Spring plague

Big sick

I spent the last two weeks sick and I’ve now completely recalled what that state feels like, because I think somehow I forgot. Right down to the reminder that, regardless of how bad things may seem at any given time when you’re “well,” there is something about illness that serves to remind you that yes, you can in fact be more miserable. I’m a terrible sick person, largely because I’ve lived the overwhelming majority of my life as a highly self-sufficient person, something being the child of death and divorce helped along, as did running away from home. I like to run everything myself and on my own time, something that requires me to be somewhat functioning at all times.

And when you’re sick you aren’t really functioning, especially not sick the way that I get sick. It entertains my friends that I never learned to cough or sneeze or throw up properly — not sure what happened there…I just never learned, and no, you are not going to be able to teach me, I promise you! — but it means that when I have a cough, for example, it’s an all-consuming thing involving my full body heaving, repeatedly, sometimes embarrassingly in public. It makes going to work or getting anything done hard, and it also takes an intense toll on me, to the point where I’m out of commission for days.

Which sums up the last 14 days or so! In the middle of the hacking and heaving, I remembered what I always remember about being sick, which is that even base-level misery as it applies to unhappiness with life, work, whatever, really requires some measure of space in your brain. Space you probably don’t have when you’re deathly ill, to be honest. So you’re still miserable, just for different reasons. Anyways.

At this point I’m not really “sick” anymore, per se, just coughing occasionally, which, if history is any indicator, will continue for several more weeks. Before I became a vegetarian, joined a gym, and started making almost everything from scratch (my post-Pakistan antics), I used to be sick constantly and it just never left, ever. These days I’m mostly fine (I’m a sickly person in general and will probably die that way, but still mostly fine) but when I am sick, I’m sick forever.

So, I’ve been sick, and I’ve been working, because the nature of U.S. work culture is that you never stop and you never rest and you are never really well. More and more as I wind down my 20s I feel dissatisfaction with how Americans approach work, something I thought about acutely as I was hacking up a lung on every street in Mount Pleasant and downtown D.C., attracting the attention of everyone around me. There’s something about being sick and the clarity it gives you — why am I prioritizing this assignment or this pitch or Twitter or whatever when I should be in bed or drinking tea or any number of other things? It all felt a bit like I was breaking up with D.C., which, fairly or unfairly, is widely seen as a city all about work, and maybe I was, but hey, I still live here and have no immediate plans to leave, so what can be done, really.

Blues Buzz

The complicated wonders of crossing the U.S. by train. Shrill lets down its black lesbian character. The #MeToo movement is coming for Joe Biden — and many argue that his long history of failing to support women and people of color makes him unqualified to be president. Bryan Washington, the prince of Houston. On Florida writers and taking care of your community. You’re more likely to be audited by the IRS if you’re black and in the Deep South. American boys.

Seagull invasion in Northwest D.C. © E.A. Crunden

Seagull invasion in Northwest D.C. © E.A. Crunden

Green Scene

Me: A new report finds that it would be cheaper to replace existing coal plants with new renewable alternatives than to keep them running. All the politics behind the Senate’s Green New Deal resolution vote. At least one 2020 contender showed up hard for the Green New Deal on voting day. And while the resolution died dramatically in the Senate, its talking points are growing in popularity. Lawmakers are mounting an offense on offshore drilling as Trump’s Interior nominee comes under fire. Trump is seeking to sidestep environmental review with new Keystone XL permit.

North Carolina has ordered Duke Energy to clean up its coal ash ponds. The top Republican on the House climate committee supports offshore drilling. I worked for a month on this feature, about how cities and states are leading the way and modeling what a Green New Deal could look like. Environmental hazards remain a concern amid historic Midwest flooding. A committee disbanded under Trump has rebranded outside of government and persevered in releasing a report aimed at helping local stakeholders execute climate action. Andrew Wheeler visited Miami — “ground zero” for sea level rise — and managed to avoid mentioning climate change.

Elsewhere: Matt Gaetz’s “Green Real Deal.” FEMA exposed millions of disaster survivors to identity theft and fraud. Experts say Texas needs to brace for climate change. Midwest flooding has sparked a state of emergency for Native communities. Deadly flash floods are plaguing sanctions-ridden Iran. Transitioning a farm is complicated. Post-cyclone, cholera comes to Mozambique. Copenhagen wants to be carbon-neutral.

Canada is warming at twice the rate of everywhere else. They grew up around fossil fuels; now they work in renewables. Louisiana’s Nutria problem. Zimbabwe’s drought could lead to food shortages. What does “local” really mean? A forest fire in South Korea destroyed around 100 homes and killed at least two people. Polar bears keep eating plastic bags. Heaven or high water in Miami.

Around the Globe

Queerphobia lives in Brunei. Renewed fire between Israel and Gaza has sparked massive protests by Palestinians. Brazil’s new president wants to honor the country’s bloody and brutal military dictatorship. Theresa May offered to resign if her Brexit deal gets through, which still didn’t lead to a Brexit deal. Trump suspended aid to Northern Triangle countries. He also threatened to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border and then promptly walked that back.

Elections: A comedian advances in Ukraine’s elections. Turkey’s opposition party is slowly clawing back power. Algeria’s president is resigning following ongoing protests. An anti-corruption campaigner will be Slovakia’s first female president.

Spoken & Written

“But the other selling point of a cross-country train trip is a chance to look behind the American scrim: to learn where the nation makes and stores the hidden parts that run it, to find new places you wish you had been born, to spy on backyards and high school football fields whose possible existence had never occurred to you. Or me. Why not me?” — Caity Weaver


  • We rewatched 9 to 5 recently and I remembered what a glory and wonder it is.

  • I’m going on vacation to Portland (the one in Oregon) next weekend and I’m recommending it in advance. I hope it is chilly and full of lesbians, and also vegan food, and also hiking! And I hope I get to sleep, finally.