When you go outside every day, every single day, and you observe the world around you every day you might begin to notice that animals and their detritus are all around us all the time. It is where they live. We are in their home.
Our world is built atop the bones of everything that has ever been, all that has ever lived has been incorporated into the soil and sand. The beach sand in your buttcrack is as much a sign as the blue heron you are gazing out at.
We don’t have to view these things as separate. There aren’t isolated messages coming in with each bird feather. We are a blip in the continuum of the multiverse, and so is the “sign”.
I see something alive every day. Every single day. Outside, inside, mammals, insects, birds, snakes, larvae, lichen. The constancy of the “signs” is overwhelming. I lean into the lifeforce, the search, I enter the spaces where life lives.
It’s not mystical to me.
To me, observation is a grounded, everyday devotional practice. It feeds me to feel a part of my world. Observation is a meditation and a mediation, the layer that lives between humans and other animals. It is the way I feel connected.
Calling each interaction a sign may actually block our ability to snuggle into our relationship with the world, with other beings. It might block our ability to be present with the life around us. Perhaps it works to de-normalize interactions between ourselves and the natural world.
Maybe we can stop asking what it all means.
Maybe it just IS.
We may come at our relationships to animals via our culture, which infantilizes them, focuses on their juvenile phase, presents them as helpless and in need of “saving” or the opposite, presents animals as symbols of evil or darkness, killers who are out to get us. We see animals in commercials acting silly, speaking, wearing pants. We may see animals as products, see our “power animal” as something we can buy to represent our deepest selves, to wear around our necks.
We easily overlook their rights, their wildness, their instinctual indifference to our personal needs.
Our interpretations are clearly influenced by factors such as our religion, our modernity, our life experience and various aspects of who we are and where we come from. A rhino means something different depending on where you live.
And sometimes we label things as spiritual, mystical, magical when they are just a part of reality, just a different layer that isn’t often discussed or acknowledged. It may be the only way some of us know how to talk about the ways we are experiencing nature right now.
Ultimately I want to be very clear that I am not saying “you are doing it wrong”. We all have the right to interpret our world in the way that we see fit. I speak only for myself. But I hope that by raising these questions, it inspires conversation around signs, both opening those that are closed to the possibility of signs and opening those that believe in signs to critical thinking. Symbols have been a vital part of what makes us human for a very long time, and our interest in symbols isn’t going away.
Nor should it.
But examining our interpretations is rarely a bad idea.
***Disclaimer: This piece is written in the spirit of inspiration, NOT judgement. Please take that into consideration. Thank you.***
Have you ever been outside with someone who is profoundly uncomfortable with their own body? Have you ever heard parents yell “Don’t run, you’ll fall!” “Keep your shoes on!” “She’s clumsy, just like me.” “We don’t want skinned knees!” “Don’t get muddy!” “Don’t touch that, don’t eat that, don’t get sunlight on you, don’t breathe that smell!” “Sit still!” Oh, my heart.
Yikes. We put our bodies in ‘casts’ then wonder why they don’t move right-or at all.
We say “you’ll fall”, then look smug when it happens. I told you so.
We hit each other over the head with fear of the world and mistrust of a still semi-wild body.
It isn’t our will to do harm but our own baggage, our own inner wounds that create this paradigm.
What have we turned off in order to survive, and what is it doing to us?
We may split ourselves into little parts and pieces, boxing things off and shutting bits down in order to fit into a broken culture-without even realizing what we are doing. Messy! Jiggly! Dirty! Aaaahhhh!!
Let’s look at it, let’s examine it. Let’s un-woo the vital force, friends, because the flow state is a real thing not hippie jargon. It is the moment when your body and mind are aligned. When your circulation is pumping, you’re building muscle, moving lymph, sparking thoughts, feeling free. And it is great.
As parents, as caregivers or teachers or just citizens who give a shit we can set an example. We can look at how we feel about our own bodies and shine some light into the dark places we have created. We can, at the least, stop passing this body baggage down. We may even join the next generation in unraveling the shame spiral and begin to re-connect!
What can we do?
We can examine how we rely on products and, rather than use them all because they exist, choose only those which serve our needs and use them lightly.
For example, when someone tells us they are bored, offer movement rather than products, snacks, devices. Free movement such as dance. Walking, running, skipping. Stretches. Use your body to act like an animal or a plant or a force of nature. Give kids a piece of rope, a ball, a hoop, a bucket of water.
Show them how to squat or balance or climb or grapple or forage or just make noise.
I call it imaginative self-inhabitation and it used to be known as PLAY.
We can stop thinking we aren’t doing it “right”. It is about getting free from the idea that there is one right way. It is about finding our own darn right way. It is about laying down the burden of the perfect body, the perfect form, the perfect expression. It is about the journey, the discovery, the practice.
We can stop with the fear. It’s unlikely that you’ll die from a skinned knee, bug bite, splash of mud or grass stain.
We can stop shaming bodies, no matter how they look or what their skill level is.
We can use devices like strollers and chairs much less, and just let kids (gasp) walk around.
We can stop over-using those damn carseats. (note: of course we should use them in cars, for safety reasons. Referring to non-car use)
We can stop handing kids our iPhones!!!!
We can let kids (and ourselves) go barefoot at times, let them feel their body touch some actual earth. Sure, you run a risk by taking off your shoes. Assess it. But hey, how were you planning to teach risk management? Looks like a great opportunity.
We can give our kids and ourselves an outlet for physical expression rather than sedating-via food, meds, technology and tv-every emotion that comes up. This is a gift.
“Keep calm” is overrated-let’s also give ourselves the space to actively seek release.
Boredom is a catalyst, a chance to transform yourself, your moment, your outlook, not something to fear and avoid at all costs.
It is never too late to shift this course we are on. It is never to late to look at our bodies from another angle, to untangle our feelings about our bodies and their history, to notice that we are NOT inherently “clumsy” people but maybe just insecure or under-practiced and that it’s totally solvable. We can experience moments of revelation right up until our last breath, friends, so don’t give up. Movement does not belong to someone else.
Because living in a state of fear is just exhausting.
Because we haven’t evolved out of a need for movement.
Because we are missing out on a great opportunity.
Because we can re-inhabit ourselves, and inspire others to do so, too.
What does it mean to be a good herbal citizen? Does it mean that we are all love and light? Does it mean we never disagree or debate? Oh heck no. That’s just repression. But it does mean that we try our best to show each other the basic respect that all humans deserve.
It means we always share our stories with an eye to others’ privacy. It means we maintain our own and respect others’ boundaries.
It means we keep racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, body-shaming and other outright harm out of our safe spaces.
And it means we learn to give and receive critique properly.
If we see another herbalist make a mistake-whether it be, for example, a spelling or grammatical error, a mis-identification, a health claim we disagree with or an incorrect citation we can approach them privately, in person, via phone or e-mail, and discuss it.
And that is before we write a blog, make a Facebook post or tell all of our friends about it.
Because finding other people’s mistakes is not an opportunity to prove how smart we are, how right we are, how cool we are.
They’re just that–mistakes.
And they are an opportunity– to create mutual aid, to help someone who needs it, to shape our community and our future.
True leaders in the herbal community do not need to harm others to get ahead but use their example, their influence and their–dare I say it–LOVE to show how it’s done, not their cheap shots and low blows.
We are all fellow workers, we are all on this ship together.
What we do to others, we do to ourselves.
And is there ever a time for debate, critique, even anger within the herbalist community? Sure. It ain’t all sunshine and Basil. But direct that critique, think it through, make it count. Keep it honest, keep it fair.
And when you make your own mistake, as I certainly have, when the critique comes down on you, you can hold your head up knowing that you tried your best, and maybe they’re right or maybe they’re wrong, but you’ll get the opportunity to change, too.
I love roses. I adore them. Especially the old roses, the wild roses, the un-pruned and un-prunable, the hardy, hardier, the hardiest, the climb-y, overgrown, slightly improper roses that smell fabulous, host a million bees and come in shades of pink that could make a biker blush.
I very much enjoy rose time, which is right now.
I have baskets of them all over the house, drying or waiting to be processed, jars of them macerating, liquors, honeys, elixirs melding, piles and piles of lovely roses.
And maybe you do, too? And what are you going to do with all of these roses?
There is the extremely minimalist approach, which is just straight-up sticking your nose in there. grabbing a few petals and eating them. Or drying for later use, come as you are.
There is the basic tincture and elixir, which honestly are nothing to sneeze at. A very good rose plus a very good liquor needs absolutely nothing else to be endlessly delightful. A tiny bit of honeycomb can add to the elixir but I don’t feel like it’s a must.
And then there are combinations–I am a fan of mixing my roses with raw cacao paste. This is my very favorite, and I make a Rosa Rugosa/Heartblood Cacao elixir called Rosestorative that I’ll say, with bias, kicks ass.
I mix rose with Peach-flower, leaf, bark and fruit–for a cooling elixir that clears summer heat like nothing else.
I have been experimenting with a Mint-lime Rose elixir called Rose Julep that is surprisingly delicious.
I like it with Skullcap tops for a soothing and calming tincture, and Hawthorne for a gentle heart tonic.
I combine Rose with Linden, Passionflower, Milky Oats, Tulsi, Skullcap and Peach for what I call my “summer 9-1-1 blend”.
I have made a blend of Roses with fresh cherries and vanilla beans for my personal secret Winter elixir stash.
I put it in other elixirs like the Angelica-based Foothills elixir, the Motherwort and Ashwaganda-based Lionheart elixir and Mugwort-based Little Sugar Dream Nectar.
And I adore Rose mixed with all types of Basil, especially Lemon Basil, for a focusing, clearing blend that tastes great.
So the rose has these medicinal properties, these actions, and this is all very nice. This is great. But Rose also has a certain symbolism. A very, very long history of relationship with humans. Songs, poetry, art, sacred and profane, ancient, evolving over eons, handmade precious scents which we might make as an offering to the gods and goddess of pollination, human and animal, shades of pink best described as “revelatory”, rosy distillations that grace our most sacred spaces, sugared petals that speak of celebration and ritual.
The rose, if nothing else, suggests things.
Deeply human things.
Roses symbolize first dates and a night of passion and decades of abiding love. Roses grace births and deaths, rituals and dinner tables, gravestones and biceps.
Oh, and then there are the thorns. Where I am from, Rosa Rugosa forms protective stands along the Atlantic Coast, keeping drunks and/or tourists off of the delicate dunes and helping hold together the beaches which are subject to erosion from constant winds and water. So Rose speaks to us of boundaries.
And Rose can be the spark that helps us light our own inner fire.
The plant we use, sensually, to create a moment of intimacy, of heart-opening, of connection. Rose can help us to create a space, to build trust, to mourn a loss.
The special medicine of roses is that they don’t last, they bloom and they fall, and then they are gone, they bring us into the moment, clearing away the crap, they say be here now, they say gather roses while you can, they say get yourself into this moment as fully and as magenta-ly as you possibly can and when it’s all over let it go.
The rose connects us–to each other, to our lineage, to nature, to ourselves.
And, listen– the rose is damn fine in a little shot glass on a summer evening.
The main theme of my IHS experience this year was stories. The stories of people I met. I had the opportunity to listen to so many truly interesting people here. And with nearly 1,000 people, the International Herbal Symposium really is a little village. (My current town features a population of about 1,000!)
It is easy to get overwhelmed at herb conferences, especially large ones.. And especially if you don’t know any or many people. The first IHS I attended years ago is where I learned that I might need to just walk up to strangers, to just be open and go for it. Cause I don’t want to eat lunch alone.
If you find yourself in that position, remember: just ask them about their story!
I do go there to attend a few classes, but I am really there for the moments in between, before and after, the stolen moments and deep discussions. Like this:
I will say that I’ve gotten a little prickly about some aspects of herb conferences, which I will rudely call “the woo”, but I have come to realize that it doesn’t matter. As I get older I am less concerned about making sure everyone agrees with me.
Gary is a treasure trove of stories. He is a native RI-er like me, and lives with Lovecraft’s ghost. Well, lived. He put H.P.’s name into a “radionics machine” to get rid of him. I wonder where it went….
This is Agnes Adler. She makes art that cracks my heart open. Her passion is a joy to behold.
This photo speaks for itself. There is no word that can express how delightful this moment feels to me. OK, maybe one: boots.
This is Thomas Easley. It turns out that I like him–and his lovely wife!– even more than I thought I would.
My favorite part of the work-study program is working the info booth–with and without these amazing ladies. Stories abound here. Problem-solving and connecting with people makes me very, very happy. And a shout-out to Bonnie Kavanaugh for her commitment to our mutual respect-which is a story that I carry with me.
To my surprise I ended up bonding with Susun Weed over our shared dislike of the last century’s story of anti-sex food movements such as Graham and his stupid crackers and the fearful, sex-negative Kellogg. (this fear-based paradigm is not over.) Sorry about your goats, Susun!
And thanks to Howie Brounstein for taking about 1,000 brilliant photos of me, which helps to illustrate MY story, for being an all-around neat guy, and for wearing the perfect shade of purple.
Thank you to all the people who worked together to make this happen–this year and every year. And thank you all for sharing your stories with me.
Herbstalk 2015! It was a raging success. This is a great medium-sized herbal conference in Somerville MA.The organizers do a good job of helping to support diversity, they choose a wide range of classes and make it as accessible as possible. Thanks, Steph and crew! They are great representatives of the herbal community. It is held in a beautiful building, an old Armory. There were plants for sale, herbs and goodies, food including Apotheker’s marshmallows–highly recommended– and herb schools from the area.
They held a little forum on the Fire cider controversy which….could have been worse.
I liked the class on the history of herbalist in the US taught by dynamic duo Ryn Midura and Katja Swift.
And I appreciated the trans health class, which I believe is a much-needed and interesting topic.
Thanks to those who came to my class on Bitters, your participation is greatly appreciated, and a shout-out to my helper, who someone called “that hippie kid” and my carpool buddy Mike who spent 2 hours telling me about cell biology. Fabulous.
Ah, travel. Broadening your horizons! Or getting some work done. Visiting family, or perhaps you’re an international spy? Whatever your reasons for going somewhere, a little planning and some basic self-care strategies go a long way towards lessening the dreaded travel hangover.
I like to bring a little something to ease my trip, but I also like to travel as light as possible- so some prioritizing is in order. Finding this balance is up to you and your needs. You can bring more support for a longer trip or more for travel to a place that presents significant travel hazards or few good stores. You can be pretty minimalist going to a major city for a few days, and may need to pack a full kit for a month-long hike. That is your decision to make, but let’s break down the very basics of what you could consider:
-Digestion. This is the Achilles heel of many travelers. The excitement of travel, the different foods and schedule, road food, the inconsistent access to restrooms, sitting, dehydration all contribute to possible digestive upset. I strongly suggest regular Bitters before and after each meal. If you are traveling to a place with a bitters tradition, such as incorporating bitter greens at meals or a widely available aperitif or digestif you are in luck. If not, bring or seek out a bottle of bitters and add it to seltzer, mixed drinks or just straight up. Nibble bitter greens to keep your digestion juicy.
Keep up the good bacteria with a little fermented food here and there, yogurt, pickles, miso, and try to keep stress in check. (see #2) Nothing says “intestinal distress” like a very worried traveler.
I don’t usually suggest avoiding fatty meats or street food or county fairs or local water, I believe in human adaptability but if you have an underlying condition or allergy maybe be more cautious.
And a little Motherly advice: if you have to barf, just do it. Learn to barf without drama or fanfare, don’t struggle to avoid it, don’t weep and moan, just elegantly let your stomach eject its contents into an appropriate receptacle and move on.
-Stress management. So stress isn’t a condition, it is an input. It isn’t just “bad stress” that you will encounter when traveling–excitement, overstimulation,temperature changes, time changes, using parts of your brain or body that you didn’t know existed…..it all contributes to a state of tension or overwhelm which can feel fun or wired or brittle or cranky.
I’d suggest experimenting with nervines BEFORE you find yourself about to throttle a sweet innocent taxi driver, maybe before the trip, in the comfort of your own home.
Linden, Rose, Scullcap, Blue Vervain, Passionflower, Chamomile, Milky Oats, Lavender– as tinctures or dry herbs for infusing– one or in combination–are a good place to start. I like to bring either teabags or bulk herbs and a travel mug so I can make a soothing drink on the run.
I carry my favorite nervine blend at all times–I use it preventively going into a stressful situation or afterwards to recover and let go of the day. Or both!
-Depletion. Lack of sleep or irregular sleep, dehydration, hours of walking….In order to keep this up for days it helps to keep yourself feeling resilient and nourished.
It helps to have one sleep blend–maybe Hops-based, for example, to help adjust to sleeping in a different time zone or strange place.
You can bring or seek out a few high-protein, deeply nourishing foods-nuts, full-fat yogurt, overpriced hippie-dippy “energy bars”, higher-end beef jerky. I like to have a nourishing tincture such as Ashwaganda/Tulsi/Milky Oats or maybe a powder of Ashwaganda to mix with Almond butter. And a multi-vitamin.
If it’s hot, stay hydrated with water and perhaps add electrolytes. Keep it extra cooling with lemons, mint, rose petals, cumbers-just throw the herbs in the water and let it sit in a hot car for 3 hours. Just kidding. HOT CUCUMBER WATER?!?!? Just drink it.
Speaking of hot cucumbers, carrying a spray bottle of Rosewater or another favorite hydrosol-Cucumber, Neroli, Jasmine, perhaps?-will chill you out like nothing else. So darn refreshing!
-Basic personal 1st aid.
For crying out loud, bring a band-aid.
If you have an active uterus, bring at least one feminine pad. Yes, you can buy them in other places but have you ever needed one NOW and tried to find a place that was open/takes your foreign cash/had pads in stock in some godforsaken town on some peninsula somewhere? Bring at least one with you. It’s light, and can be used for various 1st aid needs.
Bring a sharp knife for emergency surgery/cutting apples and a little travel tweezers.
-Muscular system. If you are not a bit sore at the end of the day, what the heck did you do? Bring a rub-an oil or salve-and massage your tired feet, sore shoulders or barking glutes. Sweet Birch, Turmeric, Meadowsweet, Solomon’s Seal, Alder-whatever infused oil you like, or hit up a pharmacy for a jar of the local butt rub.
If you’re prone to spasmodic pain, bring Black Haw and/or Lobelia tincture for external use.
It’s nice to have a little bumpy ball such as Rubz or a Beastie to work out knots and release trigger points, and you can do this anywhere. It seems to me like people waste a lot of time in airports playing iPhone games and watching CNN…bust out a little foot rub for some preventive care or get some lymphatic-moving walking in before you take off! I also bring a thera-band and do some resistance exercise, and maybe people think I’m nuts but my posterior chain feels great.
And finally, SHOES!!!!!!!! Zero-drop flats with a tiny bit of support are the ultimate self-care. Consider avoiding all high heels, heavy shoes, slippery shoes, clogs, pointy shoes….fashion can suck it, friends.You know what’s really hot? Someone who feels cheerful enough at the end of the day for a juicy conversation, someone who isn’t constantly seeking a bench to sit on, someone who can run from a pack of wild dogs. Someone who chooses a decent pair of shoes.
-Your personal weak points. So this was a basic overview for everyone, now consider if you have any special needs and bring something to cover them. What are you prone to? For example, it is much easier to tackle a UTI or a sinus infection at the first sign of a problem than to try to fix it once it gets bad. And always bring what you need to support your chronic health condition, if applicable-herbal or non. Check in with an herbal buddy if desired.
-The hangover. And once you get home, give your liver a little extra love..or at least a break.
Eat some fiber, sweat it out with a nice long walk, take the time for a good stretch session and a psoas release, get a good night’s sleep and a hot bath. You did it, world traveler!
P.S. Got any favorite strategies for better, well-er travel? Leave it in the comments!
As I’m planning a little trip to the California Bay area I am reflecting on how I learned to cook. I am delighted by people’s stories, and I am delighted by food, and the combination of the two even more so, and for me there was “a moment”.
I grew up without knowing much about food or cooking. My mother was not very domestic and didn’t cook much, she was more the “I can use power tools” type. My father introduced me to a few key things–seafood, Thai and cured meats, but didn’t actually impart the skills of making them.
Noone in my lineage was particularly into cooking, actually.
So, you know, I could microwave a potato, scramble an egg and I knew how to order a pizza.
I’d cooked in restaurants, terribly, mixing up giant vats of over-peppered stuffies in a hotel kitchen, frying eggs poorly for tourists in Puerto Rico, frothing lattes and shmearing bagels.
I ate stuff.
But I didn’t really GET it.
When I was 20 I left Rhode Island for Bishop, CA via a long, meandering road trip with multiple rock-climbing detours. We ate a lot of sardines, diner food and carrot sticks. A few months into this adventure I ended up in San Francisco visiting my sister, and we went out to lunch in Little Italy. I’m quite sure I was broke, and I’m sure the place we went was not the fanciest– I remember it as unassuming and the kind of place that would offer lunch specials that two scrappy young Rhode Islanders would like.
So I had a salad, and it was, like, LEAFY. This was 1998 maybe, before frisee was a household word.
The dressing was not fluorescent orange.
And then there was spaghetti. I thought I’d had spaghetti before. I thought I “knew” spaghetti, but this was al dente, covered in olive oil, like real olive oil, Calamata olives and diced tomatoes.
Some dude came over and grated Parmesan cheese onto the whole thing.
I coulda died.
Oh, and I had a glass of wine. In a real wine glass, not a Ball jar. Wine that enhanced the food, a concept I certainly had not grasped before.
At that moment something clicked in my head. Cooking is not hard. Cooking is, at its best, taking great ingredients, combining them with a light touch, and trying not to fuck them up.
It was like I unlocked this big, clunky, mysterious box and out spilled bitter, salty, sweet, chewy, lemony and oily, and I ate it.
I see people slogging through their cooking, following other peoples’ recipes to the letter, worrying themselves sick over whether it’s perfect enough, or healthy enough, or “clean” enough.
(Don’t worry, it is.)
And I just want to impart a bit of the joy, the meditation, the creativity, the rebellion I feel when I cook. Yes, occasionally cooking feels like a chore. But mostly it is a constant companion in my life’s struggle.
I now cook every single day of my life. I cook with my eyes closed, with both hands behind my back. I cook with my eyes, my nose, my ears, my mouth. I cook with my instincts. I cook things I’ve grown or foraged or bartered. I cook without recipes, mostly. I cook well, mostly. I can cook for 100 without fear. I cook and then I actually eat it. I cook for family, friends, lovers, dogs.
And I still make that simple Calamata olive spaghetti that changed it all.
At one point in my herbalist journey I refused to read or listen to anything which criticized my path. Those jerks! What is their problem? Herbs are great! Haven’t they read my blog?!?!?! And then I sought these people out, just to get myself all fired up, to craft long, meandering defenses of plant medicine in my head while I washed dishes or dug holes.
My love of herbal medicines was fragile, like a precious bit of fine China, something I needed to protect and guard. And I felt like I needed to defend my right to use herbs and to make my own health choices, and I was interested in being right.
I would pick out the one point that they got wrong, while ignoring the parts which may have taught me something. Why can’t everyone see my way?!?! How can they possibly not GET this!?!?
But now, I don’t give a rat’s ass.
I have moved through the idea that other people need to believe what I believe. (Mostly.) I actively seek out people who don’t use herbs, and I am interested in why some people dislike them, make other choices or can’t access them.
I have tried things. like actually tried, not just read about them in a book or a magazine.
I have seen examples where herbs and other “alternative” healthcare have not worked, are not the best choice, or are promoted in actively manipulative, confusing or even potentially harmful ways.
And ultimately, I feel less threatened by others who want to prove me wrong. Go ahead. In fact, it would be helpful. I will read your critiques now, and sometimes they are right, sometimes wrong, sometimes both. I feel more confident in my use of plant medicines and my connection with plants, as well as my movement and nutrition choices, but I am always willing to learn more, to dig deeper, to ask questions, even of myself.
And I can see the humor in our humanity, the way we divide ourselves, the way we all form our groups and our paradigms and our dogmas and stick onto them like medicinal leeches. I am this and you are that. It is freeing to unstick myself from the sweaty leg of any one side, any one path.
And as I get older I have more of a grasp of what it means for a person and an idea to mature. I do love the new, fresh, youthful rage-against-the-system energy that innovates and wears hot pink and turns it up and boinks everything that moves, and must yell THIS WORKS in all caps on every herbal forum. Juicy, but fragile. Now I am falling in love with this more mature phase that brushes off others’ hyperbole and panic, lets my actions speak for themselves and commits to just keep walking, outlasting the haters. Well, tries to.
I still want to debate people who disagree with me, respectfully, and I still want to share my love and joy around plant medicines. And, OK, I occasionally still craft long silly arguments in my head. But I am not afraid of the other opinions and approaches anymore. And there are many sides, not just 2, not just for vs against, not just pro vs anti, not just woo vs science, not just tin foil hats vs Big Pharma conspiracies. Maybe, sometimes, they have a point. Or maybe they are reactionary douchebags. Maybe they are just lonely or disconnected, and maybe we can be friends.