Whale mural with Ferris wheel

The sleep I lost getting ready for last weekend’s trip to Los Angeles along with the aftermath of jet-lag has caught up with me at last. Even though I got nine hours of sleep after a full day of teaching on Tuesday, the principle of “too little, too late” seems to apply as I woke up this morning with a sore, raspy throat: for me, the first sign of an oncoming cold.

Most folks can and do work through colds, but in my case, full-blown colds almost always lead to laryngitis, and as a teacher, laryngitis is the one sickness I can’t afford to have. After spending too many winters fighting colds that developed into laryngitis then bronchitis, I’ve learned to lie low–very low–at the first sign of a cold, quarantining myself in my apartment away from germ-laden college students and imbibing as much hot soup, tea, and Vitamin C as I can swallow.


Missing one day of face-to-face classes at the beginning of a cold, I’ve learned, is better than fighting the full-blown consequences for months thereafter. In the case of my online classes, calling in sick isn’t a problem; I can and do use sick days to catch up with online teaching tasks, one benefit of a job that allows you to teach in your pajamas. My face-to-face classes are a bit more problematic: at the college level, there are no substitute teachers, so if I’m home sick, class doesn’t happen. That being said, both email and Blackboard make it possible for me to communicate with my face-to-face students while I’m sick, and right now, typing feels much better than talking. Although it troubles me to cancel classes so early in the term, I’ve taught–and dealt with my laryngitis-prone body–long enough to know that we can make up next week the material we didn’t cover today…but only if I take the time and care to get well between now and then.


And so today I feel like I’m submerged in my own life aquatic, soaking in plenty of fluids while I swim in warm oceans of blankets. Lying low–very low–at the first sign of a cold is a bit like diving, my body protected by a bathyspheric bubble from whatever illness is floating about. Whatever bug is out there, I tell myself, isn’t going to get in here…and I’ll wash out the initial inklings of an existing invasion through an intentional overdose of chicken soup, fruit juice, and Emergen-C. Only then, I tell myself, will I be ready to respire among the sleep-deprived, immunity-compromised, and germ-laden college students I normally share a diving bell with.

Click here for more photos from cloud-shrouded Santa Monica. Although embarrassed locals insisted it “never rains in LA,” I myself like the moody look of cloud-covered beaches.