Sick Days, Swelter Days (and no, I don’t have Swine Flu)

“Well. I guess you have swine flu.”

I heard this many different times over this weekend, in its various permutations. On Facebook, in person, from teachers and students and even, in one instance, yelled at me from the back of a box truck by Dan Clifton.

I just kept walking.

But still, it was unavoidable that from Saturday, I had felt like shit.

What was actually causing me to feel this way, seemed constantly an open question.

I awoke on Saturday to find it 80 degrees and climbing, a vast change from the previous New York City weather and I even didn’t feel anything for a while. I gathered to go see some old Magic-card friends, including compadre Christian Calcano, who returned some video games and a book to me, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I had given it to Christian, a young man not accustomed to reading pop-fiction, because I thought he might appreciate the main character: an overweight Dominican-American-New Yorker nerd who loves role-playing games (and who may have born some passing resemblance to Christian himself).

I was hesitant to take it back when Christian told me he’d only read half of it, but was assuaged when he told me: “Don’t worry. It was so good, I bought my own copy.”

“Fine.” I said. “But I’m still taking my video games.”

Still, I was normal for this first interlude, if not a little retrograde sitting in the sweaty back-corner of a mixed-martial-arts dojo that was rented out for the Magic event. But as I got out and about, I found myself more and more hounded by an oncoming sense of weakness, dizzyness; a remove from the world.

My parents insisted it was hay fever, claiming their own experience “around my age” with allergies and also citing the change in weather and the unusually high pollen levels precipitated by it.

But by the evening, I had begun to get chills and taking off my clothes for bed, I shivered, teeth chattering.



“Is this normal?” I asked.

This was not Andrew McNown’s specialty. He was my old TA from Digital Frame and Sequence, my Freshman year photgraphy class and now a member of the staff. Andrew is remembered well in my memory, not only for his all-encompassing knowledge of anything “Final Cut”, but for his suggestions of cheap food-beer combination places that might cater to adolescents including the Xanadu-like China Beer and China Wine, cheap Chinese Food digs that gave you a pitcher or a carafe with every dish. I wish I could post their locations here, along with the other food-kinda places I like to put up here, but alas, I never did fget a chance to go and their locations faded from memory.

It was Sunday now and it was even hotter than Saturday, which would seem inconcievable, but then there you are, and inside the mildly air-conditioned Tisch building I was shivering once again.

I was there to meet with my editor, the inimitable Rob “Beardo” Malone. I had felt shitty again when I had woken up that morning, but I hadn’t had the chills. It was Rob who first suggested to me–along with the front page of The New York Times and the TV–that I had swine flu. Whatever it was, it made it hard to concentrate and when I started to get chills, I decided to go seek out Andrew’s help. Andrew was kind to a fault, bringing me tea, sugar and offering me even to call me an ambulance. I assured him this was unnecessary–I could still walk–but at this point though, people had started to become more concerned. My Dad came over to Tisch, my Mom started calling me, when I put up my Facebook status apologizing for my lack of blog updates, I was rushed with people asking me if it was Swine Flu.

My Dad ended up taking me out to Katz’s where I ate my first real meal of the day (the other great tragedy of whatever I had, was that it left me with little appetite). As we got back in the car so my Dad could drive me home, he commented on my fortitude at least.

“You know what your Grandpa Donald used to say, you know.” My dad offered. “A Feitel doesn’t get sick until after dinner.”


Monday was no better, really, starting off the day with that Cliftonian incident and the NYU-Health Center telling me I had a cold–the only thing I was motherfucking sure I didn’t have. But I thought it was my last screenwriting class ever and as I sat down to write and not write and finally write (right?), I felt all was well with the world even as I stumbled to class. Beardo even came up for my last script reading, even though I found out that there was actually class next week. But the pages went over well. And my producer liked my rough cut. And as I settled in for the last event of the evening, going to go see a reading of Jay O. Sanders’s play about Rwanda, I found myself surrounded by Zephyr and Beardo and my father and even Jay’s punk-little son, who was fun and off-the-wall, but who I can’t help resenting a little, seeing as even though he’s a freshman in high school, he is and always will be taller than me.

To put it short, I found myself surrounded by my friends and people who cared about me, in one way, or another. People who would sit next to me even when they thought I might have Swine Flu. By the end of the play, which was excellent, I found myself feeling quite a bit better as I took the walk home with Z-Bomb offering him insight how living in a college-professors community might ingratiate him to the hot professor’s daughter.

And I thought to myself, comparing the bitterness of my last post, what I’ve accomplished in the last little while. I’ve pitched a TV show, written a sizeable amount of screenplay, I’ve become an editor for a well-respected blog and now I might actually have a little movie that might end up “good”. These are no small feats and even as I consider the world beyond college, well I guess, I might have somewhere to stand. Plus whatever illness I had felt much better.

That is, what I thought, until I got home and started feeling woozy again.

Oh well. Can’t win ’em all.


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