In the week or so since most of the US has locked down to slow the spread of Coronavirus, I’ve repeatedly joked to my friends and family that last year, when I was living alone and far away from them while on research, prepared me for the experience of lockdown. During that year, I lived in isolation, hardly went out except to go to my libraries, mostly ate shelf-stable food because I often didn’t have access to a kitchen, and communicated with everyone in my life via video chat. It was painfully lonely, and I don’t mind saying that it launched a deep depression that piled on top of my already untreated postpartum depression. But the Coronavirus lockdown has felt different, even though so many aspects of the experience are the same. And I think that difference is the fact that everyone in my life is experiencing this same isolation simultaneously – almost everyone I’m in regular contact with is either in New York or California, both of which are in full lockdown currently. As a result, that last piece, the communication via video chat, is something we are all willing to do. Last year, I had to constantly try to catch the people in my life at convenient moments, essentially taking them out of their own lives. But now, we all have the same daily struggles and schedules, and those aligned circumstances are making us all more willing to connect.Read More
Month: March 2020
The modern obsession with disinfectants
Amid the Coronavirus scramble that has left my local Costco completely bare of hand soap, sanitizing wipes, and tissues, I had the completely irrelevant thought this morning that I haven’t washed my hair in weeks. I’ve done plenty to care for my hair – cowash, conditioner, combing, rinsing – but I haven’t used shampoo in an effort to bring my deflating curls back to life. This may sound gross or weird initially, but as the many curl support groups are fond of explaining, I’m just allowing my natural oils to coat my hair again, while only removing dirt and buildup. As disconnected as these two phenomena are, they have a common cause: since the early 20th century, we have been obsessed with disinfectants.Read More
The Mythology of Plague Masks
It’s just as unreasonable to think that a piece of paper gauze will stop you from getting sick as it is to think that a plaster mask stuffed with herbs will. But that’s the problem with how we remember major infectious disease events of the past – we remember that people died, but we don’t think a lot about how we might be repeating their mistakes.