The virus, the fighting, the making up
Saturday, Jun. 27, 2020 - 11:53 am.

An aunt of my Sister-In-Law #1 passed away this week due to covid-19. This is the first person that I personally knew that dies from the virus, although I only met her a handful of times when I was younger. I had a few play dates with a niece of hers. Still, I was shaken and very sorry for my SIL and her family. It sucks.

The virus is hitting hard in my home country just now. I know everybody complains about their own governments handling the pandemic, but this one sent soldiers to keep people out of the streets and made people starve for three months or kept them away in "contagion camps"; then lifted the quarantine last week without a plan nor resources to deal with the crisis. Corruption cases are popping up like covid cases, people are dying in hospital parking lots. My brothers in the US are medical doctors and besides seeing their share of collapse and being at risk (Brother #1 is in Houston), they're hearing horror stories from their friends and colleagues in our home country, who are also falling ill.

The most infuriating thing is that my dad thinks the government is handling everything impeccably. There's a major media machine behind that, plus historical disappointment in previous parties that were supposed to work "for the people" and didn't. I don't know about my mom. After my last entry, I realized it was unfair to say fuck the two of them (and I learned from my sister that my mom was feeling terribly guilty for giving my dad a platform to go off after Brother #1. I want to cry just thinking about my mom in pain). My mom has just been assimilated by my dad, and it wasn't until recent years that I realized my anger was directed at his doings, not hers.

Anyway. Onto less sad realms.

This upcoming Monday I'll be presenting at an online seminar on mental health, for psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals in Central America. I'm looking forward to it. I'll talk about my study with Brother #3 on emotional symptomatology during quarantine, and the study with my boss about eating habit changes during the pandemic. I hope it'll be of some use.

I was also invited to a literary event, a conversation of sorts. It's an initiative by Central American writers, and they invited me and my friend Ana in Mexico. We're both academics who live abroad and we both have published fiction, short stories to this date. She and I met in our early 20s, precisely because of another literary event. Then we found out we went to the same school growing up. So I'm happy I'll be with her.

Now, I loathe the literary world. It's full of massive egos, most of them owned by men who can't even write well. There's also a very paternalistic, condescending attitude toward "women who write", which I know will come up in the conversation, and I hope to rip that shit a new one. So all in all, I can very much do without these events, but since I have a book coming up, I need to start selling myself.

I told my friend Virginia about this latter event and hoooo boy, drama ensued. It's half performance on her part, and I replied appropriately, but I wonder to what extent it was an honest scolding. I mean, I know there was a severe scolding in there. She's always been honest about this.

She says I'm better than all those people, and that I should love myself more than to give away my time and my work to the national and regional literary circle. I appreciate the sentiment and I agree with her, but also: I'm a nobody. All those big aspirations she says I should have, I've had them, and doors have been slammed in my face because of that. I hate to say it but I need exposure, and this, the national literary world, is the only platform where I seem to matter.

I didn't fight her scolding because she was right. Like I said, I agree with her. In terms of talent, I've read some of my peers' work and let's say I'm not satisfied with their skills (not to say I have those skills myself, though I seek to). I stopped submitting work to literary contests because I am not what the big regional publishing houses are looking for, and I doubt I want to be what they are looking for. So to Virginia I just nodded and cried (in WhatsApp emojis and stickers) and apologized. Nothing appeased her and we left it at that.

Then I thought maybe she was jealous or scared that I'd move on to become A Writer and hang out with Other Writers; with the understanding that being A Writer is despicable, which I agree with. It's very self-centered of me to think that I'm worthy of her jealousy, but I played back the conversation with her in my head and I could see glimpses of jealousy and fear. That, on top of her disappointment on me for associating with those people. I could be wrong, but I know she has (and she owns it) that childlike side of getting carried away with emotions about the people she loves, and about the people she always doubts we love her.

This wasn't the only fight(ish) I had to deal with this week. I've been very busy, so one of these nights I had to say goodbye to my girlfriend in a rush after the hottest sex one could text about, and the next night I messaged her later than usual. She panicked. She got all defensive, asking me what I wanted. A part of me was enjoying this, I guess it made the relationship more real. I tried to explain to her that it had nothing to do with her, and it truly didn't. It stopped being enjoyable when I realized how distressed she was, and that she seemed on the verge of breaking up with me.

I kept calm, and in the end it was just insecurity on her part. She thought *I* wanted to break up with her so she was "making it easier for me". I told her to never do me any favors based on such assumptions, and that I can apologize for rushing out and being late, but only to an extent; the rest is just what my life is made of. I rushed out of our chat because it was past my bedtime, I texted her late because I had to do the dishes. She knows that. She agreed that I come with a life that entails full commitment to my loving partner.

I was very tempted to play the victim when she realized I thought she wanted to break up with me. She apologized, she said she wasn't mad at me, she was just scared she was being inconvenient in my life. I do think she was mad. We don't have cues about each other, though, we text, sometimes she sends me voice notes and we exchange (often steamy) pictures. I didn't hammer on, as bitter as I was for her coming on to me like that, because after all I have the upper hand in this relationship. I would've just made her feel horrible.

Long story short, we worked this stuff out and our relationship grew from that conflict. I'm glad we got past that quickly because around those days she had to testify against her ex employers (she's been a victim of harassment and witnessed lots of corruption), and she's been questioning her sexual identity for a while. She's been afraid to discuss it with her circle of friends because queers can be even more prejudiced than cis-het people. She may not be a "lesbian" after all, but in every scenario she's my girlfriend. I'm just happy to be here for her and support her however I can.

I still haven't told Andrew about her, although he says I'm showing off new skills when we have sex. He and I are having a lot of fun, too. It's unbelievable, all the wonders that imagination can do to your real life.

Oh, circling back to my book: I wrote the publishing house asking when it was coming out, an estimated date, so I could pimp it out during that stupid literary event. They said it will come out until next year due to their heavy workload, and it's not even due to the pandemic. I died a little. But there's nothing I can do, is there, and I remain with the consolation that at least it's still on its way.

It's Pride weekend. But I'll save my words about it for another day. Nevertheless: abolish the police, liberation for all queers (but leave the prejudice in the closet).

Be safe, wash your hands and stay indoors as much as you can. Bye.

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