Got distracted by a change in scenery

We moved last month. Two blocks and a world away. We loved our old apartment — though now in retrospect I shiver at the idea of spending another minute there — but it was chosen for a different time, a time when the number one criteria we had for an apartment was that we be able to walk to work. That’s it! We had some secondary criteria, too — a tree you could see from bed, a window in the bathroom, a tub for Matt’s post-workout soaks, a door to the bedroom — but the location was the big one. The things we gave up to meet these criteria were that the apartment was very small and up many flights of stairs. In the two and half years we lived there, we mostly didn’t notice these quirks. Well, I always noticed the stairs. But the size was just right for what we needed it for: watching films together, sleeping, packing in friends for cozy couch dinners. 

We started to notice the quirks, really notice them, a handful of months ago. One person working in the bedroom, the other working in the living room. The door was a better visual barrier than a sound barrier, and for simultaneous calls we found ourselves scrunching into the poles of the apartment, desperate to put some distance between the echos of each others voices. For yoga, which Matt did daily and I did a few times a week with him, we had to move half the furniture in the living room/kitchen. When he taught twice-weekly classes on Zoom, he moved every piece of furniture in the room. We were still only going up and down the stairs once each day for the most part — a daily walk that usually included a grocery store run or other errands — but we started to notice we resisted more. Or I did. I should stop using the we here. Matt was happy to go up and down the stairs. I found myself resistant to go out a second time, no matter how lovely the weather. The stairs weren’t worth it.

And then, we started to think, maybe we could move. It had become clear that we would be working from home through next spring, maybe longer. The apartment had been good to us and we’d made it work, but the idea of another six months doing the exact same dance — back and forth from the sofa to the bed to the fold up medal chair by the makeshift desk to the stairs and back to the stairs — filled me with despair. There we were murmurings of rent breaks, fees waived, deals to be had. Maybe we could make a meaningful upgrade without paying meaningfully more? We decided to see what was out there. A week later we signed a lease. 

Okay that is a simplification. First we wondered: should we leave Manhattan and go to Brooklyn to be closer to our friends? Should we leave New York altogether? But we both expect things to go back to normal at some point in 2021, and we need to be in New York when that happens. Plus we like New York! We feel safe here. And we like our neighborhood, we feel settled here. We didn’t need an all-new life. We just needed a slightly bigger apartment where we could both comfortably work from home. And a few fewer stairs. 

So we mostly looked nearby. Nothing was screamingly cheap, but most places we saw were offering something: a month free, a waived broker fee, a promise that the asking rent was a few hundred lower than what the apartment would normally go for. And they all had something wrong with them: too many stairs, too dark, too loud, bad energy. Matt knew the apartment we ended up getting was the one for us as soon as he walked in, maybe as soon as he saw the listing. I was less sure — the kitchen was small, the living room still didn’t have room for a table, the bathroom didn’t have a window or a tub. But the windows sure were big, and there sure were a lot of them, and there sure were trees outside of each one. The bedroom was a lot bigger, and there was even an extra room for yoga or working or whatever. No more moving furniture. And it did feel good. The energy was right. We compiled the application — letters from employers, statements from every financial account each of us has, years of tax returns — and a week later it was ours. 

Mid-August we put everything we owned in boxes and hired four very nice men to carry the boxes down the five flights of stairs, put them in truck, drive them two blocks down the road, carry them up one (!) flight of stairs, and unpack them into our new home. 

I am so glad we did this. I am so happy to be looking at something new, to have a slightly different walk to the grocery store, to have a tiny bit more space. I’ve been leaving the house multiple times a day just because I can now without dread. There’s a bodega down the block that I never went to when we lived two blocks away — the CVS was closer — but now I go there daily for a bottle of sparkling water or a banana or pack of crisps. 

A new place means new things to think about and talk about: Where should we hang that picture? What kind of curtains should we get? A small opening up of a world that had gotten tinier and tinier in the past months. 

I am writing this from our new office slash yoga room slash coat closet. I think Matt’s on a call in the next room, but I can’t be sure — I can’t hear a thing. 

Love from, Log xx 

Drawing by me lol

(Bittersweet news: Matt has retired from being my personal illustrator. He was so good at it, and I’ll miss his beautiful art. Matt and his drawings are the reason I was able to write this thing semi-regularly for a year — each week he would ask, “What’s your newsletter about next week so we can start thinking about the art” And I would think, “Oh shit I need to get on that.” And that’s how this particular sausage got made.

But he was spending an awful lot of time and energy on a project that was mine while ramping up many of his own projects — including his communications consulting business, hire him for your cause-driven PR and content needs — and so we decided that my own charming drawings could be a good thing, moving forward. If you should still like to find him in your inbox, he teaches yoga classes online and sends a weekly email with new class links and a bit of zen. He also sends out a weekly newsletter about strategic communications. Both are very good. Thanks, Matt, for almost always meeting the brief of making me look very good. I love you xx.)

Got distracted by antiracism

A month ago, if we were to talk about race in this country, I would have said something like: “The U.S. is systematically racist and has been since its founding, and it’s a tragedy.” And then I would have shrugged, because that tragedy was also seemingly — to me! — insurmountable. And that shrug would have been racist.  

I’ve always disagreed with the saying, “You’re either part of the solution, or part of the problem.” Because it’s possible, I have thought, to be a part of a “third thing” — not hurting anyone, not saving anyone, just a person doing the best they can. This felt to me the natural place to be on most issues, the natural place for most people without power to be.

I’ve since learned that the origin of the phrase “You’re either part of the solution, or part of the problem,” was that it was a Black Panthers slogan in the sixties. Maybe if I’d known before, I’d have gotten to the truth of it sooner. It’s not just some motivational aphorism. It’s the truth about racism in America — and there is no “third thing.” 

Here’s how Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University and author of “How to Be an Antiracist,” describes that same truth:  “One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of 'not racist.’”

You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem. You’re either actively antiracist or racist. There is no in-between safe space.

What a revelation. I was so sure I was not part of the problem, that I did not contribute to or uphold racism in America. I believed this, but I was wrong.  

Two weeks ago I read an anecdote on Twitter about a 2014 Dave Chappelle show. In the set, Mr. Chappelle spoke about systemic racism in the United States, about police brutality, about how people just don’t care. He said he’d asked a South African friend about the end of apartheid. His friend told him that the amount of people caring had hit critical mass. The people had momentum, and apartheid ended. 

“Critical mass,” Mr. Chappelle said. “That’s what we have to hit. Once enough of you care, there will be nothing they can do to stop the change.” 

Critical mass. I keep thinking about that phrase. Being part of the critical mass is being part of the solution is being antiracist. It’s all the same thing.

And so these weeks, for me, have been trying on ways to change that: How can I ensure that I am part of the critical mass that will end systemic racism in the United States? How can I be part of the solution? How can I be actively antiracist? 

Big questions. But luckily ones that people have been thinking about and working on for a very long time. I’ve been seeking out those people, reading what they are saying to do. I’ve found them easily, on Twitter, in other newsletters, in my own home.  

Matt works on social justice campaigns. When we met, he was an investigative reporter writing primarily about police brutality, violence and death in jails, and systemic public corruption. Since moving out of journalism and into communications, he has worked alongside Latino farmworkers fighting for clean water in rural California, Black people fighting for healthcare equity in the Bronx, and Black, Indigenous and People of Color fighting for rights for people caught in the school-to-prison pipeline across the country.  He is part of the solution, always has been. I’ve always admired him for it, but I also viewed his work as a Sisyphean fight against impossible systems. I wished him well and felt proud of his work, but I also found it overwhelming.

I asked him to break down elements of his work as if to a child. I asked, if I wanted to help dismantle the prison industrial complex, how could I do that? He said I already did one very important thing: voting. That I shouldn’t discount the value in doing that. I said it was the only thing I did that felt consistently part of the solution. He said it was. He said writing to officials, especially local officials, was important. He sent me an article Barack Obama had just written, echoing the same thing. Beyond voting in elections, politics is another thing I’ve been overwhelmed by. He said, you cannot do everything — but you can do something. 

Doing something in the past weeks has looked like this, for me: waving a small flag by posting on Instagram that “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” waving another by writing this email. Donating to bail funds, and then to mutual aid funds, and then to established organizations that are doing the work of criminal justice reform. Reading and rereading articles about criminal justice reform (they are how I found the work of Mr. Kendi, how I learned the phrase “white silence is white violence,” how I learned about campaigns to defund the police.) 

I made a list of all my representatives and how to contact them, and I’ve joined mailing lists of progressive organizations that send out calls to contact your representatives and demand specific actions. I have put 30 minutes on my calendar each week to write these emails. The emails feel clunky, “Dear Bill de Blasio, I support defunding the NYPD budget.” But they feel good, too. 

So that’s where I’m starting. I’m also committing to continue this work, little and often, throughout my life. I’m grateful to have been given a glorious shake to my worldview of impotence, of paraysis, of the racist false comfort of the “third place.” I commit to avoid distraction, from this one thing, at least.

Love From Logan xx

Illustration by Matt Davis (full version here)

Referenced and not referenced 

• The story of the “critical mass” Dave Chappelle set, by Kenny DeForest

• “8:46,” Dave Chappelle’s short special on systemic racism and police brutality 

• The origin of the “solution/problem” slogan

• How to make this moment a real turning point for change, by Barack Obama 

• More on Matt’s work

• A profile of prison aboliton activist Ruth Wilson Gilmore. I read it last year and found it ovewhelming. I read it this week and found it incredibly motivating. 

Got distracted by an evening alone

I’ve been thinking lately about a night I spent alone outside of Dublin last year. 

It was at a retreat center, but I wasn’t on a retreat. I was there because the place also served as a budget hotel and was near the airport; my dad had booked for me to stay there before an early morning flight back to New York. He’d forwarded me the booking months earlier, saying the reviews were good, but he’d cancel if I’d prefer more traditional lodging. It was $72 a night, including breakfast. I trusted his ability to choose lodging, it is a talent of his, and the pictures looked nice.

We were in Ireland for a holiday. My parents had invited me to spend a week with them driving through the southern and southwestern part of the country: a few nights in a port town, a few nights in a beach town, a few nights in a cliff town. This trip was their third time in Ireland. They loved it there and wanted to share it with me, and I was lucky enough to be able to take the time off work to join them. The whole week was very special: to spend so much time with my parents, to spend it with them abroad, to spend it with them in such a beautiful place. The trip was over, though, by the time I got to the retreat center. My stay there was purely functional, a cheap place to rest before an early flight. But it was also special in its own way. 

Part of what made it special was that I was alone. I had a really, really good time with my parents on the trip, but we’d been together for a week! And back home in New York, it was very rare to spend a night alone in our apartment without Matt. At that time, we’d been living together for two years. A night totally alone was novel, a treat.

The road to the center wound through acres of forest until it opened up on the building, which looked institutional but also friendly. My parents came inside with me to check in and check the place out. We were given a key, a proper one, not a card, and were directed up a bright, windowed stairway to the wing where my room was. As the three of us made our way up, I felt a bit like when they had checked me into summer camp or settled me into my college dorm — excited and anxious at being imminently left to fend for myself. We dropped my bag in my room, which looked exactly like a college dorm room, extra long single bed and windows overlooking a quad, and I walked them out to say goodbye. I cried as they drove off, my beautiful parents. And then I went back inside. 

The center is owned by a Catholic organization, though not the Church itself, and hosts programming like “Heal Your Life Vision Board Workshop,” “Journeying Into Light: Scriptural Reflections With an Advent Focus Using Wood Symbols,” and “An Intensive Silent Week of Centering Prayer.” They also host private conferences and trainings and some secular programming focused on wellness.

I decided to hang out in the lobby and have a cup of tea from the little tea cart in the corner. It was early evening in the summer, and the lobby had good light and a few sofas and shelves of books. Every now and then someone would come through the large front doors and the kind man at the front desk would direct them to a seminar that was happening in another wing. The place felt rather empty, and I felt rather comfortable. I sipped my tea and perused the bookshelves. I remember thinking, I could read one of these books, wouldn’t that be a nice way to spend an evening alone in a retreat center in Ireland. I picked one up about a nun’s life —exactly the kind of book that I would like to read in this little fantasy — but it didn’t sing to me. I put it back. On the table was a laminated card that detailed a walk one could do on the front drive. I considered that too, and also put it back. I got up again and wandered down the hall and found a vending machine. I still had some Euros and so maybe for the last time of the trip got to experience the tiny thrill of using foreign currency. I swapped out my tea for a Coke — dicey, so late in the day, but I was on holiday.

Then I went on a wander. I knew from the brochure that the property was on many acres and so I envisioned an adventure, but there was a neat path to follow and it mostly went around a lawn behind the building. In one place, the path dipped into a wooded area, and there in a clearing was a statue of a woman and a child with an inscription: Lay all your cares about the future trustingly in God’s hands. And let yourself be guided by the Lord just like a little child. Edith Stein (1891-1942). I remember pausing to read this phrase and thinking, this moves me, and then walking a few steps more and turning back to take a photo, so I wouldn’t forget it. Just like a little child. I saw many large rabbits jumping around, and I liked them. Also I kept hearing gunshots in the distance.

I just Googled Edith Stein and here is what I learned: she was born in Germany to a Jewish family, and then became a nurse and then a doctor of philosophy and then converted to Catholicism and was a philosopher nun and then was imprisoned and sent to Auschwitz where she was murdered. She was later beatified as a martyr, though apparently there is some disagreement as to whether she officially qualifies. If she was murdered for being Jewish, then no. But if she was murdered for being Catholic, then yes. The former seems to be the more obvious cause of murder at Auschwitz, but in the year of her death, the Danish Church condemned Nazi racism and so perhaps she was killed for that reason, which would qualify her as a martyr. And did, controversially. Seems absurd, to have the sum of one’s life determined by a Nazi’s reason for killing you. Anyway here’s what else I learned about Edith Stein: “Her work contains original approaches to empathy, embodiment, the emotions, personhood, collective intentionality, and the nature of the state. In her later work, Stein developed an original philosophy of being and essence that integrated Husserlian phenomenology and Thomist metaphysics.” I only took one philosophy class at university and so I cannot parse what this means, exactly, but it sounds nice. I am sorry that Edith Stein was killed by Nazis. And I do really love what she said about letting yourself be guided by the Lord, just like a little child.

And so I let myself be guided back to my room. When we’d checked in, the man at the front desk had said that there was a pantry with snacks on each floor, and so I checked it out. There were apples and yogurts and juice boxes and little packets of cookies. I took several of each, dinner. Back in the room, I sat by the window and listened to the gunshots in the distance, for a bit. I called the front desk to ask if they knew what they were for — I’m not sure what I thought they’d say — but the woman who answered said, oh it’s a farmer, you know sometimes farmers have to shoot things. I assumed the things were rabbits. 

I looked at the desk and thought, maybe I could write something. And then I laughed and plugged my phone in. Took a long shower, washed my hair. Ate my cookies and apples and yogurts. Sent Matt a photo of me drinking a juice box. Got in bed. Fell asleep.

In the morning my alarm went off and I packed my things and went downstairs for breakfast in a very nice hall with skylights and big windows and a small delegation of African priests. A woman brought me tea with milk, and I filled a plate with toast and fruit and nutella. I ate. Then I returned my key and stepped outside to meet the driver who would take me to the airport.

I remember so many details of the trip with my parents:  the swirl of a vanilla ice cream cone, a walk in a lush green park, tea and cake in a cafe in a historic house, the deep blue of the water below a cliff, the taste of a salty french fry, the excitement of a harrowing drive, the view of an empty windswept beach, the joy of sitting at a table in a pub in a foreign country with the two people who have known and loved me longest.

But I hadn’t thought of that last night alone outside Dublin since it happened, and now it keeps popping up. A quiet evening alone in an assuming place in a foreign land. A small happy memory.

Watercolor by Matt Davis


Emmaus Centre 

Edith  Stein, Wikipedia 

Edith Stein, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Got distracted by yoga

Two years ago at Christmas Matt and I went on a week-long yoga holiday. Any friend that I told this, before or after, laughed incredulously. And indeed, me doing yoga for a week was quite funny, and I could not report it with a straight face. We’re doing yoga for a week, ha ha ha. We did yoga for a week, ha ha ha. 

The yoga was Matt’s idea. He’d had gotten quite into yoga that year through lunchtime classes at work, and when we were discussing vacation options , his request was that he be able do yoga every day. My request was that I wanted to be in a pretty place and hang out and look at some water. These two things were rather easy to co-accommodate. When we booked, we confirmed that it was okay that I either come or not come to yoga as I fancied, and I imagined that I would mostly not be going to yoga. I pictured myself as the delinquent yoga student, blowing off class to read by the beach. I did that once, out of 14 classes. The rest I attended, mostly because after two days I realized there really wasn’t anything else to do, and the many hours of lounging were made sweeter by the structure of the two yoga classes we took each day. 

So for a week I went to two yoga classes a day. But I did not enjoy the yoga classes. I enjoyed being in the yoga studio, a raised platform with a thatched roof overlooking the sea. Even now I think of it often, this exceptional place. I enjoyed the savasana — the bit at the end where you lay on your back with your eyes closed. It was always great, often great enough to make up for whatever difficulties came before. And I enjoyed our teacher, and the mantra she told us each day — “you deserve to be happy, you deserve to be healthy, you deserve to be free from pain.” But I didn’t fall in love with yoga during that week. I’d done a fair amount of yoga before that trip — a beginner’s course during college, various one-offs with friends, a few classes at various gyms I’ve been enrolled in. But I never took to it and never felt it was for me. The week of twice-daily oceanfront yoga did not change this assessment. 

Nor did our beach holiday the next year. By then Matt had started yoga teacher training and felt he could do his daily holiday yoga without a formal program, so we decamped to a beachfront apartment rental for a week. Each morning he woke up and made coffee and led himself through an hour of yoga on our little patio overlooking the beach. I’d sit next to him with coffee, looking at the sea turtles pop their heads up out of the water, then at Matt popping his head up for baby cobra. Day three I was convinced to partake, both as a favor to him, he said, a way to practice his verbal cues, and also as a suggestion of something that might help a dark mood I was in. I remember midway through the session crying actual tears, a tantrum, so much did I hate it, the slowness, the repetition, the way it never ended. How you moved through a series of tedious postures, and then had to do them all over again with the other side. How there was no pleasure even in finishing a hard posture, knowing how many more were to come. The savasana, of course, was brilliant, and my mood was much improved after. But I think I joined him once more that trip and then bowed out. It’s not for me, I said. And he said, no worries. 

Matt really loves yoga. Really, really loves it. And he’s very good at it — flexible and focused and determined. Whenever the teacher says, “if that feels good maybe you can move into this harder pose, or this harder one still,”  he does, and it always looks good. I knew this from our earlier yoga experiences together, but I also know it freshly because I saw Matt do yoga this morning in our living room. I was across the room, also doing yoga. 

We now do yoga together on weekend mornings. On weekdays, we have another yoga routine:  he does an advanced class at 10am in the living room along with a teacher on video call. From my desk in the bedroom, I can hear his deep breathing, his oms. Then at 6pm, when work is done, it’s my yoga time. For weeks, he was teaching me each night, my own personal yoga instructor. Now he teaches me a few nights a week, and I watch a video of him teaching me a few nights a week, and Fridays I take off, a little treat, to not do this thing that is so good for me. 

I didn’t decide purposely to give yoga another go. Regular physical exercise is a non-negotiable, for me. My brain needs it, as much as it also fights against it. In the last few years, lunch-time workouts at the gym near my office and occasional barre classes after work had cracked it for me, fit movement into my week in a way I could live with. Now with that off the table, yoga with Matt is the simplest way to fit exercise into my schedule.

The happy surprise is that I like it now. It started out as perfunctory, an easy way to get a necessary thing done. What was I gonna do, run? No. Staying in my home with my husband sounded much simpler. And yet, two months in,  I look forward to yoga. Matt’s private instruction has cracked it for me. He knows when to push me, when to give me a rest. He notes my progress and gives me specific praise. He sees when he’s losing me and knows how to bring me back. He leads meditations during savasana that make it so much more than a little nap. 

I’m not sure yet if yoga is something that will keep, when things open up again. Will I stay the course, or am I just a yogi of convenience? Won’t it be nice to find out, someday? Until then, I’m very grateful for my yoga mat, and my yoga Matt. 

Watercolor by Matt Davis 


The yoga retreat we went to a few years ago (very bare bones but also very lovely)

If you also would like to do yoga with Matt, he has been teaching classes for friends occasionally on Zoom. His next class is Tuesday at 3pm eastern, and you can also follow him on Instagram for future classes.

Got distracted by apple cider vinegar

What do you do when you’re feeling poorly? A few things in my arsenal: If I’m feeling run down, I like to take a shower and go to bed early, like my mom taught me. If I have cramps, I like to put a hot water bottle on my abdomen, like my friend Samantha taught me. If I’m coughing, I like to put a few drops of eucalyptus oil on my pillow, like Matt’s friend Kate taught me. For everything else, I like to go to Earth Clinic dot com and spiral, psychologically. That one I taught myself. 

Earth Clinic is “the world’s largest database of natural remedies.” You can browse by ailment or treatment, and each page has a short synopsis and then hundreds and hundreds of comments from users. 

I’ve been reading the site for a decade. The oldest mention in the archive is an email to my mother, sharing the good news that I had found evidence (that is, a single post on an internet forum) that rubbing castor oil on our dog’s belly might shrink the cysts that were growing there, and also that mixing spoonfuls of coconut oil into her kibble might cure her arthritis. I also mentioned that my mom could start drinking large glasses of water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, the kind “with the mother,” “for general health.” 

I have read about so many natural cures on Earth Clinic, but apple cider vinegar — ACV — is the standby, showing up as a reported cure on nearly every ailment from heartburn to heavy metal toxicity. It’s become my go-to as well, not because I think it does anything, but because drinking it feels like doing something. Something to do, when the general advice is that there’s nothing to do but time, rest, fluids. There’s usually a bottle of it on our counter, and sometimes I add a capful to a glass of water. Right now I’m doing it more often than normal, a few times a day. I believe there’s a placebo effect; the power of positive drinking. 

I wish I could tell you I just leave it at that, but I can’t. A few weeks ago, before anything had closed, when people were first starting to talk about having two weeks of food at home in case you got sick, I looked to Earth Clinic for a flu treatment plan, hoping that it might be adaptable for this thing going around. I knew if I got sick I’d go to the site and want to try whatever people were saying to try. I knew it wouldn’t be possible, then, to get supplies. So I thought I would stock up now, make a little kit, a little plan. 

Scrolling through flu remedies, I found lots of things that I’d actually tried in the past and then promptly forgotten about: gargling hot water with cayenne pepper in it for a sore throat (terrible), eating spoonfuls of coconut oil and honey and blackstrap molasses for general immune-system boosting (fine), eating raw garlic (fine in food, painful straight), overdosing on vitamin c “to elimination” (not fun — it means eating vitamin c until you have diarrhea), adding turmeric to everything (messy), spraying hydrogen peroxide in the back of my throat (dangerous?), eating lots of yoghurt (good). 

Reading through the posts, my anxiety levels ticked up, and I remembered how terribly anxious I have been doing this same thing in the past, scrolling and searching for relief or a cure to some ailment. Searches for remedies for varicose veins, yeast infections, eczema, cold, flu, urinary tract infections, pulled muscles, heavy periods, headaches. Folly, all of it. 

The site is despairing and crazymaking. Despairing: So many people have ended up there as a last resort, either because doctors have not been able to diagnose a problem or suggest a suitable treatment or because they can’t afford to go to a doctor. Crazymaking: random people dispensing medical advice with no credentials, no proof besides unbelievable anecdotal evidence. And yet something happens while I’m reading that makes me start to believe that some of them could be right, that there is a way to complete health, that it’s hidden in these forums, that I need to just try a little harder to find it. 

This, I’ve found, is the opposite of the placebo effect, for me. It leads to desperation, despair, a swirling anxious energy that feels hopeless. Being sick turns from something that has happened to me to something that I have allowed to happen, something I am continuing to allow, something I can only stop if I find the right cure, do the right thing. It’s a terrible, toxic feeling, and it comes flooding back each time I scroll through the site. 

And yet I keep going back, why. Desperation? Short-sightedness, short memory. Writing this, I recalled a revelation I had the last time I had the flu, two years ago in California. I was sick for two weeks. In an email to my friend Edith, I reported that I hadn’t slept properly in days, that Matt had timed my coughing fits: every one to five minutes. I also listed everything I had tried from Earth Clinic: an onion on my pillow, honey and garlic, apple cider vinegar tea, hydrogen peroxide in my ears, colloidal silver spray in my throat. I was exhausted, I was desperate, I was despairing. Finally, I reported, after Matt begged me to, I called my doctor and was prescribed an inhaler and antibiotics. I remember the relief of chatting with the doctor, of ceding the responsibility of my health to someone else, to a professional. And of course, the medicine worked. Or maybe it was medicine plus time? It certainly wasn’t the onion, the stress. Matt hates the site, hates its hold over me, hates the insane things it makes me do. We keep our phones out of the bedroom now, but I remember during that period he would wake up in the middle of the night to me scrolling and would say, please put that away, for your sake and mine. 

He’s right, he’s right, I know he’s right. And yet I do believe in doing small good things. I do believe in the power of placebo, of drinking a glass of water with a capful of apple cider vinegar in it. And in that belief is a tiny door, an openness to that leaves room for the magical thinking of — if this, what more? 

There is one woman I’ve found on Earth Clinic that I trust. She is a mother of nine in Tennessee and posts under the handle “Mama to Many.” She has said that she does go to doctors (important), but also believes there are many things you can treat at home. Her posts are always kind, and she is generous with her experience and knowledge.  Someone will ask about their flu, their pregnancy, their heartburn, and she will respond in the forum with a few suggestions from her traditional toolkit, often mentioning her experience with methods when she or one of her own children were ill. 

Here’s what she suggests for cold and flu: hydrogen peroxide in your ears twice a day, hot vinegar tea with honey and apple cider vinegar, aspirin, salt water gargles, plenty of liquids, epsom salt baths, 10 minutes in the sunshine a couple of times a day. A few good things to try when you’re feeling poorly, not the wild hope of a secret cure. I have the urge to go back to the site, to search if she’s written anything more, if some other clue to immunity is those forums. I won’t, there’s nothing good there, nothing more. If we get sick, I will do these small things. But mostly I will rest, drink fluids, hope to get better. 

I wish you safety and sanity, cups of water with capfuls of apple cider vinegar, yogurt every night with manuka honey, spoonfuls of coconut oil every now and then, and lots of hope. 

Love from,



I don’t actually recommend going to the site, but if you must: 

“Mama’s kitchen remedies for winter,” Earth Clinic 

“Apple cider vinegar: uses, health benefits, and FAQ,” Earth Clinic 

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