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100 Days of Solitude (or How Our Lives Turned Into An e.e.cummings Poem)

the days blurred together a long time ago and I woke up again this morning having had yet another “Perils Of The N95 Mask” dream i can rightly say that before March 2020 i have never had a dream (let alone a half-dozen) about wearing/having/not wearing/not having/telling others to wear a fucking N95 mask all I have to say is, did people during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918-1919 have similar dreams? did my great-grandparents ever have pandemic-induced visions?

Which brings me to the next bevy of beautiful dumpster fires in this time of COVID-19: culture and race. Of the eight great-grandparents I had alive during the time of the Spanish Flu pandemic, five were ‘people of color’, or as one sees nowadays on social media, P.O.C. One was full-blood Indigenous American*, four were Hispanic (with more First-Nations people thrown in), three were of European descent (mostly Irish), but all were Americans. And they all had vastly different experiences of America from one another. Most suffered the brutality of a racist/bigoted culture, some its economic chauvinism, a few the foolish hope for a better life in the Land of Opportunity, and given that half were women, varying forms of soul-crushing misogyny. Fun-fact: the Paddy Wagon is a derogatory term (taken from the ethnic slur for the Irish as ‘Paddy’) for police vans because in the 1840’s-1850’s over half the people arrested in New York were Irish. So I come from a family of Spics [another delightful ethnic slur based on the shortening of (Hi)sp(an)ic], Micks and Injuns who were all ground under the heel of American jurisprudence because they were perceived to be enemies of America as it was defined back then. Don’t get me started on St. Paddy’s Day and Gringo De Mayo.

And because I didn't decide to become a epidemiologist who probably would have gone to Africa to help fight Ebola, I have to get my information about the human psycho-dynamics of contagion as it pertains to these matters, haphazardly. By haphazardly, I mean NPR. It seems that white Americans too can become angry villagers with machetes standing outside of treatment tents demanding to know what voodoo is behind all these containment strategies and treatment procedures. It is what frightened and helpless humans do when faced with an enemy they can’t see or don't understand. So whether it’s a machete or an N95 mask or a Paddy Wagon or The Indian Appropriations Act of 1851 or (__________), people will weaponize their fear and call it something else, wrap themselves up in their own world view and let the adrenaline rush of their indignation raise them up out of their fear and ignorance.

And because I am not a documentarian I will not seek to give my eyewitness of history, because God only knows there will be enough of that in the years to come and right now, I’m running low on compassion and patience. Sarcasm is not a good lens through which to view history awash in a karmic reckoning. What I will do is underscore the thought I had as I woke up this morning, “all this because some fool caught and sold a diseased animal.” And in the age of things ‘going viral’ it is not lost on me that the world blew up because of a ‘wild virus’. And these, the waking thoughts from a dream about N95 masks as I opened my eyes to a rainy Southern California morning on...wait, what?...the penultimate day of June?! One global crisis at a time.

We* will survive. I will survive. But the world cannot be as it was. All must change. Vote.

We're all in this together.

(*When this blog was originally posted, this was my understanding. I have now discovered the information that was conveyed to me was false. In this day and age of information, facts matter. While I do have Native American heritage, it is much further back.)