Friday, February 24, 2023

Life-altering Moments at Artist Residencies

northern New Mexico, 2011

In June 2010, three months after a PET scan showed no cancerous activity in my body, The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico awarded me with my first artist residency. Then, on January 27, 2011, bulky luggage in hand, a guitar bag strapped around my shoulder, snowflakes fluttering through the night sky, I set foot in Taos for a six-week residency. I was living in San Francisco at the time, sharing a flat with three roommates. After ridding my body of Hodgkin lymphoma with over half a year of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, it was my first adventure away from the city where my body had manifested a blood cancer.

The Wurlitzer Foundation provided me with a home: Casita 9n on quiet Burch Street. The tiny adobe home was nestled beneath cottonwood trees. The casita’s backdoor opened to a snow-covered field. Every day, scores of crows and magpies squawked and flew about the trees that had sprouted from this land. Albeit fleeting, it was the first home of my own. I was thirty-one years old.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

End-of-the-Year Blues


Winter chills by dbolan_wir

During the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the last full week of the year is when I struggle the most as I naturally reflect on what happened and what may be coming. In 2020, a survey of the American Nurses Association—the largest such association in the United States—provided demoralizing results in regards to their “nurses’ knowledge of and attitude toward COVID-19 vaccine development.” Only 34% of their nurses said they would voluntarily vaccinate themselves against COVID-19. Around that time, similar polls with disheartening results for long-term care facility workers were also being reported. A few articles had already been written about how we have never been able to gain durable immunity against a coronavirus. Then, on December 30, 2020, a then-record 125,220 hospitalizations and 3,903 COVID-19 deaths had been reported in the United States. Meanwhile, on my Instagram feed, many of my friends and family members were outwardly pumped and looking forward to getting past 2020 but I thought, for what? This coronavirus pandemic wouldn’t magically end at the turning of the calendar. Instead of optimism for the year to come, all these pandemic-related metrics just made me downright depressed.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

My Pandemic Experience as a Lymphoma Survivor

11th chemotherapy infusion, November 2009

October 29, 2022

As I write this, my mother is far away in our homeland of PerĂº, visiting family for the first time since the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic began. I felt emotional when I hugged her goodbye before her trip. I wish I could’ve gone with her. Since 2020, I have ached to return to my ancestral homeland. I want to see my extended family before it might be too late.

Through social media and personal anecdotes, I can see that most of my family—my immediate family and the vast one in PerĂº—are exercising less precaution now from getting infected with this virus. I imagine many of them think I am excessive with my preventative behavior—if they knew about it. (i.e., not dining indoors; not hitting up the bars; avoiding air travel; avoiding elevators when possible; wearing high-quality respirator masks in any public indoor space; pissing outdoors to avoid public restrooms; utilizing a carbon dioxide monitor to assess indoor air quality.) I know my own mother thinks I am too extreme with my precaution—that I’m reading too much about SARS-CoV-2 and the multitude of effects it has caused in our societies.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Today's Distressful Thought - November 20, 2022

My wife and I bought a new microwave today. Previous one lasted us ten years. Not sure which one's gonna last longer: us, or the microwave.

That's where I'm at as this year comes to a close and our American society, by and large, has decided we liked the way of life we lived in 2019 so much that we are unwilling to adapt to this virus and we will accept all the consequences which we don't want to hear about because we want to pretend this pandemic is over.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Today’s Distressful Thought – August 3, 2022

On the way home, I drove past the California School for the Blind in my hometown of Fremont. I’ve read that monkeypox can cause blindness if lesions reach and scar the cornea.

If this pandemic is anywhere near as bad as I think it can be, how many parents will be enrolling their children at this school this coming school year?

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Today’s Distressful Thought — July 7, 2022 edition

Went to Food Maxx today. On my way to the entrance, I walked past an employee: a tall, stocky, light-skinned Latino in his teens. Looked like he was going to fetch errant shopping carts in the parking lot. Figured it might be his first job, or definitely one of his first jobs. Made me think of my son and when he’d have his first job. For the life of me, I can’t imagine it. Simply can’t. Not sure if it’s because I can’t imagine him making it to that age or that I can’t imagine myself being alive to see him at that age. Or maybe both of us won’t make it to that year? I don’t know.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022


I was asleep in my son’s bed when you started pawing at our gate. I heard the lock rattle and clang against the gate latch. At first, in my fuzzy-headed state, I thought it was a cat prowling along our fence, but the rattling was too loud, so I got out of bed and stumbled through our dark bedroom. It was two-thirty in the morning. Was someone trying to break into our backyard? I grabbed a flashlight, then tiptoed past our kitchen to the backdoor. A window by the door was cracked open and that’s when I heard you, panting on the other side of the door. Oh, shit, I said aloud as my eyes flung open like a pair of roller blinds. I immediately knew it was you. I knew you had snuck into our backyard.