‘From the Corona Files’ by Jane Hertenstein
Writer, 63, Chicago.
Once some restrictions were lifted in May 2020, Jane Hertenstein embarked on a cross-country bike ride to watch her daughter cycle 2,500 miles in Seaside, Oregon. “After staying with her for a few weeks, I went back to Chicago, but nothing felt right; my life was out in so many ways,” she said. So she returned to Oregon in December 2020 and stayed for a few more months. All the while, she recorded in one Word document her experiences, such as receiving her first dose of the vaccine.
Wednesday, March 3, 2021 I received the first injection of the Pfizer vaccine. My daughter and I here in Oregon drove to a Walgreens and waited, then we were called to a room together. The nurse explained what injection we were getting and any after effects such as pain in the injection area.
What was it that I felt? Not the needle, not the pain (it wasn’t there) but relief.
Then I cried. I burst into tears when we joked a minute earlier. My daughter and the nurse gave me a second as I sobbed, my face in my hands. I couldn’t believe it, Luck? Destiny? God’s grace? Why me? But yes, I made it. I lived.
‘Flapper’ by Catherine C. Con
Professor of Computer Science, 65, Greenville, SC
Violence against Asian Americans has been increasing since the start of the pandemic. In the summer of 2020, Catherine C. Con, who grew up in Taiwan and has lived in the American South for decades, typed in her phone call with a repairman who refused to serve a Japanese-American tenant. “It was a bitter fact that I had to endure,” she said.
Masuka was a model renter. Rent paid directly to my bank account before the expiry date. Grass edges clean, neat, like a piece of tofu, trimmed. My sleepy cottage refreshes after he scrubbed away the tired red bricks with his water hose and brush. I wish his lease was longer than a year.
Randy, my plumber for 20 years, serviced all my rental houses and came to my rescue time and again with courage. I never felt the need to look for a plumber – Randy was always there.
After Masuka reported a problem with his toilet valve, I asked Randy to fix it. Then I got a call from Randy: “Ms. Con, I went to your house downtown. Did the man come in from Wuhan? He had a mask on. I was afraid to go in. I’m sorry, Miss Con, please find someone else.”
“Randy, Masuka is from California, an American citizen, not from Wuhan,” I said. ‘Just keep a meter and a half away. It’ll be all right.” Randy always called me a Chinese doll and envied how skinny Asian people were. What happened now?