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Wendy Wimmer and the Deathly Hallows

I have pneumonia. I also have double the amount of science fiction to read, Our professor needed to change the schedule around so we had two Philip K. Dick books in one week on top of the critical theory (… must resist urge to–oh my god, I can’t! Dick! DICK! It was deep Dicking all weekend long! I was double Dicked! Ha! Ha. Oh I’m so sorry. Please forgive me) and still have pneumonia, and maybe have a couple of bruised ribs on top of it. Which, as you can imagine, is awesome. Pity my poor husband, who gets to sleep through a symphony of wheezes and death rattles, a harmony of very tiny banshees stuffed inside my pillow. Pity the man, despite the fact that the house is about to be enveloped by laundry and garbage, since when I try to carry a laundry basket through the house, I wheeze for twenty minutes straight and like God in Genesis, if I am at rest, the rest of the world shall follow my example.

Ok, so lack of sleep is making me cranky. The mega dose of antibiotics was actually working, but they were also requiring too much of my flutter tummy and by midday Friday, I was running to the bathroom and leaning over the toilet while breathing through my mouth and praying that no one would hear so that I didn’t have to deal with rumors of morning sickness for the next couple of months. It’s always touchy when speculating about fat girls getting pregnant.

So after a whiny e-mail to my doctor, she called in a Z-pack. I took all five pills religiously but any progress I made with the megabiotics has been eradicated. The bacteria in my lungs clearly enjoy a brisk attack of Zithromax. They find the quaint five day treatment invigorating. My doctor called in another Z-pack, which of course, makes sense, because why not just try the same ineffective thing again? I’m sure my lung bacteria are gearing up for a caged Deathmatch. Perhaps you’ll catch it on Pay-Per-View.

As for school, I missed class last week, due to the whole “deathly ill” thing, which is fine because I hated the Dick book for that week anyway. Yesterday, I made it down, packing some expectorant in my school bag, along with a wad of the diaphanous University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee toilet paper in case I had an unfortunate sputum incident.

(It is times like this that I have a difficult time maintaining the illusion that I am but a delicate fucking flower. Especially when I’m hacking like a four-pack-a-day lifer and when I’m asleep, apparently I sound a bit like a Mr. Coffee percolator that someone has filled with sludge. Or so I would assume, because when I wake up, it’s like I’m breathing through Silly Putty.)

But I made my way back to school this week, although it required an elevator ride both up to the third floor (normally I take the stairs if the elevator is more than a floor away because I despise waiting) and back down again (which just makes me feel like a lazy ass), but it was either that or expire dramatically in the stairwell. And I somehow doubt that I could pull off a convincing Satine, especially when instead of a bejeweled corset, I have a $3 Old Navy sweatshirt and instead of Nicole Kidman, I am–decidedly not Nicole Kidman.

Class was, as always, a treat, punctuated by the fact that one of the people I didn’t know in the program had apparently been discussing me with someone else I didn’t know in the program and I am apparently the departmental enigma, as she didn’t know how it was possible that there was someone in our very small creative writing program that she didn’t even know existed.

Those were the words she used. “I had no idea that you even existed!” she exclaimed.

I felt the need turn to the one person in class I had met before, the guy I think of as “Birkenstock Guy”, to prove that I have been around for awhile. And he nodded with great validation that yes, really, he’s been in classes with me before. So, in other words, I had to have a guy who only wears Birkenstocks without socks all year long to vouch for the fact that I actually existed.

Now, I have made a specific attempt to be part of every class discussion since the beginning of the semester, because science fiction is not my strong point and I haven’t been in a literature class since I was an undergrad, so I need to take special care to fight my urge to sit back and let everyone else do the talking. But honestly, the class has been incredibly interesting and I have learned so much that it’s been a great experience and I’m always fully engaged in the discussions and find something to add, hopefully without showing my ass, so to speak.

So this week, when we talked about the Dick Valis trilogy, I posited that the third book wasn’t even science fiction but rather something foisted upon us by the publisher after Dick’s death. Later, the professor made a comment about “what Michelle was saying earlier” and the three girls in the class each looked at each other as though to say “Is your name Michelle? I didn’t think your name was Michelle. But maybe Michelle is the other girl who dropped the class?”.

Later, I asked the professor to explain what made the third book scifi since his posit could also be applied to The DaVinci Code. To which he spoke for ten minutes and finally admitted that yes, using that definition, The DaVinci Code WOULD be considered science fiction. To which I raised my eyebrow in victory and then he talked for another ten minutes, finally mentioning some theorist’s argument that refutes Michelle’s suggestion about The DaVinci Code. Four people did a double take, looked at me, then at the professor and said in unison “Wendy?” The professor got flustered and apologized and I said that it was probably the single most frequent name that I am mistakenly called and perhaps it is my name in an alternate universe.

Or perhaps I really don’t exist.