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.

A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 146

The fire this time.

Thursday, September 10

We sit on the shore and wait for the wind, in the words of an old Russian proverb.

Back here, things sputter along. I have attended my final doctor’s appointment, this time with a neurologist. Like my other doctor appointments, it was uneventful. Not even a letting of blood.

Afterwards, I again went to the Union Square greenmarket, getting onions, tomatoes, apples, peaches, and a cucumber.

Emily has made an appointment with Geek Squad, the computer fixit folks at Best Buy, to see if her Android phone has a virus. For some reason lost to the distant past, her account there is in my name, so I’ll go along and bring my credit card just in case.

Tonight’s dinner: chicken paprikash again, ziti, sour cream, and a lettuce salad.

Entertainment: An episode of the Wales-based policier Hinterland on Netflix, plus another episode of Borgen.

A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 137

GOP Convention delegate Kim Jong-un.

Wednesday, August 26

Perfect weather for our Peapod delivery today—a high of 75F and a predicted low tonight of 61. From the preliminary list they sent out, it seems Peapod may actually deliver everything we’ve ordered. On top of that, this morning I received an electronic prompt that enabled me to make an appointment with my regular doctor for the end of next week—something his office has refused to arrange for almost a month, saying that they hadn’t yet “posted” anyone’s schedule for September. (A suggested slogan for that office: “All the bureaucratic drawbacks of the U.K.’s national health care and none of the advantages!”)

Between us, we have scheduled eight appointments with doctors and others, beginning on August 31 and running through September 11. Even if all of these appointments take place with no unexpected negative consequences, we’re wondering if we should stay in the city beyond two weeks—allowing ourselves some time there in self-imposed quarantine. If either of us contracts COVID while there, it might be better to stay in close range of NYC doctors. So maybe we will be there for three weeks; it all requires some pondering.

We’ll carry some foodstuffs back with us, but that won’t last us long. So, having come to accept the Peapod-plus-Damark food supply, we’ll have to discover another provider, as I said in the previous post. 

Trump must be finding his virtual GOP convention very frustrating. It’s getting even lower TV ratings than did the Dems. The performances apparently vary wildly—I’m amazed that anyone can stand to watch. There are the expected over-the-top paroxysms (Kimberly Guilfoyle), the likely illegal bits (Mike Pompeo’s appearance from Israel, MAGA man’s use of the pardon as a political prop), and the cringe-making skits worthy of TV sitcoms (anything involving Melania or Tiffany). They need something to juice up the proceedings: maybe surprise guest appearances from a bare-breasted Vlad Putin or from Kim Jong-un? Or Trump could just fire somebody on camera.

Dinner: ziti with roasted red peppers and feta cheese, lettuce and tomato salad.

Entertainment:  Britbox’ Wild Bill.

A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 132

Walgreens is always waiting.

Thursday, August 13

By 7 a.m., I could already feel the humidity building up. Some recent days have been uncomfortably hot, but over night it was cool enough to allow sleep.

In the mid-afternoon, Emily takes an inventory of her remaining prescription pills. This is preparation for her chat with her regular doctor, scheduled for Friday afternoon. Emily has received one e-mail alerting her to an upcoming Zoom video chat; another, alerting her to an in-person visit; and a third, of a phone visit. Which will it be?

Emily thinks maybe the video—unnecessary in most doctor chats, hardly a substitute for an in-person pulse-taking or body fondle—has to do with insurance. Maybe doctors need proof that they have truly had a patient visit, and Zoom provides that proof.

I tried to reschedule a phone chat with my NYU neurologist. I got past the reception desk and left a voice-mail message with the doctor’s assistant, requesting that she telephone me. No soap. I may never hear from them again. If they don’t make contact, I can try again in a few months. All I really need is a prescription refill.

Tonight’s dinner: a Greek salad with Kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, red onion and feta cheese, plus Chinese cold noodles with sesame sauce. An international smorgasbord to be sure.

Entertainment: two episodes of Netflix’ Italian series The Trial.