22 February 2019

I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be.

Joan Didion

There was a call earlier from the medical officer at work and I got that flu vaccine today. Finally.
Last week, I had another immunologist appointment with the new one, the one I don't see eye to eye and yes, surprise, she changed everything around again. My meds have been rearranged and I am scared resigned. On my way out she tried to explain all about the new boss and the latest guidelines and reviewed consensus and how she would be more cautious if only and in view of . . . and I was so confused that I tripped over my scarf and she caught me just in time and I hissed in her face that I wish I didn't have to step into a doctor's office ever again and I could see the hurt in her face but all I could think was, serves you right, and walked away. And now I wake up in the early morning wondering if I should apologise or maybe not or send her a card or maybe not and then the blackbirds start with their mating song and all is well for a while.
I am such a bitch if only I let myself. My mother should be so proud of me if she is watching.

19 February 2019

tweedle dee and tweedly dum

according to friend who found it on fb, this picture was taken at Louver art gallery in LA on Feb 13th,  photographer unknown

two amazing artists holding hands

17 February 2019

the fierce urgency of now

"Of all the dangers we face, from climate chaos to nuclear war, none is so great as the deadening of our response."
Joanna Macy

When I wrestle with sleep after reading another set of reports on climate change I usually get to the point where I try soothing myself with something along the lines of, oh but we got this.
For years I have edited and translated enough papers on food sovereignty, biodiversity, the rights of peasant farmers, alternative pollinators, ancient seed knowledge and more, to boldly agree with science that yes, women peasant farmers can feed the world.
Yes. This is a fact, not a dream, I did my research. It's made almost impossible to reach by greed of course, but the potential is there. And potential is something to hold on to. At least when sleep won't come. Surely.

I am listed as a member of our local transition town group, although I've never been to any event but I pretend it helps if I stay up to date via their mailing list.
In my sleepless nights, I whisper to myself, that my family, my friends, their friends, we are resilient, we are gardeners, farmers, growers, carpenters, electricians, teachers, thinkers, crafts people, when faced with hard times, we have always pooled resources, shared skills, looked out for each other.

And, so I used to tell myself, by the time when we will (most certainly) find ourselves in a remnant civilisation struggling with the dramatic effects of climate change, we will have this to rely on, community, skills and tools, seeds and soil and biodiversity.

But no, only a dream after all because, fuck this, insects.
"The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review."
The Guardian

After lunch today, we sat outside today in the mild spring Sunday sunlight, said hello to the bees and the bumble bees and held our breath for a bit. (The puzzling news is that the classes of insects that are declining fastest are butterflies, bees and dung beetles. No one is going out of their way to eliminate them to the extent that their numbers are declining. Whereas blood sucking mosquitoes, the likes that transmit yellow fever for example, are increasing.)

Early this week I read somewhere in an essay this memory of hurricane Sandy:
"I remember that when the bodegas in our hood ran out of food, some folks shared with their neighbors. But when the gas station started running out of fuel, some folks pulled out their guns."
Emily Raboteau

And yet, I am not ready to give up. And I am not prepared to moan about how fucked up we are as humans and all that stuff about population figures and how it is too late anyway. WTF.

How do you sleep at night?
What comes to mind when you read or watch the school kids out on the street demonstrating for action on climate change?

I feel shame. And I realise we are only tinkering with ideas of solutions, if at all. 

And with impeccable timing, this lecture arrived in my inbox.

It's long, it requires listening, it is not nice, you can try and write it off, pretend it is fake news, get sarcastic, whatever, if you read it, you can skip some of the harsher bits (transcript here).

We sit in the gorgeous sunlight and listen in silence. Of course, we know all this and of course, we don't want to know this. We want to return to some ignorant state of mind, something childish, but even children know what is at stake. We have no choice. Looking away is no longer an option. We are lost. We are not alone.
We cannot unthink these thoughts.

So now, we debate whether we should send the link to this lecture to the young woman who lifted her three months old child into the camera lens this morning so we could rejoice with her.
What would you do?

08 February 2019

collective action in a flu shot

It's the time of the year when I stay away from people. Because, once again, I forgot the flu shot and right now, the annual epidemic is reaching its peak. There's a public health website with daily and weekly updates on the number of positive test results, infections, hospital admissions, and deaths - figures, tables, graphs, pie charts, the lot. Our city is in the orange area. Guess what orange stands for.

This year's outlook is rough because quite unexpectedly, "too many" people voluntarily decided they wanted to be vaccinated early on, as in October, and, because the vaccine is free, clinics and surgeries etc. ran out by December. And thanks to bureaucracy, there is a backlog in supplies and so on.

Hence, people like me, who function on immune suppression, and who didn't get their act together early on are encouraged to lead the life of a hermit, plus endless washing of hands.  

I have done my research I am married to a science teacher who knows everything about virus activity and influenza strains, their origin, how they travel and spread and move towards world domination one infection a time. He watches over me like a hawk these days. It's suddenly quite boring to be at home so much once you realise it's not down to choice. But I do sneak into my office at the uni and hide there for a few hours these days. This is when working for medical science comes in handy. All the coughing, sniffling colleagues give me a wide berth and wave from a distance.
"People treat the flu shot like a matter of personal choice. They think if they don’t get a shot and then they get the flu, that’s their own bad luck. But the flu shot, like other vaccines, is only truly effective when taken en masse; it reduces overall infection in a population so that the most vulnerable people — usually the elderly, but for some strains it’s children — are less likely to be infected. This is collective, social action — collective inoculation. Further, the folk idea that some years the flu shot “doesn’t work” is inaccurate. Flu shots always contain a mix of vaccines against several different strains that are believed most likely to be dominant that flu season. Vaccine makers don’t always get it right, but the range of effectiveness is more like 30 percent to 60 percent; it’s not zero or 100. Even in an off year, the flu shot increases your immunity, and you’ll probably be less sick and not for as long — and therefore less contagious — if you do catch the flu."

Elisa Gabbert (https://reallifemag.com/the-great-mortality/)

(picture credit: Imperial College London)

01 February 2019


Today is the hopeful day. Imbolc.  Lá Fhéile Bríde, Brigid's Day.

The first day of spring, some call it. Even on a day like this.
But really, what matters is the light. The light, those ten minutes more every week. The birds wake up early now.

We are half way between winter solstice and spring equinox, folks!
I am on my way back to solid ground under my feet. At least I think I am.