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I gave my cat COVID (allegedly), distressing news and a prayer 🗞️
+ and the now bimonthly Digest - October 13 2023
If you’re new here, welcome to The Digest, a bimonthly selection of articles, podcasts, books or other that I have found compelling, important or entertaining. The Digest starts with an intro which today is longform.
I disconnected from TV news after I left New York City seven years ago. The banner alert of breaking news always unnerved me. Also, I’d worked my way through enough stress in the previous few years, so I unconsciously decided to remove distressing news flash from my life and consume my news in a less triggering fashion. Turns out, when something’s really important, you’ll find out about it eventually.
Nowadays, I listen to the foreign press review on an Italian radio channel every morning. High-quality journalism is relayed by reporters who read the news, fluent in multiple languages, and they translate the important stories, conveying the point of view of news outlets across the globe. I feel smug about being sufficiently fluent in Italian to understand it all. But these last few days, the highlights of the global round-up weren’t sufficient. I broke my news fast to take stock of the current crisis, though I turned to the Guardian instead of CNN.
I was never a news addict, but I grew up in a household where my dad had his ear glued to his beloved shortwave radio, a gift from my older brother. He’d lived in Israel (a long story for another day). As soon as a sign of conflict emerged in the Middle East, he’d be listening to Israeli stations in Hebrew, leaving the family in a state of alert despite the fact we didn’t understand a word of what was going on.
My non-Jewish father and many of his Israeli friends were from a sadly special generation. Their perspective on conflict was tainted by their life experience and the fact they’d all been alive during the Second World War, though some were children then. More than most, his old ‘crew’ - they were undoubtedly misfits at some point in their mid-twenties when they met in Tel Aviv - always sought peace. They’d seen, heard, and lost enough. I can’t say that in their youth, they’d have chosen nonviolence for conflict resolution, but by the end of their lives, what I felt in their presence was a deep respect for human life.
On a week like this one, I miss my dad and I miss his perspective, and his wisdom. I can’t help but wonder what he would say about the horror of the conflict currently unfolding.
As I sat to write this Digest, for a moment I thought of bypassing this topic because it’s not very ‘digestible’. I am overwhelmed and in tears over the excruciating images and reports of the violence on display.
My two grown-up half-nieces and their families live in Tel Aviv. I’ve not visited Israel in years, and it was on the cards for this autumn so I could meet our family’s youngest member, Adam, who was born four months ago.
I don’t feel like I know enough to offer my own perspective, I feel frozen and small, as in ‘who in the name of god am I to even dare write about this’?
Perhaps the only thing I can offer is my thoughts and prayers to all victims reeling from the violence.
And remember the wisdom of my father and his friends and their wish for peace.
ON A VERY DIFFERENT NOTE, I GAVE MY CAT COVID, ALLEGEDLY
I was going to start by telling you a silly story, as an intro, not talk about war. It’s about how I got COVID for the first time. And I’m going to go ahead and tell you that story to balance out the fact that perhaps the above has made you feel concerned or emotional.
After five days away in London and Paris, I got home feeling tired. Oh no, I hope I’m not getting sick, I thought to myself.
That night, the dog Nandi woke me up at 1am, seemingly in pain over his paw (we removed the last digit of a little toe, an unhealed fracture). After trying to calm him down without success, I gave him some morphine (he hates it and foams at the mouth, ugh), and we went to bed with the thought: must call the vet tomorrow.
The following day, still not feeling great, I turned to Kellan, my beautiful fawn British Shorthair cat, and noticed he looked funny. Ugh! His right eye was tight shut and he was dripping with tears, as if someone had used him for target practice with a toy spray gun. Unable to open his eye, I faced his third eyelid, which I didn’t know was a thing (again ugh). Okay, I called the at-home emergency vet.
Turns out Kellan had an eye ulcer (!?) and required treatment 10 times a day (not kidding) for a week. To find out about the ulcer (possibly due to a fight with his sister), we had to drip what looked like Aperol oil on his eye, which turned his orange eye a thick car paint green. Bionic cat… the stuff dripped on his fur, revealing the oval shape of the ulcer. Delightful.
After a shot of something and eye drops, he was secured with a cone. Poor kitten. All he was missing was an eye patch.
Okay, fine, I am becoming a decent veterinary nurse. But I myself was getting sicker, coughing and sneezing. The next day, I ‘finally’ tested positive with COVID. My first time!
We had another vet appointment in the books to remove the dog’s stitches. Nandi emerged, finally cone-free, his back leg shaved twice due to the operation, and his bandage-free paw looked like he had a peg leg. He skipped around, happy and a little bit out of balance.
The next day, despite navel-gazing and feeling sorry for myself (I had to cancel a trip to Paris for fashion week), I noticed that the last standing member of our family, Lalah, was looking poorly herself. I hadn’t picked up on her less-than-feisty gait, given that both her mates were walking around with cones, which had appropriately freaked her out. She’d spent a few days holed up in my office, avoiding her sick siblings.
When I picked her up, and she let me, I read this as a sign of ill health. She felt too hot, as one does when running a fever, so the next morning I called my vet, begrudgingly. We joked that they should give me a membership of some kind. I don’t enjoy going, at all, despite the fact my vet is a dashing silver fox who rolls his r’s charmingly thanks to his Sicilian upbringing.
Turns out, he wasn’t in, so I drove to another vet practice, having announced my own ill state. I showed up appropriately masked, handed over my precious cargo and waited in the parking lot, as one does.
He knocked on the window of my car and, beneath his own mask, muttered to me:
‘Well, it looks like you have given your cat COVID. Maybe. ’
I heard back in 2021 that some cats and dogs were diagnosed with COVID in Hong Kong, but nothing since then.
I was polite and still concerned about Lalah. But $360 later, driving home, the stupidity of this semi-declaration finally got to me.
All we knew was that she had some kind of respiratory infection. It could be a cold. It could be anything. She wasn’t tested. Yet the vet has chosen to give me distressing news with absolutely no regard to how that would make me feel.
I gave my cat COVID. Bollocks!
The good news, however, is that, having been given an anti-inflammatory injection, Lalah came home swinging as if this episode had been a blip on her health radar. Proof? When I handed her a small piece of dried chicken as we walked into the apartment, she threw her right paw at me, trying to catch it (I’m clearly not distributing treats fast enough), almost taking out my finger in excitement. Back to her old self then, a mini-furry Captain Hook.
The three of them together would make a cute furry pirate: peg leg, eye-shut, claws out.
Instead of thinking of this series of illnesses and injuries as bad luck, which I could have, I chose to take it as a sign the universe was telling me to stay home and lie down (on my balcony).
I wasn’t in Paris for fashion week, and at least I escaped the bed bugs. And given the clemency of the current Indian summer we’re experiencing in Geneva, I emerged from all this with a light tan and convinced as much as ever to stay away from distressing news as much as possible.
Thanks as always for reading me; I really appreciate it. I hope you enjoy this week’s Digest (with quite a lot of fashion stuff this week), and I’d love to hear from you about where you find the most interesting podcasts and articles. I’d like to widen my outlook; drop a comment in the chat or reach out to me directly here.
Have a good one.
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“ Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.” —Albert Einstein
WHO NEEDS A DOSE OF HUMILITY?
This week, I’m hosting my first salon, Le Trente, a low-key in-person format in my own sitting room. Essentially I have a big living room, so I decided to put it to use. I’ve had to postpone three times, so I’m hoping all will go well between now and Saturday.
I’ve made myself the presenter and tester for the first event, to use the evening as a test so it’s smooth going when I have my first guest presenters next month.
The topic I chose is The Story of You. In my presentation, I’ll make the case for why we need to learn to talk about ourselves, whether it’s our working achievements, our aspirations or our passions, to help us better connect with each other.
As I was putting the finishing touches to the draft, I came across this article by Arthur C Brooks in the Atlantic. He makes the case for why learning humility is a trait that will make us better leaders, and more attractive partners and how learning from our weaknesses, rather than our strengths is a helpful tool in life.
Okay. I hear the argument, which he makes with an analogy to the Matrix’s blue pills and red pills. The red pill of truth vs the blue pill of the perfect status quo where we don’t see ourselves as who we really are.
I’m not sure everyone needs more humility. I wonder if this piece is more geared towards the American man, not so much the European woman.
In writing about my experience with how we talk about ourselves (and though I am only starting to explore the topic in depth), I think that women, in general, could do with that red pill of truth. Instead of humility, I think it will reveal how amazing and wondrous they are, though rarely coming close to acknowledging their talents, potential and even their accomplishments.
Learning to talk about ourselves comprehensively to connect with others can have the desired effect of coming into contact with the truth. And what a revelation that can be.
I’ll offer my thoughts on how to tell the Story of You next week in Looking Forward. Meanwhile, you can read the Atlantic piece here.
This week was my birthday; I am blessed with that great birth date that is 10/10. For some reason, I’ve bought myself an insane amount of gits, it’s like I’m unstoppable. Some of the gifts in question were new clothes (and a pair of shoes). I feel good (I look fabulous) and I feel bad (did I REALLY need the new stuff - it’s to be debated, more on that another time).
Two of my new items were from the new collection at Mother of Pearl, the pioneering traceable and sustainable UK-based brand (thanks to Net-a-porter).
So I feel a bit less bad for those. We all, however, need to consider how we make our fashion choices and what our consumption means for our environment and ourselves.
Well, I’m thrilled to tell you that Amy Powney, creative director of MoP was on stage over the summer for an invite-only TED conference called TED Countdown.
Her talk on how we need to fix fashion and protect the planet is now live on TED.com, and it’s a must-watch if you want to know what is really going on inside your wardrobes. Watch Amy Powney's TED Talk here.
Have you heard of Fixable yet? A new TED podcast with power partners Anne Morris and Frances Frei, the first a leadership coach, the other a professor at Harvard Business School.
Like anything else, not every episode is my cup of tea, but I really enjoyed this latest one with comedian Chris Duffy. Like me (and maybe you?), he feels very uncomfortable posting on social media and has been made aware that a lack of active presence online could be costing him opportunities.
The episode is like a live (though edited, I guess) coaching and consulting session, which leaves Chris (and the hosts) thinking differently about how to put themselves out there. Listen here.
WHERE ARE THE WOMEN CREATIVE DIRECTORS?
If you are anywhere near the fashion world, the new appointment of a male replacement to Sarah Burton at the helm of McQueen (after 13 years there) has sent some shock waves because one clever person created a collage of the creative directors of Kering Group brands. Shock. All white men.
Oops. The visual gives weight to the reality. Many outlets have written on the topic. I love Lauren Invik’s ‘Fashion Matters’ newsletter at the Financial Times. As it turns out, it’s not just the creative direction positions that seem to escape women… You can read her take here.
THE BALLET FLAT IS BACK
I know I share Atlantic stories regularly, and if you’re not yet a subscriber, I want to assure you I’m not working on an affiliate deal with the publisher. It’s just good writing.
Twenty years ago, I bought into the ballet flat trend. They were cute, nude-coloured and made by a brand affiliated with dance. I felt very ‘authentic’ for someone who’d always loved the idea of ballet. After twisting my ankles twice, I learned my lesson. No more unstructured shoes for me. However, the ballet flat is everywhere right now and I’m so amused to read someone else’s take on why the young generation should learn from our mistakes.
Meanwhile, in collab-land, Reformation has joined forces with the New York City Ballet to create a delicious capsule collection inspired and modelled by their ballerinas. I totally put my name down for one of the skirts. Not as dangerous, one hopes, as the ballet shoes. Discover here.
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