This is not a good time to have a clogged toilet.

Yes, I have a clogged toilet. And yes, like the majority of folks in China, I am in quarantine due to the massive Covid Wave.

The country’s recently terminated Zero-covid is accelerating to one hundred percent at Ferrari speed. Yunnan, the province where I live, is expected to hit the COVID peak on Monday.

But unlike the majority of feverish folks in China, I didn’t discover I had Covid-19 with a nose jab, but a phone call from a government official. Yest, a phone call. It reminded me of lyrics from J. Geil’s quirky 80’s hit, NO ANCHOVIES PLEASE.

“Don’t move lady, we’ll be right over.”

But I wasn’t in Portland, Maine. I was hiking in China with a group of friends when my phone rang.

When the caller asked me if I understood Chinese, I knew it wasn’t a telemarketer. As a knot tied itself in my stomach, I handed the phone over to a Chinese friend.

“Uh, I think this is important.”

Her eyebrows furrowed with my Huawei pressed against her ear. First, she asked for my address.

Then she asked about my last covid test.

Then she handed the phone back.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Congratulations!” she laughed. “You have Covid!”


“You need to go home. You are on official quarantine starting now.”

The next day, I got a knock on my door from a smartly dressed man in a uniform. He posted this notice on my door:

If you don’t understand Chinese, let my phone translate:

By then, I didn’t need the government or a nose-jab to tell me I had Covid. I realized it at about two in the morning. Sweats. Chills. Aches. Quite honestly? I’ve had worse hangovers in college than this bugger, and I am definitely not sick enough to warrant three years of mask-wearing.

However, I did find the perfect cure for Covid-19: binge-watching HBO.

But uh…. how do I get out of an official quarantine in China?

That official note on the door has a phone number. After I produce one NEGATIVE test on my own, I’ll give it a call. The government will send a team in hazmat suits for an official throat scrape. If I get negative tests three days in a row, the note comes off the door.

Meanwhile, as my cabin fever gets worse and my cat’s supply of Fancy Feast dwindles, my toilet clogs.

Other than that, I’m OK.

I just have to think negative.

But wait, my cat got the remote!

Guess I won’t get to the end of season one of White Lotus.

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