Forty-Ate

We are now two days out from the AstraZeneca Covid-19 jab, which I got on Thursday at 8:30am. Last night, I noticed that tap water was tasting different for me, and wondered what that meant. Happy to report it does, in fact and in actuality, mean something.

Something meaningful.

I mean…

I mean…

It means that this:

Shrimp and orange pepper tacos with white peach balsamic dressing

Tasted like this:

Happy breakfast

You know, once I had breakfast sitting one table over from Oprah Winfrey. I was in Santa Barbara for the film festival with some friends, and while I can never afford extravagant dinners when I travel I’ve long since realized it’s much easier to afford extravagant brunches pretty much anywhere, so my friends and I went for one.

Brunch was at the Bacara Resort which is now the Ritz-Carleton Santa Barbara, which is no doubt just as lovely now as it was back in the early 2000’s. Egrets in the herb garden, surfers on the beach, sea air and ocean views and peace and quiet and celebrities in neutral cashmere at the next table hoping to god you don’t bug them. I had, if memory serves (which for once it does because I’m back on the ginko biloba) the shrimp and mango salad and fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. It cost $45 with tip, and it was absolutely worth every penny. It was both the most expensive and the tastiest brunch I’ve ever had.

Until today.

These perfectly ordinary tacos I made for breakfast today tasted better. Frozen shrimp, leftover cut orange peppers, week-old hearts of romaine, WASP-made tortillas, and store brand peach and white balsamic salad dressing, and honestly one of the most intensely pleasurable things I’ve ever put inside me. Why is that?

Because jab, that’s why.

Loss of sense of smell and/or taste is a well-known symptom of the Covid-19 virus. That’s not in dispute. What IS in dispute (but I know who’s going to win this fight in the coming years, once all the data is collected and analyzed) is whether or not vaccination restores that loss, or even adds a metallic taste.

From what GAVI says about the way the virus interferes with the way salts interact with scent sensors, it seems natural that the metallic/mineral flavours in the water were the first thing I noticed once the vaccine got a good foothold and started kicking viral ass. It took till today for me to notice a difference with the flavour of food, but I really do, and my sense of scent is keener than it’s been in more than a year for certain. Yesterday I put on a sweater I hadn’t worn in a couple of weeks, and I noticed the scent of perfume on it, loved the perfume, and was able to pick it out from my (maybe 18 or 20 bottles) collection.

And man, if I thought breakfast was good, lunch, Possums, lunch was fucking orgasmic.

Behold the most pleasurable single physical experience I have had since March, 2020.

Hey, it’s been A Year, okay?

That is leftover cold chicken on a toasted poppyseed bagel with mustard (the basic bitch kind), mayonnaise, and salt and pepper. And it was orgasmic. And about eight hours later I can still smell the chicken on my fingers, and I’ve washed my hands four times.

That, if I recall, was a bagel too
That, if I recall, was a bagel too

Before you ask, no, the chicken leftovers weren’t so old they were smelly. And I didn’t put them anywhere interesting with my hands. I’m just an extraordinarily great smeller right now.

Now.

As I mentioned yesterday, it’s possible this is psychosomatic (which is different from Not Real). And I know that the plural of anecdote is not data (even if nobody seems to know who said it first). But anecdotal evidence from medical and scientific professionals I’m in touch with has begun to show a pattern: if you had the virus, and you get the jab, your symptoms are very mild compared to the norm, and you may notice a return of smell and taste. And I’m pretty sure I had Covid-19 back in March of 2020, and possibly again in the fall, when I was sick for four straight months.

And I’m noticing that yes, there are flavours in my mouth even when I’m not eating, which is consistent with a return of long-lost senses.

Basically those flavours are always there; any lover will tell you that you have a particular taste. And the reason we don’t notice these flavours most of the time is, after a certain duration of a particular sensation, our brain goes, “okay, that’s enough,” and shuts down the receptors that are getting that message. It’s like if your ex constantly texts you with unproductive statements, you block the number. If the messages don’t come in for a year, you might unblock the number, and the ex can get through again and because you’ve been free of it for a year it seems THAT MUCH MORE intense.

So that’s what’s going on in my mouth right now.

As for other symptoms/side effects, I feel just fine today. The persistent post-nasal drip that I’ve been complaining about for literally more than a year is gone. GONE, possums. GONE.

My resting heart rate, which is normally between 59-62 beats per minute, spiked to 70 yesterday, but it’s at 69 today and on its way back down, and that might have been a response to the Tylenol and one beer I had. Had a slight headache when I woke up which dissipated over the day, and my jab arm feels a little bit bruised and stiff, but I have quite a burst of energy today. The Sister, who has a biology obviously very similar to my own, is a day farther out from her AZ jab and it hit her very hard. Today her injection site is a large red welt, whereas when I went to photograph mine and share it with her…

I couldn’t find it.

I also have a kind of mental clarity that is new to me, at least recently. Remember, I’m still recovering from a traumatic brain injury four and a half years ago, but I do feel particularly bright today. That’s the exact word, “bright.” Everything is a little lighter, everything is a little less effort, everything sparkles a little bit in comparison to three days ago. If that’s psychosomatic or not, I’ll take it. There’s writing to be done, Possums!

Anything for Dental Health

Licking Rocks…and liking it

Quick drive-by blog post to say that two and a half days after getting the AZ jab, all of a sudden I noticed that the tap water didn’t taste very good.

It tasted, in fact, like licking rocks. Not that one has ever done that, you understand. But you know what I’m talking about.

Ottawa tap water used to smell like hard boiled eggs because of all the sulfur in it, but these days they’ve figured out how to get rid of that while leaving in a lot of the native minerals (this land is all dolomite and limestone and bits of granite imported on long-melted glaciers during the last Ice Age).

For roughly a year The Roommate has had a Brita water filter, which he regards as a Covid safety measure; this doesn’t remove bacteria, let alone viruses, but it does remove minerals including calcium and fluoride. Once he started using it, he was hooked on the taste, and frankly even the dog preferred the Brita water. If you give him tap water now he just looks at you and sighs, like you’re particularly stupid and he pities you.

I couldn’t tell the difference. Literally. Could. Not. Tell.

Today I got myself a glass of water from the tap, and almost spat it out. It tasted like licking rocks. So did the Sodastream water in the fridge I’d made from tap water (I’m actively trying to get more fluoride). The Brita water? Tasted like nothing, so no change there.

I haven’t had anything to eat since noticing the change, but if breakfast is particularly savoury tomorrow I will be sure to let you know.

As I said elsewhere, we are hyper-aware of our bodies right now, looking for symptoms and so on, so it’s quite possible this is all psychosomatic, but either something is going on in my water supply, or something is going on in my brain, or something is going on in my body.

Time, Possums. It shall tell.

I (finally) got poked! OR Two too many tutus

I’m not the dainty type, Possums. You know that by now. My motto is “49 degrees latitude, 360 degrees attitude,” with “Hard to kill” hot on its heels. I have been called a cross between Dorothy Parker and Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. All to say that you wouldn’t expect me to be the type to own a tutu, let alone two. Or more.

Yes, more.

And I’m still waiting on yet another one to come in, been waiting for four and a half years now, but the pressure is somewhat off, given what I discovered in the closet.

You can find the most amazing things in closets, from sexual identity to Narnia. What I found was tutus. Well, and also a bag of bloody human teeth but more on that later.

The worst Morning After The Day Before of my life.

Flashback to my Accident: I fell down the stairs and landed on my head, nearly bleeding out and giving myself a head injury that would have cost most people their lives, and put an end to my cybersecurity journalism covering hacktivism. Being unable to earn a living, and saddled with a very expensive course of physical therapy, I created a fundraiser, and raised more than expected, so I was able to pay The Sister back for a lot of the help she’d given me over the years, buying glasses, getting my dentistry taken care of (still have a bag of my own decayed fangs upstairs, no idea why I was keeping it in my sock drawer. Now I’m keeping it in the box where my nail polish resides, much more logical), and so on.

As part of the fundraiser, I offered to put a tutu on and pose with a shoe on my head. The problem, Possums, was that I did not own a tutu. A friend volunteered to make me one, but life got in the way as it tends to do, and that tutu is still somewhere in the ether.

It appears that at some point I lost patience (moi? unthinkable!) and ordered a tutu from somewhere else in the ether, and it appears equally that at some point it arrived. And it’s been hanging in the back of my closet for the intervening four years. Who knew?

I do remember when my friend Cathy came for a visit from Vancouver I ordered an extra-special tutu just for the dinner. I was still pretty brain-damaged so I spent much of the dinner staring idly into space, but at least between that and my tissue silk batwing top in baby pink, I looked damn good doing it.

Here is the extra-special tutu:

Of course I got it in my trademark grey.

The other one from the back of the closet is just a plain long skirt with a few layers of tulle on top. In, yes, grey.

The third is only a virtual tutu, but if I recall (which is always a question) it was going to be turquoise or a grey-blue. I was feeling festive that day.

Anyhoodle, clearly I have a photoshoot that I owe you once I decide which shoe to use. Might use the infamous Bus Boots which I wore for seven straight days on the Greyhound, from Victoria to Ottawa. The boot on the head thing is its own kind of chic, as our Grand Vizier Vermine Supreme can attest.

In related Eventually Getting To The Point news, I needed a tutu this morning. For why, you ask? I refer you back to the title. I was in for a poking. And oh, baby, you know how bad I wanted it! A good skirt is a major advantage when you’re looking to get poked, as is a top that shows some skin. No skin, no poke.

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Wish Lists of the Covidian Age

Well, possums, it’s been roughly 2.5 months since ol’ raincoaster here was in receipt of any of these much-lauded Covid-19 supports. She got what has been referred to as “The Letter” although she got it by email which is a damn good thing because if it were up to the Post Office who knows when, but there, I’ve said too much. Like that this week they emailed me a job opening that closed on January 15, yes, before it was posted. The Letter informs the (un)lucky Canadian that the Tax Person (we don’t say Tax Man anymore) requires them, the Canadian, to prove that they had a net income of $5,000 or more in 2019 and that it ceased as a result of the pandemic. And that, until they do, they get nothing.

At least on Tuesday they announced they won’t be clawing back the money given to people whose net income was less than $5000, but whose gross income was above that benchmark.

So, there’s that.

Now, there’s a workaround that should be effective, but I’ve got to do another call with them on Monday, which will be a solid month after the last time they requested documents from me, and we’ll see what happens then.

So, anyhoodle, money has been scarce around the ol’ raincoaster burrow since the end of November, as CRA requests documents, then requests 4 weeks to review those documents, then requests more documents and another 4 weeks theretoreview, and so on, all to determine whether or not my income from pet-sitting did or did not evaporate during the pandemic.

Spoiler alert: it did.

But in between hunting for a job and whining on social media about having no money, I still find time in my busy schedule to engage in the favourite pastime of the destitute: making fantasy shopping lists.

Now, back in the day when I had a steady income I could flip through glossy magazines and put, say, some whimsical 17th Century Chinoiserie chairs on the list, but these days, when I can’t even afford the catalogues and the library is closed and Connoisseur magazine folded, even my dreams have contracted.

Presented here, on the general principle that pain shared is…well, just great material for a good goth lyric, if nothing else…my fantasy shopping list of All The Things I Would Have Bought By Now From Local Companies (fuck Amazon!) If I Still Had The CRB To Which I Am Entitled Because Duh, Pet-Sitting In A Pandemic, I Mean Come On.

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ninja raincoaster card

what did you do today, raincoaster?

Well, this blog post for a start. And almost an end, too.

Friday
So, you know what today is, right? Today is March 302nd, 2020.

Thought it would be interesting, saddening, infuriating, frustrating, and ultimately boring (in other words, Peak 2020) to do another of these, in order to compare them with the entries from back when I, and most of you, had actual lives.

Set the alarm for 10:30 in order to watch the Remembrance Day Ceremony, on YouTube, not IRL, because the government has asked us not to show up in person. This is probably (fingers crossed) my last November in Ottawa, so I was looking forward to being there for it, but it’s not worth literally risking my life. so nevermind. There’s the crowd down there, sure, but there’s also two buses and a train between here and there; before the big change to OCTranspo, it was just one bus straight downtown, but OH WELL. I’m not risking three contagion tanks each way for anything less than a Major Occasion.

Anyway, got woken up at 6 by noise both Roommate-ian and external in origin. Rolled over, looked at the alarm, and realized The Roommate would be in charge of the tv by the time the ceremony was going to go live, and so I wouldn’t be able to watch it anyway, so I turned off the alarm and gave up. House rules: if The Roommate is home, conscious, and able to reach the remote before I am, the tv stays on the programs of his choosing until he either leaves the building (he leaves the programs running even when he leaves, no I don’t know why, not gonna ask) or loses consciousness. One of the reasons I’m looking for an affordable alternative: if you know anything in Ottawa or anywhere in BC south of Armstrong, hmu.

So, that was kinda sad. I still haven’t seen it, and I’d like to. And if I’d been able to get downtown, I could have given out free hugs at the Qidiot camp, hoping to pass along whatever bug I’ve had that’s given me a fever for eight straight weeks. I think infecting a Nazi is a great way to celebrate Remembrance Day.

Went back to sleep and slept deeply, woke up at 2:15pm when The Roommate left and the dog scratched at my door to be let in. I let him in, got up, brushed my teeth, washed my face, gathered up some skincare supplies, and went downstairs.

Queued up some YouTube DIY videos and skincare vids to warm up to the day while brewing and consuming my coffee. Dermaplaned my face, which a year ago I never thought I’d be doing; it’s essentially shaving one’s entire face with a scalpel. It removes not just the peach fuzz, but also the dead, dried cells on the surface of the skin, but you do have to be careful because it’s an actual scalpel; you’ll cut your face if you’re sloppy. I managed it with only one scare, but no blood. Anyhoodle, I tried it once and was gobsmacked at how smooth it made my face and how it let the serums and other treatments go so much farther. And today I used Buffet with Copper Peptides and then Rose Hip Oil, covered it with a silicone mask for fifteen minutes till it had been absorbed, then put my retinol Neutrogena moisturizer on and was good to go.

Been on rather a Skincare Journey over the past two years: dermarolling was the first experiment. Loved the results of that! “Puncture your face with hundreds of tiny holes, it’ll be fine!” is not something that parses, but it does actually work. Collagen Induction Therapy they call it, and it simply works. Minorly painful, but worth it, particularly since you shouldn’t do it more than once a week.

Since then I’ve gotten:

  • a skin scraper (not worth the money IMHO, does pretty much nothing)
  • a knockoff Foreo which I adore (nobody needs a $200 appliance to wash their face, but for $30, it’s a very soothing massager for the face which does seem to de-puff things a bit)
  • a freckle/cauterizing pen which is so painful I’m scared to use it even though I’m sick of these dark marks and skin tags on my neck
  • A Faustina IPL machine which works to reduce hair and fight redness and dark marks, and I’m impressed with this one although you have to keep doing it weekly or biweekly
  • a knockoff NuFace, which I’m on the fence about. It’s much stronger than the real NuFace, which should make it more effective, if much less comfortable. I’m moderating the strength by letting the aloe vera gel dry out a bit before using it

I have been letting the skincare slide recently, because The Roommate has been home from work for three bloody weeks. Who takes three weeks off work to just sit on their ass in the living room watching loud tv? WITHOUT GIVING THEIR ROOMMATE A HEADS UP? Ugh. I prefer doing my skincare treatments sitting in my favourite chair, rather than standing in the semi-clean bathroom under lights that buzz and spark. Anyway, he’s back at work now and there are two whole hours of light between the time he leaves and the time the sun goes down, so I’m going to have to use it to the utmost.

So, where was I? Oh yes, rudely awoken, gave up on Remembrance Day, conked out till the afternoon, went downstairs, made coffee, did skincare and watched Christmas DIY instructionals on YouTube while drinking coffee.

Made breakfast/dunch which was a whole wheat wrap with cauli rice, chicken breast, red pepper, and celery, with mustard and bbq sauce. Couldn’t be arsed to take a picture because I’m banned from Instagram BUT I’M OVER THAT.

Checked email and didn’t have a couple that I was expecting. Checked Twitter, and asked a friend for a connection to a local professor. I’m considering going back to school to finish my long-forgotten degree, and this prof is apparently working on something very, very interesting and right up my alley. We shall see.

ninja raincoaster card
ninja raincoaster card

Farted around on the internet, which takes much less time now that I’m banned from both Facebook AND Instagram, and Gawker is dead (RIP).

Justin Trudeau "Because it's 2015."
Justin Trudeau “Because it’s raincoaster.”

Applied for my second CRB benefits: Prime Minister Zoolander is keeping me in better style than any man I’ve ever known. No wonder I almost feel guilty calling him that!

Almost.

Noticed the sun was setting, so took the dog out for a walk probably for the last time without the need for a jacket. Poor guy, he used to be able to do ten kilometers without turning a hair, but these days 2000 steps is as big a walk as he can normally handle. We got some nice pix of the sunset though, which I will probably upload here later, had some nice socially distanced chat, and eyeballed and got eyeballed by several silver foxes, also out with their dogs. Or their Roommate’s dogs. I didn’t ask.

Came back and, because I’m crepuscular, it was time to do some work. First order of business was, get all the dirty laundry off of the bedroom floor and on to the living room floor, where I sorted it. Didn’t start laundry right then because was waiting for the hydro rates to go down at 7.

Checked the job listings and updated the resume for journalism, worked on a cover letter for a local publication. I had to do a lot of research first, because I’d never seen this particular magazine, but it’s not distributed in this end of Buttfuck Suburbia; turns out it’s been around for ten years. Their YouTube channel has a whopping 19 subscribers; pretty sure I could bring some big change in their social media, and my cover letter said as much. Sent in the application and for once didn’t forget to attach my resume. Spotted a damn typo, of course, but then I spotted a few in their ad.

Walked the dog or rather ran/walked the dog at 11 just when The Roommate was expected home, so we got a solid 30 minutes of 1:30 running, 30 walking. Remembered to do my stretches when I got back, too! But still flaked on the yoga, as it’s more of a wakeup routine but I can’t do it till almost 3 when The Roommate leaves for work.

Then it was Midnight Snack time, which was a big salad with some more chicken on it, carrots, celery, red pepper, and tomatillo salsa with goat cheese. God, goat cheese is always worth the money.

I think I overworked the dog today so I gave him one of his old gabapentins to help him sleep and not feel pain. If he’s gimpy tomorrow I’ll sneak him another one as soon as I can.

Still had a low blood sugar headache a couple of hours later, so had half a wrap with lettuce, some goat cheese, and red salsa. Now I’m watching Trinny Takeover videos and waiting for my laundry to be done. As soon as the next load is folded I’ll call it a night.

The new cleaner comes around noon, which means The Roommate has been frantically straightening up all week. Tomorrow should be interesting.