Here is an open letter from our Writers Forum President and Queen, Laura Hernandez. It is a strongly worded letter because times like these demand strong words. That’s what we do as writers. We give words that help those around us get through hard times. Trying times. Laura shares from the heart and digs deep into her heritage to find those words.
If you have written to help get through our time of isolation and would like to share your writing with Writers Forum readers, we would love to help you. Please send them to me, George Parker, the WF newsletter editor and webmaster. You can reach me at:
And now for Laura…
First of all, my title of the virus is not Asian, it’s a slang on the F Word in Spanish. It is an inside joke of sorts that I will share with you, because I’m a smart ass, as well as a writer, and I think you ought to know. In modern Mexican urban and traditional culture, we think we are at the bottom of Fate’s Priorities. We think that is funny because that’s how we cope with a country full of riches as well as generational, historical, perpetual corruption that is Mexico. If you can’t laugh, you are truly doomed. So, we laugh. We sing, we dance, we cook things that take a long time, we eat. We are The People Who Are ‘Effed. And now we all are ‘effed. Chingona.
Just in case you wonder where I am: I’m at work. The courthouse is deemed “essential” so here the ‘eff I am. In the basement law li-berry. Don’t come and visit because the Marshals will tell you if you don’t have a current case on the desk of a judge right now, go the ‘eff home. Or they tell you something like that. The first thing the courts did two weeks ago ahead of the Governor, was to ask the California Judicial Council to make it okay for jury trials to be suspended. If you were in one or on one, go ahead, but no new ones.
I thought that would promote a “sale” on criminal cases, you know “door busters,” a get-out-of-jail-sale promotional that came with “ankle jewelry” to free-up the current cases that had to be arraigned within 48 hours of arrest and send them the ‘eff home. Hard to tell about that yet.
Your traffic ticket hearing is also cancelled. Your divorce is put on hold. Your criminal appeal is on hold. The governor has stayed any evictions for 90 days. Your rent isn’t on hold but your “get the hell out” is on hold. Your ability to protest is on hold. Your butt is on legal hold. Law in the Time of Chingonavirus.
The judges are still here, hearing cases and are nervous and jarred and yet, sit on the bench to do their sworn duty. They have families and need to get home eventually every day to try and get stuff done. The clerks, a skeleton crew, are here processing papers, and like me, dealing with phone calls, business invoices and making deposits to keep county and courts going behind the scenes. Scenes of people and process, trying not to scream outside of their heads.
Judges like the guy who lost his home in the Carr fire (and his piano) and had to sentence one of the looters during that catastrophe, the judge whose husband has diabetes and is home scared, the Family Law Facilitator who comes to work every day in her play clothes and behind her locked office door is answering frantic e-mails from worried people with only one staff member to help her. She hasn’t slept in two days. My heroes, all.
The Marshals at the door ask everyone what they have come to the courthouse for, and send them away to consult the many white papers stuck on the glass doors of the courthouse entrance referring to phone numbers and the court website (www.shastacourts.com. ) You have to type in the stupid “w”s because they set it up old school and you won’t get anywhere without them). This has discouraged the hobby-ists who wander around looking for cases and inspiration for their too-early retirement and the Homeless who lie about “having a case” in order to access a warm spot inside any public building for the day. The public libraries are closed, closed early on, so Homeless are wandering around in neighborhoods new to them. They know something’s up, but they aren’t too sure what it is.
Lawyers come into the law li-berry to check out books and leave quickly. Lawyers are the only people who can check out books because I keep a copy of their bar cards and actually call the bar if books aren’t returned on time. Civilians can stay in here and read all day. Not today because you have no case before the court now. Every time the door opens here in the basement, I jump. It is the entrance of disease, germs and infection coming in behind me. I have hand sanitizer here that I have brought from home because my work stash has run dry and there is none to be had in Redding online or in a store.
There is construction going on across the street with noise and swinging steel girders (A Moving Monument to Future Personal Injury) for a big new courthouse. I walk past it every day from where I park. It’s proving to be an attractive nuisance as of Monday when a young man (not homeless) decided to climb to the second story rails. He was arrested by about 6 Marshals. He did not go quietly. He was wearing shorts and a clean t-shirt and I suspect he was bored in confinement. Now he will have a court case to occupy his time. Maybe ankle jewelry.
People are not staying the ‘eff at home. They go out every day for toilet paper. Raley’s clerks told me they get an early morning delivery Every Freakin’ Day of toilet paper and within MINUTES during the Senior Hours, it’s GONE. Stop doing that. Stop imagining that the U.S. gets toilet paper from China and the supply chain is broken. The U.S. has made toilet paper for American markets since 1890 and we know how to do it without sending out for Asian parts. You will always have toilet paper if you just calm the ‘eff down.
My second, necessary job dried up completely, but I still have firewood and propane. We will all get a Stimulus Check in a couple weeks, magically deposited if that’s how you filed your taxes. Treasury Dept of the U.S. just said that seniors who don’t file taxes will still get a check without having to file a claim or additional tax form. Paper checks if you didn’t file electronically will be another 4 weeks coming, but they are coming. Calm the ‘eff down. I say this to myself, too.
Yes, go on walks. But choose your time well. Today I got gas before work and there were 5 different cars and trucks going off in different directions with ATVs and Toy Haulers attached. If they were gassing up that early in the morning, they are going somewhere far, taking their germs with them because they don’t have symptoms yet. They’ll go to other gas stations and stores in other places. And they don’t give a caca they are spreading Chingonavirus around.
There are people coming from other geographical areas to walk/bike on our trails, too. They are bored, cabin-fevered, and don’t have to be at work during the week. I pass 12-15 cars on the Quartz Hill Trailhead parking lot every day at 4:30, different ones every day, and there isn’t a real spot in the dirt for all of them. This trail is narrow and not wide enough for two people to walk past each other without stepping off into the brush. If I showed you the five-feet projection models of forcible breathing that extends droplets from your mouth outward, like the kind you spit out when you walk for a while, you would never leave the house until June. And wearing a mask only protects people from your germs. It doesn’t keep you from getting theirs. It also keeps masks from health service personnel, and they need them more than you do now. Just know that walking crowded trails is not making you healthier. If the parking lot is too full, go the ‘eff home. Hokey Pokey in your driveway. Pretend no one is looking.
Get just the essentials. I’m going out for toilet paper tomorrow. Cover me. But know I’m packing, too.
Don’t listen to the Daily Briefing live, because of the Too-Many Distortions and False Optimism that have to be corrected later. Do listen to Dr. Fauci. Experts have been saying for months that infected people without symptoms can spread this to you. One person with a microphone says he didn’t know that. And he’s not telling you the truth. He knew.
Correct wrong information by your friends on Facebook for a few minutes. Block the other people. Then go do something else off-line.
And writing? How you doin’? You’d think that writing a story about a serial killer case I worked on in the dead river city and realized I kind of knew him before he was my client and my ex-boyfriend became his attorney; would be exciting enough to keep my interest. But I find it very hard to concentrate in the Time of Chingonavirus. Reading is hard, too. I look at news websites like an ADHD info junkie. Which I think I am. Now.
I have a Master’s Degree in Medical Anthropology and have studied epidemiology cross-culturally and historically over time. This is all different. It’s a new virus, not known to man before. Vaccination is a year away. The only way to kill it is to let it die a lonely death. We can only do that by staying the ‘eff home.