Why I Started Wearing a Bra: A COVID-19 Tale

It’s day 25 on the alien planet. I counted. 25 days since DC Public Schools announced their temporary closure. 25 Days since I stopped living in denial about the reality of COVID-19. As long as I had work to get up and go to everyday, I could keep telling myself that my world was still normal. Sure, COVID had put China on lock down over a month prior–as an online ESL teacher, I felt I was more aware of this than others, given that I was seeing first hand how the lock down was affecting my own students during each of our classes together. Sure, COVID was making its presence known on the West Coast of the United States, particularly in Washington State. Sure, there were a few confirmed cases of in DC and the surrounding area…but I was still getting up and going to work and going about my daily life as usual, and that made my life feel normal, unaffected by this illness that was ravaging the lives of so many. There were a few signs of concern here and there–the Sunday prior (my birthday of all days), I was refused a for-here cup at a coffee shop; due to concerns about the virus, the coffee shop in question was only giving its customers disposable cups. It had become more common place to see friends and acquaintances and hear, “Are you good to hug?” before embracing. The reminder to wash hands and be more vigilant about cleanliness was everywhere–on the Metro, at work, on the internet. Yet, until DC schools announced their closure on March 13, I was still happily living in denial.

Denial is easier than acceptance, of course. It’s why it’s so challenging for teachers to convince some parents that their child actually has a problem, whether it be a behavioral issue or a learning disorder. I thought I was too smart for denial, too aware of myself and the world around me. Yet, here I was, knee deep into my own denial about COVID.

The past few weeks, then, have been a journey towards acceptance. Accepting where I am in life–with COVID and with other aspects of myself as well. It’s been realizing that sometimes I focus so damn much on the positive that I fail to see the reality sitting right in front of me. It’s been learning to understand that as beneficial as positivity is in life–I’m an optimist for a reason, after all–sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back and take stock of the whole picture. To pay attention to the details, the facts spelling out the nature of our reality. I’ve learned in the past few weeks that positivity should be balanced and well-rounded. A healthy positivity comes from embracing and acknowledging the negative and still choosing to find the light in the world.

Continue reading “Why I Started Wearing a Bra: A COVID-19 Tale”

Lilly and Grandfather

Lilly looked up at the vast expanse above her head in wonder. Her wandering five year old mind never stopped taking in the world around her. So many questions, always. At her young age, she didn’t know much about the world—but she was always curious, always hoping to discover more.

“The way the world works is very strange,” her grandfather told her once. She was sitting on his lap, quietly taking in words, in his low, gentle voice. A voice that exuded tired determination. He had been in Vietnam and had seen more of humanity in a matter of years than most people wished to see in a lifetime; he was a Vietnam veteran who wondered every day how he had survived while his buddy, his best friend, was blown to pieces right next to him in the Vietnamese rainforest. Yet, despite that daily question, his aging mind was filled with those nuggets of wisdom he had picked up not just because he had survived, but because he had willed Continue reading “Lilly and Grandfather”

Dear Doc…Or, a Birth Control Story

I was put on “the pill,” as they call it, in October of 2009.

Early one fall morning–the morning that my third attempt to earn my driver’s license was scheduled, in fact–a nasty, gut wrenching ovarian cyst erupted within me. Oh man, was it painful. I don’t think I’ve ever been in as much pain in my life. I remember writhing around on the couch, clutching the right side of my abdomen, wondering what the hell was wrong with me.

Well, needless to say, my license would end up taking one more month to obtain because that nasty, gut wrenching ovarian cyst, which I was worried might be appendicitis at the time, landed me in the Emergency Room.

Fast forward a week or two to my first ever trip to a gynecologist. A lady doctor. At 16, I felt so adult to be visiting such a doctor. At 16, I listened as my brand new gynecologist explained to me the benefits that birth control could have on my body–not just that it would help prevent further ovarian cysts erupting, but that it could help with acne, it would make my periods lighter, and of course, the obvious–it would keep me from pregnancy.

At 16, I was three years away from my first sexual experience and I sure as hell had no plans for sex in the immediate future…but lighter, regulated periods sure sounded nice and I couldn’t deny the fact that another ovarian cyst eruption was not at the top of my “to have happen again” list. So, I went and filled Continue reading “Dear Doc…Or, a Birth Control Story”