Tuesday March 31st 2020
Coronavirus Cases: 854,307
Deaths: 42, 016
Recovered: 176, 906
Today was a financial reconciliation day. After waking up to the baby’s cries and pretending to be asleep so I didn’t have to help with him, I made my morning coffee. I’ve drank coffee since I was 3. When I went to my dad’s village in Mexico, all they had to offer was beer, water, and coffee. I think it started there. Apparently, babies Lucas’s age have something called a “witching hour”. It’s a period between 5 PM-11 PM where nothing satisfies them, so they scream their little heads off. It’s so cute. Mr. Tom told us he would flip his babies around by their legs three time to break up the gas bubbles. Tia Tere rubs oil and salt on the baby’s tummy using some kind of Mexican voodoo. My mom wanted my grandmother to come over to help, but she’s in self-quarantine. Can’t blame her. She’s already a hypochondriac, and everyone on the news says this thing is the elderly eradicator. My dad only complains about the baby’s whining, but he’s been less vocal since I told him, “Unless you’re helping, don’t say anything.” We had to use this time when he was being good to get work done.
My parents usually end up owing the IRS, but I made it so they received a near $1k rebate. Being a first-generation Mexican kid, my sister and I have been primed in assisting with legal and academic documents. More my sister, but I guess the torch has been passed to me. It was a hassle finding their W-2’s, student loan payments, and proof of medical expenses (my dad had a hernia fixed last year). My father went back to work today along with the other department supervisors at the furniture factory he works at. They make metal tables like the benches you find at parks. The factory is right next to my old elementary school. One time I threatened to run away from Kindergarten to visit my dad while we were in the garden and ended up getting a splinter in my butt cheek during said escape. They had to call my 5th grade sister out of class to try pulling it out in the employee bathroom. She couldn’t get it, but my mom took it out in my sleep. I have a little scab on my cheek to this day.
I’m pretty lucky that both of my parents have semi-steady jobs right now. My mom’s “essential” job interpreting at the health department is safe since she filed for “family leave” to care for Lucas. That makes sure she can’t be fired, which is important because everyone is being laid off recently. That brings me to the second part of my day: filing for unemployment. I work part time at the library and as manager at a custard shop, and both jobs closed. My boss went ahead and told me to file for unemployment, since we don’t know when Whit’s will open again. The website was so problematic. I kept getting error messages and lost signals. The only explanation is the flooding of the servers. North Carolinians, Americans, and Earthlings alike are all filing for unemployment just to stay afloat during these trying times. The stimulus check should be coming in soon and adults get $1200, which is like a 2 week’s paycheck working at minimum wage ($7.25 in NC). People are complaining that this sum is not sufficient to survive, but how do they think us lower classes live? Paycheck to paycheck. I also realized I’m not getting the full sum because I filed my taxes as a dependent of my parents. Dammit! Also, college students don’t get anything because of loopholes. Just another way the education system gives us the middle finger.
I ordered pizza, and they canceled my order due to high demand. Everyone’s ordering food online. Fine, I didn’t want you anyway. I then ordered from a different company. Pineapple and mushrooms. An oddly good mix. Before you judge the pineapple on pizza idea, have you never heard of sweet and savory? At the same time the driver arrived, neighbor Tom brought some homemade walnut brownies. His schedule hasn’t really changed much. When you’re old and have seen the horrors of war, you do whatever you want. I can’t have nuts, but if I had known he was bringing brownies I wouldn’t have ordered some from Dominos. I ended up eating all the brownies and wings and pizza. I’m only getting fatter during this quarantine despite my walks. Today the park was not nearly as crowded, but that’s probably because of the rain. My weight has always been an issue with me. I was very skinny and frail as a child. I choked on food often, and once my dad fainted because I almost died on a chicken bone. When I started eating normally around puberty, I gained too much wait. As I write this, my dad tells me I’m gaining weight. When I tell him he is too, he says he walks 5 miles alone at work. He can’t use that excuse with the cut hours. A middle school classmate described me best when we were in the locker room.
“Oscar’s the type of fat where you don’t know until he takes his shirt off.”
It’s the anniversary of Selena Quintanilla’s death. My mother loved her. She lived in Texas with my dad’s family around the time of the death. We have TV-shirts, CD’s, magazines, and a commemorative stamp. She was a star. The real deal. Not like other cookie cutter popstars of her time. Plus, she was one of the first Latinas to cross cultures. My first concert was this past Fall watching a Selena impersonator. Her butt wasn’t as big, but whose is? Many people don’t know that Selena Gomez is named after her.
I gave some of my masks to my aunt, Lucas’s grandma Tere. She works at a nursing home, and those are some of the danger zones due to the inhabitants’ susceptibility. Overall, 98% of the infected are expected to fully recover, while 2 % will die (mostly people with weak immune systems). I considered buying a hazmat suit online, but I could also make one. I saw how to do it in “10 Cloverfield Lane”. Movies are powerful educational tools. My ideal hazmat suit would have a Power Ranger helmet. I always wondered how they breathed in those things. I actually auditioned for that show, but I guess I’m not pretty enough. It’s a widely known thing that the casting director puts physical appearance before acting ability. I mean…just watch the show. If it still exists in the 40th Century or whenever you are. Oh! That reminds me. If you have access to a time machine, come visit me in this time! We can order more pizza. Bring a hazmat suit for yourself though. Ok…you’re not here, so I assume time travel is limited. Or the world ended.
In an interview I read with someone from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), he said social distancing is the best possible weapon against this virus and masks are now useful again. It’s funny because “Contagion” said the same exact thing. The movie also said that rich people kept the severity of the disease quiet in order to better prepare themselves and their families. I believe it. Celebrities keep posting encouraging videos from their multimillion-dollar mansions. It’s easy to encourage others to stay home when your home has a functioning tennis court, movie theater, and infinity pool. It doesn’t matter because in the same interview, the CDC official said another wave was coming. Of course, money will play a factor, but if the Earth is trying to purge itself…it will. I’ve read reports of cleaner oceans and streams, less gas emissions due to less travel, animals are coming out of hiding, and the ozone layer is healing. At least there’s some good coming out of this. In addition to the environmental benefits, people are realizing just how useless most celebrities are and how important nurses, delivery drivers, and other emergency personnel are. Medical staff are stopping their kids from hugging them for fear of spreading the virus, while Kim Kardashian is reigniting dead Twitter feuds.
I’ve been thinking about death a lot. More than usual anyway. I always have these existential thoughts late at night. My first real brush with death was when my mother’s cousin died of a heart attack. I saw him a few weeks prior in the CD section of K-Mart in our local mall. Then this girl I went to middle school with hung herself in her closet with a belt because of bullying. A few days before Christmas at that. Turns out the girls that went on the news crying for her were the bullies all along. Funny how that works. I knew death existed, but it was kind of an environmental thing. Around me, but not felt directly. My mom’s dad, our Papi Hector, had a flurry of lung problems since I was a pre-teen. He always smelled like gasoline and musk when I hugged him, and his beard scratched me when I gave him a kiss on the cheek. Our family went to all kinds of hospitals in North Carolina, Mexico, and Florida. He even met with some faith healers who told him his family was cursed. He worked in the orange and apple fields, so many pesticides and second-hand smoke could have contributed to the lung scarring. He was put on a transplant list, but that can take years. Years the recipients don’t have.
My sister was going back to Spain for a new school semester, so we threw her a party. Red and yellow balloons. Flamenco posters. Real Madrid memorabilia. Stuff like that. We all wore red, even Papi Hector with his crimson button-up. We have pictures of the grandkids with him and his oxygen tank. Later when all the drunk uncles and sugared up cousins went home, Papi Hector told my sister he might not be there when she came back from Spain. They always had a special bond, like he was her father. This brutal truth devastated her. She considered cancelling her move, but he forbade her to. A couple weeks later, my parents and I were travelling to Texas for a paternal cousin’s wedding. On the way there, we heard the news. We pulled over and cried in the grassy area of a Louisiana gas station where dogs relieve themselves. We drove back to NC and the funeral was a few days later. I saw him one last time and wished him farewell. He was cold when I kissed his cheek this time. I’ll never forget that feeling. Some cousins refused to see him, and I couldn’t blame them. I just know that was a turning point in our family dynamic.
His brother had died a few months prior in prison, where he was for something drug related. His sister died a few weeks before. He felt that he was next. Maybe the Corral Clan was and still is cursed after all. With his lung problems, he would be in strict isolation from this pandemic. He would hate being cooped up like that, like one of his caged birds I would release when he was asleep. His widow, Mami Rosa, is in isolation at her apartment on the instructions of her daughters. She’s the matriarch now. The king is gone and now the queen must be protected at all costs.
TV – Ghost Adventures (A show about ghost hunters or something. I was barely paying attention, but I would love to haunt someone. It sounds like so much fun. Another way I think about death)
Film – Underwater (A nautical crew tries to hide from the Lovecraftian beast Cthulhu. They don’t succeed), Human Centipede (This one speaks for itself), and Contagion (A star-studded drama about a virus that seemingly predicted what’s happening now. I’m taking notes on it)