproduce itself in the bodies of others. She writes instructions on that prescription pad:

- Buy Delysm
- Quarantined for two days (or until fever below 99)
- Drink plenty of fluids

I drive to the pharmacy and purchase my incredibly expensive Tamiflu prescription, alongside the oft-recreationally abused Delsym syrup, a box of tissues, two liters of water, a thermometer, a small plastic jar of Vicks Vap-O-Rub, and off-brand aspirin.


An attempt at a visit to the cafeteria is absolutely unimaginable to me. My body's sweat is soaking through oversized Obama '08 t-shirt. I can barely keep my eyes open as I half-watch yet another streaming episode of the incredibly repetitive medical drama House load on my computer.

But I have not eaten anything all day. So I decide, at a reasonable dinner time (an estimated 6:30 PM) to rouse myself. I stand up. I slide a pair of Levis over my shaky legs. My breathing becomes heavy. I lie down. I fall asleep, House still loading beside me. When I awake, the episode is fully loaded. A glance at my computer's clock reveals that it is 7:45 PM. I drag myself out of bed and lift my car keys from my desk. I am fatigued. I fall back onto my bed. It is 8:30 when I wake up. I pick up my cell phone and call in an order for a personal pizza from the overrated place a short drive from my dorm. I make it to my car and can hardly believe it.

At the counter in the pizza place, I can't remember what I've ordered. The girl in the visor before me requests my last name. I give her my first and pass my credit card to her.

Outside, with my small pizza box, moonlight mingles with failing streetlight on the sidewalk. I note a strange sweet smell in the air. My heart rate quickens. I fumble for my keys. They are not in my purse, I decide, as my fingers frantically climb over mascara tube, rounded birth control packet, Bic lighter, stray bobby pin, crumpled receipt, dirty poplin wallet, Pilot pen. I pat my body. There, in my jacket pocket. My ears pound as I turn my head sharply over both shoulders alternately. I am sure something is about to appear from beyond that dark row of trees. I am sure a transient is going to emerge from beneath my parked car and slash at my ankles with a switchblade. I am sure my body will be discovered three years from now in a black trash bag, wholly decomposed save tooth and bone, by hikers marching merrily through a springtime Ravine Scene overrun with red wine-scented wildflowers.

I am sure I am the next true story the TV show CSI: Las Vegas will base a show around.

I finally get my car door open and slide quickly into the driver's seat. I instinctively lock the car doors, turn the ignition, and raise the volume of the nondescript song my stereo is playing. As I attempt to shake off the strange feelings, I travel toward the Courts parking lot. I turn left from Georgia Avenue. I see a cat bolt in front of my car. I slam on my brakes. It is not a cat, I realize, but a leaf blowing across the road. I push the accelerator and enter the parking lot. I think to myself, exhausted and confused, I can't go out anymore.

Friday, February 13, 2009

February 13, 2009


I can't stop saying it. Vagina. It's 5:15 and I am standing outside with the friends of mine I now refer to as "The Neighborhood," those who live in or around Courts or are here with enough frequency to count as residents. Passers-by note my appearance. My hair is big, my lips and nails are red, by eyes are wide. I am preparing for the evening's festivities. "Vagina," I politely greet them. One young guy stops and raises an eyebrow. "The Vagina Monologues!" I tell him, "Tonight, Guerry, 7 o'clock!"

Slightly shaky in the black dress I borrowed from one Kelly O'Mara who had purchased the same dress only days before at a trunk show, I approach a well-lit microphone and open with the 2009 Spotlight Monologue addressing femicide, specifically femicide occurring in the DRC. I want to well up as I read sobering numbers-- 300,000 women and girls have been raped and tortured during the struggle for tin and coltan, a material used in cell phones and play stations. I relay one story of a 16 year-old in Goma who was raped by 50 men. I hear the sound of my hard swallow echo throughout Guerry Auditorium.

"Femicide is the global warming of women," I hear myself saying. And I want to cry.

After my monologue, I sit in my place along the row of black-clad women, all of us with red folders in our laps. It feels good to be here. Really good.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

February 2, 2009

I stumble to the bathroom. Amy's open suitcase catches my pinky toe on the way. I am too preoccupied to feel it and pull the small bone out of socket. Hobbling now, I prop myself up at the sink and raise my head to stare down my own reflection. Even in the semi-darkness of early morning I can make out the reddish tinge of my bloodshot eyes.

I taste cheap white wine behind my molars as I walk to class 20 minutes early.

The only sign of human life apparent in the gray morning light is a fat loogie splayed over cracks in pavement I come upon as I pass through empty parking lots.

Monday, February 2, 2009

January 30, 2009

I rummage around in my purse for my driver's license and a plastic container of Tic-Tacs. (I rarely carry those commercial peppermint candies, but I had found a box in a drawer that morning and had stashed it in my plaid carry-all, all the while thinking: "for future reference.") My legs begin to shake. My abdominal muscles begin to contract and decontract as my heart beat becomes faster, seems to expand and thump the wall of my chest. David puts his hand on my leg. I try to calm myself.

I remember pulling out of the gas station. I remember seeing blue lights by the side of the road and saying, out loud as if to jinx, "That poor fucker..." No sooner had the words escaped my mouth than another set of blue lights became visible in my own rear view mirror. I checked my speedometer. 35, the speed limit or even 5 miles below it. "Is he following me?" I asked my dear companion. With a tone simultaneously delicate and firm, David replied, "I think so. You should turn right." I turned my car onto a side street and heard the whooping of flashing government automobile like warped and amplified bird call in the night.

Now, as a uniform-clad man approaches my window, I begin to whimper. "You're my designated driver," David says simply, the whites of his eyes reflecting rotating lights of the police car behind us. I lower my window. "Ma'am," the officer begins, his statements so markedly matter-of-fact in stern drawl, "D'you know why I pulled you over?" I, for the first time, answer this question truthfully: "No, sir." "Your headlights were off." I quickly switch them on and explain that I had only turned them off for the visual comfort of other patrons at a gas station. "Well, that's somethin' we look fore in drunk drivers," the cop continues. He pauses ever so briefly.

"Have you been drinkin' tonight?"

"No, sir," I respond, the taste of five Tic-Tacs lingering in my mouth. I gesture to my boyfriend. "He has been," I relay, "but he is of legal age. I'm his designated driver." The policeman looks at my license. "How old are you?" he asks me. "20."

For what seems like two hours the cop stays back in his car, my driver's license in his hairy, white hands. David's external calm is rock-solid. I try, by squeezing his hand in mine as I imagine every worst-case scenario possible, to suck some of it from him.

There is a tap at the passenger side window. The cop is back. I open the window and reach for my license. "Alright, ma'am," the officer says. I notice for the first time that he is wearing sunglasses. It is well past midnight. He gestures to David, who looks straight ahead. The police officer proceeds to say, "Now you take his man on home and let him sober up."