Things I learned while laid out with the flu

(or is it “laid up with the flu”…?)

1. It is, in fact, possible to be sicker than one’s spouse. In run-of-the-mill illness contexts (and contests, which much of marriage is), one is never sicker than one’s spouse, no matter how sick one is, and regardless of which one you are – the really sick one or the other really sicker one. But when laid out with the flu, one is by default sicker than one’s spouse (and one’s children and one’s friends and maybe one’s entire circle of acquaintances), unless one’s spouse is also laid out with the flu, in which case you are both winners. Or losers, as the case may be.

2. Fevers are hallucinogenic. Not being personally familiar with the hallucinogenic qualities of other substances, I can’t speak to the relative quality of flu’s hallucinogenicness. But its quality is really a moot point when one is in a comatose (and also victorious) state of being sicker than one’s spouse.

3. Based on their cumulative-use consistency, tissues are most likely made out of tree-bark. I checked the label to confirm this. I see that the packaging is made from recycled paper; that the tissues themselves are touted as “kind” and “pampering” and “indulgent” (the truth of which ranks right up there with one’s spouse being sicker than oneself when one’s spouse doesn’t have flu), and that these particular tissues are made in the USA from both domestic and imported material. Meaning domestic and imported tree-bark. I also see that the design of this particular tissue box is “Ogee Birch.” My point exactly.

4. One can live without snacking every hour-and-a-half. In fact, one can live without eating anything at all for one, two, even three days. But seriously…snacklessness isn’t fatal…?

5. It’s possible to be more exhausted than one was after giving birth. Naturally. For 16 hours. With no drugs. Who knew?

6. It’s possible to be more achy (I can only assume the relative intensity, mind you) than one would be after a super-extreme-turbo-full-body workout. Which isn’t a good reason to actually do a super-extreme-turbo-full-body workout – “because it’s not as bad as the flu.” Please.

7. It’s possible to live without reading a single page (let alone a whole book) for one, two, even three days. It’s not possible to live well, but it’s possible to live.

8. It’s possible to be so out of things that one doesn’t really notice or mind the taste of throat lozenges. At all. I mean, really?

9. It’s possible to be so not-one’s-self that the world’s greatest candy tastes worse than tree-bark, worse than dirt, worse than something that died and then rolled in something else that died and so now stinks like something that double died.

10. If one can seriously imagine life without Peanut Butter M&Ms … if one’s been bookless for days … if one has contemplated having another child because “it wouldn’t be so very much work” … if one has considered engaging in a legitimate full-body workout because “really, how bad could it be?” … if one’s nasal vicinity resembles shredded tree-bark … well then, one wins.

One is definitely sicker than one’s spouse.

One is finally number one.

Drag oneself out of bed and let the party begin.

Superbowl lessons

Here’s what I learned while watching the Superbowl last night (besides the fact that if and when the world’s power goes out, we are all going to be babbling fools):

1. Soldiers and farmers deserve our admiration and respect.

2. Modesty and decency will get you nowhere.

3. A man’s courage and coolness increase exponentially based on the speed of his car.

4. Men in general behave like children.

5. Goats in general are smarter than men.

6. Women want a cellphone that matches her skin tone.

7. Little boys want only to be an astronaut.

8. Little girls want only to be a princess.

9. Being top-dog, whether you’re 6 or 60, is what matters most.

10. In the end, it’s all about sex. And beer.

I learned this while watching the game with my faithful, smart, wise husband of 27 years.

I learned this while sipping on a tall diet A&W.

I learned this while reminiscing about my humble, gracious, giving grandparents.

Today I am learning how to clear my head of all the things I learned last night because, except for the thing about soldiers and farmers, it was all a bunch of rot.



Groundhog Sonnet

Photo: CKirgiss
Photo: CKirgiss

Groundhog Day 2013 is fairly mild in the heartland. The snow is dusted sugar. The air is misted grey. A person can breathe without shellacking her nasal passages into a frozen wasteland.

But in northern Minnesota, Groundhog Day is never mild. Never sugared. Never shadowed.

It matters naught what Punxsutawney Phil does or does not see in faraway Pennsylvania. If he were brave enough to live in the northern tundra, he would always be quite shadow-free on February 2.

Truth be told, most northern tundranites like it that way. Cold and snowy, that is. Cold and snowy and beautiful. Cold and snowy and beautiful and substantial. Cold and snowy and beautiful and substantial and magical. Cold and snowy and beautiful and substantial and magical and real.

Still – every now and then, sunbeamed shadows on February 2 in the northern tundra would probably be most welcome.

Like when there’s been snow on the ground since Halloween. Like when the collective preschool population is riotously climbing the city walls. Like when the ice-fishing villages have become so established that it’s hard to distinguish whether their sprawl is seasonal or permanent – or whether they will ever yield up their devoted inhabitants (who hopefully still have jobs and families somewhere on the mainland).

I’m long gone from the northern tundra and suspect I would not survive another of her winters. But at one time, her frigid air was shellackingly familiar. Sonneteering was one of several (quirky) strategies to survive the season. And so this, from 1999:


Hark! What sound doth I hear out my frozen
Window payne on this early and frigid dawn?
A scraping, snuffling, earthy noyse; chosen
Claws and whyskers scratching the earth upon.
Ah! thinks I, ’tis the February’s moon
Day two – Candlemas, Purification –
A day whereupon northerners cry, “Soon,
Oh dear God we beggeth a vacation.”
But the scraping, snuffling, earthy thyng laughs
Softly in its fur, yawning at the syght
Of a dark and shadowless land what hath
No shine, no thaw, nor any ‘morrow’s light.
Up here are froze our fannies and our cars.
But in their sacred course, we’ve still the stars.

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Groundhog Day. Go ahead. Have a party.