What's Well Now

As Grace and I head into the sixth (seventh?) week of sheltering-in-place, I’ve found myself increasingly unmoored from the concept of time. Nothing feels imminent, but many things feel urgent, yet that urgency neither seems to rise nor fall with the progression of the hours. I have obligations, still, both old and new ones, but they rarely seem to strike with the force of something pressing, in the way the news does. The one exception to that, thus far at least, seem to be my volunteer dispatch shifts with my local mutual aid society.

Perhaps you were the sort of child who loved scenes of switchboard operators busily switching wires in and out of the call-board in old movies; I certainly was. It’s fairly straightforward work (monitor, categorize, and record the requests that come in, send out neighborhood-specific volunteer requests, coordinate with volunteers and callers, log completed tasks) that absolutely lights up the chipper, efficient, midcentury switchboard operator in my soul.

(I absolutely adore this narrator’s breathless enthusiasm and totally-unquestioning repetition of the idea that male switchboard operators weren’t suited for the job because men don’t know how to be polite over the phone!)

If you’d like to make a contribution to our grocery fund or volunteer yourself (either on-the-ground or as a dispatcher, which you can do without leaving home if you’re not currently able to safely run errands), you can do so here.

West Brooklyn Waterfront Mutual Aid (WBW MA) is a group of neighbors organizing in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Columbia Waterfront to protect our community from the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. We are a grassroots network trying to address the essential needs of those who are made especially vulnerable to this crisis whether through food insecurity, immigration statues, poverty, age, or disability. We are committed to treating others with dignity and respect as we run our errands throughout the neighborhood, and no one will ever be charged for our service. We will endeavor to connect our neighbors in need to existing services and benefits when possible to stretch the help we're able to provide.

Funds contributed here will help us provide goods free of cost to individuals and families who need them - with a focus on food, medication and protective equipment.  When possible, we'll shop local, small businesses to keep the contributions in our community.

Any amount you're able to contribute will be gratefully accepted and put to good use. Thank you for joining us in support of our neighbors!

Feeling even minutely useful to others, a ‘worker among workers,’ is something I have sorely missed. If you’ve got any requests of your own, or mutual aid/direct action/funding groups you’d like to recommend in the comments, please do so!

Other things I’m enjoying this week:

  • High Rising by Angela Thirkell (“When, for about a quarter of a century, you have been fighting strong young creatures with a natural bias towards dirt, untidiness and carelessness, quite unmoved by noise, looking upon loud, unmeaning quarrels and abuse as the essence of polite conversation, oblivious of all convenience and comfort but their own, your resistance weakens.  Tony was no more trying than Gerald had been — oh, those firstborn, how they take it out on one’s ignorance of their ways — or John, or Dick, but she was older, and less able to deal with high self-sufficient complacency.”)

  • This grapefruit-and-fennel-and-olive salad; I added pine nuts because we had some and my God, the chopping was interminable, but it was wonderful. And I don’t even like fennel! But I like it now, provided that it’s been properly bred, managed, and chastened.

  • Earlier this week Grace roasted some carrots. They were rainbow carrots, and chopped fairly thick, and she seared them on the stovetop, and then I think steamed them (on same stovetop) with something that was part water, part soy sauce, and maybe part dashi?). I don’t know, I’m failing to convey something here, but we had them on sushi rice, and it was wonderfully austere but also sweet, not at all forbidding or punishing, still with a lovely little velvet snap in the middle but no crunch left. A carrot can be a wonderful thing.

  • I got to have a wonderful, wide-ranging conversation with Rijula Das and Amber Massie-Blomfield about our respective work. You can watch it below:

    This screenshot is, I think, fairly representative of how much I gesture wildly and become incoherent on the subject of gender. It was fun!

  • “The Stages of Not Going On T” appears in the latest “Frenemies” edition of The New Inquiry. Let me know if you can’t afford the subscription/paywall and I’ll cover it!

  • the Savage remix, obviously

  • My therapist and I have been talking about the relationship between ADHD and hypersensitivity and I’ve been crying a lot about it. Useful crying! Productive crying, and so on.

Have a weekend, if you can! I’m going to try to.