Saturday, March 2, 2013

Handwash and hard quesions

We need these.





In the morning, I sat on a window seat in a stairwell in a creaky old music school building and read an article about Purell. I am a Purell skeptic, one of those convinced that we are a culture of neurotic germophobes, and also that there is nothing wrong with plain old soap and water. These thoughts often are spoken inside my head in my grandmother, the public health nurse's voice, which gives them, to me, extra authority. The statistics cited in this article did a lot to dent my beliefs in this regard, and also some disturbing stuff about the origins of hand washing as disease fighter coming from a man who observed that women died in childbirth more frequently when they were being attended by physicians who had just come from autopsies (door opening here for an essay on history of childbirth) and more disturbing stuff about a system in development to monitor whether people are washing their hands enough (which connects for me with another disturbing thing I read today in the Times, about the mania of tech "solutionists")

After a long middle stretch of difficult writing and family volatility and wondering if my friend Anna could tell me something encouraging about the plight of bees (she went to some beekeeper education/I have been worrying about the future of humanity after hearing that bumble bees are now declining in the same way honey bees have been for a while ... remember Andie MacDowell going on about garbage in Sex, Lies, and Videotape? I feel like that), I ended the day by going to see the Earth Plays at CPT. Imperfect and overly long, but also fascinating, moving, disturbing,funny, sad, and sometimes uplifting, Earth Plays is a conglomeration of short pieces (and excellent chair choreography) about the earth, our relationship to it, and unavoidably, the problems of environmental degradation. (This piece is worth seeing, but it closes next weekend, and you shouldn't let it keep you from seeing David's These are the Times, also next weekend at CPT.)

An unsettling day all around. What world are my children inheriting? But it ends with a late supper and reading with a glass of wine, in the company of my person, David, with those children tucked in and sleeping in innocence and peace.

I think art matters in all this, but sometimes I have a hard time saying why.

Reading:  I know, I should read more magazines than the NYer. I know. I wish I did, kind of the way I wish I grew arugula on my windowsill or that I had started my taxes already. But I barely manage even to read this, so I would appreciate some credit.

Continuing with Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen. She is very explicit in her language about marriage as a condition of "belonging to" someone, and there is frank talk about a diaphragm. I am still enjoying it.

Writing: Yes, filling out the mystery scene I found yesterday, and struggling with other stuff. Found some intriguing notes in an old notebook that may be just what I need for another piece of the ms.

Dinner: Leftovers.

Soundtrack: On the "radio" online, some beautiful instrumental version of "Summertime" - haunting, sad horns. I checked and found the artist, and then promptly forgot.

Random thing: Cleaned the gerbil cage.

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