Shingles? But I Have a Metal Roof!
Here's a tip for you aspiring authors out there: the very best time to challenge yourself to write in unprecedented volumes is at times of peak stress with a shortage of available free time and if at all possible, when various viruses and other microscopic beasties have taken advantage of the lowered immunity stress brings.
Sometimes, it feels like the infamous Murphy is sitting, watching, just waiting for me to commit to something so that he can step in and work his mischief. Regular readers are already familiar with the initial postponement of "15 in 30" due to circumstances somewhat beyond my control. For those who somehow missed it, the time-line thus far is this:
Monday Morning, 12/6: Liam decides that Christmas, with all of the associated travel, gift shopping, baking and other extraordinary tasks, is the PERFECT time to saddle himself with extra homework, and further decides that rather than simply entertaining this idea in private, he will further "motivate" himself by announcing to the world his intention to write 15 humor essays in 30 days.
Tuesday Morning, 12/7: Liam's ex-wife announces that for personal family reasons having NOTHING to do with the surplus of warm, sunny weather in Louisiana as compared to Connecticut at this time of year, she must depart and would he (Liam) please come pick up their son on Wednesday evening for the rest of the week. Sons are great. Spending time with them is great. However...
Wednesday Morning, 12/8: Liam realizes that sons are NOT conducive to prolific writing, particularly not when those sons are nearing their 5th birthday and think that the world is just perfect if Daddy will spend every waking hour playing on the Wii with them... and don't understand why the world shouldn't be just perfect. The baser part of Liam's nature also recognizes the value of the moment, in that a few years back, if he'd told anyone he planned to spend the day playing with his son's Wii, it would likely have caused him some legal trouble. So Liam announces to the world that he will be postponing the start of "15 in 30" until Friday morning.
Wednesday Evening, 12/8: Liam drives down to Northampton, MA, where he meets his ex-wife to pick up his son. On the way there, Liam notes a certain painful throbbing in the area of his nasal passages and, not having recently taken up snorting Liquid Plumr, realizes that this is most likely the onset of a winter cold or flu, of the exact sort that will make being the primary care-giver to his son much more of a literal than figurative headache.
This brings us to today, early in the morning on Saturday. My neck is stiff, I'm feverish, I'm coughing up large blobs of what I can only imagine is some industrial wood putty I accidentally inhaled while trying to snort that Liquid Plumr, and oh, yes, my scalp hurts. Not the sinus headache from a few days ago (although if I stop taking ibuprofen in doses large enough to qualify as agriculture, I'm sure that would return as well), but a surface pain which signals the return of yet another blast from the past: shingles.
In my life, I have an appalling record of picking up and retaining minute details while losing sight of the larger picture. I will note a sale on milk and drive 15 miles to buy some, ignoring that with the added gas, the milk could be free and it would not be a bargain. I research the top brands of cleaning products, forgetting that as a bachelor, the last time my house got a thorough cleaning was almost certainly before I purchased it. And in the same vein, I know that one of the best ways to keep winter weather from adversely impacting your life is to put shingles on top... and have apparently forgotten that the end of that sentence is "...of your house" and not "of your skull."
Shingles, for those who are not aware, in a resurgence of the varicella virus that gave us "chicken pox" when we were children. ("Varicella" comes from a Latin root meaning "Yeah, you only THOUGHT you were done with it after you developed that embarrassing pock-mark scar on the tip of your nose in the 3rd grade")
The way it works is like this: a child gets "chicken pox" and his parents are forced to keep him inside and calm, a task which any parent will tell you is about as possible as playing a prolonged game of "fetch" with a rottweiler using a t-bone steak. And so after a day or so, the child still confined to the house, has begun bouncing off of the walls like a ping-pong ball in a lottery machine, and so in order to keep the child occupied and out from under foot, the parents engage him in a game of "hide and seek", hoping that their child will display the same level of savvy that purchasers of the "Sham-wow" show and will not quickly recognize that their parent is not living up to their end of the game, in so much as the only thing they are actively seeking is a bit of peace and quiet. The child, more tired than they realize from their disease, ends up falling asleep in the closet and everyone wins, including the "chicken pox" virus, which will turn out to find "hide and seek" to be the virus equivalent of on-line poker.
And so, as the child begins to regain health, the last few strands of virus decide to start what will now be a life-long edition of this new-found thrilling game, and they hide in the various closets of your body and fall asleep until the parents (antibodies) stop seeking them. Then, just like children, they pop back out at the most inopportune time and want to play with your Wii.
No, actually, they pop back out and start attacking one of your nerve bundles, generally the one closest to where they've been hiding, and which nerve that is decides where your symptoms will show up. Sort of like a microscopic game of "Whac-a-mole", but it isn't prize tickets which emanate from the game console when it's over.
And of course, it is apparent that the nerve in my body which has been thoroughly attacked today is the part of my brain responsible for saying "Hey, y'know, signing myself up for 15 essays in 30 days, when I haven't written 15 essays in the last year and a half probably isn't such a good idea when I have about as much free relaxation time as a tap dancer on a very large griddle.
Mr. Murphy has earned his Christmas bonus this year.
[This was the second essay in the 15 in 30 series, although since it required some significant polish from its original form, it didn't post until after the fourth. Unfortunately, this puts it very close to the fifth, which also consists of my whining about being sick, so perhaps that one will be postponed as well.]
Copyright © Dec 11, 2010 by Liam Johnson. http://humor.liamjohnson.net