Day One: Irritated throat. It feels dry like I just need to drink lots of liquids to make it feel normal. Refuse to believe it's actually a cold coming on.
Day Two: Full blown sore throat and stuffy head, maybe the beginning of a wracking cough. Now believe that it is a cold, but that it's probably just a "minor bug" that will be gone by tomorrow.
Day Three: Throat feels less sore, but the wracking cough is in full swing. It sounds like part of a lung might come up. Fever develops. Achy all over. Boogery nose -- for example, I might bend over and a string of snot may just slide out my nose. The symptoms seem to peak in severity at this point, and I usually have one of those fevery nights of sleep, where I wake up sometime in the middle of the night all sweaty.
Day Four: Fever has broken. Head still all stuffed up. Boogery-ness persists. Cough sometimes lingers for a full week, but the worst is over.*
I'm currently in Day Four, peeps, and last night the fever + watching "Pan's Labrinyth" (which is really excellent, BTW) = some really f*d up dreams.
*Edit: Scratch that "worst is over" statement. I feel terrible today. So much so that I've opted to stay home from a friend's bbq/poool party -- when I stay home from a social event, you know that means I'm ill.