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.
img_4577

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.

Foggy Bottom

IMG_2119Since being shelter-in-place due to the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, I’ve felt like I’ve been living in a fog, disoriented and unsure of the ground under my feet. But then I’m reminded of a hike my friends and I had taken in Sibley Volcanic Preserve in the East Bay, and it hit me in that rather misty morning venturing into thick brush and hardy stalks of flora deep within the canyon of a silent volcano characterizes what I’m feeling at the moment. However, I was with friends, and I was reassured these are the women I could rely on in an emergency, even an apocalyptic crisis. At one point in the hike, we reached a plateau that provided a view of rolling, golden hills for which California is known. While the region, state, nation and the entire planet is being ravaged by this pandemic, memories such as these are meant to evoke better days when we could breathe freely, and nature will assert her incredible¬†power when it is pushed to the brink.