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Day 195: The Beat Goes On

Anna is now a certified bird flu survivor, having tested positive for H5N1 antibodies. She’s pleased to have been assigned to a sprawling shelter for prospective foster children. This sounds like a temporary orphanage, but it’s more complicated.

There are enormous numbers of little kids whose single parents died of flu. They’re being warehoused in elementary schools that serve as dormitories—and theoretically as schools, if staff could spare time to teach them.

Anna’s excited about caring for them. Tomorrow she will hand out her daughter’s favorite toys, which we’ve rescued from Anna’s ransacked apartment. I’ll rise in a couple of hours to help her carry them, brightening the lives of about 50 children.

THE YEAH YEAH YEAHS’ KAREN O IN BRAZIL (Richard Phillip Rücker)I’m delighted she feels useful so quickly. Her spirits have improved, though she remains frighteningly close to fatigue. Her little form needs to rest.

Of course I’ve argued fervently against cooperating with conscription. Anna opposes it in principle, but she’d rather not stay home and mope. Her mind and heart disdain longwinded reasoning—and hopelessness.

It’s not that she aspires to sainthood. She’s a brilliant schemer when she finds it necessary. She’d make an exceptional criminal. Sneeky never takes his eyes off her.

Anna has revitalized this apartment. The air reverberates with strange foreign sounds, or the music of bands I barely knew, like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs ferocious, squealing logic or the Kills’ Cat Claw. I’d always figured Fiona Apple for some fluffy princess; I live to learn and love, she to make a Mistake and rhapsodize about it. There’s always room for Gene Clark: Anna played No Other last night—prime kissing music.

Happily, I've found a car to borrow. I'm going to drive Anna to my mythical bungalow on her weekend break, hang out with her in the autumn woods for two days. If it's warm enough, we'll picnic and tumble amid red and gold leaves in a forest glade. I want to help the sun paint that broad smile back on her face. She deserves it, needs it.

I’m glad I safeguarded Ric’s kitchenware when his neighbors started looting his possessions. The thieves acquired well-deserved bedbugs, but I rinsed off any pests as I salvaged his pots, pans, dishes, and cutlery. Ric joins us in spirit when we dine. My home cuisine has improved immeasurably since RAISE made me the surrogate for hundreds of hungry New Yorkers.

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