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Synthesis - Columns

From 2008 to 2015 I wrote a weekly column for Synthesis Weekly under the name Zooey Mae. What started as an outlet to review graphic novels and comic books evolved over the years to cover everything from pop culture to whatever menial event was happening in my life. Looking back, I think I spent much too much time regaling Chico with tales of my allergies. 

I Am Patient Zero

Originally published in Synthesis Weekly: May 2014

Last week I was feeling completely fed up with the awful turn my allergies had taken, so after a sleepless night spent creating and shaping a giant mountain of tissues with nose juice in them next to my bed, I did the responsible thing—I called my mom and made her take me to Immediate Care to get an allergy shot.

I sat there in the little room, sweating and sneezing all over that stupid table with the butcher paper, and waiting for a doctor to come give me the last resort shot. After taking my temperature and finding it pushing 101, the doctor suggested instead that they conduct a test to see if I had the flu. I should have declined, but my defenses were low, so when they took out the world’s most giant q-tip and shoved it up my nose so far I felt it tickle my brain, there wasn’t much I could do except swat pathetically at the doctors hand and cover her unprotected wrist with snot and other juices from my leaking face.

After another short wait, she returned with the verdict: flu. Apparently I did not have allergies, apparently I am inept at diagnosing myself. So, with the “most serious” antibiotics to combat the crazy awful flu I had, and a promise from the doctor that it was “going to get a lot worse,” I headed off to face what was definitely proving to be the worst finals week of my life.

For any of you who might have the audacity to become sick during the last week of school in the future, let me let you in on a secret: unless you are in the hospital, the professors do not give a shit. By midweek I had a doctors note and a fever of 103, and I got extensions for exactly ZERO finals. I get that professors are predisposed from years of students bullshitting them to ignore the excuses they must get when finals roll around, but that leaves people like me, who actually are crazy sick, to basically just fuck off.

My last and most difficult final was conducted on Thursday, and I’m sure I drove my class crazy as I was coughing and sneezing all over everything in my corner of the class. Let me just say, I touched a LOT of doorknobs that day, and pressed every button in the elevator in Butte Hall. It’s awful, but I guess I’m of the opinion that if I have to be dragged in to take a final while I’m more dead than alive, I’m definitely going to spread my misery around as much as possible.

The plus side to all this is that I don’t really remember much of finals week. I feel like I blinked, and all of a sudden graduation is over and (HOORAY!!) the students are gone. Chico really is magical when the students leave. In one fell swoop, the restaurants and bars are empty, parking opens up, and I don’t have to hear catcalls yelled out the side of lifted trucks with obnoxiously loud engines. It. Is. Magical. I know the revenue created by out of town students is what helps to keep our little town alive, but God damn do I love it when the students leave. Congratulations my fellow Chicoans, the town is ours! (Until the fall. Then God help us).

Arielle Mullen