Tag Archives: Influenza

Mighty Like A Virus

I hardly ever get sick, which means that on the rare occasions I am sidelined by a random plague, I’m convinced I’m at death’s door.

You can laugh if you like but, I have a healthy fear and respect for that tiny, mighty lifeform known as the virus. It doesn’t care what your plans are or how many items you have on your to-do list.  It just moves in, sets up housekeeping in your bloodstream, turns on some music and does the cha-cha all over your poor, feverish body.  If you’re unlucky, it will invite its friends to the party. And, frequently, there’s not much you can do about it until it gets bored and saunters off to find a new victim.


On the bright side, once you get your appetite back and can actually sit upright without feeling dizzy, you can indulge yourself in a good book without feeling too guilty about not being at your post. I’m spending my convalescence with Zoli, a historical novel about a Romani woman who is expelled from her family for revealing too much of their history and culture, though poetry and song, to the gadje (non-Romani). The narrative winds back and forth through time and place, beginning in Slovakia circa 2003, where a newspaper reporter searches the Roma camps for news of the mysterious Zoli, a legend in literary circles.  Loosely based on the life of the  poet Papusza, Zoli is equal parts beauty and heartbreak, and has definitely made me want to read more about Romani history and culture.

I do wish authors would stop using the word “gypsy,” though, in their book titles and descriptions.  From what my research tells me, many Roma people find it offensive, and yet its use persists.  Perhaps language, too, is like a virus that cannot be actively defeated, but only stubbornly waited out?

Leigh Anne


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Notes from a Sick Room

During an ongoing, week-long battle with a virulent batch of Pennsylvania brand flu, my doctor’s advice was simple: plenty of liquids, bed rest, pain reliever of choice, sleep, soup, etc. In other words, exactly what Mom always said.

Which, of course, translates into: time to self-medicate!

There were three creative artists that got me through this week, standing as they did at the foot of my bed like the three angels in Procol Harum‘s ode to the near-death experience, Juicy John Pink: Marcel Proust, David Lynch, and Robert E. Howard.

Proust, a neurasthenic who makes hypochondria look like an Olympic sport, is the perfect sickbed companion. Currently in the thrall of the last volume, Finding Time Again, of his monumental In Search of Lost Time, I spent a great deal of my time in surreal reverie, floating freely among endless sentences and phrases modifying constructs seemingly chapters apart, as all time came together and drifted away, all threaded together with regulated doses of Tylenol and 55-gallon drums of chicken soup.

And surreal doesn’t even begin to describe the auteur David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: the Gold Box Edition; suffice to say that, for 29-plus episodes, a bedridden flu victim could put aside the chicken soup and, at least in one’s mind, dream of endless servings of huckleberry pie (and murder, intrigue, and Log Lady’s zen-like approach to early 90’s tv).

Finally, what would staying home sick be without the comfort of a comic or graphic novel when the printed word or surreal video becomes too overwhelming? Childlike, I retreated into the arms of the ultimate hero, Conan the Barbarian, and, yes, found much comfort there. There is nothing confusing for Robert E. Howard’s most famous hero; good and evil, wrong and right, all is as it should be, at least in the land of Aquilonia after the fall of Atlantis but before recorded history.

I spent a great deal more time than I should have thinking about the relationships between these 3 creative artists, aside from the obvious fact that they are all available at the library (and, at the time, were standing at the foot of my bed). I found my conclusions rather unsettling, and had only to remind myself that my illness-addled brain was obviously seeing things that weren’t there.

Or was it?

Let the self-medicating continue!


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