Tuesday, September 6 2022

espresso, covid symptoms, and septemberfest

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Tuesday. I'm writing from my office chair today, where I share the company of a big sunny window, a bunch of hairy spiders, and an icy, cold cup of Starbucks espresso. I ran out this morning to re-up on beans, and I couldn't resist getting a drink.

"It's a reward for leaving the house," I told myself. A cup of coffee as a reward for buying more coffee. Does that make sense? Only in a twisted, caffeine addicted way, sure.

I love espresso. This used to be my go-to drink before starting my shift at Starbucks. Even to this day, a few shots over ice can lull me into a quiet, working mood.

Sip. That's the good stuff.

It's a new week, and coming off a holiday we have a whole day advantage. I need a fresh start. Last week, I tried to get back on the horse a little too soon after fatefully underestimating the lingering effects of covid symptoms. I tried to convince everyone that I was back in action, but this stinking disease would have me asleep in bed just a few short hours later. "Oh I'm ready to get back to work... as long as I can squeeze in a three hour nap," I joked.

The sore throat was done, and we even left the CDC recommended window of contagiousness, but COVID brings a lot of weird, lingering symptoms that we'd come to learn about first hand. For instance, have you heard of "COVID teeth"? I woke up every morning with sore, aching gums, feeling like an eager dentist just went to town on my mouth while I was asleep. Marissa found a source online that said the persistent sinus pressure would do that. Ironically, this "covid teeth" effect made me decide to pick up flossing again. My teeth were already in pain, so I may as well get some hygiene out of it.

Or how about bad sleep? It took us forever to fall asleep, and once we were asleep, waking up again felt impossible. I thought I was to blame for wrecking my sleep cycle with all the long-tail midday naps, but people in my family tell me that COVID is known to mess with sleep.

And of course, COVID had a mysterious knack for siphoning away my energy. Laying on the couch all day made it easy to convince myself I was ready to get back to daily life, but with COVID even just sitting on a couch expends energy.

It feels good to be back - really back. This dark, swirling glass of espresso is doing the trick, but the holiday weekend helped too. On Sunday, after taking it easy all morning, we ventured out into the world to check out Septemberfest - the annual fair in Schaumburg. I attended this same fair all throughout my own childhood and teen years I spent in Schaumburg, and for old timers like me they kept everything exactly the same. Rusted metal. Rickety, grinding gears. Chipped paint and faded colors.


How do you feel about roller coasters? These old school Midwestern fairs seem to reach a new level of terror. As the groaning steel ferris wheel hoisted our tired carriage into the air, the knowledge that all of this machinery was temporary made the speed and heights even more thrilling.


I know this picture makes it look like the ferris wheel terrified Miles, but he was crying for a wholly different reason. He wanted to stand on the seat and look over the plastic barrier, but Marissa held him down with her arms wrapped tight around his waist like bun-gee chords. The ferris wheel is more of an adult ride, anyway. Where else can you get a view like this?


the Schaumburg skyline - so unapologetically suburban, it's kind of beautiful

The carousel was more Miles' speed. He was free to squirm any way he wanted to on his own bobbing horse.


As a family, we agreed that the most thrilling ride was the dead-eyed, grinning caterpillar. It went just fast enough to make us feel like the flimsy seat belt bar was more of an honorary safety measure. The track plummeted sharply downward, and each time we circled the ride the same pair of rusty pliers lying on the pavement caught my eye.

It was hard not to pay attention to the racket that is carnival economy. You can't just pay for rides. You have to first launder your own money into tickets, which this year were digitized in little credit cards. Somehow, you're always one ticket short of another ride. But even getting frustrated with the constant scamming and nickel-diming felt kind of nostalgic - what trip to the fair would be complete without a bit of a shakedown?


Night fell, and we walked through a rowdy high school crowd back to our car. Caramel corn, cotton candy and funnel cakes had Miles and Rodney reeling from sugar, but they convinced me to stop for icecream on the way home anyway. Septemberfest week is time to splurge - one last helping of summer before the season changes.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great week, everyone.