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I had the flu this past week. Or a cold. Sinus infection. Allergies, I don’t know. Something wasn’t right, and I didn’t need a test to prove it. There were no fevers, chills, or anything like that. I was just run down. Stuffy. Coughing my nuts off. My nose went back and forth over which nostril I could breathe through that day. The front of my face was plugged up and uncomfortable, and sometimes my nose would just leak. Whatever it was, it kept me homebound for seven days. I knew I’d be too sick to go to the office, so I worked from home. It wasn’t so bad. I just haven’t felt the sun since I was on a Florida beach. I need to go food shopping and drop off a package, but I can’t quite leave my house yet. I still don’t feel well enough to go. This little piggy has cried all the way home.

That’s because she stinks. Maybe. Probably. If I do, I still can’t smell it. But I haven’t showered in a week, so that may give you a hint as to just how much of a hog-wild stinker I’ve been.

I don’t mind telling you this, though. You can think I’m gross or nasty if you want. But it doesn’t matter either way. You’re not here with me, no one is coming into my home, and I’m not leaving it until I get better. So who actually cares if I don’t shower for a few days? Who am I affecting other than myself? It’s not like I do this every week. I do leave my house and wash regularly. But when the only one I’m seeing right now is me, who exactly am I scrubbing up for? Is it really so bad to enjoy my homegrown pigpen when no one else is looking?

I’ve been putting together a massive project more than two years in the making that’s going to air this week. And I have zero idea of just what the fuck I’m doing. I keep thinking the vision will come to me in a dream so I can pretend like I haven’t been stress-procrastinating for weeks. Maybe if I stopped rolling around in my own filth for a second, I can actually put it to bed and lessen my stress. I know I will get it done, and I know it will be phenomenal. I work better under pressure anyway. I’ll clean up so nice that no one would ever guess I’ve been happier than a quarantining pig in slop this past week, despite always waking up with a snout full of phlegm.

I’ll be ready. Because this time, I have no other choice.

Part of me seems to be in a wager with myself, seeing how long I can go without washing. I keep trying to last just one more filthy day. But I have to ask: How much longer am I going to let this go on? I keep making self-indulgent choices that I can almost guarantee are what’s keeping me sick. It was my choice to get on a flight because I needed to leave the nest. It was my choice to forego masking in the cabin when wearing one might have lessened the odds of getting sick. It’s my choice to keep smoking for a bit longer because it’s the only thing making me feel good. And it’s my choice to not to cleanse because who else’s stink would cling onto me this tight?

I’m just not ready yet. I’m safe here in my sty. No one can bother me because I’m not bothering anyone. It’s just me, the cat, and the news. I get to open the barn door and see all the world’s events, as my job affords me a voice in the national conversation. I’m always in the know; I haven’t felt lonely in years. I’m grateful I get the opportunity to sit around my millionaire’s row and write all about it. Why leave here? Why leave my nest? What’s out there that’s so special for me? I step out onto the streets of New York City only to come face-to-face with another superfluous Covid tent? Sure, I would see my officemates and the guy who makes my morning coffee, but nothing out there feels like it has changed one whit. They’re talking about mandating the shot for kids this upcoming school year. Bringing back mask mandates that no one adheres to. How is this city worth exploring right now? What on God’s Green Earth could possibly be waiting for me on the other side of the pen?

This is how I deal with a setback, especially one that finds me landlocked to my home. I push myself to the absolute limit, expecting to buckle down and get a fresh start the next day. I never address the problem at hand; I don’t have time. I just put things off until I’m forced to confront them. That’s no way to live any longer, just as my home and body are begging me to get on my knees and scrub. I am at a peak grossness right now that I don’t want a single person on earth to see. But I do want them to know the places I can certainly dig my snout into. The real down and dirty spots. But whoever my partner is won’t have to witness all the manifested self-loathing. I want to be pop-in appropriate at all times, so that anyone who decides to pay me a visit won’t come home to a grimy, muddy piglet.

I need to be ready for that myself. No more fear of succeeding at what I set out to do. Step one starts with me. No one in the world is obligated to come in and hose me down. Perhaps they can douse me with some water from the trough as my wake-up call, but ultimately it’s my job to get myself properly cleaned. I need to grunt my way to a new lifestyle if I ever expect to meet the one who can make me squeal. It might actually be closer than I think, as long as I don’t keep hitting “snooze” when the cock crows.

Pigs are clever animals. Why should I not aim to be the blue-ribbon winner?

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