And, she was born in the backseat of a junked car. Go figure.
Markings of a Shepherd, but with a butt bigger than her face and ears that just wanted to flop over, we knew nothing of her heritage and, for much of her life, didn’t care. She was high energy, outspoken, wriggly, affectionate, and loved.
But, the retriever in her was locked and loaded.
I never knew which part she craved most. Was it the running, or the catch? Clearly, her ancestors went for the birds; the higher and faster the stick flew, the more she scrambled to tumble over herself at the capture. Whichever, this dog ran tirelessly after her “prey.”
Retrieval. For this aging Boomer, the singular challenge. In my case, not chasing a prototype mallard, mine is the ever ephemeral: thought.
The choicest fowl to fly across my firmament most often appears on the cusp of sleep. A kernel, a title, for the next essay. The whole piece, were I awake enough to log on and begin, would write itself; yet, if I do not rise up, feel for the crayon, and scribble the two at most three words into my bedside book, by morning…….flown.
Why, however, does the mind retrieve everything else instead?
Why will it totally recall seeing, even hearing the idea as well as the very position of my body at that moment, without re-sending the bird across my sky? Because, once flown….gone?
Last week, due to ongoing migraine plus my mother’s history with brain cancer I had my once every decade brain MRI. The radiologist was thorough; no lesions, no evidence of stroke, just those pesky, chronic microvascular ischemic “hot spots” in my white matter. The neurologist, fielding my pile of questions, insisted vascular constriction as a cause, said provocateurs being pain meds, the summatriptan I’d taken for over twenty years, and the headaches themselves along with several other indicators most of which did not appear on my health profile. My BP was generally below normal; I never smoked; I wasn’t obese. Yes; I’d had mildly elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, and one month with an A1C of 5.8. But, mostly, my vessels were just sick of being squeezed, and several of the most remote were caving.
Dad, a multi-decade marathoner, had always loved to quote author Jim Fixx:
” Running opens up new avenues of blood vessels!”, he’d crow, after a hot shower upon return from four hours on the open road.
Fortunately, there was hope; for every death, a theoretical regeneration. All I need do was get up off my spreading rear and move.
The same likely not said for the elusive thoughts which had traveled each now defunct pathway. Nero had also succumbed — to a flipped stomach, a horrible way for a dog to die and caused, sure enough, by running on a full belly. The retriever in her, ever at war with the digestive system of whichever breed(s) populated the rest of her DNA.
In our beloved Nero’s memory I’d resolve to get up, and run. Run, for the blood, the vessels, the mind, and every thought which elected to gain entry.
The parent of one of my newest students sent me a video, the other day. I could tell, as soon as I saw the opening frame – a collage of syringes, masked faces, vaguely magnified documents, and a Bible verse in quotes – that this would be no stuffy, scholarly presentation. I was in for a treat.
I viewed the video.
Gradually, my opinion formed.
My plan was to express said opinion – gently, with care, being sure to avoid offending her potentially sensitive sensibilities. She was, after all, mother to two young boys, their grandmother also in house; I, childless and socially isolated, had no business confronting one defending such sacred ground.
What I wasn’t prepared to discover was that this earnest parent was herself a certified science professional. Undergraduate degree in Biology, Masters in Forensic Sciences, she’d worked as assistant to countless autopsies and now as microbiologist for a water testing laboratory. Plus, she’d spent many recent hours researching immunology. Here was a fully actualized American woman – and, I had been graced to become her child’s teacher.
This would require the employment of a tactical strategy.
I’d begin with a line of questioning. Questioning was indirect. Asking was different from telling. Asking presumed she had the answer I was seeking. I’d ask her about many things.
Question #1: The video opened with images of a female, twitching and contorting and barely able to walk, allegedly just three days from a first vaccine inoculation. (I would come to read of two similar anecdotes, in a YouTube comment thread.)
Whence had this clip been obtained, and who had the name and station of the patient, let alone which inoculation during which year? Why were we, the viewers, only privileged to view a disturbing display, without any captioned identifiers?
Question #2: : Its voice over that of one whose inflections suggested minimal education, the next narrative presented a make shift clinical experiment. We were able to view moving images, distinguish a cotton swab from a longer nasal swab, and observe an extracted clump of fibers one of which seemed to be moving of its own volition, another at the end of a tweezer. The narrator claimed to have obtained the nasal swab, by signing up for a covid test and then driving away with it.
But, whence the conclusions drawn by the demonstration? Didn’t static electricity allow synthetic fibers to adhere, even to each other? The claim that these were “alive” suited a sensationalist intent, but what of any further testing on said fibers?
Question #3: Similar fibers were shown to protrude from a close up of a man’s hand. Called Morgellon fibers, by another interviewee, these were said to be of unknown, inorganic origin. Finally extracting the fibers from the man’s hand, a piece of flesh was seen attached.
The narrator declared that these were coming out of her body, as well. But, she had refused to insert the nasal swab. Whence were such fibers appearing to extrude from her body? And, did these match those found at the tip of the inspected nasal swab?
Question #4: The image of a woman submitting to the much longer, original nasal swab, inserted by a technician, came next. We saw more than one such test administration, with a discussion of the direction the swab took to penetrate into the facial sinus and accompanying graphics illustrating the vacant space between the forehead facial bone and the brain. Then, we viewed a close up of tiny dark squares of “confetti” sprinkled on a swab tip. These were described as nanoparticles, and declared to be purposely included in the nasal swab.
We never saw evidence that these particles were visible attached to a nasal swab from a labeled test kit. We saw them in a close up of what appeared to be a cotton swab – and, on the tip of a human finger.
Additionally, we were TOLD the purpose and the function of these nanoparticles. By whom? A medical authority? A speculator?
Question #5: In the next scene, we viewed a close up photo of a tiny translucent square attached to a swab rod. A different narrator declared this to be a “holographic chip” containing the synthesized element, technetium. Wiki says this is used as a tracer, in diagnostic media. The claim was one of outrage; why were we being “tracked”?
The video was two hours long. Addressing every point of observation as it appeared would have taken a doctoral dissertation. Neither I, as a solitary being, nor the mother of two young children would be entertaining each other at this level anytime soon.
But, this was before her credentials became known to me. Somehow, now, I was adrift – unable to defend against established authority. Was this just my trigger, or had I just careened headlong into the age old battle between opinion and fact, between belief and proof?
Perhaps I had.
At this point in my life, I’d become wary of most everyone. Americans, in particular, had taken to social media with the fervor of Romans at a weekly forum. The one gaping hole in the fabric of our collective discourse was an acute absence of verifiable fact. The Emperor at Large had repeated so many declarative statements representing his personally held belief and intent so many times, much of the public had accepted them as truth simply by virtue of their raw frequency. We had, in effect, been schooled by opinion. Now, we were facing life and death decision making, and even those of us inclined to investigate ad nauseum were discovering entirely too many dead ends in a maze of monstrous proportions.
What remained before us, staring us down unblinking, was a clear crossroads; either a relatively safe mediating vaccine in two or three formulations was finally being provided us, or a massive fraud had been perpetrated and was continuing against our entire populace, one intended to wipe out 80% of our citizenry. And, even the most educated, prudent, conscientious, and intellectually capable among us could not discern which represented the truth.
This left me contemplating. Like my Christian forebears, I resisted wholehearted acceptance of nefarious or bleak reality. I sought hopefulness, because it was embedded in the nuclei of my cells.
Could there be a third scenario?
Could all of these other-worldly claims of fibers and particles and holograms all be real, and intended, but for purposes which were actually benevolent?
Suppose the nanoparticles and fibers, electrically or magnetically charged, the holograms carrying technetium, possessing properties unknown to those outside of scientific circles, were [ merely ] being introduced – riding a vaccine, as vehicle – to provide a universal mechanism for “reading” the body’s systems? One scientific paper stated as much, that the cardiovascular system could be monitored in this manner. Perhaps this technology was part of something as benign as tracking the ever-mutating virus itself, as it moved both through the nasal passages and the organs of the body? Perhaps even the vaccines were being tracked, in this manner?
I haven’t yet presented these questions to the woman, both scholar and mother, who sent me the video. I present them to you, instead. Even my local allergist cannot answer every question I pose; does this mean he is practicing avoidance, as some co-conspirator, either willingly or otherwise?
Fear drives both resistance and speculation. It feeds interpolation and, worse, conflation; taking bits of inherent truth, but connecting them incorrectly, often leads to drawing errant conclusion.
That is deadly.
But, courage allows us to take a different tack, permitting new thought. I choose to lay hold of hope, in both productive and constructive progress as well as the soul of humankind. Instead of concluding that we are all heading for the slaughter, I will determine to allow this hope to permeate every avenue of my thought, even as my blood flows to the furthest reaches of my brain and body.
Such is self healing. That being my opinion.
May we lead one another through.
*Readers: here is the video, in question. Form your own opinion.
The gurney is hard, the fluorescence above it humming. Nubbing legs dangle over the side of the frame, an IV port pinching the tender skin on top of my hand every time I forget not to move it. A single, nearly square corkboard on the wall beside holds a smattering of 9×12 memos, one of them hot pink. I stare at that one, mesmerized. How many among this newest crop of strangers will have seen their memo, that day, and would they be ready for the moment of my death?
The half hour preceding, high drama. Arrival, gasping with terror, the creeping itch encircling my face and crawling between my bosom, around, under my arms and across my back, and then the rear of the tongue rising to meet the pharynx, daring to close entirely, heart racing, skin clamming, the lights, lights so icy bright, the smell, always the smell of sterility.
These are the minutes over which nobody has any control. The roughly twenty odd ones after the puncture of Epinephrin and IV push of Benadryl, during which our father, Time, the only sure indicator of ongoing life vs. cardiovascular collapse. And, after four of these in one year, again left alone by strangers in the ER bay to ponder the outcome, mind attached to body gradually succumbs to the antidote of semi-coma.
Strangers. At the moment of theoretical death.
This is the realm of the anaphylactic.
Unlike those stricken with terminal illness or even massive stroke, the anaphylactic cannot feature the luxury of familiar faces, phone calls, cards and letters, even bedside caregivers who’ll call us by our name. If we’re lucky as well as fastidious, we’ll carry with us the proper packet of antihistamine or the Epi-pen, provided we are also completely able and willing to inspect every ingredient contained in every appetizer, entree, salad, and dessert offered by anyone beyond the scope of our own, protected kitchens.
Were we to be anybody outside of our actual selves, we might observe the scene at the neighboring table on a Friday evening – server, hunched over the menu, squeezing a pencil, forehead pinching, corners of the mouth twitching neurolinguistically to mask cursing annoyance, fixated guest rattling on about oils and additives next to a bewildered date mentally reviling why he’d been so determined to know this woman.
We’d not have been able to enjoy our own meal, what with the server hastening off to the chef’s lair to consult, report back, consult again, report back, smile assuredly, take the order, bring the order, take it back, the date leaning in toward the anxious female, arms folded across the table’s edge, eyes sucking into his head behind a smile stretched to its breaking point.
We might have left the restaurant with a social checklist ticking across our own foreheads. We’d have recognized the woman from having seen her on the various pages, she with her dubious references to multiple former lives. We’d have concluded many things. Clearly a narcissist, judging by the texture of her dark hair and the angle of her nose the spoiled daughter of he who sold back room numbers, she would just have to be spending everyone else’s time in public grasping for singular attention. Yes; siphoning the entire room of its last particle of energy, in her own mind she would be exceptional.
Exceptionality. The curse of the oblivious.
Cosmopolitan life renders a certain mass anonymity. When merely dozens are displaced by hundreds of thousands, that which is distinguishing fades from immediate view. Blending is both habit and practice; that which doesn’t easily finds enough of its own kind to forge new criteria for acceptability. By contrast, in small towns anything or anyone who is unavoidably different can become quickly pigeonholed, marked, recognized, and not in a good way. Traits borne by these are subconsciously dismissed as, ultimately, forms of weakness. Exceptionality becomes a force which both pulls and pushes, and that against itself.
The coronavirus has at once rendered every civilized center, regardless of size, homologous. All are flanked according to appropriate distance, masks obviating familiarity, no one a stand out by either class or station.
All, that is, except we anaphylactics. Our fears are inextricably distinguishing. Virus, or vaccine; we face the threat, of death, whether we do or we don’t. Statistically a tiny minority, exceptionality neither our excuse nor our defense, we remain the stranger.