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March 19 - My Apocalypse (A Canadian's Diary Inside Chongqing During the COVID-19 Home Quarantine)

Mar 19,2020 ByKAI WOODICHONGQING

Thursday, March 19th – My Apocalypse

Day 56. I wake up at 11:11 AM again. I must have slept for 6 hours and feel like a human again. I make some coffee, tidy up, and get right back to work. Xiaolin will come home today or tomorrow, and I’m going to try to get my manuscript polished by then.

Keep clam and proofread.

Keep clam and proofread.

Xiaolin calls to wish me a good day today. She’s getting baby Ethan ready to go downtown to Jiefangbei to walk around and enjoy the beautiful sunny Spring day. The sun is shining, it’s 20 degrees outside.

I heat up some carrots and rice she left for me the other day, and have a nice light lunch.

Ethan plays with another baby.

Ethan plays with another baby.

Outside, he meets another boy, and they play for a while. He takes his first ride on a scooter, with a bit of help. Soon he won’t need it, and one day he’ll be big and strong, smart, and capable. With a name like “Xiang Ethan,” it sounds like “looks like a doctor,” I know he’s going to change the world. A grandfather always knows best.

Ethan reaches for the stars.

Ethan reaches for the stars.

It’s delightful to work with friends to polish my document. My beta readers hover around the pages of my manuscript like bees in my flowers, pollinating this, spreading that over there. We work hard, flowers and bees, to make honey.

My doggos bark, rap rap rap, until I give up on eating and dump the carrots and rice onto their dish for them to enjoy. When they finish licking their chops, they bask on a cushion near the window as a warm golden sun, lazily reminds them of the joy to be found outside of our four walls.

I’ll take them outside soon, to enjoy the fresh air and run around. I can only imagine how excited they are going to be, with old Ben Ben finding his running legs again, tail wagging, and Hachoo doing laps around him as the only the young can.

A visit from my friend Andrea brings Vitamin D and eye drops.

A visit from my friend Andrea brings Vitamin D and eye drops.

My good friend Andrea takes the bus over to visit. He’s always been a brave soul through this and makes me sometimes feel that I’m too careful, in my tower on campus, scrying and shouting at the world. I suit up to meet him outside the school, and this time I try using my microphone headset in between my masks, with the speaker strapped to my belt to amplify my muffled voice. He thinks I’m nuts, but in a good way, and he gives me eye drops and Vitamin D pills. My eyes have been so fried; lately, I’m excited to go home and drop them in my eye holes. We walk around in the sunshine together outside, and the lady baker snaps a few photos of us when we pass by her bakery.

I go back home and relax. I teach Lil’ Kim for an hour, and then I take the pups outside. They’re tentative at first, taking everything in. The smells inform them of all that they’ve missed, and Ben Ben gets up on his back paws to give a tree a good sniff before he urinates on it. We have our twitter and dogs, their pitter-patter. I yell, “come on,” and they both bolt towards me, tails wagging, excited to chase and bark and play. Except for my gas mask, it feels completely normal.

Today there are 220,000 documented cases of COVID-19, with 8980 deaths, and 85, 769 recovered. There are the countries where it is winding down, the countries where it is raging hot, and the places it is quietly booming, set to explode. Wherever it touches, it disturbs the very fabric of society, changing things that words and ideas and men could not. COVID-19, barely three months old, has brought about some form of socialism that pure politics couldn’t, by necessity. America and many countries around the world are experiencing healthcare for all, a reduction in pollution, working from home, and a form of universal basic income; all part of this new paradigm that is 2020.

In places like Chongqing, where we have fought it back, we must remain watchful, and so the requirements to come are stringent (a negative nucleic acid PCR test). Tourists must be patient (a mandatory 14-day self-isolation upon entry). One day we hope for a vaccine. Until then, we will stand vigilant, a beacon for the world.

I never heard back about the remote island of Ireland, but it seems like Chongqing will keep me here for another year. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same).

I make a tuna fish sandwich, with lots of garlic and a hint of peanut butter. At the same time, my Bluetooth speaker pumps the rhythmic trance-induced beats and riffs of cyberpunk synthwave industrial music. I flip my knives in the air and catch them by the hilt, spinning around and waving my arms to the beat as I chop and dice salad greens. If I can’t dance, it’s not my apocalypse.

Jay has been hurting since he landed in America. His family is barricaded in their remote village and does not want to join him in the United States. He is becoming increasingly critical and cynical, full of zealous fervor. I couldn’t think of anything more Christlike than reaching out in a crisis to send a stranger masks to protect his family and becoming wartime buddies. Still, when I wouldn’t agree to pray to Jesus, having already found Jeffy Spaghetti, he blocked me. I hope he finds his family again.

A new Chinese study declares that those with blood type A were more ‘vulnerable’ to infection. In contrast, those with blood type O, which have both anti-A and anti-B antibodies, may have some protection, and a ‘significantly lower risk’ of getting COVID-19. Another revelation is that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is uncommon and is 10-20 times more apt to fasten to human cells. This could explain the virulent, accelerated spread across communities. The structure of these unique spike proteins is quite significant because they will form the basis for the formation of a vaccine.

Happy dogs first journey outside.

Happy dog’s first journey outside.

Happy dogs first journey outside.

Happy dog’s first journey outside.

I take the dogs outside, and they sniff everything there is to smell. They are tentative at first but soon run and play while I enjoy the brilliant glow of sun soak into my skin. The Aegean shine is creeping in like a guilty husband back from the bar, a little tipsy, but full of deep belly warmth. After a good hour, I go home and wash up, change my clothes, and relax.

Xiaolin calls to wish me a good day today. She’s getting baby Ethan ready to go downtown to Jiefangbei to walk around and enjoy the beautiful sunny Spring day. The sun is shining, it’s 20 degrees outside.

Flowers bloom in early Spring

Flowers bloom in early Spring

Her father’s garden is gorgeous, full of yellow spring flowers from the blooming pawpaw trees. Bees buzz around the flowers, pollinating, making honey.
A cat meows, and down below, a city buzzes too. Life finds a way.

I work until dark, and then take a break and work some more. There’s always more to do when you’re pouring your life and passion into a creative project. I know I will sleep well tonight, though, because I could really use it.

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