QUARANTINE GRATITUDE — DAY 14
Ever been far from the city, walked out at night, and lay beneath the Milky Way? Nothing compares.
Recognizing that we all spend so much time fretting about this little fraction of dust we call Earth, I want to send this one out to the 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999997% of the universe that doesn’t include us.
This goes out to the bright white rock, our planet’s chief companion, who never turns her face away, in her fullness turning the night into a dreamlike day. This goes out to the glowing gems in the sky that do not twinkle: Venus (the herald of night), Jupiter (audacious in its brilliance), and all the other rocky, gaseous planets swirling around our shared sun. This goes out to the gazillions of stars, those infinitesimally immense points of light, fire and gas and dust and rock performing choreographed waltzes, slamming into each other, exploding, and unleashing energy over and over and over again. And to the rest: Dark matter, dark energy, and all the space between—terrifying, beautiful, literally incomprehensible.
Today I’m thankful for the moon, the planets, and all the other celestial objects that make up this wild, wonderful universe.
QUARANTINE GRATITUDE — DAY 13
Even for someone with their head in the clouds, I appreciate being grounded.
The feeling of gravity, feet on the ground. Looking at my feet, gazing at the sky, eyeing the horizon. Taking a single step—or six million. Walking, running, cycling. Lying down, feeling the force of the earth against skull, shoulders, sacrum, heels. Everything equal and opposite.
Waking up in the morning and climbing a mountain—what a pain. But then you’re on top of a mountain. Easier: rolling down a grassy slope like the happiest kid in the world. Staring at ants and earthworms, wondering whether they know how small they are. Wondering the same about the pyramids, skyscrapers, Taj Mahals—piles of dirt piled up by people treated like dirt by kings and wealthy bankers who are now or soon to be dirt themselves. The whole lot of us, iron, oxygen, and energy, slugging around, feasting on organic matter. Life feeding on life feeding on life.
Today I’m thankful for this big sphere of soil and rock we call home, planet Earth.
QUARANTINE GRATITUDE — DAY 12
Last weekend the sun shined so brightly that on Monday the mayor held a press conference just to scold us all, reminding everyone to stay home. She has nothing to worry about this grey weekend, but isn’t it a miracle that through dark clouds and fog the sun still lights up the world?
No one knows if gods exist but we all know godlike power: It greets us every morning. The sun is so intense it can’t help but dole out curses with its blessings. It‘s the source of life but, like any old wrathful god, also death. It fills our harvest with nutrition and energy, but also scorches fields to desolation. It warms our skin and nurtures our bodies, but too much dehydrates us, frying our brains into stroke. It dazzles the world with color—flowers, rainbows, sunsets—but look at the source itself and everything goes black.
Endlessly shifting its radiant white light across the sky, our local star is the divinity—to borrow from George Carlin, the Aztecs, the Egyptians, and almost all ancient peoples’ beliefs—most deserving of our worship.
Today I’m thankful for our local star, the sun.
QUARANTINE GRATITUDE — DAY 11
Our hearts beat to your rhythm,
Our bodies ride your waves,
Our brains burst fat like bellies
With your nourishment when we reside
Inside of you, our home, our health—
We dream of you, we wake in you,
We feel love and heartbreak through you—
We celebrate you with family,
We create you with friends, and,
Even once our measure’s over, we know
You’ll go on playing in our leftover light.
Today I am thankful for you, music.
QUARANTINE GRATITUDE — DAY 10
ALIASES: Taj, Taja Girl, Lady T, Triangle Face, Tajska, Tapas Girl
RACE: Australian kelpie
ORIGIN: Antioch, CA
RESIDENCE: San Francisco, CA
AGE: 5 (estimated)
RATING: 15/10 (projected)
WEIGHT: 25 pounds (30 after a week w grandma)
APPEARANCE: Black and tan, insanely cute
PERSONALITY: Curious, perceptive, hungry
Today I am thankful for my favorite furry friend, Taja, and all the other non-human creatures that bring us joy!
QUARANTINE GRATITUDE — DAY 9
Friends—how many of us have them?
I know my wife is my best friend for a few reasons: Because she keeps me alive with delicious, nutritious recipes she learned from Alice Waters. Because she can spend 5,000 straight hours with me without killing me. And, maybe most importantly, because she honestly (and usually immediately) tells me when I’m being an idiot.
Anyone can be a friend—lovers, strangers, family members, coworkers—if they show they care. By baking you cookies. By staying six feet away during a pandemic. By keeping you in check when you done fucked up. By being ready with love and support when you’d just about given up.
But how many of us have them—the ones we can depend on? Facebook says I have 600. Instagram doesn’t pretend: It just calls you a “follower.” Still, I know the real ones are out there.
If you’re a real friend, today I’m thankful for you.
QUARANTINE GRATITUDE — DÍA 8
I have 27 first cousins... on my mom’s side. That side is mostly women—highly attractive, compassionate, intelligent women who love to have a good time, but will whip you in line if you deserve it. Insanely, this entire side of the family uses a single WhatsApp group that is full of all the things families share: laughter, suffering, love.
In contrast, my dad’s side is smaller and mostly dudes, but we’ve got mighty genes: We’re all gunning to be at least half the man my grandpa was, who fought in WWII, worked in a mine his whole life, built his family’s home with his own hands, and lived to be 101.
All that extended family is scattered across the U.S., Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and beyond, but right here in the Bay I’m also surrounded by family. Tíos, tías, primos, primas—literally numberless. My immediate family is here too: An older and younger brother (they’re alright) plus, by law, four sweetheart sisters. And in spite of pop culture‘s warnings to the contrary, I get along well with my in-laws (so far!) and those two people who gave me life and raised me, mama and papa.
Hoy estoy agradecido por la familia.
QUARANTINE GRATITUDE — DAY 7
Love, whose beauty snares.
Love, whose strength staggers.
Love, whose truth strikes down the foolish.
Love, whose compassion lifts the fallen.
Love, whose eyes in silence fire missives.
Love, whose hands serve delicacy and confection.
Love, whose river runs with mine, wanting only this: to be at peace, freely flowing to the sea.
Today I’m thankful for Natalie, my love.
QUARANTINE GRATITUDE — DAY 6
There were plastic-wrapped sausages and pumpkin waffles. Someone danced in the living room, someone else traded cryptocurrency. Suddenly, I was heading east on California Ave, walking, walking, walking. In the financial district, a hawk snatched a pigeon, flew up to a traffic signal, and ripped its flesh. People took photos, people walked quietly by, people lay in the streets, people stood in line for food. I floated to the bay. At the pier, a middle-aged woman in gloves and a mask picked up other people’s trash. A middle-aged man jogged along the waterfront, blasting Missy Elliott. Miguel de Cervantes was giving beach tours. I had had enough: I wished I were comfortably back home, but first I had to scale a steep hillside dotted with thousands of simple white gravestones—a military cemetery. Who had won the war?
Somewhere between death eternal and the fleeting death of orgasm lies a middle-sized unconsciousness, hours of blackness buttressed by dreams, whose visions terrify us, inspire us, and prepare us for the surrealism of waking life.
Today I am thankful for sleep.
QUARANTINE GRATITUDE — DAY 5
One night, when I was a kid, I woke up, walked to my parents’ bedroom, and, wheezing, said I couldn’t “cough.” I was whisked away to the emergency room and plugged into a machine that vaporized my breathing back to normal. As an adult, I‘ve mostly outgrown my asthma, only experiencing a mild resurgence every spring—so I feel fortunate.
We all know the spectrum of health. The one friend who never gets sick, and the other who dodges deadly allergies daily. The fellow student who successfully masks their skin disorder, and the colleague who cannot hide their chronic illness, dying too young. The baby who comes into the world with a broken heart, and the baby who fights on, a warrior for life. The person with a physical disability but brilliant mind, and the person (picture perfect in public) sitting on the edge of the bed sobbing, weighted down by depression.
We all live, we all suffer, and we all die. But until then, I am thankful for clean air, clean water, fresh food, modern medicine, health professionals, and everyone and everything else that make this most precious thing possible: health.