*Picture an image of a bed, covers crumpled and pulled back. There’s a laptop, tissues, and a mason jar of water. I’m not in the photo because I’m behind the camera. I’m wearing a matching pj set and my hair is thinner than normal, but I think that’s unrelated to my current state*
When I was sick from school, I always watched Kill Bill Volume I, followed by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, then capped it off with Kill Bill Volume II. Sometimes if I had the wherewithal to sit up, I’d read a book. Sick days were rare for me, anyway. More frequent as I got older, though less tied to sickness and more to sadness. But a cough and cold were much easier excuses.
I hate being sick. I’m writing from bed, surrounded by Mucinex (off-brand) and handkerchiefs (yep, I use those). Earlier this morning, I had to give myself a 10-minute pep talk in order to sit up and drink water. Did you know that Salt Lake is drying up, believed to be caused by climate change, and arsenic dust from the lake is polluting the air? That’s how my mouth felt. I feel useless, both because I’m sick and because I can’t stop Salt Lake from drying up.
Here’s the stupid truth. Being sick makes me feel guilty. Lying in bed? All day? Doing… nothing? It’s infuriating. It’s not a guilt about work as in the work that I actually make money from. It’s a guilt that I’m not making the most out of my one life. That I’m not working on a farm in Portugal or writing the next Great American Novel or, rule of threes, doing at least one of the many things on my to-do list. Capitalism? Social Media? My own brain of its own volition? Who’s to say who’s to blame! But all the same, guilt.
This round of illness, which apparently isn’t COVID according to the four tests I’ve taken, I’ve chosen a scholarly route. I’m currently watching Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. Not currently currently, because right now I’m writing while Emily Gilmore berates anyone in her path. But before I started this 27-minute timer, and after. The movie is a gorgeous 3 hours and 21 minutes. It’s in French. I had to login to Criterion to watch it! I! Am! Thinking!
Imagine if a ‘Day In The Life’ TikTok was meticuously and painstakingly crafted and then instead of a minute long, it was over three hours and there’s next to no music. That’s Jeanne Dielman 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. It’s stunning and lived in and a little boring, which I’m sure Jeanne would agree with. We’ve only been doing her daily routine with her for three days. Lord knows how long she’s been going through her schedule, day in and day out. While being sick makes me feel lazy, I do have an annual movie goal, so I’m technically working towards something by watching movie after movie these past few days. Allegedly Jeanne is THE movie to watch, according to my friend Ben who heard that according to Sight and Sound.
The Sight and Sound blurb reads as follows: “A magnificent epic of experimental cinema offering a feminist perspective on recurrent events of everyday life.” The film’s director, Chantel Akerman, always rejected this phrase, “feminist perspective.” To her, her films showcased a perspective, often with a female lead. Does that make it a feminist perspective, or a perspective under a feminist umbrella. To Akerman’s point, feminism, much like any theory, is not a rigid set of rules or dogma. Jeanne’s life would be hell to some and heaven to others. A purgatory to her. Your film can be rated the Greatest Film of All Time (this decade) and still be labeled in direct conflict with your view on it. But art is offered up from our palms, head bows, as the masses decide what it is.
My sick day guilt is a feminist perspective on the stresses of a woman who is trying to exist so hard that she never actually stops. If I never stop, maybe I’ll live forever or at least forget that I won’t.
I’m not sure if I’m supposed to take Mucinex every 6 or 12 hours and I can’t check the bottle because I once got a paper cut on the edge of the directions so I ripped the whole label off. Now I don’t know, nor does the internet. And I’m resisting the urge to look up Salt Lake. I heard from someone that the governor of Utah asked everyone to pray for rain. I feel bad, wondering if that governor actually believes what he said. Then again, do I believe half of the stuff I say?
I think I won’t be sick tomorrow. I think I’ll take “healthy” for a test drive, see if I like it. I think I’ll still feel guilty for something. I think I’ll read, whether or not I can sit up. I think I’ll learn about another environmental disaster and I’ll put in on the mental mantel where I put all the others. I think I’ll use as many “I” statements as I like because after all, this is my perspective. And I think I’ll take another Mucinex, and pray for rain, because really, what can it hurt?