One of my favorite songs of all time is Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys, and it’s been stuck in my head for the past couple of days – probably because Thanksgiving break was crammed with good vibes. I took the Greyhound bus all the way from Boston to Virginia to visit some family friends, and life was awesome all weekend. The sun was shining, and I didn’t set my alarm clock once. I felt like a love-sponge, just soaking up affection and good food. Our Thanksgiving feast included all the components of a typical American meal: turkey, cranberries, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, and two kinds of pies. And at night, we had traditional Dutch treats called Oliebollen! Oliebollen are little round donuts, filled with raisins and spices. I almost died of happiness and good vibrations while I ate them.
I helped create this poignant Thanksgiving artwork.
Unfortunately, the bus ride back to school almost took away all my good vibrations. We stopped in New York in the middle of the night to switch buses – but Greyhound, Inc was temporarily out of bus drivers. So we waited on the floor in sleepy, grouchy suspense until some more bus drivers showed up at dawn, and I made it back to campus just in time for my morning classes.
Speaking of good vibrations, a few weeks ago the Harvard Global Health & AIDS Coalition staged a ‘Pool Party Demonstration’ outside of Merck Pharmaceuticals, near the Harvard Medical School – an effective and creative way to protest. While Merck has been instrumental in developing ARVs and other HIV-related drugs, they’ve refused to join the Medicine Patent Pool so far. The Patent Pool tries to ensure availability of HIV drugs to low- and middle-income families across the globe, and Merck’s cooperation would be invaluable toward that end (you can read more about the issue here).
Pool party with a purpose.
Listening to speeches! I’m wearing the hawt green shades.
We showed up with beach balls, sunglasses, and multicolored towels, and set up our waterless pool party in the grass below Merck Labs. I was impressed with how congenial and relaxed everyone was, while still being insistent about their goals. We chanted and talked and wrote letters to Merck management, and some Harvard med students gave speeches from inside the blow-up pool (everyone told them to “Get in the pool!”). The demonstrators showed that it’s possible to be passionate without being violent, and to make your voice heard without being antagonizing. Of course, some policemen showed up pretty quickly and watched the proceedings with folded arms, but they didn’t seem too concerned. The demonstration actually got a lot of local publicity, and a follow-up event is scheduled for World AIDS Day this coming Thursday, December 1st. If you live in the Boston area, feel free to join in – and no matter where you live, there are so many ways you can show your love & support for those living with HIV this Thursday.