After a layover in DFW and the first American-made IPA in almost half a year, the plane touched down in Boston. That was over a month ago. How time flies.
Life’s been up and down, like the arc of a return journey or my sense of security throughout the week. At first it was concern about personal safety. Then money, then long-term prospects, then the big why? Like moving up Maslow’s hierarchy of angst.
Things have settled a bit, as muddy water does when left alone. Too much action agitates the mental pot which circulates the noetic debris, if you’ll allow the metaphor. Sometimes you just have to let things sit. So I’ve been trying to sit with it.
It, as in freelancing, which I’ve been doing for 1.33 years now. A year and a half sounds more impressive, but that’s a lot of rounding up when the total number is small. So 1.33 it is.
There are questions about whether this can work. From many accounts it’s a fraught existence. You do it because you love it, or couldn’t do anything else, or you have a trust fund. You certainly don’t do it for the money.
Money isn’t the be-all-end-all, but it matters when you’re getting to an age where whether you want to have a family in the future starts factoring into personal finance.
If I had started in my 20s it’d be easer to ride the wave, I think. In your 30s, when many others are now rising in their careers, buying homes, having kids, it makes one think twice about the path and the prospects of your career choices.
After all, writing and journalism isn’t a make it big vocation. Hell, it’s barely a make $50k a year occupation.
I’ve been telling myself I’d give it three years. But a pandemic didn’t really factor into that. Thank GOD for PUA or I’d be SOL. So I’m sitting.
Then it was the future. There’s a lot of high-minded talk about the importance of journalism for democracy. But high praise isn’t pocketable and newsrooms have been going barren for the past twenty years. Orgs are making it work, like the NYTimes, but I know publishers in my domain are having a hard go like many others.
Journalism also seems untenable when it relies on the likes of Jeff Bezos to swoop in to save the WSJ, or leaders around the world flout the truth and disparage the searching minds and mouthpieces that express it. And of course the trend of #FakeNews.
But I like it—writing— so I started to think I should diversity my beat, look for market opportunities, have contingency plans. There are internships and jobs, grants and fellowships, grad school and the like. But at the end of the day it mostly made me want to look into the bottom of a hole, tail feathers up. So I’m sitting.
When I was younger I used to think life was easy. It seems like it’s gotten harder over the years.
Depending on your glare, the world looks ablaze or bleak. There are bright spots sure, like solar flares ripping through the vacuumed nothingness firing energy like uncoiled punches saying, “bring it on!”
Those bursts are the good and true and the universal. They are what make you breathe again and feel proud to be part of the human condition.
The other night meteorites scorched through the night sky. I slept through it. But I knew the glittering lights were there.
When I left for México in December, Coronavirus wasn’t a thing.
I took a news break for awhile and went about my day only vaguely aware of what was brewing in China. A few weeks ago, a curious increase in conversation and posts about COVID-19 started to populate my Facebook feed.
So the news sucked me back in. Whoa, what a wild time we’re living in.
While China was on lock-down, freely moving travelers (for business, commerce, personal, and otherwise) precipitated a long tentacular spreading of the virus around the world.
Ever since the numbers have risen across the state, the region, the country, and the globe.
Before moving to Guanajuato, a university city where I’m currently based, I researched whether students were returning there from China. In early February, 18 students came home from study abroad, though none of them had been in the city of Wuhan. Zero cases ended up positive, so I went from Querétaro to GTO a few weeks later.
In the meantime, countries the world over enacted various forms of preventative, and catch up, measures. According to Wikipedia, “245,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in over 170 countries and territories, resulting in more than 10,000 deaths and 87,000 recoveries.”
As the number of confirmed has jumped upwards, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), México’s populist leftwing President, has been gallivanting around the country to fundraise, raise spirits, and kiss babies.
Alan Miranda, who was making his first visit to Vive Latino and especially wanted to see The Warning, said he felt many people are overreacting to the potential danger of contagion at large gatherings.
“Because I consider it is more a collective hysteria than any other thing. In Mexico we have a culture of a little bit more of hygiene that helps us to limit this kind of transmissions,” he said.
From what I’ve seen, and people I’ve spoken with, their attitude has been comparably casual. Until this past week anyways.
The streets have been unusually quiet. At first I thought it was the crowd dispersal post-Rally Mexico (an international rally car race through the streets and mountains around the city, and which assuredly increased the odds of transmission). Yet, a few days on and it’s the quietist I’ve seen the place since arriving.
Speaking with a barista at a cafe yesterday, I asked about the downturn. She told me there were fears, people were staying home, and the shops downtown might close up as early as next week.
Event cancellations have been on the rise of late. The Guadalajara Internatioal Film Festival, originally planned for March 20-27, was halted, school vacations were moved up and extended, and some businesses are taking their own precautions by closing or letting employees work from home.
Hell, Uber has been more proactive than the government. They suspended 242 user and driver accounts who had contact with an identified carrier of the virus. Back in EARLY FEBRUARY! This was before there were any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, showing the forward thinking possible.
Still, no real official word on what to do from the President. So far, States have been the ones to take the mantle for delivering a response.
Luckily, México is known to have a strong healthcare system compared to most of Latin America. They have some of the best medical schools in the region, well-trained epidemiologists, and a basic public healthcare system for all. The population is also quite young, with just 7% over the age 65 (compared to almost 16% in the U.S.).
Ruy López Ridaura, director of the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control Programs, said Tuesday that 0.2% of Mexico’s population, or more than 250,000 people, could catch COVID-19 if there is a widespread outbreak.
Most will have only mild symptoms but more than 24,500 people would likely require hospitalization and just over 10,500 could need intensive care, he said.
Further, most of the hospitals are in urban centers, while much of population is widely dispersed, poorer, and far from the resources they’ll need. States like Oaxaca, Tabasco, Chiapas, and Guerrero may be at a higher risk than others.
You might ask, why the chilled out attitude from the government?
One theory is it’s the economy, stupid. Mexico is heavily reliant on tourism dollars, and they are already facing flat growth. Last time they shut the economy down for a virus, the 2009 swine flu, the economic pizza pie contracted by 5%.
Mamma mia, that’s a lot of dough!
I can see this on the day-to-day. Last week, I noticed the cost of my morning coffee has been going down steadily. When I first arrived, the Peso was converting at around 18 to the dollar. Today, it’s about 24. Good for me, bad for the economy.
Seems like the writing is on the walls. And with the closing of borders, I most likely need to leave now or stay for 2+ months. Yet I’m still uncertain.
Stay here and wait it out? At this point, I’m probably more likely to encounter the virus by traveling, and I have a nice little one bedroom apartment perfect for self-isolating. I’m not a major health risk to be a drain on the system, but…
Head home? In a worst case scenario–a shit hits the fan situation–the U.S. is probably the safer bet.