A Journal of the Plague Year 2021–chapter 239

Break out the Burma Shave.

Friday, November 19

Bearded men haunt my dreams. 

I toss and turn amid visions of bewhiskered men thronging the city sidewalks. Everyone has a beard but me. I know that I must grow one—but worry that my face will fail to produce a respectable growth. 

The bearded men are menacing. No one is recognizable.

When I wake up, I realize that the beards in my dreams are no more than the COVID-prevention face masks that you’re supposed to wear. In fact, many unmasked people are walking around the city streets. That’s even more worrying.

I’ve visited the dentist, my GP, and a urologist. I have another serious dentist visit upcoming on Monday, when I am supposed to get a root canal and have a temporary crown replaced with a permanent one. Emily spent hours at her dentist, also getting crowns. She has visited her GP and must go back there again in December.

Surely we will begin to see NYC not as “fun city,” in the much-derided words of onetime Mayor John Lindsay—but as a site of annoying, painful doctor visits and Rx pick-ups. 

I am also plagued with anxiety…mostly that I am going to forget something. (It’s not that my memory is bad; I don’t really have that problem yet.) 

It’s all little stuff. If I have one appointment scheduled for, say, Thursday, I fret that I will somehow be late or miss the appointment altogether. A single item on the mental to-do list weighs like a nightmare on the brain. Oh, I must remember to get cranberries and cornbread mix—but WHEN will I have time for that? And Thanksgiving is ONLY SEVEN DAYS AWAY!!

I discussed this anxiety with my doctor. He assures me that I am not alone. The pandemic has also led to an epidemic of worry among the general population. You can try drugs or meditation, it seems.

After my GP visit, I went to a nearby Whole Foods to get a bagel and a few hard-to-find items such as dried shiitake mushrooms. When I went to the seating area to scarf down the bagel, a small female security guard asked to see my proof of vaccination. This made my day! I whipped out the iPhone and showed her my recently downloaded New York Excelsior Pass. It was the first time I’d gotten to use it. And, despite my anxiety, it worked!

Dinner: Braised chicken with lemon and olives.

Entertainment: The Scientology-inspired movie The Master.