I’m a 4’11” tall, aging female. EVERYONE talks down to me, necessarily. However, I am also multi-degreed, with wide and varied experience and a history of accomplishments I could brag about but probably won’t get a chance to because you will be busy telling me how to tie my shoes or wipe my nose or do anything.
Because I’m a short female with grey hair and I must, of course, know nothing.
Of course, I’ve been short all my life. I was saddened when I recently had my knees replaced. They did both at the same time and I asked the doc if he could just make me an inch taller – instead he shortened me. If I lose any more height I will qualify for a car seat. It isn’t easy being taken seriously at this height. I have trouble dressing for success, I can’t wear high heels with my MS, I’m overweight, and I try to be friendly, all things which somehow make my competence seem in doubt.
(Interestingly, wearing a push-up bra somehow adds dozens of points to my IQ when talking with men. Or at least they act that way. Honestly, were none of my age group breastfed adequately?)
After years of being patronized or ignored, I’ve gotta admit it’s a bit of a sore spot with me. People probably don’t realize this, but if you patronize me more than once, you are dead to me. Dead. Of course I won’t actually kill you, but I WILL put you in a story and make unpleasant things happen to your character. It’s only fair.
There must be something about my face. In the last little while people have offered to get Jesus to heal me (Jesus and I have talked and I told him he has bigger fish to fry), told me how to facilitate a group (something I’ve been doing for over 20 years), and offered to “help” me with all sorts of things I can perfectly do well enough myself (mainly by telling me how).
It’s frustrating. I don’t want to go around shouting about my brain being the size of the universe, like Marvin in the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy– mainly because I think everyone has a brain the size of the universe. But I am frequently tempted to have my qualifications tattooed on my body so when people helpfully explain things I’ve studied for years, I can just whip out that piece of flesh and wave it at them. (Given my overweight status, I have enough flesh for the full assortment.)
It’s bad enough that at my height I can’t use half the cupboards in my kitchen, have to drive with my chest pressed against the steering wheel, have to ask for help to reach things in the grocery store. Is it absolutely necessary to also treat me like a child, just because I’m the size of one?
Honestly. I think I’m going to have to go and pout.
Note: please don’t write and tell me how to deal with my anger. I KNOW how, ergo not in jail. I’d be perfectly calm if everyone would just stop explaining things I already know in the tones of an elementary school teacher.
The other day, while idly wandering cookie recipes online, I came across one for oatmeal chocolate chip ones and scrolled down (I couldn’t remember my usual go to and had some chocolate chips looking lonely). The writer started off, as many do, with a little introductory blather, in which she said something to the effect of:
My grandmother lived to age 94, surprisingly, given her love for cookies and sweets and things like this recipe.
Now I’m a certified cookie-lover, and I couldn’t help but take umbrage. Why is it surprising that her grandmother lived while still loving cookies? Maybe it was the cookies that gave her the will to live! I know that on some of these grey winter days, when getting out of bed seems an unworthy struggle, the thought of a fresh cookie with my morning coffee can be the difference between loitering under the covers and springing into action.
And these were HOME MADE cookies she was talking about, lacking the usual death-dealing chemicals found in the store-bought kind that the author was probably secretly scarfing while looking all judgey-judgey at her poor grandmother toiling over a hot oven to bring deliciousness to her family (and/or herself, and there’s nothing wrong with that).
You never see anyone talking about their grandmother expressing surprise that she lived to an extended age despite her persistent love for kale, do you?
Well, that’s because people who live on kale die young, realizing early on that life has no purpose, no joy, no raison d’être. There’s only so much bitter green stuff a person can chew through before the pointlessness of it all becomes apparent.
But it’s okay to shame the cookie-eaters. Of all the prejudices, the ones against the plump, or even the sweet lover, the eater of fat, well, those remain and are endlessly reinforced.
Heard a comic the other day talking about how the best marriages are when the man’s ability to see drops as his wife ages. Yeah. The wife that births the children, manages the everything, and maybe, maybe, resorts to the occasional cookie in desperation. The wife whose eyes see fine and realizes the husband has turned into a smelly hairy hulk with bad teeth, but she’s the one with the problem with sinking attractiveness, of course. Grr.
So I say, huzzah for the cookie. It’s a small bundle of pure joy, perched in the palm of your hand like a precious gift, ready to bring delight. Eat on, grandmothers and others who cherish cookies. Life is too short to fill with gritty greens, no matter how long you live. Munch on, wallow in the brown sugar and butter goodness. Then, when you live long, you might actually enjoy it.
One of the most annoying things about having a chronic disease (I have a few) is that people JUST WILL KEEP TELLING you it is all about having a “good attitude”. “Think positive,” they chirp at you, as they take off for exotic travel or even a job that you can no longer manage to do. Or toddle off for a day wandering through the shops, also impossible.
It’s seriously annoying and the official support people are bad about it too. I’m coming up to my 14th year officially with Multiple Sclerosis and what do I get in my email box from the MS Society but yet another perky article about someone who is ‘living well’ with MS.
Well, good for him.
I think in general I have a good attitude about the disease that is eating my brain. I work out, I take steps to maintain my abilities, I push myself to remain involved despite the horrendous fatigue and pain blah blah blah I deal with every day. I try not to complain. Because of this, people think I’m more able than I am, and when I bow out of things, they look askance at me, not knowing how much of my life I spend recovering (or rather, not recovering), lying on my couch like a beached carp. It’s not always fun.
And then they offer the helpful advice – which gets offered in piles despite my increasingly tired expression. “You should eat this/seek counselling for your inner trauma/exercise more/learn a language/try dancing/singing/avoid sugar/do pot/take supplements/meditate.”
As anyone who knows anyone with MS should know (and there are a lot of you out there!) the disease is unpredictable, even by the experts. They still don’t know a cause (except maybe Epstein-Barr virus) and there is no cure. Treatments may or may not have a positive effect. Trust us, we’ve tried them. All of us with it try our best to live our lives within the parameters we’ve been given, and the people I know with MS have a sense of humour about it overall – we laugh with each other and find positives even without the help of our well friends.
But when the blues hit, and they do, both from the actual brain damage caused by the disease, and the heartlessness of its incurable, progressive nature, being told we need to change our attitude is completely enraging.
This is true for all sorts of chronic diseases – arthritis, diabetes, cancer. It’s as if the thought of having to see people actually inhabit their disease (which one must do to deal with it effectively) is impossible for people to stand. We suffer. It’s the reality. Pretending we don’t is like telling a suicidal person they should just get over it.
Instead, I wish people would be understanding, just be there, without the need to comment or judge or make a big deal of it. I realize this is a difficult request.
In the spring, I went to visit my son and his partner, and we went for a hike along a snowy ridge. By the time we were done, I couldn’t lift my legs adequately to take off the gripper things I’d attached to my boots. My son looked at me and without a word, bent to help me take them off. I felt like Vera Stanhope, when her Sergeant bends to put on her booties at a crime scene. No comment, no judgement, just there.
It was the perfect intervention. Not done with pity, not offered when not needed, not pushy or demanding of thanks. Perhaps those lucky enough not to have a chronic disease (YET) could take this example forward.
I know having this catastrophe happen to me has taught me a lot about how to approach the inevitable need to proffer advice. I’m still learning, have a long way to go. I was a nurse before my forced retirement and nurses offer help, even if it isn’t asked for…
But improving my attitude isn’t going to make one whit of difference to anything. So stop %$*^%#% telling me it is.
My doctor asked me this just a moment ago. “Are you hopeful about life?”
I had to pause before I replied. Hopeful? Not really. I mean, who could be, with half of Pakistan flooded, other countries suffering under water and fire and drought and general environmental destruction? Others under war or the threat of same, famine, disease? People wielding guns everywhere as if that was a normal way to behave? Men being absolutely intolerable to women? (I know, not ALL men)(not all people or countries, either, but you take my point, and I could argue that every country is suffering from environmental damage…)
And don’t get me started on the downfall of the United States, a once remarkable country, slipping into hatred, violence and fascism with barely a care as long as the stock market is strong…
It’s hard to think hopeful thoughts at times like these, even as Covid is stepping back into the forefront, polio is giggling in the wings, and we are all bracing for the next unfamiliar virus caused by living too close to too many diseased animals.
A few years ago my family and I bonded completely on the Despair.com images – the combination of beautiful photography (as one could see on motivational posters everywhere) and a snarky message was irresistible. But then they seemed too close to truth, too true to be a joke. I recently returned to the site and found myself laughing again, but then I don’t want to think that way.
It’s just too easy to be sarcastic, angry, depressed. Everyone seems to be doing it these days, too, road raging over nothing, yelling at politicians, throwing hate on anyone that seems to have created a bit of shadow on one’s day. I suspect the pandemic did two things that we will have to recover from: first, we got stressed to the maximum, with no way to work it off, and second, we were left to our own devices too long and have forgotten how to be human. A good human, I mean. The human showing our good sides, the kind side, the side that wants to get along with and help others and our planet. Not the human showing our bad sides, our aggressive natures, our general willingness to believe ridiculous things, our lack of intelligence.
So how to force enough hope to make it worthwhile to get up and face the day? It isn’t easy – especially for we aging sorts who see our abilities shrink with each passing week.
But then, we tap in. We volunteer to help someone, or learn something new and exciting, or catch the view of the clouds massing on an end-of-summer day. And suddenly, from some dark corner, a little cricket song of joy seeps out. It is sustaining.
And then of course the best things happen, like the DOJ gets more stuff on the former president that makes it sound like he might just be sent to jail, or some action by civilized people results in more provisions for the poorest among us or a restoration of faith in democracy, and the song gets stronger.
Maybe can turn this sinking ship around, get it to safe harbour before iceberg season. We only have ourselves to blame for the situation we’re in; we know we have the ability to fix it.
Yes, I have hope. I can hear myself arguing that I’m deluded, but I’m still clinging to the lifeboat.
This wonderful word was used in Victorian times to describe feeling downhearted. I’m all over the morbs today.
I find it hard to believe the bombing in Ukraine is actually happening. How is it we haven’t evolved past the need to pound innocents with weaponry? It is obscene.
I can’t help but visualize the poor mums and babes in the maternity hospital, being forced to shelter in the basement, the patients of all ages in the hospitals with nowhere to hide, no supplies, no oxygen.
It is astonishingly evil, this attack on Ukraine and like so much astonishing evil these days, we seem helpless to stop it. I had thought we had safeguards built into our governments, our processes, but no. It seems that in the face of malevolence, we are stunned, stuck in space.
I am frustrated by my inability to be much help. I refuse to enter into the social media humble-bragging about how “the news is depressing so I have to remind myself that I live in safety and have nice things” miasma, though. It seems smug at the least and quite inexcusably tone-deaf to tell people how happy and warm you are while people are being exploded into smithereens by war-crime quality bombing.
We privileged folks have always done this, while people in other parts of the world survive hell (or don’t). It needs to stop. We live a life of good things on the backs of those who provide it, often at their cost. I am typing this on an Apple phone, something for which I feel guilty though it’s an old version and I can alleviate some anxiety by remembering that.
I have a lucky life. I know this. It was a result of the land of my birth. If I’d been born in Ukraine, or the Sudan, life would not be as lucky. So let’s stop being smug about our accidental location, and do what we can to help those elsewhere. Please? We need some humanity, not aversion of heads.
I remember why my eldest child stopped wearing dresses to elementary school. It was “Friday Flip-Up day” and quite horrifyingly it was a THING amongst the pre-pubescent male population to attack girls and flip up their skirts to expose their underwear.
I should have girded myself up and stormed into the school to report it, though I imagine that would have had repercussions for my kid, as any of my interventions did.
The rats in another school kept going around after another of my children, yelling anti-gay epithets because at grade six, he didn’t have a girlfriend.
Because doesn’t everyone become sexualized before puberty?
I reported that and it led to my poor son being followed around by the principal for weeks, while absolutely nothing was done about the bullies. I learned my lesson, and so did he. It’s not a good lesson.
It seems to be always that way with abusers and the abused. If the abused report anything, they are subjected to more and more abuse, both by the original baddies and also the system that they have to live within. Add social media and the horrible people who hide and shout from the shadows, and life becomes pretty damn annoying. And the bullies? Well, they have a million excuses given for their bad behaviour – they’re only boys, that’s just what they do…
It’s all progressing, too. Boys who can’t have every girl are creating groups to kill them all. Men who are challenged for their actions still shoot and kill their partners with infuriating frequency, and they succeed because the initial complaints by their partners are belittled. It’s got to stop, I cry, while meanwhile things are getting worse and more violent the more rights non-male genders are granted. The backlash is severe and growing and it breaks my heart.
I particularly like Gina Martin’s response to the “not all men” retort, the one that crushes any forward movement. She points out that yeah, not all men, but then not all men are trying to help the situation, either. Men still allow inappropriate behaviour, not calling out their mates, or standing up for other gender rights. They LET IT GO ON. And they contribute to imbalances in all sorts of ways. Because, frankly, it benefits them, the status quo.
So before you smugly say, yeah, well, but not me, ask yourself if you’ve done anything to help correct the gender imbalances present, to address the ongoing sexual abuse and threatening behaviour that women and other genders have to live through every single day of their lives. (Well, until they get older and then no one sees them, which is its own kind of violence.) Maybe you have, and I tip my hat to you. But as Gina says, there aren’t nearly enough of you.
Perhaps it will all come down to this generation needing to die off before anything gets better, (as I hope with the ongoing racism) but I wonder. A lot of those INCEL creeps are young. (Though at least their chances of reproducing are low…) Things may well get a lot worse before they get better.
And I am so tired of seeing tales of abuse and murder everywhere. As Marg says, maybe it’s time to boycott the “dick-lit” that abounds everywhere, on TV and in movies, where women are always shown as abused and murdered. One episode of Criminal Minds usually does in two or three women. I’ve stopped watching it entirely. I’ve cancelled Netflix because of the endless streaming shows where women are slaughtered. Enough carnage. At least murder mysteries from the UK try for a bit of gender balance in their victims.
In addition, I’m finished reading books by men. Especially novels. I’m giving it up until you guys learn how to behave. (This seems like a small thing until you see my book budget…)
So I’ve had it. I’m done. I am going Warrior Princess, taking Marg Delahunty as my mentor. Now, where is that smiting sword when I need it?
(especially of goods) being of such nature or kind as to be freely exchangeable or replaceable, in whole or in part, for another of like nature or kind.
A non-fungible asset therefore has the opposite characteristics to this definition. Those elements are:
The definition of a NFT is equally muddy. According to Wikipedia, it’s:
A non-fungible token is a unit of data on a digital ledger called a blockchain, where each NFT can represent a unique digital item, and thus they are not interchangeable. NFTs can represent digital files such as art, audio, videos, items in video games and other forms of creative work.
Well, this all sounds simple, until one is listening to a news item about how people are buying Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) of shoes. Virtual shoes. That you wear on your instagram feet. That you pay actual hard money for. Or Bitcoin, possibly, but those trace back to cold hard cash as well. I think. Because Bitcoin is both fungible and not?
And then Wikipedia mentions this bit (accents mine): NFTs include links pointing to where the art and any details about it are stored, but the links can die.Ownership of an NFT does not inherently grant copyright to any art represented by the NFT. Although an artist can sell an NFT representing a work, the artist can still retain the copyright to the work and create more NFTs of the same work. The buyer of the NFT does not gain exclusive access to the work, nor does the buyer gain possession of the “original” digital file. A person who uploads a certain work as an NFT does not have to prove that they are the original artist, and there have been numerous cases where art was used for NFTs without the creator’s permission.
Well, that all sounds like a great investment.
As a non-fungible being, I find this all rather a. confusing, b. stinking of a ripoff and c. criminal. I cannot wear virtual shoes through a rainstorm (not that I would want to given that they cost more than my entire wardrobe). I can’t even hang a NFT of a painting on my wall to look at – unless I staple my computer to said wall and never use it for anything else. Bitcoin sounds like a really good way to lose your money, fast fast, or legalized gambling (and we all know that in a depression we need more of those things. Because none of us are feeling desperate these days.)
Two things occur to me at this point. First, a lot of people have way too much money. If you have to spend your money on instagram shoes because you have bought everything else you need, you should perhaps contemplate supporting a person living in poverty and/or an entire country. Say the Sudan. Or the US. Because the money being spent on these ultimate ephemera is eye-waveringly massive.
Look at the prices on those tiny, very copiable images at the top of the blog. Or this.
(Would just like to mention the above is plagiarism of The Simpsons (an actual creative thing), ergo meaningless and perhaps illegal)
Of course this is when I realize I am becoming an old person. See, I even find buying music in iTunes vaguely uneasiness-causing. I like to be able to hold the things I buy in my hot little non-fungible hands and wave them about. Having them in a virtual environment makes them seem completely theft-inviting. Don’t we all remember Amazon clawing back books people bought for their Kindles?
And are those books fungible or non? If you can trace the purchase into the blockchain (whatever the f that is and I don’t mean fungible), apparently you can prove the thing is yours. Uh huh. I feel my cynical self making a wry smile at this. Good luck with that, my CS says.
This reminds me of the Artillery Prints my ex was pressured into buying when we were posted in Germany. Everyone was buying them, they said. They would grow in value. They were a “good investment.” So ex went merrily and bought them despite their utter hideousness and huge size. We noted the ‘number of prints’ pencilled on the bottom. Ours were in the 200s. Never mind, we told each other, it’s still a small number, still valuable. Then we heard that since the prints were so popular, they decided to do an additional huge print run. Bing. Value gone. Of course, the huge frames they had to be put in are probably worth something. And we did have the dubious pleasure of having most of our wall space taken up with prints of people rolling various guns through mud (though they did dress well, and looked terribly brave while they did so). (note: CS (see above) couldn’t help but wonder how the clean and shiny lads were able to keep that way – did they have to paint the inside of stoves and everything with toxic paint as they did on the base in Shilo, MB – rendering the stoves unusable but very pretty?)
This all brings forward the ultimate point. Why are we buying meaningless things that are about as useful as those painted stoves? I say ‘we’ but this will never be me. First of all, if I am going to spend my fungible assets on something, it will likely be books or conferences or god forbid, medication for my aged cat. Or food. I like food.
I figure spending on things that can not be clearly defined is never a good idea. Virtual clothing seems like a bad choice in this climate. And I like to buy the actual art, thanks. The kind that smells of oils or acrylics if you scrape a tiny edge. The kind that has been known to persist for hundreds of years.
I’m all for a celebration of women. As a gender, I think we’re pretty cool. And hard done by, in general. Just look at the housework balance, the pay disparities, the parenting gaps. The complete erasure of women’s accomplishments in so many spheres. So the idea of celebrating women’s accomplishments seems like a good one.
BUT. I can’t help but feel a day just isn’t enough. I’m with the folks at Black History Month who want to extend the celebrations to more than just the minimum. I mean, isn’t it a bit…urgh…to give Black History the very shortest month in the calendar? Whose bright idea was that? Was it a bit of a dig?
Or the pink shirt anti-bullying day. Ugh. Kids are bullied if they don’t wear pink to school that day. I can’t help but feel this is a bit counterproductive.
Besides, shouldn’t recognition of bullying, women, black history, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and plain old white cis men go on all the time? Of course it tends to run to the latter in this list, so I understand completely the need for emphasis on the other groups, but it is beginning to seem to me that there are so many different ’cause’ days that the serious problems are getting lost in the shuffle.
Like the ongoing, paralyzing racism present throughout the world. Like capitalism’s driving of starvation and grinding poverty.
Or the bad behaviour by so many men towards so many women. I heard this AM on the radio of a city councillor in Ottawa who has been sexually aggressive to his female staff to an unbelievable level, who is still being paid with the taxpayers dime and has not received any serious repercussions. He is still the representative for the women he abused. Gawd.
Story after story of men being jerks scroll across my timeline (and trust me, I’m not looking for them – I find them triggering as I have experienced my full share of jerkish experiences) I DO know there are good men, I know they can act humanely and kindly and do good things. I also know women can be jerks. No need to differ with me on that score. But the balance seems to still be off.
And I simply don’t believe waving an “International Women’s Day” heart on one’s sleeve will do anything to stop honour killings, rape, aggressiveness against women, even forced intimacies of the minor kind. I don’t think men fully understand the feelings of danger we feel when alone with them.
Even friends can’t be trusted. An old (married) friend of mine once took the opportunity of us being alone in my apartment to press himself on me. I was shocked beyond the ability to respond. It’s damaged our friendship beyond saving, in my mind anyway. I doubt very much he even considered it out of line. I remain baffled as to why he thought he COULD do such things.
But I’ll just bet he celebrates Women’s Day.
You good men and true, I salute you. You, too, deserve recognition. Maybe having a “Decent Men’s Day” would help rebalance behaviour. We could celebrate it on February 28th? (Just teasing…)
I’ve written a book about a woman who was massaged like Coca-Cola into a merchandiser’s dream. It’s called Recycled Virgin, and it’s an alternate history of Mary and her role in the Christian story. It puts her where I think she should have been, somewhat more in the centre of things.
While I was writing it, I was taking a course on Mariology at the excellent Atlantic School of Theology, under the patient guidance of David Dean. I remember knocking him off his heels by suggesting that all the difficulties with Mary (her ever virginity despite giving birth, her pure blood line, her lack of sin, her assumption into heaven in her full body – all things created well after the fact by clumps of men trying to persuade people to join the church) could be completely explained by making her the god part of the god-human connection, as vs just the receptacle. Those of you who read Catholic doctrine for pleasure (I realize there may be few) might look at the stories through that lens and see how they think they might fit. I found it fascinating to contemplate.
So, in honour of International Women’s Day, such that it is, I’ve put my book on discount for March 10-17. The ebook only, as this is all the mighty Amazon allows at present. Why not take a look and see if you can challenge that prevailing belief that Mary didn’t really matter, but was just a womb on sanctified legs. It’s alternative history. It’s fiction, but then, aren’t most of the stories we tell ourselves?
Check out my book here. If you like it, or hate it, or anything in-between, please take the time to write a review.
In the hallway the boys gather about in smelly heaps like old laundry, laughing and pointing and dancing in their ridiculously large sneakers. Hair sticking out in every direction, body odor of newly minted puberty encircling them in a miasma, they crow like four-month roosters, stomping their feet on the small pieces of paper scattered on the ground.
Each square has a blotch of red on it, some writing, a signature.
One boy picks up a larger piece and theatrically tears it into small then smaller then tiny pieces, throws it into the air like confetti. The other boys bat at it, sending the shreds flying around through the hallway.
The boys’ voices crack as they hoot and cat-call, which makes them shout louder. The teachers are nowhere to be found.
To the side a small girl stands, dressed in a slightly off-fashion red bodysuit and plaid skort, uncertain shoes, long hair massing about her head in a ‘my mother won’t let me cut it’ study of split ends and tangles. Head down, she tries to slip by, unseen, escape down the hallway to the exit, but she can’t avoid the tangle of boys, the shouts, the destruction.
The boys spot her, and the pointing and yelling sharpens, knife-like. Like a murder of crows, they caw in her face, pull at her hair, scoop up the shreds of paper off the floor and throw them at her. Winter gravel is mixed with the paper which stings as it hits her. The papers don’t fly well, and this makes the boys finally give up in frustration and turn away. They slam the doors open, shoving each other, grinning back at her.
One boy is quieter than the rest. He knows the girl, they were friends of a sort, of whatever sort boys and girls could be friends in grade eight, clouded in hormones and poor judgement. He shouts through the noise to the boys, “Let’s go, she’s not worth it.”
She looks over at him, her face dead. She’s frozen, mortally wounded, unable to edge one cell forward out of there. Minutes after the boys finally tumble out of the door and outside, away, she thaws enough to move.
Bending forward, she gathers up the shreds of her valentines, silent. Alone.
Like the nubile blonde women in horror movies that simply cannot resist putting themselves at risk in dark basements or abandoned cottages in the woods, (well, not really, as nubile and blonde no longer really apply, but hang in with me here), I am feeling the overwhelming urge to GO OUT AND CATCH COVID and get it over with.
It’s the same mad impulse that horror writers no doubt exploit – we are none of us good at living in a state of fear for a day or so, let alone NINE godforsaken months.
I’ve gotten used to masking up, living largely alone, diving through grocery stores like I’m on a shoplifting spree. I smell of alcohol gel and am probably flammable, so am avoiding the use of candles this holiday season. I’ve gone feral, bathing only infrequently, gnawing on apples for food, sniffing the cat tins to see if they seem appetizing. My muscle tone has degraded into marshmallow status from lack of exercise, and I now undress in full darkness so I don’t have to see myself. If it weren’t for my friends and family occasionally tapping in to see if I am still breathing (many thanks especially to L and P, bless your furry little souls), and the endless yowls of the cat demanding service, I’d have retreated to bed a long time ago.
(I also must thank Jacke Wilson and the inimitable History Of Literature podcast, without which I would spend many a nighttime hour tossing and turning in fits of anxiety and self-judgement (after living feral and accomplishing nothing for days on end, at 3 AM a part of me I inherited from my mother reaches out to shame me in every direction).)
But here’s the thing. I’ve been good, into self-denial for months now, and I STILL get the feeling of impending doom, hear the heavy breathing of Covid in my closets, can’t get past the heart-pounding anxiety that it is just a matter of time until it gets me, clutches me by the throat, whispers tales of sickness and strife into my shell-like ears.
I’m not good at waiting. I’m of the generation of chicken pox parties, where we smeared poxy children against each other just to have them get it at a convenient time. Of course, risky, risky. My poor son got so covered with pox I had to count them with him just to distract him from the panic of seeing himself overwhelmed. (I stopped after 100. We hadn’t even gotten off his chest and tummy). Thank god nothing else untoward happened to him, but I still give my head a shake.
Chicken pox is very rarely fatal, though. This Covid thing dances gaily along in its plague mask, stabbing people with its sharp beak, creating holes in families and workplaces and countries. So when I am sensible, I know it is unreasonable to even think of going out to catch it.
But I find I am growing to understand those who do. There’s a fatalism around that we can lay at the foot of 2020-ism, of Trump, of the immense clumps of destructive people destroying the environment for greed. It’s a constant battle to stay optimistic as the weeks and months go on, as the numbers we thought we were bringing down creep up higher and higher.
Way back in university, my friends took me to see Friday the 13th part three (I think), which captures my feelings exactly – the aforesaid n.y.m (nubile young woman) is feeling safe in her cottage, and walks through the dark to the kitchen for a snack (she has just climbed out of a bed where she has been very naughty, so as watchers, we know she is marked for some gruesome end). She opens the fridge, tra la, tra la, and sees a rotting disembodied head on the shelf. She starts to scream, but is unable to as the killer plunges an ice pick through her temple.
Alas, I haven’t had much of an opportunity to be bad of late, but this feeling of things unseen creeping up on me and wielding death has never quite left. It’s heightened by the invisibility of the attacker here. And I’ve always thought it would have been better to be one of the early sliced-and-diced in a horror movie than the one who finds everyone else lying about in bits. So the temptation exists.
Primarily because of sympathy for the health care workers who would feel compelled to try and help me survive at great personal risk, I’m still fighting my urge to go hang out with the coughing masses. So far…