Saturday morning: Stealing an hour for music video purposes, an artist pal and I walk through a break in the fence to the 30-foot stone tower whose octagonal roof opens to the sky beside a rushing waterfall. I change into a sequin dress and pin a plastic flower in my hair, while he circles the outside looking for a window that doesn't have penises graffitied on them.  I shiver on a cement plinth. Thirty degrees on the high end, and when he does a close-up on my hands they are red from the cold. 

My doctor pal texts me.  He's released a 26 minute infomercial on the Moderna vaccine. He also recorded a low-brow comedy making fun of anti-vaxers, and did I know of any composers who'd provide background tracks for free?  

Too cold to shoot at the second location, I change back into street clothes and we walk back to the parking lot .....We're both having lots of fun, not just because we like collaborating on film projects, but we're both comic book nerds and goob about the kind of stupid stuff that I used to hate before the plague killed sci-fi conventions.

Saturday night: The doctor's fake covid infomercial was blocked on YouTube as "covid-19 misinformation", a bulky video file thumbnailed with a photo of him coughing thru a bloody hospital mask that freezes and blue-screens my work laptop.  He and my other friend the neurochemist stay up late texting about background music, and I agree to compose samples of samba and something "like the end of Requiem for a Dream but punchier".

Tuesday: In the interest of time, I copy the final sequence of Requiem for a Dream but in a different key and all the intervals inverted, which is the equivalent of cutting a slit down the center of a tablecloth and calling it a poncho. The samba can't be so easily replicated on a synthesizer, so I spend a few minutes tapping every container in the kitchen until landing on a coffee mug, a wooden spoon, and a glass jar of lentils for my percussion section. The doctor asks if it can be "jazzier" and have I watched the video yet? 

Wednesday: Someone froze to death in the park. A local film-maker, producer of multiple documentaries on homelessness in America, fills a travel dispenser with coffee and we drive to tent cities offering hot coffee, cigarettes, and zucchini bread from one of the church ladies in my office.

During a donation pick-up (underwear! long johns!), we chew the fat with the volunteer coordinator of the Big City Shelter, who is stressed as hell due to spikes in the homeless population and a classist security guard who'll turn away folks asking for beds because "they didn't look poor". 

Volunteer coordinator: (eyes the film-maker) "You didn't hear that."
Me: "Heard what?"
VC: "Wipe your mind."
Me: "Yeah, she's just stressed out from all the puppies and rainbows."
Film-maker: "So many puppies and rainbows."
VC: "So many rainbows. They go straight for the eyes."

Last stop is a client I've known over five years, a kindly dude with five cats who finally agreed to supportive housing after cancer whittled him down to eighty-seven pounds.  He looks good today. Chemo is four miles from his spot in the woods, and he makes the walk both ways every time now.

My first covid vaccination appointment is late afternoon, in a suburban high school that is as organized and bristling with wholesome mother figures as a Stacey Abrams campaign.  I'm running on two hours sleep, on multiple nights of two hours sleep, and when the receptionist asks "why do you qualify for a 1-A vaccine?", I stammer out "when homeless adults test covid-positive I have to transport them to-". 

She cuts me off.  Typing, typing.  Two minutes later I have a printed reminder of when to arrive for my second dose, and I follow blue squares on the floor to the nurse's station.

I roll up my shirt sleeve and make small talk.  Everyone is happy to be working there. One jab later I move to the waiting area just in time to catch the matronly regional health director say, "I'm so glad people came, maybe some day I'll see my grandchildren again."

Thursday: I finally watch his covid film, which is exactly as good as the backyard home videos we used to make in ninth grade. The whole project would be fun if he stopped asking me to rope in professional film crews for no pay, and I wonder what he gets out of this.

Friday: I'm standing on a five-foot rotating platform, pink lights strobing behind my head, flipping my hair as I airbow to pre-recorded Christian rock music and try not to hit the lights with my violin scroll.  It's five percent music school (count count count, subdivide the beat) and ninety-five percent modeling.  Bring six outfits.  Do your own hair and make-up.  Know how to move with the light, when to open your mouth, when to slowly release your arm after the high note. 

After they get my footage, a second violinist joins me on the platform for a "duel", red lights behind her and blue behind me, creating badass shadows across the fog-filled studio and stage techs munching on Chik-fil-A. I've known the other lady since college, and as we wait for the lights to change, we swap Lockdown Mom stories (am I a bad parent? will my kids ever get used to the loneliness? is everyone doing five jobs at once?).  A rural clinic near us got shut down for vaccinating teachers instead of frontline workers, and we quietly sympathized.

I pack up in the dressing room, where the songwriter practices a dance move in the mirror and zones out to exhausted silence the instant she's done, happy to let the effervescent director choose her wardrobe. She doesn’t know it yet but she’s actually suffering from a severe intestinal obstruction that will require surgery, and she brushes aside the discomfort as nervousness.  

That night I join a zoom salon on the topic of consciousness and the legal implications of using brain death to quantify personhood, a cage match between ten neuroscientists who claim to know nothing and one legal scholar who likes to quote Ayn Rand, and only possible during Plague Times because half these people lived in Oslo. 

At some point our doctor friend chimed in, recounting a medical school class where his instructor grabbed my friend's pet frog,  scrambled its brains with a pin, and commanded him to dissect it's still-beating heart. I've heard the story many times and never get tired of it. But I understand why he'll never go onstage with it.




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