Be Well

Let’s face it, the only advantage to being sick is the grousing you get to do. That, and the free pass to binge-watch This is Us (or as I call it: This is Handsome – are the men on that show for real?). My youngest and I had the flu at the same time and spent three codependent days in a loop of starring at the ceiling, brushing her dolls’ hair, and dozing off. I really don’t know if she has gone to school at all in the last month. She isn’t here now, so I think she went back. I had every possible symptom and suffered immeasurably and – wait! There is another benefit to being sick: boring people to anguished tears by describing your experience!

I got the virus, my husband got it, my friends got it, my mom and sister got it, and then, once the plague cycled through, everyone got a secondary ailment. I landed a lingering case of the blues (right before a second – but shorter – round of the virus).

I get horribly morose when I’m ill. On one of my low days, I went on a quest for some kombucha. (I transitioned directly from ridiculing kombucha drinkers to being a kombucha drinker. Life is funny). I walked into Ralph’s Thriftway when, for the first time in my life, an automatic door shut, firmly, on me. I was pressed for a moment between the squeezing panels until they registered my feeble resistance and retracted. It was as I had feared: I had ceased to be. Illness had leeched away my essence and even the automatic doors no longer recognized my personhood. This is how I get when I am sick. It’s why marriage vows used to include “in sickness and in health,” before everyone realized the “in sickness” portion was too tall an order.

My mom and sister both drop about 7 pounds apiece when they are sick. They emerge, weakened but winnowed, looking like Marlene Dietrich. They complain to me about it, and I listen, feigning sympathy over the phone while I munch, munch, munch on my third bowl of honey coconut oil popcorn. Loss of appetite? Maybe someday when I am ready to kiss this cruel world goodbye, but for now, illness doesn’t dampen my desire for meals. Although it may prevent me from being energetic enough to cook them.

I recently discovered the subdued charms of miso soup. My phone autocorrects this to “misogynist soup,” but I am trying to ignore that and assume it isn’t part of the larger cultural zietgeist. I don’t feel justified in offering a recipe for this, since any carton of miso will tell you exactly what to do (mix with warm chicken broth and bonito flakes, add scallions, tofu, etc) but I do want to recommend it, in case you are one of the remaining ill in Olympia.

I made it a couple times recently and at my daughter’s urging, added rice noodles. It’s convenient to have a container of the paste in the fridge so you can make a quick cup up anytime you are feeling sick/morose. And if you use Better than Bouillon, which comes in several varieties, then you don’t have to open a whole carton of broth.

Drink a cup, and contemplate just how horribly I suffered during this gruesome cold and flu season. And if you want to call, I will be happy to tell you all about it.




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