What Did I Do During my Covid Summer?

I stayed at home and fed my mind, and began to lose hope for the human race. I read books. I read books about pandemics, written in the early 1900’s. And I learned that in this time of pandemic nothing has changed. Man chooses not to believe in or see the pandemic until it is right in front of them, then becomes self absorbed, caring only for themselves and their own well being, not the welfare of their neighbor. And the virus always spreads before modern medicine can intervene, or the world ends.

I also read a lot of books about racism. Books from African-American perspectives, from Asian-American perspectives, and even a book from White-American’s perspective.

When this pandemic broke out across our nation, Asian-Americans were faced with an astronomical increase in racism against them. Asians of any nationality were automatically assumed to be Chinese and being blamed for the Corona Virus reaching America. The racism towards Asian-Americans did not stop just at threats, it also became extremely violent. One man stabbed an entire Asian-American family. Children in schools were being physically assaulted, one child, beaten so badly, was rushed to the emergency room. One elderly woman was knocked down by a group of men and set on fire. Gun shop owners noted a drastic increase in gun sales to Asian-Americans.

And it is not the first time American fear has given rise to extreme racism towards a specific racial group. After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, American-Muslims faced something similar. But these are examples of American extreme racism that not a lot of Americans are even aware is happening.

Racism is our epidemic and I don’t honestly think it is something that will be cured. Our nation is young, but it was built on white superiority. It is in the bones of our country. People of colour are labeled “disadvantaged” simply for the colour of their skin, despite education and upbringing. Regardless of a white person’s education and upbringing. America’s structure and systems are built to keep white advantage. You drive down a street with nice houses and manicured lawns, and you automatically assume that it is a neighborhood filled with white families. You drive down a street that is poorly kept with small houses, and who do you assume lives there? Disadvantaged people. These are the images we have been raised to conjure in our heads, it is an automatic, unconscious response. America keeps people of colour down.

I have also been reading a little about the ’92 L.A. Riots. The timing felt appropriate after the death of George Floyd earlier this year, and the riots that ensued after. The L.A. Riots began on April 29th of ’92 after the four police officers who used excessive force and beat Rodney King while arresting him, were all acquitted. During the riots, much of the violence and destruction was aimed towards L.A. Koreatown and the Koreans living there. During this time many Koreans went out and bought guns. Although it was a gun that probably brought about a majority of the animosity African-Americans felt towards the Koreans, when a Korean shop owner shot and killed a young African-American girl trying to buy some orange juice. She was let off with an unjustly light sentence.

27 years prior, in 1965 the Watts Rebellion occurred after the arrest of Marquette Frye, an African-American man, escalated into a fight. The outrage over the police brutality in arresting an African-American incited a six day riot in L.A.

28 years after the L.A. Riots, the death of George Floyd by the police incited more rioting. Nearly 30 years between each incident and nothing has changed.

More current, I just read that the police officer responsible for the death of George Floyd posted bail and is now walking free until his trial, set for March of next year.

Though I know that extreme racism against African-Americans has always been going on, it has not been something I have personally seen much of. I honestly had no idea that “I can’t breathe” was a slogan used by the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of Eric Garner by police in 2014. Since then there have been other African-Americans to plead with police officers, “I can’t breathe,” while being forcibly restrained, and in turn died.

This year has been particularly difficult for America. While I had tried to convince myself that we have always been progressing towards a better, stronger country, this year in particular, of the last four, has proved to me that we haven’t. I admit that when Covid landed in our country, I was one of the ignorant ones who believed we would bust it within months. Four years ago, when Trump ran for president, I was one of the ignorant ones who believed our country couldn’t be stupid enough to actually elect him. I have always placed my misguided faith in this country and its people.

And now here we are again.

Honestly, KEEP America Great? Are you kidding me? Is this really the America he set out to make? The only thing I can say is that at least in the past four years we haven’t found ourselves in the middle of World War III. But instead, we are at war with ourselves. Our nation is fractured.
This year we have all been faced with this pandemic, this indiscriminate virus that will attack anybody. And yet, the cases of infection keep rising. Why do you think that is?

So, what did I do this Covid Summer? I stayed home and fed my mind.

Vacation Pandemic – Epilogue

The Life and Times of Rose edition:

The sun couldn’t decide what the eff it wanted to do. It rained, hailed, and full, spring day sunned, all within 2 hours.

The last trip into town felt like any other, despite majority of shops being closed. We saw familiar faces. Stood in the sun while we waited for coffee. And this was it. This was the feeling of my vacation. My little bubble of peace and warmth. Despite the world around me. And my growing reluctance to leave is palpable.

It doesn’t help that one of symptoms of the death virus is tightness of the chest. Why do I suddenly keep feeling it? How do I differentiate between illness and anxiety?

Pretty soon I’ll be back on the road, headed south towards the place I suppose I call “home.” But not to the life I left behind. I will return to a life I have never lived, not sure I know how to live. Back to a world that changed while I wasn’t looking.

And that is how it will start…

A return to a small, 1 bedroom apartment. Alone, save for 2 cats and 2 tortoises. Unable to leave except for work. Lonely, isolated. A spinster by the time this all blows over…

Vacation Pandemic – Day Last

When you’re stuck in quarantine and don’t know what to do…

Here are a few ideas, brought to you by Pets:

_______________________________________

1: Sleep in Late

_______________________________________

2: Do some Puzzles

_______________________________________

3: Cuddle a Stuffed Animal

_______________________________________

4: Or even just stay hidden

_______________________________________

But always remember to keep smiling.

Vacation Pandemic – Day 6

I turn to food when I’m stressed. Not in a binge eating sort of way. But rather in a binging cooking show, researching and conceptualizing recipes. You know how they say, guys think about sex every 6 seconds? (…do they still say that?) I am almost entirely certain that I think about food every 6 seconds. (It might actually be a problem, but I’m not ready for meetings…)

And currently times are hard. Hard on many, but hard on the foodies. It stresses me out to see restaurants struggling to stay afloat. It stresses me out more, to go to the grocery store and find food shelves stripped bare of even their dust bunnies. And most of all… it stresses me out to still see all these damned food commercials. Take that shit off the air, it’s rude!

So I watch alot of food tv. None of that Guy’s Grocery Games shit, or Kids Baking Challenge… But like, I love watching professional and up and coming semi-professional chefs. The people who take their food seriously.

Ugly Delicious.

I have followed David Chang’s career for maybe a decade or more. The man loves food, he loves learning about food, he loves developing out of the box ideas.

This episode I randomly threw on this morning was less about food, but all about his first child. They say that Nursing School is the destroyer of marriages. I think that Restaurant life can often be the destroyer of families.

In this episode Dave did alot of interviewing veteran chefs on How. How did they manage to maintain their wildly successful restaurants, AND raise a family?

He eventually talked about how he and his wife learned they were pregnant, the day after Anthony Bourdain passed. He said he knew it was that day because he couldn’t stop crying. That it felt unfair to lose someone so great, and to then be bringing a new life into this world. But it turned out to be one of the most terrifying, and amazing things for him.

And it was kind of nice. Facebook, one of our most used and greatest ways to stay connected during these isolation and social distancing times. It was nice to see… I don’t know, children. To see new life. To see hope. Because, right now, it doesn’t feel like there is a whole lot out there.

Vacation Pandemic – Day 3 & 4

Yesterday, while at the store I stood in an aisle looking for something. I noticed an older man watching me from the end of the aisle. Once I had found what I had been looking for, I grabbed it and walked past him. I noticed him then hurry down the aisle to find his own items.

It felt as though he had been glaring at me. No one has been outright rude to me, but I can’t help feeling higher amounts of judgement..

We drove through town, taking notice of all the places still open. Places desperately remaining open, places stubbornly remaining open. People are trying to survive. And ironically, while in an attempt to physically survive this pandemic, people are losing sight of basic survival needs…

We went to the store again today. It’s hard to stop needing things. It is a state of mind I am not used to. That Costco trip mentality. We walk into the store and dried pastas, dried beans, frozen veggies… depleted. Sensible. Sensible items if you’re going to survive the end of the world…

And for as many zombie movies as I watch, disaster movies about all electric power shutting off, post apocalyptic survival movies… it’s easy to say you’d know what to do. But I really don’t. I don’t have a means to set myself up for that.

Instead I joke that I’m resigned to being one of the first to die. I need too much food.

Ironically is my father’s community title. Head of the Disaster Preparedness Committee.

So I’ll continue to live day by day… I don’t know any other way. I will continue to live paycheck to paycheck, buying groceries as I need them. I will continue to go to work, because I work in a hospital. I will continue to go to bed at night, and wake in the mornings…

The small coffee shop that uses the pink breast cancer awareness paper cups was still open. We blessedly went in. The woman behind the counter seemed either high on caffeine, or high on hand sanitizer fumes. But extrordinarily friendly. Giving us more cookies than we’d asked for and pretending it was an accident.

Because, during these times, we can’t forget to be good to each other… we have surely failed as humans, if in the middle of all of this, we forget that..

Vacation Pandemic – Day 2.5

Don’t Kiss Me, Even Though I’m Irish..

I cook because it is the only thing that can fully occupy my mind. Even more so than reading a great book. I always play music. I think it helps fill the negative space. While I work, self soothe.

It’s St. Paddy’s Day. The world is encouraging “social distancing.” What a slap in the face for perhaps the most social holiday, second to Mardi Gras. But these are Pandemic Times.

I choose not to mix the cake dough by hand. While generally it is a good way to work off a stressful day at work, it also leads to much over mixed dough, and in turn, dense ass cake. Today, I use the kitchenaide, keeping it on a gentle spin, just enough to mix. In the background, my attempt at Irish(ish) Folk music fails. The Loreena McKennit station begins playing tracks from Last of the Mohichans, the song from a Christmas movie I haven’t seen in decades, and then some Pachelbel Canon a la The Scottish Royal Dragoon Guards bagpipe band. It’s actually really good.

I research and scratch out lentil recipes while the cake bakes. I don’t even like lentils, but… these are Pandemic times..

I can’t stop from taking a nap. I nap always. I joke that I am half cat, but actually I really am tired all the time. My doctor recently changed my meds. Taking away the fatigue inducer in replacement of one more… ass kicking. In turn, also taking away the med that helped with the chronic back pain. A fortunate side effect. My back has been hurting all day.

I crack open a beer, saving the Guinness for dinner. The Corned Beef has been bubbling in the pot. I boil potatoes and saute some cabbage and leeks in butter and garlic. Colcannon. I mix whiskey, ketchup, and soy sauce. Some odd, but delicious glaze. I pour an extra splash of whiskey into the measuring cup and take a sip. It might be more than a spash. But it’s St. Paddy’s Day and tomorrow the world might end.

The dwarves of Middle Earth begin singing their haunting mountain song. Dwarves singing. While not entirely an Irish classic… I don’t really know what to expect from this station.

I toss some broccoli florets in oil, garlic, and salt, then throw it in a high heat oven. Roasted broccoli, a gamble, but while my back is turned, I stir a pot of cheese sauce. Surely even cheese sauce can give the scortched broccoli redemption.

A quick 10 minutes in the oven for the whiskey glaze to get friendly with the beef, and it’s all done. No boiled cabbage or carrots. The meat is tough from unsupervised aggressive boil while I took a nap. But shit, we can’t all be perfect.

Besides.

These are Pandemic times, and tomorrow the world might end.

Ps: The cake wasn’t dense.

Vacation Pandemic – Day 1

I remember a time, not long ago, I woke up thinking I was in a dream. Surely any moment I would wake up and it would all be over, surely we didn’t elected Trump as our nation’s president…

I woke up this morning after being awake for nearly 20 hours, after 8 hours of work, then driving 277 miles in 4 hours and 40 minutes. I woke up thinking I was in a dream, and that any moment I would wake up.

But time keeps ticking, and I slowly realize that my eyes are really open. There is no waking from this. No number of dystopian novels, or zombie movies can really prepare you for this. This thing that happens on your TV screen, not outside your door. But the truth is, we are in a pandemic. And I watch as it spills outwards, ripples off of a dropped stone into a pond. I watch as it oozes closer, erupted lava, and we are running out of pillows to jump on. There is no where to run.

I still find myself laughing a little on the inside, who says things like that and really means it? But I close my eyes and all I see is Jason Voorhees coming towards me at his slow, but inevitable pace, machete full of virus…

But what really scares me, is the madness, the hysteria around me. The store shelves stripped empty by fear. Thoughtless fear. People buying the bandaids, but not the Neosporin. People shunning Asians as if each one of them carries the leper virus. Avoiding their shops and restaurants and forgetting that Asians once put their blood, sweat, and tears into helping build this country.

I find myself shaking, twitching, just trying to flick the remnants of this bad dream off and try to get back to my life. But the world is shutting down around me. Schools closing for the safety of our youth. Businesses trying to stay strong, to be a source of comfort and normalcy for people, slowly dropping like flies. Highway traffic tapering off to trickles. The world is shutting down around me. Like in Hollywood videos, when the power to a large city gets shut off. You watch the town from some high vantage point, maybe a birds eye view, as sections go dark, one. by. one. Until all there is is darkness. And silence.

Four years ago I woke up to a newly divided nation. Angry. So much anger and hatred bubbled to the surface. And there was fear. Fear of our own safety, fear of our neighbor, fear of our own president. And I didn’t believe that things could get worse.

Today I woke up to a shattered nation. Fear. We are afraid of our very selves. And to some extent, I think, afraid of what could come next.

I drove up to my parent’s place to spend my days off. Sometime during the drive it seemed, this town shut down as well. It, at first, felt almost pointless to be up here. But the truth is, the situation is no better at home. And at times like this, I would rather spend it with loved ones, than by myself, in true isolation.