remember the time i picked up an infectious disease from a random stranger? that was awesome…

22 Aug

happy hump day, y’all!  i’ve been completely sucky with the whole writing thing. again.  i could make up grand excuses for eschewing my writing like, “britney and i’ve been busy with the whole mars rover expedition” or “i’ve been supes swamped performing in the london olympics” or “prince hot ginge and i have been holed up in vegas all nekkid-like” or “i’ve been studying chemistry through a redic intensive program similar to rosetta stone…but it’s called “four-seasons-of-BREAKING BAD-on-netflix-stone”…but those would all be bold-face fibs.

(programming note: please actually click on the hyperlinks above because i’m sitting here laughing hysterically at them and i know it’s rude to laugh at your own jokes, but i might be a smidge buzzy from the 2 wine spritzers i consumed and if you’ve ever consumed 2 wine spritzers, you’ll know that EVERYTHING IS FUNNY WHEN YOU DRINK ALCOHOL WITH THE WORD ‘SPRITZER’ IN IT AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN-LIKE, RUN-ON SENTENCES WITH KANYE-ESQUE CAPS ARE EVEN FUNNIER AND THEN YOU REALIZE ‘SPRITZER’ SOUNDS LIKE SPITZER AND THEN YOU THINK THAT AT LEAST YOU DIDN’T GET CAUGHT WITH EXPENSIVE PROSTITUTES WHILE TRYING TO RUN NEW YORK AND THEN YOU REWARD YOURSELF FOR BEING SUCH AN UPSTANDING CITIZEN AND AVOIDING WHORES OF ALL PRICE-POINTS BY POURING YOURSELF ANOTHER SPRITZER, THE END).

i tried writing a few times last week but i just end up having an intense staring contest with my laptop.  and the laptop won every freakin time, so i let it play marathons of buffy the vampire slayer instead. or porn.

but then something happened to me to yesterday that I HAD TO WRITE ABOUT IMMEDIATELY!  OMG THERE’S THOSE SPRITZER CAPS AGAIN!

it all started 10 years ago when i was a newbie global health researcher back in my DC days.  it was a dark time when i wore ann taylor separates and shopped at filene’s basement and bought sensible shoes and had unwaxed eyebrows. africa was on fire with a big disease with a little name…AIDS.  the global health community was consumed with the fight against HIV, which pretty much made all the sensible shoe-wearing and unwaxed-eyebrow sporting acceptable since we had the weight of the world on our shoulders.  and after a few years, things started to slowly turn in our favor against arguably the most sh*tballs disease the world has ever seen.  but as the world focussed on HIV, other serious diseases were being neglected. just like my laundry.

and the most “red-headed step-child” disease of them all?  malaria.  when i found out that nearly 3 million people died from malaria every year…and most of them were little babies in africa, i was all, “why is no one talking about the malaria and the dying babies?!”  and it was then that i began what felt like a one-woman push to get US policymakers to prioritize the fight against malaria.  and boy was i annoying with all the malaria talk.  i nagged convinced my boss that we should focus our work for the next year on malaria.  i read everything i could about malaria and mosquitos and bed nets and breeding grounds and…well, you get the idea.  i even once talked to hillary clinton about how the US was totally sucking when it came to fighting malaria in africa…ok i didn’t really talk to hillary but i did talk to one of her staffers which is practically talking to hill, right?!

people started calling me “miss malaria” and quickly knew that they best not ask me about anything related to the disease or else they’d be sitting there being lectured about the parasite and its lifecycle and US policies against insecticides and…ok i’ll stop now.  and before you knew it, the buzz (!  get it?!) around malaria was growing.  and all-of-a-sudden-like, malaria was front-and-center on the public health agenda.  and while  i like to take complete credit for this 180 degree shift, the fact is that i had joined a small army of folks working their fingers to the bone to get malaria on the radar…and together, we did it.

ok, so now to the good part.

since i have this affinity for kicking some malaria ass, people like to send me things that are malaria-related.  this includes this, AKA THE BEST GIFT EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD AMEN:

meet plushy plasmodium falciparum…aka the parasite that causes malaria…isn’t he cute?

yup, an ex gave me a stuffed-“animal” version of the malaria parasite (which is MUCH BETTER THAN GIVING ME AN STD).  and while mr malaria plushy was part of a set that included a white blood cell and an e-coli bacterium, the malaria parasite was my TOTES FAV (yup, when i have kids i’m gonna totally have favorites and they’re gonna know it).  i proudly displayed mr malaria parasite on my desk and secretly hoped people would ask me about him so i could give them a 20 minute lecture about the pathogenesis of malaria.  yeah, my coolness can’t be contained!

you can never start too early teaching kids about pathogens and the human immune system…and you can tell he’s totally eating it all up!

since the layoff, most of my office stuff has been packed away in my car trunk. and this includes mr. malaria plushy.  and boy oh boy oh boy have i missed the little guy…and any opportunity to talk about malaria.  but then something really really amazeballs happened.

i parked my car in front of my apartment yesterday and found this waiting for me as i stepped out of my car:

what the what?!!! oh and i need a pedicure…

i picked mr malaria plushy up thinking perhaps it fell out of my trunk.  and then i checked my trunk and realized this was NOT my malaria plushy, but a random malaria parasite stuffed animal that’s been god-knows-where and i’m holding it my hands and i probably just caught a really bad disease from touching the rogue stuffed parasite.  after washing my hands with boric acid 1, 234 times and praying that i didn’t get a serious case of street kooties, i couldn’t help but to get giddy.   somehow, somewhere, there was another person in MY NEIGHBORHOOD who knows what a plasmodium falciparum is and is as big of a geek as me to have a parasitic stuffed animal.  the chances of this happening are as slim as lindsay lohan complying with the terms of her probation.  and in a time when i’ve felt quite alone and confused when it comes to my professional life (or lack thereof), this little kismetic occurance reminded me that i’ve got a lot more fight left in me…and that others around me do too.

so to the random person who lost their malaria plushy…i can honestly say this is the first time i’ve said to a stranger, “i’m glad i picked up your infectious disease.” 🙂

wishing you all lots of health, wealth and happiness.

6 Responses to “remember the time i picked up an infectious disease from a random stranger? that was awesome…”

  1. J Shay Fay August 22, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    wait, the pictures didn’t come through for me and i seriously need to see this stuffed animal! and btw, i am pretty sure your role in life is to raise awareness about public health issues.

  2. Nancy dubuque August 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    Ok you need to run for President. I am constantly telling Raymond why aren’t we helping the people in Africa more. The starvation, diseases, killings, makes me sick we only go we’re their is oil. Okay I said my piece so you be the voice of many and keep writting and ass kicking.

    • coco August 22, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

      omg, maybe that’s my next job…president of the US of A! great idea! and you can be my secretary of state! although i may have to stop calling you “aunt” while we’re working…:)

  3. Yonni's Wacky Workshop September 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    Have you posted “Found” posters on the telephone poles in your neighborhood . . . ? ;)-

    • coco September 12, 2012 at 12:35 am #

      ha! that would’ve been hilarious! except i was so freaked out when i realized it wasn’t mine, i threw it back on the ground and ran. i’m not proud of that 🙂

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