On Thursday, I was given the opportunity to present my latest published article, which is “Anxious Trajectories: Game Studies and German Studies,” to my colleagues in Film & Media Studies at UC. In the exact middle of the 5-minute long lightning talk, I got a phone call from my son’s school and a quick request to pick him up because he was running a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m not sure if it was his coughing sister or his equally coughing friend who gave it to him, but my always-dutifully-masked son got RSV as part of the massive wave that hit the USA this fall. My reasoning on this front is that children have been slammed with COVID-19, a vascular disease which weakens the immune system too, and now RSV, influenza, and pneuomonia are that much more dangerous now.
But what do I know!
In any case, this has been the first time since July (when a cold hit the household for 3 weeks) that I’ve been in constant care of a sick kid. That Thursday afternoon call? Yeah, I knew it would mean a giant red line crossed through all my availability for the next few days. I was at least able to get to the grocery store and vote before all the parental responsibilities started crashing down on me.
And when that happens?
I have to balance my own health with the late nights and all-nighters I spend on, well, caring for a hacking child or trying to keep pace with all the work I’m missing due to said home care. Adult life for me is usually an involuntary sleepless night and an ever-growing pile of digital work, staring at me blankly from my various screens.
And the dread. I cannot forget the dread.
Climate change. Fascism. Wars of aggression. Plagues. Famine.
It’s like all the problems of the 1980s and 1990s when I was growing up, but zero of the optimism or hopeful solutions. We talk and organize and do what we can, knowing that one rich, entitled MF can just throw Dear-Sweet-Lord-Knows how much money out there to effortlessly make the problem worse. And they will, too.
So the dread is what lingers.
“I have many activities that I call ‘my life,’ but none have much significance in the face of our overwhelming helplessness to preserve human life and dignity.”
I’ve written that somewhere, but also here, too. Maybe it’s been said more punchily and eloquently somewhere else, but this one is mine.
I guess the dread helps me re-focus.
But caring for a sick child, knowing that the society in which he lives will do exactly diddly squat to protect his health, gives me some pause.
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