Thursday, November 11, 2021

Pandemic Recap (Thus Far) - Part Three

December 2020

December 2, 2020, the U.S. reported 2,760 COVID-19 deaths.


Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economist and a Senior Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington DC tweeted this image:

Pandemic Recap (Thus Far) - Part Two

June 2020

Before the pandemic, my three-year-old son and I had time to ourselves during our weekly grocery store trips. That was our thing, our dedicated time together. And I missed it terribly.


Before the pandemic descended upon us, our son was already far more attached to my wife. But his attachment to her became more extreme during the pandemic. If she wanted to run an errand, she would have to sneak out of her parents’ house without him noticing because he would otherwise cry and wail if he knew she was gone.


During his early years, I saw my son cry on many, many occasions. Early in the pandemic, when my wife would try to leave the house to go to the store, he would wail with what felt like fearful despair. He would stop as soon as she stepped back into the house. It was a different type of crying. If we had tried to explain the pandemic to him then, he couldn’t have comprehended what was happening, but he knew something was terribly wrong. I have no doubt.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Pandemic Recap (Thus Far) - Part One

January 2020

On January 10, 2020, the first SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence was posted on an open internet depository by Chinese researchers, confirming that the pneumonia-like outbreak in Wuhan, China—reportedly occurring since November 2019—stemmed from a coronavirus. The Chinese government denied the virus was spreading among humans until January 19.


On January 21st, a Washington state resident who had recently traveled to Wuhan became the first person in the United States with a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus.


Two days later, the Chinese government locked down Wuhan, a major transportation hub and city with a metropolitan population of 11 million people.


On January 31st, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live, was identified in Santa Clara County. It was a man who had recently traveled to Wuhan. That same day, the World Health Organization (WHO), for only the sixth time in its seventy-three-year existence, declared a public health emergency once the worldwide death toll from SARS-CoV-2 passed 200 and after an exponential jump to more than 9,800 cases.


February 2020

A few days later, the second confirmed COVID-19 case—unrelated to the first one—was identified in Santa Clara County. She had also just returned home from Wuhan.


On February 6, 2020, 57-year-old Patricia Dowd—a resident of San Jose, CA—was the first known death caused by COVID-19 in the United States. She had no foreign travel history.


At the time, I worked at a community health clinic in Fremont, a sprawling suburb bordering Santa Clara County. A standing sign at the clinic’s main entrance posted information about the novel coronavirus. It warned patients about the virus and noted that all patients would be screened for any recent travel to China, or contact with anyone who had recently returned from China.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Little Charlie’s Travels

Before my wife and I brought a child into this world, we had Little Charlie.

Little Charlie is a small teddy bear. He appears to be of the Ursus maritimus species. My wife, Maria, nicked him in 2011 at a fiber optics convention she attended for work. He was one of the free giveaways at the General Photonics booth, which is embroidered on Little Charlie’s fuzzy chest. She feigned interest in their products just so she could get him. Maria brought him home around the time we started dating. She named him after Charlie Chaplin because she imagined him to be a rambunctious scamp. This is all noted in a short story I got published in Prairie Schooner.

For years, Little Charlie was like our pretend kid. Under the guise of our spirited little rascal, Maria would write me cutesy goofy notes and leave them on my backpack when I would wake up at her apartment before I would head home. In turn, I would slip notes from Little Charlie under the bathroom door when Maria was taking care of her business. I don’t know who started that, but it was a thing we did, and all the notes were in Little Charlie’s child-like scrawl with backwards Rs and misspellings (like “pikturs”). In our teddy bear epistolary, Maria was “mama” and I was “papa.”

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Barber (flash fiction)

photo by Phillip Pessar

It’s been three days since I’ve been sleeping on the floor of my barbershop. Laid out a sleeping bag and my pillow from home over the rubber mat I used to stand on all day. Never fucking thought I’d ever use it like a mattress. Or that I’d see the sun rise from my shop.

Janet kicked me out. Told me she doesn’t feel safe around me ‘cause of my boozing. All I’m doin’ is drinking and watching more TV than I probably should. It’s not like I’m getting tanked and goin’ out for a spin. Where the fuck could I even go? Everything’s closed up. Think she got tired of betting on me and seeing I’m not gonna pay out. Figured it’s time to cut her losses.

Few years back, the shop was doing good. I was raking in three hundred bucks whenever I opened. Got a nice leather armchair for the lobby and new checkerboard flooring to give it a vintage feel. In 2018, the local paper voted me the best barbershop in town. Almost all my clients were repeat customers. Everything was smooth going, but then my back gave out. Sciatica. All those years of working construction, going all out ‘cause I could back then. Now sometimes I can hardly walk or stand without pain shooting up my leg. Had to close up my shop until I got better. That’s when I lost a lot of customers.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

(Nice Dream)

Chez Janou (Paris) by Guillermo Fdez

This morning I had a vision I didn’t want to wake from. I dreamt I stepped into a hipster-y Bay Area pizzeria for lunch. My subconscious applied the coronavirus filter: when I stepped into the small restaurant, I immediately peered around to see how many people were inside, how large the space was, and if people were wearing facial masks. And when the seater approached, I asked for a table and knew that I shouldn’t be in there because I have an unvaccinated child back home.

Friday, May 21, 2021

2021 First-Round NBA Playoff Predictions

Holy shit, the final game in the NBA’s new play-in tournament just went down at Chase Center, conjuring painful memories of another elimination game loss at home for my beloved Warriors, but now the NBA playoffs are upon us. This time around, I’m stealing a page from Zach Lowe’s excellent first-round playoff breakdown and grouping these series predictions by my level of interest starting with the series I am most excited about followed by the ones I don’t really give a shit about.


So let’s go.