Remembrance of a Paper’s Past

Existential questions bubble up during this pandemic for me, and I’ve had to dig deep to keep them at arm’s length. I’ve plucked obscure things from my past to reassure myself that this too shall pass and incorporated a Zen mindset, my Catholic faith and the prayers I would say in the car before heading off to the bus stop with my siblings for school to settle any spiritual anxiety and disturbances. This crisis, after all, calls for all hands on deck and every ounce of resilience I could muster.
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The grotto I frequent to stretch, wind down and find solace after walks around my neighborhood

There was also a sixth grade paper, I alluded previously, in which I wrote about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. My mom was a pathologist, and as common for doctors she had these thick medical books on our shelves. My main source material was “Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine,” which I pored over religiously during the process, however, a Newsweek article was a secondary reference that introduced a public health professional who would figure prominently in the disease’s evolution to this very day. That professional is Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. He is the reason I stick by the guidelines he is advocating with the CDC and the science and data behind it to slow the progress of the coronavirus. When he is being questioned over the government’s response by the U.S. Senate, he responds in the same compassionate, respectful demeanor when challenged by HIV/AIDS activists at the epidemic’s height. Dr. Fauci is an old warrior who has been at this game longer than most of these senators have been in office.
I suppose too this is like writing an open letter to my 11-year-old self who wrote that paper for Ms. Mary Cavanaugh’s English class, to say this is my playbook for surviving a pandemic, HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 or otherwise: We will eventually reach a point of equilibrium, and we will adapt to a different yet manageable norm. While I have no idea where the paper is now, I hope whence next I return to my family home, I will find it and marvel over how a sliver of my younger past could comprise my North Star for my near half-century present.

The Change I’m Waiting For

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Photos from a friend in Oakland of healing murals springing up after angry protests on the main thoroughfare.

June has me shaken by another horrific death of a black man by a police officer that, coupled with the coronavirus, exposes yet again the widening gap in this country’s social shortfall with communities of color.  

Just as the coronavirus had me recalling learnings from a sixth grade research paper I wrote about the HIV-AIDS epidemic, these days of protests have alerted my political underpinnings established in college and carried into my adult life. Eventually, I became resigned racism, like poverty and homelessness, was too intractable to solve.  But now I wonder has the moment of reckoning arrived?

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I hadn’t even made a dent, reading all the lives lost to cornonavirus, when George Floyd was killed at the hands of law enforcement.

Change starts with me internally, no less.  As a result, I am not only talking less and listening more, but also reeducating myself for a new reality due to the stirrings of a profound awakening. While optimistic, I am managing my expectations.

I also feel like a relic of a now distant past, and I’m more inclined to cede my place to this generation and ones that follow of such diverse voices and backgrounds to create a more equal and just society, since my generation has done such a bang-up job of the world. It’s their turn, after watching remote graduations of even that of my young nephews, and I’ll be the supportive aunt and ally. The impatience of a breathtaking global cross-section of people is real and palpable during a pandemic in which the future is ever so murky, but the present is so intensely clear. With record-high unemployment and too many senseless deaths and losses mourned, there’s no time to waste, nothing more to lose.