So I'm sitting here on my couch taking a legitimate sick day. What's wrong, you ask? I'm battling the dread pink-eye. Yes, I have a childhood communicable disease. And it's miserable. My poor eyes are red, sticky, itchy, and gimpy. I'm not allowed human contact for 24 hours.
Since I'm a teacher, I took a sick day so I don't spread this plague to my bright-eyed students, who would just absolutely hate to catch something that would force them to miss a day or two of school. Sick days as a kid were a miraculous suspension of time, and it's no different as an adult. A sick day is a respite from busyness - I'm not allowed to do anything but rest and take care of myself and ingest liquids and put drops that sting onto my eyeballs every few hours. The downside - I have to miss a couple of dress rehearsals for my play (which is this weekend), but in the theater, things always seem to come together anyway.
Right before a very curt, older doctor diagnosed my disease yesterday, I received a fraud alert from my bank. Apparently, my card number had been used to spend $650 at Shaman Market, as well as donate a bunch of money to some e-fawateer.com and other strange-sounding businesses. So as goop invaded my eyes, some random loser invaded my bank account. Even though it wasn't a huge amount comparative to what it could've been, it got me thinking about how easily once can be invaded and how little control we have over it all.
There is so little in life we can predict or avoid. Sure, I can reset my passwords and put the antibiotics in my eyes, but really, will any of that really guarantee anything? Only that I may not have itchy eyes for a few days and that my account is safe until it gets skimmed again. I don't know where I picked up the eye cooties, or where it was that my card was compromised.
Lack of busyness on a sick day also allows the mind to wander. I think I make myself busy so I don't think about all the things that can go wrong - I like to believe that I have control over my life. Then conjunctivitis and bank fraud thrust their way into my life. Of course, that sent me down memory lane and all the things I had no idea could happen. My dad leaving, my mother dying, all the trips to emergency rooms over the years when my kids did crazy things like eating Christmas tree lights and breaking their bones.
But there are also wonderful things in my life, also out of my control. Like meeting my BFF in the third grade, having my children turn out to be wonderful, kind, adorable people, falling in love again when I least expected it, and often meeting the right people at the right time who support me in my crazy writing endeavors.
So I guess what I'm learning on my fevered sick day (did I mention I just a few moments ago threw up and started getting chills in addition to my eye ailment?), is that communicable diseases and other horrors are awful in the way that other intrusions into daily life are wonderful. I don't want to know what's coming next. It could be dangerous.
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Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.