Archive for March, 2020

Nature’s Reset Button

Posted: March 28, 2020 in Uncategorized

I do not have an apple peeler so this is a testament to the patience I needed to have.

It’s now the nth day of the shelter in place in the Bay Area. For some places, the lockdown.
Ive reached the point where I now have mixed feelings about the pandemic. Mind you, that is not to say that I have moments when I’m not emotional. Friday, was a case in point. While I was alone at the nurses station at work, I broke down and cried, smearing my eyeliner and mascara. It wasn’t from fear that I shed those tears. It was more from looking at photos and reports from New York that showed how bad the plight of my former coworkers is now. I broke down at the site of makeshift morgues being set up in the Big Apple. It crushed me to see Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop say how my adoptive hometown of Jersey City is needing both medical staff and equipment to treat patients. I felt helpless and, honestly, useless, as I sat at work, waiting to be called in for a radiology procedure. I felt I can do more than just sit and wait.
In an effort to vent, I sent a message to my former boss in Stanford and told him how I was in pain inside. Somehow, I took comfort in what he said: Don’t worry, girl. It’s gonna hit us next. Rest while you can.
He may be right and I may just be crazy to think that I may be just lucky or fortunate to not have to be actively treating patients infected with the virus.
So I’m taking matters in stride.
And that came timely. I started my 7-day stretch of days off yesterday— days that I was supposed to spend with my sister and nieces in Hawaii. I’m taking a rest to, possibly, “prepare” my body for the worst that may yet come.
Yesterday, I got to cook for an army, something that I don’t get to do on days that I work 4 days in a row.
It’s a beautiful day out, lest, there is the constant “threat” of rain here and there. The colder or cooler spring days in Northern California are made more beautiful because of the green mountains in the background. And I am breathing.
When we went out to get bubble tea drinks yesterday, we stopped by a Walgreens to show my god daughter how Walgreens look like. She was born in New York and lived there til she was nearly 8. She forgot how the store looks like. I was joking about how these days, stops in places like Walgreens and the grocery stores seem to have become the idea of “fun.” I even took a photo of her.
After we went to get our boba drinks, we then drove through McDonald’s for fries. It was simple but we had “fun.”
As we were driving through the (unhealthy) fast food chain, which, in those distant days when we had more options, thus, something I would not have chosen to buy food from, I had an epiphany. Not totally a new one, but more like some idea that I have actually been thinking and talking about with good friends and family. This can be summed up as this:
This is God’s or Nature’s or God and Nature’s Wake Up Call.
I don’t think I am alone in thinking this. Because why wouldn’t it be a wake up call?
For one, we have gone back to many basics in life– back in those years that remind me of, say, college days or the 80s or the 90s… when nearly everything was simple. Of course, there’s still the first-world, questionable act of hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizers. However, since the virus hit humanity, many of us became domesticated in ways we never imagined.
In the past weeks, I’ve cooked more than I am used to, I think. Some are even recipes, which I would have never done or made because now I actually have the patience to stay still and peel apples and neatly arrange them in an iron skillet and make a beautiful and tasty apple tartine.
I’ve seen many other friends cook, too! Well, primarily because the lockdown diminished our ability to eat out and be served food, but heck, they cook!
And it all trickles down like some domino effect.
I’m enjoying the fact that I am saving some money because I don’t eat out as much now– besides, of course, the fact that I’ve actually built an arsenal of food supply in my terrace for the “rainy days.” But that isn’t as nearly as bad as going out to eat, which translates to driving and increasing my carbon footprint, AND spending $$$ for food that I, myself, can prepare.
And don’t get me started on people who are now trying to be active and healthy. Because if you don’t believe that the virus makes people with co-morbidities and people who smoke more vulnerable, then I don’t know what else to say.
I, myself, am trying to be healthy in ways that I can.
Also, we see more families outside now, enjoying the outdoors in the true sense of being outdoors– walking in parks rather than driving to malls and establishments. That, in itself, translates to less road congestion, decreased use of heat, etc. I stumbled on an NBC article that showed images from the Sentinel-5P detecting lower Nitrogen Dioxide accumulation since the pandemic started. Heck, look at images from the canals in Venice! That, alone, should convince you.
And speaking of relationships and individuals spending more time, let me tell you about what my coworker said.
She’s on a dating app. She said that because of the pandemic and social distancing associated with it, people are now less “dispensable.” Which I totally get because prior to this tragic situation, dating apps have become media for serial dating, like speed dating, except through an app. She told me that because men looking for women (and vice versa) are more “cautious,” it actually “forced” to get to know a potential partner more, rather than easily discarding him or her, based on a “flaw” that was seen during, say, the first date. This, according to her, makes the dating scene less exhausting. And this, is just the dating scene as we knew from back in the day when we did not have smart phones.
And kindness. People showing kindness towards others. I do not to say more for that.
As I have been writing in my social media posts on Instagram and Facebook, there are silver linings to this pandemic we all are facing. Much like Marquez’s version of Love in The Time of Cholera. Sad but fortunate that this is what it had to take for the world to reset. I don’t know how long the pandemic will run its course. There will be many, many, many more deaths. It is unfortunate. But as I have also said, there are still a lot of things to be thankful for: the days when we can still wake up early because we have to go to work, the notion that we have other mouths to feed (meaning they are alive), the simple yet grand idea that we breath. For many, it is easier said than done but I choose to look at the bright side and continue looking at silver linings in all these. Then, at the same time, reset that button for myself. I ask you to do the same for yourself, for your relationships with others, and for nature.
And yeah, stop eating bats!

one, surreal yearl

Posted: March 23, 2020 in Uncategorized

A few weeks ago, I anticipated writing something about the one year anniversary of my move to California. I had an opening line for a colorful intro. Of course, that was way before we were catapulted into this surreal state of pandemic.

But yes, it has been a year.

I contemplate a little, as I sit here at work, writing these words down because, contrary to my many nurse-friends in New York, I work in a department that is, sort of, sheltered from the front line. But this contrast, in itself, is what makes the one year unreal, surreal. Things and situations have changed. I have changed. People will change. From hereon, if not now.

When I packed my car a year and few days ago, I was both excited and fearful. Excited for the long trip that would take me from New Jersey to California. Fearful about what was going to happen on drive alone with Bess and Walmsley. Fearful for the unknown– some of which, I am still threading on at this time. But I managed to overcome or avert the danger associated with those long days of driving and I arrived in California in one piece.

I started working at Stanford 2 days after arriving in the Bay Area. I love my job and the little complexities associated with it are, well, little.

Little by little, step by step I settled.

In the one year that I’ve been here, I made quite a few friends, established rounded and loving relationships. However, one of the best achievements of all is having Mariska join me even if, for her, that meant being away from her friends and her father.

It was not an easy ride.

In fact, for those who actually are privy to my life, it is knowledge that I came here with only $700. How I managed to come out of that is miracle to me. It took a lot of prayers. And letting go. Both were the key.

I’d like to say that I am in a better place now. I have made peace in my heart, slowly, and trying to make peace with those that I have hurt, especially for having left a home shattered, a marriage broken. For having decided to leave a daughter you love so much just so you can save yourself from self-destructive behavior, from insanity.

It is not easy to learn to forgive yourself.

Once in a while, I still find myself thinking how I do not deserve a happy or, at the very least, peaceful ending because of all the pain I caused others. God, I still think part of what’s going on around us– this pandemic business– is the Universe’s way of telling me I fucked it up. But then again, I am not big. I am just this tiny little dot in the world that the universe doesn’t really give a shit about.

Then I circle back and think and breathe with ease knowing how far I’ve come to a better place. An oasis that I would not have imagined being had I not gone from the bottom with nothing.

Yes, it has been a year.

I learned to meditate and I am in a stable, loving relationship. With people. With the environment. I am able to breathe easier. And I am able to forgive and able to think this is not the end for humanity. That in a way, as surreal as the situation engulfing us right now, a happy, peaceful ending will come.