The fresh zucchini had endured that suctioned sealer long enough. Removing both small tubes from the fridge shelf, she noted that each had become a bit moist and rubberized, more like the consistency of a full water balloon. Yet the touch to the tongue revealing no revolting after taste, she peeled, sliced lengthwise, lay each “finger” in a drizzle of olive oil, and set the pan about slow frying.
As the oil peppered its flesh, she added a liberal dress of herbs and spices. Oregano leaf. Basil. Smoked Paprika. Then, Onion powder and, finally, Celery Seed. Inhaling the chemistry, satisfied she covered the pan, and reduced the heat to just enough for smolder; then, removing a palm sized chunk of Goat Cheese from its bin, she scooped out a couple generous swaths. This would coat the bottom of the dish, she decided, to melt later.
Just in case the squash might be a tad overripe she tossed a few drops of apple cider vinegar in the mix, to kill any aggressive pestilence. There were dishes in the sink and, motivation to wash them always at the mercy of aversion, she rationalized a bit of extra time for frying and soaped up around a third of these, letting the saucepan sizzle for about four more minutes. Zucchini was usually baked, anyway; extra time in the pan wouldn’t kill anything except the part she wouldn’t want disturbing her delicate gut flora.
Minutes later, ladling the now limpid legs onto her trusty Corningware plate with its molded handle, she took a flat knife and spread the Goat cheese up and over and around the entire mixture of zucchini and herbs, watching it melt and meld into the meal.
Eating this little dinner, she smiled. It was so good. Zucchini was, after all, naturally tasteless – the perfect vehicle for the reason she cooked like this in the first place. Really, cuisine was about flavor, nutrients and a texture carrier. Who wanted to melt cheese on a plate, then douse it with leaves of plant? Spreading everything that had both pungence and palatability across one generic summer squash meant that she could taste the divine yet give her teeth a reason to crunch.
She still had her teeth, all of them but one, in fact, and being able to chew voraciously meant that she was still quite alive enough to live in her own house and use a fork. Good enough reason for one bland vegetable to carry everything else worth loving, while she still had breath.
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.