No Scarcity of Care

Una Aya Osato describes her experiences as a covid longhauler
Produced and Edited by Taylor Cook
Brooklyn, USA episode 48 - April 7th, 2021

Transcript:

 

[VOICEOVER NARRATION]

Taylor Cook: Up to 10% of people who have had covid are still experiencing significant health complications months and months after they were initially infected. These ‘long haulers’ are dealing with pain, uncertainty, loss, and fear as they navigate our deeply ableist and inaccessible society. But they are also finding community with each other, and with other disabled and chronically ill people, and organizing for disability justice. Brooklyn-based burlesque performer, sex educator, and activist, Una Aya Osato, is one of these covid longhaulers.

 

[BEEP] [Soft clicking sound of pressing play on a cassette player]
 

[CLIPS] [Various clips pulled from Una’s covid updates videos (from @ThisIsUna on Instagram)] [Una’s voice is a bit distorted, as though they are speaking on a telephone. Some clips have static in the background]
Una Aya Osato: Hi friends!

Hi friends!

Hi friends!


Hi friends! 

I want to give a health update. I've been sick in bed for three weeks.

 

[MUSIC] [Slow droning music (Tape Delay, composed by Chris Doney & Beth Perry) begins playing softly under Una’s voice. The track has been slightly slowed down and distorted. It sounds a bit as though it’s being played underwater] 

 

Una: It's been eight weeks.

I have Covid and like lingering-ness for about three months. 

Today marks nine months of when I first got covid.

[exasperated] It's been a year. [chuckle] It's been a year. It's been a year.

[coughing, laughing] AHHHHHHHH! [laughing continues] 

 

[MUSIC] [Droning swells over Una’s laughter, then gradually fades to silence]

 

Una: My name is Una Aya Osato, I'm a performer, writer, and educator. I'm currently laying in bed. I’ve got a bunch of pillows, I've got a bunch of blankets. Today's a pretty achy day of a lot of joint pain. And I'm very excited to be here, feeling cozy, even in pain, just to get to be with you, so thank you for having me!

 

[MUSIC: Slowly pulsing music (Another Universe - Composed by George Beck) with long begins playing softly in the background. Long low notes ring out then fade.]

 

Una: I got sick with covid March 9th, so more than a year ago at this point. Especially in the beginning, there was just like... you know, being in New York, being in Brooklyn, there's just constant sirens.... 

 

[Sirens fade in, then fade out]

 

Una: That's all we were hearing for so long. And I was just like so sick in bed. I had friends who work in ERs and I'd be like, should I come in now? Like … there were definitely a bunch of nights where I'd go to sleep and I asked my partner to, like, make sure to tell everyone I love, like... if I… I wasn't sure if I'd wake up or... and just make sure to, like, tell people that I love them. And that was like, so important to me before I’d go to sleep. I'm like, ‘please, please, I need you to tell all these people.’  

 

[MUSIC] [‘Another Universe’ fades into the background and continues softly undulating in the background before fading to silence]

 

[BEEP] [Soft clicking sound of pressing play on a cassette player] 

[The sounds of a quiet rainstorm begin playing in the background]

 

[CLIP] [A clip from Una’s Instagram (@ThisIsUna)]

Una: I can’t say I’m getting better, the symptoms just continue. So I’ve kind of had to shift what I think better is to being able to listen to my body and give it what it needs and be compassionate in the pain and see the way that it connects me to others who are also in pain.

 

[The sounds of a quiet rain storm end]

[BEEP] [Soft clicking sound of pressing stop on a cassette player]

 

Una: All of it’s been so life changing. Reflecting on having been sick for more than a year, [deep breath]I think about so much loss and so much grief that I feel. I mean, we're in a time of mass death so, of course, there's like so much grief. 

 

[MUSIC] [A slow, slightly bouncy, gentle instrumental song (Sepia by Podington Bear) fades in. It sounds hopeful, but tentative.]

 

Una: Because I feel so much grief and, like, pain, it is helpful for my own spirits to think about also what I have gained in this time. And that it looks different than how I probably would have measured it a year ago. 

 

I feel like I've developed more empathy for other people and myself. And the only way that that's been possible is because of community, because of disabled and chronically ill community and people that have held me and people that have shared their wisdom with me. That's been the case of queer community or, like, all these different communities that I am part of. It's like the way you learn is because others are so generous, and caring, and bring you in with loving arms and are like, ‘There are others who’ve been here. Welcome. We've been waiting for you. We love you. There's so much to learn. You have so much to share.’ 

 

It's been so lifesaving to, in these moments where I'm like, ‘am I really still sick?’ And it's like, ‘yeah, you are still sick.’ And then just to know that there are other people who are like, oh yeah, I feel you. Like, this fucking sucks. And I'm like… It's not like anyone takes away anyone else's pain, but just being witnessed by others... It's so essential in just being able to witness myself and have love and compassion for myself. 

 

[BEEP] [Soft clicking sound of pressing play on a cassette player] 

[The sounds of a quiet rainstorm play Una's voice]

[MUSIC] [The song ‘Sepia’ slowly fades to silence]

 

[CLIP] [Clip from Una’s Instagram (@ThisIsUna)]: 

Una: Are we going to really be fighting for the world that we all deserve where we all can be free, have what we can need, be safe. I hope that that is what we are all awakening to and fighting for.

 

[The sounds of a quiet rain storm end]

[BEEP] [Soft clicking sound of pressing stop on a cassette player]

 

Una: I did a workshop for my students about AIDS activism and also what was happening with covid and how it disproportionately was affecting communities of color, poor communities, and ...  

 

[MUSIC] [A soft undulating instrumental track, ‘Another Universe,’ fades in. Low droning notes play softly]

 

Una: I remember, they were so moved to see those who were directly impacted fighting for their lives. 

 

[CLIP] [Protestors chanting] [Clip fades in] Act up! fight back! fight AIDS! Act up! fight back! fight AIDS! [Clip fades out]

 

Una: People being like, ‘I'm fighting for myself, I'm fighting for my loved ones, and literally like, there's no other choice but to fight.’ And that's what we saw in the uprisings in June, we continue to see all the time. Like, I feel like those lessons, like, have reverberated. I had more energy than I've had this whole year was in June. And I think obviously because we were witnessing and part of, like, monumental change and uprisings in our city, in our world.

 

[MUSIC] [‘Another Universe,’ fades to silence]

 

[CLIP] [Protestors chanting. Recorded by Taylor Cook in July 2020 in Brooklyn] [Clip fades in] Who keeps us safe? We keep us safe! Who keeps us safe? We keep us safe! [Clip fades out]

 

[MUSIC] [Slow, low pitched droning music, ‘Tape Delay,’ begins playing] 

 

Una: And the power and the courage of everyone being out and all the different ways that people were raising consciousness and challenging power. And I think what it did for me, like, was very necessary for my own healing [Una’s voice crack’s emotionally]. 

 

[MUSIC] [‘Tape Delay,’ swells loudly, making whirring droning noises, then fades to softly continue playing in the background]

[BEEP] [Soft clicking sound of pressing play on a cassette player] 

 

[The sounds of a quiet rainstorm play Una's voice]

 

[Clip from Una’s Instagram (@ThisIsUna)]:
Una: How do you constantly dream and believe in your dreams until you
materialize them and create new realities?


[The sounds of a quiet rain storm end]

[BEEP] [Soft clicking sound of pressing stop on a cassette player]

 

[MUSIC] [‘Tape Delay,’ continues in the background]


Una: That dream work will look like… That there is no scarcity of care for anybody. It'll be a world of reparations and one that centers pleasure. Everyone will be able to tap in and listen to what their bodies need and everyone will have the support of their communities caring for them and everyone showing up in exactly what they're able to do. And when that happens, I will be better, so...  All my friends who are like, ‘oh, I just wish you could be better...’ They'll be working for that world and [chuckles] then I'll be better and they'll be better and we'll all... Not… Yeah.  

 

I'm still in pain, but my spirits feel so much higher and… Like, the pain feels bearable when I'm in community. And it just doesn't feel like the main thing I'm feeling. The main thing I'm feeling is deep love and connection and that's what I can ask for in this world.  

 

[MUSIC] [The slow, low pitched, droning of ‘Tape Delay’ continues pulsing, getting louder and louder, then eventually fading to silence]



 

CREDITS:

 

Produced and Edited by Taylor Cook

Adapted from its original version which aired in on April 7th, 2021 on the Brooklyn, USA podcast, episode 48, “We’ve Been Waiting For You” 

 

Tape Delay - Composed by Chris Doney & Beth Perry

Another Universe - Composed by George Beck

Sepia - Podington Bear
 

Una Aya Osato is a Brooklyn based burlesque performer, sex educator, and activist. To stay up to date with Una and support her work, you can subscribe to her patreon (https://www.patreon.com/ThisIsUna), follow her on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thisisuna), and visit BrASS Burlesque’s website (http://www.brassburlesque.com/).

 

Parts of my conversation with Una were inspired by the books Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure by Eli Clare and Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi- Piepzna Samarasinha. You can find Leah Lakshmi- Piepzna Samarasinha at https://brownstargirl.org/ and Eli Clare on his website (http://eliclare.com/) and Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/eliclare).
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Image description: Screenshot of a zoom call between Taylor and Una. Taylor is on the left of the screen leaning into the camera and smiling widely. Taylor is wearing a grey hoodie and large black headphones. There is an ornate lamp in the background of their screen. Una is on the right of the screen, sitting up straight and smiling with her mouth wide open. Una is wearing a purple sweatshirt, round wire rimmed glasses, and over the ear headphones. Una's background is a plain grey wall. In the upper left hand of the screenshot, there is a red circle next to the word recording in white text.]

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