good morning ~
Right off the bat I have to tell you: I was recently very directly exposed to COVID and I have to drop off the shows I was set to play in NYC this weekend. I was extremely looking forward to performing again, but it’s way too much of a risk for me to come down there.
The Whatever’s Clever showcase at the Broadway is still happening, though, and I urge you to go (vax’d and mask’d). Saturday’s show is postponed until....further notice?
The other thing is that it’s looking very likely that I myself am now sick with one of these so-called breakthrough infections, despite being vaccinated. I’m fine - feels like a bad head cold, some coughing and discomfort. But it’s still scary, and very transmissable. So if this email accomplishes anything today, I hope that it inspires you to at least take a close look at your various COVID safety measures. And please don’t go do anything if you yourself are experiencing any possible symptoms.
Today’s track features a recording of a front porch from a cabin in Vermont. I was sitting there quietly panicking while a single note from the hanging windchimes kept sounding out in the breeze. It was 5:15am, after first light but before the sunrise.
I was up at 5:15am and panicking because, despite all of the buddies gathered there being vaccinated, COVID had made a breakthrough into our sweet little getaway. Earlier that morning our friend’s test results confirmed that they were indeed sick with the virus. When we received word of the positive test via group chat our lovely swim off of the floating bridge came to an abrupt end. We all went about dealing with caring for our friend and the consequences of having all been in a house together - testing, cancelling plans, buying groceries and remedies, figuring out how to quarantine. Naturally that night I couldn’t sleep.
Besides the person with the confirmed infection, everyone else tested negative. Those results rolling in brought huge waves of relief - each “negative!” message pinging in the group thread felt like dumping water out of our shoes.
But then on the drive home from Vermont I started feeling that familiar “about to get sick” feeling. Which was strange, because I truly haven’t had so much as a cold since February 2020.
I used to get sick all the time, at least once a month, particularly when I worked at a movie theater crammed with cinema freaks and upper west side retirees every night. Getting sick at that job was simply a game of numbers: ride the subway with untold masses an hour both ways to go fill dark, hot rooms with breathing five times a shift. Fevers abound. And playing or going to gigs regularly is a great way to get sick, as we’ve learned - I look back fondly now on the time I got pink eye from a birthday party at Union Pool. And the last time I worked in an office the boss of the place refused to close her mouth while she was eating or sneezing - I got an extremely bad illness from her in February of 2020 which, for a while there, I assumed was an early version of COVID. Hopefully when I say that was the last time I worked in an office it turns out to be the last time I ever worked in an office.
As of this writing I’m feeling about 80% sure that I’ve come down with it. I’m congested, achey all over, coughing regularly, and generally feeling shitty - symptoms that are precisely in line with what my friends who have had breakthrough infections have experienced. But it’s such a weird limbo zone. The emerging science and recommendations on these types of despite-vaccine infections are pretty unclear as of yet and I’m still waiting for the COVID test I took this morning to confirm exactly what it is. Perhaps I coincidentally have all of these symptoms after a confirmed exposure to the virus - stranger things have happened. Maybe it’s a psychosomatic situation - I have worried myself into my ears being all plugged up. I’d believe that, too - I wouldn’t necessarily describe my mental health these days as rock solid.
But my gut tells me that I’ve gotten it, and whether or not the q-tip I stuck up my nose at the pharmacy’s drive-through window this morning confirms it I’m planning on staying indoors and watching action movies for the rest of the week at least. No gigs, no dancing, no public transit, no runs to the gas station for the super bubbly seltzer I’m low-key addicted to. And I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m trying to mentally steel myself for canceling gigs next weekend, and for possibly cancelling foreign travel plans that I’ve been clinging to for sanity for months. If the weekend techno festival in the woods is postponed next month I don’t know what I’ll do.
So there is dread, yes, and fear also. This virus can still kill people and will definitely continue doing so, make no mistake. It can also have awful longterm effects. Fear is useful and prudent. But there is less of it, and I’m trying to focus on how beautiful the less of it really is. I’m probably sick with COVID. But it is very unlikely that I will need to go to the hospital or even a doctor’s office - the vaccines have not prevented me from getting sick, but they’ve definitely prevented me from getting super sick and most of my friends were spared. A horrible sentence we’ve all been saying lately: the death rates are good.
There has been so much fear up until now. I am a fat person with chronic asthma, two pretty dire comorbidities. In fact, I’ve gained back a bunch of weight since March 2020, so I’m technically more at risk now than I was at the start of this thing. And it feels like I am just constantly acknowledging the tenuous grip we have on being alive - ever since we lost my friend two years ago I feel like anyone could suddenly be gone at any moment. But there was - yes there was - tremendous relief when I drove 3 hours to Utica to get the shots, and there’s a similar relief now at having experienced first hand that these injections are at least somewhat effective. I’m typing to you from quarantine at home, coughing occasionally, not breathing on a ventilator. The less of it.
Our strange, soft bodies - meat and electricity that perceives itself, surrounded by a cloud of microflora, assembling soldier blood cells to keep the virus advancement at bay, only sometimes succeeding.
But what about you? Are you scared? Are you regularly handing river frogs? What do we do now?